Little Bits of History

May 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 25, 2017

1738: A treaty is signed in London between belligerents – Pennsylvania and Maryland. The fighting portion of Cresap’s War or the Conojocular War came to an end. Conejohela Valley was the area of conflict between the two colonies and fighting first broke out in 1730 over the disputed lands. Pennsylvania’s Charter gave the southern border as a “Circle drawne at twelve miles distance from New Castle Northward and Westward unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of Northern Latitude, and then a straight Line Westward.” Later surveys showed the town of New Castle was 25 miles south of the fortieth parallel. Maryland insisted the line be drawn at the fortieth parallel as stated while Pennsylvania insisted on some convoluted means of calculating the border. This left a 28 mile wide strip of land both colonies claimed.

The area was sparsely populated. In 1726, Quaker minister John Wright and two friends brought their families into the Valley and settled near the Susquehanna River and began farming. They also built two large dugout canoes and tied one to each side of the waterway creating the opportunity for passenger ferrying. Few people needed to cross, but by 1730 business was increasing and Wright applied for a ferry license. Traffic increased, in part because it became known there was ferry service across the Susquehanna. A number of Pennsylvania Dutch moved to the area and Marylander Thomas Cresap wanted to counter this and set up his own ferry system at Blue Rock, about four miles south of Wright’s Ferry.

Because of the royal charter, Pennsylvania settlers did not have clear title to the lands. Marland granted Cresap a title to 500 acres along the west bank of the river. Much of that parcel was already settled. Cresap began to sell off parcels of his land and brought more Pennsylvania Dutch under Maryland law and began to collect Maryland taxes. According to Cresap, in October 1730 he was attacked on a ferry boat by two Pennsylvanians, the first armed confrontation between Pennsylvania and Maryland. He didn’t mention the attack was to take his own workman into custody for some violation in Pennsylvania, probably debt collection. Hostilities increased and the issue remained unresolved.

Both colonial militias were brought to the region to defend their claim to the 28-mile strip of land. Casualties were heavy and the fighting continued for years. Agreements were reached, but ignored on the ground. Finally, after involving King George II, the two sides were compelled to sign a treaty and enforce a cease-fire. While this settled the immediate problem, the issue wasn’t fully resolved until 1767 when the Mason-Dixon line was finally recognized as the dividing line between the two colonies. This assured that Philadelphia was indeed in Pennsylvania while adjusting the rest of the line westward.

When you move a border, suddenly life changes violently. I write about nationality. – Alan Furst

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? – Pablo Casals

Great countries need to secure their border for national security purposes, for economic purposes and for rule of law purposes. – Jeb Bush

As we all know from the Roman empire, big empires go down if the borders are not well-protected. – Mark Rutte