Deane and Kavanagh meet James A. Maclauchlan

August 3, 1831

While conducting their survey of the Madawaska settlement, John Deane and Edward Kavanagh encountered James A. Maclauchlan, who had been appointed Warden of the disputed territory by the provincial government of New Brunswick.

Deane and Kavanagh were conducting the survey at the direction of the State of Maine, and surveyed all the land claimed by the state in the upper St.John River valley, which included both sides of the river. Because that entire area was disputed between the United States and Great Britain (information on the border dispute), the actual authority in the area was not clear. While Maine and the US claimed the area as its own (for example conducting censuses in 1820, 1830 and 1840 on both sides of the St.John), Great Britain, while recognizing it as disputed, claimed the right to administer it until the dispute was resolved.

Thus Maclauchlan, a deputy in the surveyor general's department and a commissioner of roads in the Upper St.John valley for the province of New Brunswick, was appointed to the position of "Warden of the Disputed Territory." (For more information on Maclauchlan, see the biographical info on JA Machlauchlan.)

The text below is part of the report that Deane and Kavanagh submitted to the State of Maine, and describes their encounter with Maclauchlan.

This day [3 August 1831], while we were at Michel Thibedeau's [below present-day Van Buren] a gentleman came to us and asked us to shew him our authority to act.  We asked him of what authority he called on us.  He repled that his name was James A. Mclauchlan, and that he was Warden of the disputed territory, to which we answered we knew of no such man or office.  We were acting under the authority and in behalf of the State of Maine.  We observed we made no secret of our authority, and had invariably shewn it, when any person wished to see it, and had no objections to his seeing it, that he might distinctly understand, that we did not do it in consequence of any authority invested in him by the British.  He asked us what we had done and what we intended to to, and we stated to him what we had done and what we intended to do, very distinctly, and he replied verbally, he protested against it.  He observed that an express had been sent to Fredericton, and the subject had been considered by the Governor, Chief Justice, and such members of the Council as were in Fredericton, and if we persisted in our course, it would be his duty to attend us as long as we continued in the settlement.  He examined our commissions, and much more conversation ensued on the subject of the State and United States authority.  As to the British claim, he placed it on the ground of possession and would not advance from that position.  We finally said to him, if you have the possession of this country, it is by usurpation and not otherwise, but he did not pretend to defend the right on any other ground.

Return to the Deane and Kavanagh Report

Return to the 1833 Census of Madawaska

Return to the Upper St.John River Valley main page

Last revised 9 Sep 2004
©2004 C. Gagnon