Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Honey War: Part Three

The problem of the Iowa/Missouri boundary in Van Buren County remained on the back burner until Iowa became a state in 1846 when it was again thrust into the forefront. In a surprising move, the Supreme Court in Missouri vs. Iowa 7 How. 660 (1849) sided with Iowa following Sullivan's line stating it was held that governments are bound by the practical line that has been established as their boundary, although not precisely a true one; and that as the United States before either of the States had been admitted into the Union and after Missouri had been admitted but while Iowa still remained a Territory, had recognized and adopted the line of a certain survey as the 'Indian boundary line' and was committed to that line as the boundary of Missouri, Iowa when admitted was bound by the recognition and adoption of that line by the United States, her predecessor, and could not be heard to disavow it as the boundary.

This didn't end it and in Missouri vs. Iowa 10 How. 1 (1851) a line was physically marked again with more permanent markers and again in Missouri vs. Iowa 160 U.S. 688 (1896) reaffirmed the boundary. The last squabble was in 1937 over the Half-Breed Tract, which was settled by Congress. Iowa's southern boundary thus remains to this day 4-1/2 degrees off from true east west due to Sullivan's declination error and had he not made the mistake, the part of my parents farm now on the border would be a full two miles into Iowa away from the Missouri border.

In researching this blog series on the Honey War, I happened across an old song (sang to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandee) written by John L. Campbell and obviously sung by the whiskey filled Missouri militia.

Ye freemen of this happy land,
Which flows with milk and honey,
Arise! To arms! Your ponies mount!
Regard not blood or money.

Old Governor Lucas, tiger-like,
Is prowling round our borders,
But Governor Boggs is wide awake-
Just to listen to his orders:

Three bee trees stand about the line
Between our state and Lucas.
Be ready all these trees to fall
And bring things to a focus.

We'll show old Lucas how to brag,
And seize our precious honey!
He also claims, I understand,
Of us three bits in money.

Conventions, boys, now let us hold
Our honey trade demands it!
Likewise the three-bits, all in gold,
We all misunderstand it!

Why shed our brother's blood in haste,
Because "big men" require it.
Be not in haste our blood to waste,
No prudent men desire it.

Now, if the Governors want to fight,
Just let them meet in person.
And when noble Boggs old Lucas flogs,
T'will teach the scamp a lesson.

Then let the victor cut the trees,
And have three-bits in money.
And wear a crown from town to town,
Anointed with pure honey.

And then no widows will be made,
No orphans unprotected.
Old Lucas will be nicely flogged,
And from our line ejected.

Our honey trade will then be laid
Upon a solid basis,
And Governor Boggs, where 'er he jogs,
Will meet with smiling faces.

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