Patriot War.— Friendly relations with Great Britain were again endangered in 1837, when the so-called "Patriot War" broke out on the Canadian frontier. Sympathizing with the movement, the people of the United States did much to aid the insurgents, some New Yorkers even going so far as to seize an island in the Niagara River. These acts, however, re ceived such prompt repudiation from the gov ernment, which not only issued a neutrality proclamation, but sent General Wool to the Niagara frontier to preserve the peace, that no ill effects resulted. Equally successful was General Scott, who was sent to the northeast frontier to quiet the disturbances which had resulted from a dispute over the boundary line between Maine and New Brunswick.
Dorr Rebellion.—Although friendly rela tions were maintained with all foreign powers during Tyler's administration, several internal disturbances occurred which called. for quick action upon the part of the authorities. In Rhode Island, for example, the Dorr Rebellion required the presence of the United States troops, while the militia was called upon in New York to suppress the anti-rent rioters. According to the judgment of later days Thomas W. Dorr, the political reformer who led Rhode Island into its only insurrection, was a man whose chief offense was that he was in advance of his time, for since his death every reform for which he argued and for which he was ready to fight has been freely adopted by the people of the State. According to the charter which had been granted to Rhode Island by Charles II, in 1663, no person was permitted to vote for town or State officials unless he was possessed of a certain amount of real estate. Under a subsequent statute of the legis lature no person could be admitted a free man of any town, with such political privileges, un less he owned a freehold estate to the value of $134 or was the eldest son of such a freeman. qualifications which barred fully two-thirds of all the citizens of the State from becoming legal voters. It was to these provisions that Dorr and his adherents objected and when they found that they could not accomplish their purpose in any peaceable way, recourse was had to arms. The insurgent forces, however, were defeated and dispersed upon each occasion. Dorr, who was convicted of high treason, was subsequently pardoned.
Anti-Rent Rebellion.— During this time the New York authorities were engaged in try ing to suppress the anti-rent rebellion. Accord ing to the statement of Willard, the historian: Under the early Dutch governors of New York certain settlers received patents of considerable tracts of land, that of Van Rensselaer being the most extensive, comprising, as it did, the greater portions of Rensselaer and Albany coun ties. These lands were divided into farms of from 100 to 160 acres and leased in perpetuity on condition that the tenant pay annually, to the landlord or 9iatroon," a quantity of wheat from 221/2 bushels to 10, in addition to four fat fowls and a day's service with wagon and horse. If the tenant sold his lease, the landlord was entitled to one-quarter of the purchase money. The summer of 1844 witnessed the most violent disturbances by the Anti-Rent party in the eastern towns of Rensselaer, in the Liv ingston Manor, in Columbia County. The Anti Renters formed themselves into associations to resist the law and armed and trained bands, disguised as Indians, scoured the country, crying "Down with the rent!" and in various ways intimidating those who favored the exe cution of the law. In 1846 Silas Wright was chosen governor of the State and, by his wis dom and firmness, public order was restored.
By proclamation, he declared the locality in which these disorders prevailed to be in a state of insurrection; • resolute men were made sheriffs, military forces were brought into requisition and the leading Anti-Renters were not only brought to trial but were convicted.
The Revolt in New Mexico.— The revolt against the authority of the United States gov ernment which broke out at Taos in 1847, was quickly suppressed by the Federal forces under the command of Col. Sterling Price. Montoya, the leader of the insurrection, who had assumed the role of governor, was captured, tried by court-martial and shot 7 Feb. 1847.
Kansas Border Warfare.— Following the Mexican War (q.v.) the government was en gaged in almost continuous conflicts with the Indians, while the "Know Nothing" disturb ances, which followed the organization of the American party and resulted in anti-foreign and anti-Catholic riots in various parts of the coun try, caused no little trouble. As the years passed, however, the anti-slavery question had pushed itself further and further to the front and it required no inspired prophet to predict that a few such disgraceful incidents as those which accompanied the rendition of Anthony Burns in Boston would make the issue the vital one for the nation. In the meantime the Kan sas border troubles, troubles which practically resulted in civil war, held the attention of the people. This sectional excitement arose from the introduction of a bill into Congress by Sena tor Douglas of Illinois, which provided for the organization of that vast tract lying west of Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, into two Terri tories, Kansas and Nebraska, each of which, being exempt from the operations of the Mis souri Compromise, should come in as free or slave States according to the vote of the peo ple at the time of their admission. Although this bill was fiercely fought in Congress, it was passed in 1854, upon which there began a ter rible struggle for the possession of Kansas. From the Northwest and the East the anti slavery men flocked into the Territory, while the slavery partisans, with their slaves, rushed in from the South, each party being determined to people the new land with settlers in sympathy with their respective views. To make matters worse the Missourians — or so it was charged— crossed the borders by the hundreds and, wherever it was possible, controlled the elec tions. As the result of the disruption two sets of Territorial officers were elected and civil war with all its attendant evils followed. Dur ing the summer of 1856 the Territory was in constant war. Men were murdered and towns were sacked, and while both sides were guilty of violence, the Free-State party was much the less so, being confessedly in the majority. For two years Kansas suffered, but at last the op ponents of slavery gained the upper hand and, in 1861, Kansas was admitted as a free State. Among the many anti-slavery leaders in Kansas none had been more prominent than John Brown (q.v.), a man of great courage, who believed that the liberation of the slaves could be easily accomplished if they should be given au opportunity to rise. With 21 men, therefore, Brown went to Virginia to carry out his pur pose. They succeeded in seizing the United States arsenal at Harper's Ferry, but as neither the negroes nor the anti-slavery whites gave them the support for which they had hoped, they were soon overpowered by a force of marines. With the exception of two, who es caped, all the participants in the revolutionary movement were either killed during the en gagement or hanged afterward, the latter being the fate of John Brown.