In northwestern New Hampshire in a small town called Pittsburg, there lies a historical marker dedicated to the “Republic of Indian Stream,” an unrecognized country that declared itself independent from 1829 to 1835.
Spanning hundreds of square miles, the Republic of Indian Stream arose out of a common theme in territorial disputes: vague legislation.
In 1783, the Treaty of Paris stipulated that the US-Canada boundary line would follow the “northwesternmost head of the Connecticut River.” Unfortunately, there were three tributaries that qualified for this description, and due to the treaty’s ambiguity and lack of descriptiveness, both the United States and Lower Canada (then occupied by Great Britain) claimed that the forested land was theirs.
Since both countries ruled over the territory’s citizens, both the U.S .and Great Britain imposed taxes on the people. This double tax infuriated the population, who, in revolt and anger, established the Republic of Indian Stream to free the people from the heavy tax burden.
The Republic of Indian Stream was no laughing matter—its less than 300 residents were committed enough to draft a constitution, print their own stamps, establish a 41-man militia, and elect a local government. The unrecognized state received so much attention that it was the subject of diplomatic discussions between British ambassadors and American President Andrew Jackson and even appeared in the 1830 Census as “Indian Stream Territory, or so-called.”
Things got chaotic in 1835, when a British sheriff and magistrate arrested a resident of the Republic of Indian Stream for hardware store debt, prompting a posse of “Streamers” to revolt. The posse shot up the judge’s house, leading to a diplomatic emergency that forced Great Britain to forfeit its claim to sovereignty over the region, giving Indian Stream to New Hampshire—and New Hampshire alone—once and for all.