The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Rhode Island are nestled closely in what appears to be a perfect state of harmony in the southeast corner of New England.

However, it hasn't always been such a cozy relationship for the two Revolution-era neighbors.

In 1861, not long after the start of the American Civil War, the Bay State and the Ocean State were embroiled in a bit of an imbroglio over border rights to, of all places, Fall River.

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The dispute was not the only border battle to develop between the two states, or the other northeast states for that matter.

New Hampshire and New York fought over rights to Vermont, which ultimately declared its independence from both with the help of Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys.

The border battle over what would become the South End of Fall River is near and dear to our hearts.

Massachusetts And Rhode Island Fought In Court Over This City
Courtesy Aerial New England

Some border disputes in the "New World" lasted more than 200 years, dating back to colonial times and the first settlements along Massachusetts Bay when the British throne began to hand out land grants.

Locally, a lengthy debate erupted over whether Massachusetts or Rhode Island and Providence Plantations controlled a portion of land later to become a part of Fall River.

The land dispute ended in 1861 when the U.S. Supreme Court awarded an 11 square mile area of disputed land to Massachusetts, creating the South End of Fall River and establishing the current border with Rhode Island.

The Fall River Herald News wrote a piece on the land dispute in 2019. There is also a more detailed account online from the book History of Fall River, the source of which could not be immediately traced.

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