Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Cyndy Cox
The San Juan Dispute
James Buchanan and Richard Pakenham when they signed the treaty of 1846 for the United States and Great Britain did not realize that the words middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island would constitute an ambiguity leading to many years of heated wrangling and almost to war. At the time it was supposed that there was but one such channel but it later developed that there were at least two. While the two governments were trying to solve the problem by commissions of surveyors, the islands between the two channels were occupied by sturdy settlers claiming allegiance to the one flag or the other.
(Source: History of the State of Washington, Edmond Stephen Meany, p. 241)