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The British men in the business organization of colonizing the North American continent were so sure they “owned whatever land they land on” (yes, that’southward from Pocahontas), they established new colonies by simply cartoon lines on a map.

And then, everyone living in the now-claimed territory, became a part of an English colony.

A map of the British dominions in N America,
c1793.

And of all the lines fatigued on maps in the 18th century, perhaps the most famous is the Mason-Dixon Line.


What is the Mason-Dixon Line?

Stargazer's stone
The “Stargazer’s Rock.” Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon used this as a base point while plotting the Stonemason and Dixon line. The proper name comes from the astronomical observations they fabricated there.

The Mason-Dixon Line besides called the Bricklayer and Dixon Line is a purlieus line that makes up the border between Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. Over fourth dimension, the line was extended to the Ohio River to make upward the entire southern edge of Pennsylvania.

Merely it also took on additional significance when it became the unofficial border between the North and the Southward, and perhaps more chiefly, between states where slavery was allowed and states where slavery had been abolished.

READ More:
The History of Slavery: America’s Blackness Mark


Where is the Mason-Dixon Line?

For the cartographers in the room, the Stonemason and Dixon Line is an east-west line located at 39º43’20” Due north starting south of Philadelphia and east of the Delaware River. Mason and Dixon resurveyed the Delaware tangent line and the Newcastle arc and in 1765 began running the east-due west line from the tangent point, at approximately 39°43′ N.

For the rest of us, it’southward the border between Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Pennsylvania–Maryland edge was defined as the line of latitude xv miles (24 km) south of the southernmost business firm in Philadelphia.


Mason-Dixon Line Map

Take a expect at the map below to see exactly where the Mason Dixon Line is:

Mason-Dixon Line


Why Is it Called the Stonemason-Dixon Line?

Information technology is called the Stonemason and Dixon Line considering the two men who originally surveyed the line and got the governments of Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland to agree, were named Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

Jeremiah was a Quaker and from a mining family. He showed a talent early for maths and and so surveying. He went down to London to exist taken on by the Royal Guild, merely at a time when his social life was getting a scrap out of paw.

He was a bit of a lad by all accounts, not your typical Quaker, and never married. He enjoyed socialising and carousing and was actually expelled from the Quakers for his drinking and keeping loose company.

Mason’s early life was more than sedate by comparison. At the age of 28 he was taken on by the Purple Observatory in Greenwich as an assistant. Noted as a “meticulous observer of nature and geography” he subsequently became a boyfriend of the Royal Club.

Mason and Dixon arrived in Philadelphia on fifteen November 1763. Although the war in America had concluded some two years earlier, in that location remained considerable tension between the settlers and their native neighbours.

A Plan of the West Line
“A Plan of the Westward-Line or Parallel of Latitude” past Charles Stonemason, 1768.

The line was not chosen the Mason-Dixon Line when it was beginning fatigued. Instead, it got this name during the Missouri Compromise, which was agreed to in 1820.

Information technology was used to reference the boundary between states where slavery was legal and states where information technology was not. Later on this, both the proper noun and its understood meaning became more than widespread, and information technology eventually became office of the border betwixt the seceded Confederate States of America and Matrimony Territories.


Why Practise Nosotros Have a Mason-Dixon Line?

In the early days of British colonialism in North America, land was granted to individuals or corporations via charters, which were given by the rex himself.

Even so, fifty-fifty kings can make mistakes, and when Charles II granted William Penn a charter for state in America, he gave him territory that he had already granted to both Maryland and Delaware! What an
idiot!?

William Penn  was a writer, early member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and founder of the English N American colony the Province of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans.

Nether his direction, the metropolis of Philadelphia was planned and developed. Philadelphia was planned out to be filigree-like with its streets and exist very easy to navigate, dissimilar London where Penn was from. The streets are named with numbers and tree names. He chose to use the names of trees for the cross streets because Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Wood”.

Charles II of England
Rex Charles II of England.

Merely in his defense, the map he was using was inaccurate, and this threw everything out of whack. At first, information technology wasn’t a huge effect since the population in the area was so sparse there were not many disputes related to the border.

Simply every bit all the colonies grew in population and sought to expand w, the matter of the unresolved edge became a much more prominent in mid-Atlantic politics.


The Feud

In colonial times, as in modern times, too, borders and boundaries were critical. Provincial governors needed them to ensure they were collecting their due taxes, and citizens needed to know which land they had a correct to claim and which belonged to someone else (of course, they didn’t seem to mind too much when that ‘someone else’ was a tribe of Native Americans).

The dispute had its origins almost a century earlier in the somewhat confusing proprietary grants by Rex Charles I to Lord Baltimore (Maryland) and by Male monarch Charles II to William Penn (Pennsylvania and Delaware). Lord Baltimore was an English nobleman who was the kickoff Proprietor of the Province of Maryland, ninth Proprietary Governor of the Colony of Newfoundland and second of the colony of Province of Avalon to its southeast. His title was “First Lord Proprietary, Earl Palatine of the Provinces of Maryland and Avalon in America”.

A problem arose when Charles Ii granted a charter for Pennsylvania in 1681. The grant defined Pennsylvania’due south southern border as identical to Maryland’s northern edge, but described it differently, as Charles relied on an inaccurate map. The terms of the grant clearly bespeak that Charles Ii and William Penn believed the 40th parallel would intersect the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle, Delaware, when in fact it falls n of the original boundaries of the City of Philadelphia, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony’s capital city. Negotiations ensued after the problem was discovered in 1681.

As a result, solving this border dispute became a major effect, and it became an fifty-fifty bigger bargain when violent conflict broke out in the mid-1730s over state claimed by both people from Pennsylvania and Maryland. This piddling event became known as Cresap’s State of war.

Cresaps War
Map showing the surface area disputed betwixt Maryland and Pennsylvania during Cresap’s War.

To stop this madness, the Penns, who controlled Pennsylvania, and the Calverts, who were in charge of Maryland, hired Charles Bricklayer and Jeremiah Dixon to survey the territory and depict a boundary line to which anybody could agree.

But Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon only did this because the Maryland governor had agreed to a edge with Delaware. He later on argued the terms he signed to were not the ones he had agreed to in person, but the courts made him stick to what was on paper. Always read the fine print!

This understanding made it easier to settle the dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland because they could use the at present established purlieus betwixt Maryland and Delaware equally a reference. All they had to do was extend a line west from the southern boundary of Philadelphia, and…

The Mason-Dixon Line was born.

Limestone markers measuring up to 5ft (1.5m) high – quarried and transported from England – were placed at every mile and marked with a P for Pennsylvania and M for Maryland on each side. So-called Crown stones were positioned every five miles and engraved with the Penn family’s coat of arms on one side and the Calvert family’s on the other.

Later, in 1779, Pennsylvania and Virginia agreed to extend the Mason-Dixon Line west by five degrees of longitude to create the border between the ii colines-turned-states (By 1779, the American Revolution was underway and the colonies were no longer colonies).

In 1784, surveyors David Rittenhouse and Andrew Ellicott and their crew completed the survey of the Stonemason–Dixon line to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, v degrees from the Delaware River.

Rittenhouse’s crew completed the survey of the Bricklayer–Dixon line to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, five degrees from the Delaware River. Other surveyors connected w to the Ohio River. The department of the line between the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and the river is the county line between Marshall and Wetzel counties, West Virginia.

In 1863, during the American Civil State of war, W Virginia separated from Virginia and rejoined the Matrimony, but the line remained as the border with Pennsylvania.

It’s updated several times throughout history, the nigh recent being during the Kennedy Assistants, in 1963.


The Mason-Dixon Line’s Identify in History

The Bricklayer–Dixon line forth the southern Pennsylvania border
later became informally known as the boundary between the gratuitous (Northern) states and the slave (Southern) states.

Information technology is unlikely that Mason and Dixon always heard the phrase “Stonemason–Dixon line”. The official report on the survey, issued in 1768, did not even mention their names. While the term was used occasionally in the decades following the survey, it came into popular use when the Missouri Compromise of 1820 named “Mason and Dixon’s line” as part of the boundary between slave territory and gratis territory.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was Usa federal legislation that stopped northern attempts to forever prohibit slavery’s expansion by admitting Missouri as a slave state in commutation for legislation which prohibited slavery north of the 36°30′ parallel except for Missouri. The 16th U.s. Congress passed the legislation on March 3, 1820, and President James Monroe signed it on March 6, 1820.

At first glance, the Stonemason and Dixon Line doesn’t seem like much more than a line on a map. Plus, it was created out of a conflict brought on by poor mapping in the first place…a problem more than lines aren’t likely to solve.

Simply despite its lowly condition as a line on a map, it somewhen gained prominence in United States history and commonage retentiveness because of what it came to mean to some segments of the American population.

It first took on this pregnant in 1780 when Pennsylvania abolished slavery. Over time, more than northern states would do the same until all the states northward of the line did not allow slavery. This made it the border betwixt slave states and free states.

Perhaps the biggest reason this is meaning has to do with the surreptitious resistance to slavery that took place nearly from the institution’s inception. Slaves who managed to escape from their plantations would endeavor to brand their way north, past the Mason-Dixon Line.

Underground Railroad map
Map of the Hush-hush Railroad. The Stonemason-Dixon line drew a literal bulwark between slave and free states.

However, in the early on years of United States history, when slavery was still legal in some Northern states and fugitive slave laws required anyone who plant a slave to render him or her to their owner, meaning Canada was often the final destination. Yet it was no secret the journey got slightly easier afterward crossing the Line and making it into Pennsylvania.

Because of this, the Bricklayer-Dixon Line became a symbol in the quest for freedom. Making it across significantly improved your chances of making information technology to liberty.

Today, the Mason-Dixon Line does non take the same significance (obviously, since slavery is no longer legal) although information technology however serves as a useful demarcation in terms of American politics.

The “South” is still considered to get-go below the line, and political views and cultures tend to change dramatically once past the line and into Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and then on.

Across this, the line however serves as the border, and anytime two groups of people can agree on a border for a long time, everyone wins. There’s less fighting and more peace.


The Line and Social Attitudes

Because when studying the United States history the virtually racist stuff ever comes from the Southward, it’due south like shooting fish in a barrel to fall into the trap of thinking the Due north was as progressive equally the Due south was racist.

But this simply isn’t truthful. Instead, people in the North were just as racist, just they went nigh it in different ways. They were more than subtle. Sneakier. And they were quick to judge Southern racist, pushing attending away from them.

In fact, segregation still existed in many northern cities, especially when it came to housing, and attitudes towards blacks were far from warm and welcoming. Boston, a city very much in the North, has had a long history of racism, yet Massachusetts was one of the first states to abolish slavery.

As a result, to say the Mason-Dixon Line separated the state by social attitude is a gross mischaracterization.

Mason-Dixon Crownstone Sign
Mason-Dixon Crownstone sign in Marydel, Maryland.


formulanone from Huntsville, U.s.a. [CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s truthful that blacks were generally safer in the N than in the South, where lynchings and other mob violence were quite common all the manner upwardly until the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

But the Mason-Dixon Line is best understood as the unofficial border betwixt the Due north and the South besides as the divider between gratis and slave states.


The Hereafter of the Stonemason-Dixon Line

Although information technology however serves equally the border of three states, the Mason-Dixon Line is most likely waning in significance. Its unofficial role as a border between the Due north and South only really remains because of the political differences between us on each side.

All the same, the political dynamic in the state is irresolute apace, peculiarly as demographics shift. What this will do to the deviation between North and Southward, who knows?

Mason Dixon Line Trail
The “Bricklayer Dixon Line Trail” stretches from Pennsylvania to Delaware, and is a popular attraction to tourists.



Jbrown620 at English language Wikipedia [CC Past-SA 3.0

If we utilise history as a guide, it’southward safe to say the line will continue to serve some significance if in nothing else except our collective consciousness. But maps are redrawn constantly. What’southward a timeless border today can be a forgotten boundary tomorrow. History is still being written.

READ More than:

The Cracking Compromise of 1787

The Three-Fifths Compromise

Source: https://historycooperative.org/mason-dixon-line/