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The British men in the concern of colonizing the North American continent were so sure they “owned any land they land on” (yes, that’s from Pocahontas), they established new colonies by simply drawing lines on a map.
And then, everyone living in the now-claimed territory, became a part of an English colony.
And of all the lines drawn on maps in the 18th century, perhaps the most famous is the Mason-Dixon Line.
What is the Mason-Dixon Line?
The Mason-Dixon Line also called the Bricklayer and Dixon Line is a boundary line that makes up the border between Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. Over time, the line was extended to the Ohio River to make up the unabridged southern border of Pennsylvania.
Just it also took on additional significance when information technology became the unofficial edge betwixt the North and the South, and perhaps more importantly, between states where slavery was immune and states where slavery had been abolished.
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The History of Slavery: America’s Black Mark
Where is the Mason-Dixon Line?
For the cartographers in the room, the Mason and Dixon Line is an due east-westward line located at 39º43’20” N starting south of Philadelphia and e of the Delaware River. Stonemason and Dixon resurveyed the Delaware tangent line and the Newcastle arc and in 1765 began running the due east-west line from the tangent point, at approximately 39°43′ N.
For the rest of us, it’s the border betwixt Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Pennsylvania–Maryland edge was defined as the line of latitude xv miles (24 km) due south of the southernmost house in Philadelphia.
Mason-Dixon Line Map
Take a wait at the map below to run into exactly where the Mason Dixon Line is:
Why Is it Chosen the Bricklayer-Dixon Line?
It is called the Mason and Dixon Line because 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 unit. He showed a talent early on for maths and then surveying. He went down to London to exist taken on by the Royal Society, just at a time when his social life was getting a bit out of mitt.
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’due south early life was more than sedate by comparison. At the age of 28 he was taken on by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich as an assistant. Noted equally a “meticulous observer of nature and geography” he later became a swain of the Royal Society.
Mason and Dixon arrived in Philadelphia on 15 November 1763. Although the state of war in America had concluded some ii years earlier, there remained considerable tension between the settlers and their native neighbours.
The line was non called the Mason-Dixon Line when it was first drawn. Instead, it got this name during the Missouri Compromise, which was agreed to in 1820.
Information technology was used to reference the boundary betwixt states where slavery was legal and states where it was not. Afterward this, both the name and its understood pregnant became more widespread, and information technology eventually became part of the border between the seceded Confederate States of America and Wedlock Territories.
Why Practice We 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 male monarch himself.
However, even kings can make mistakes, and when Charles 2 granted William Penn a lease for land in America, he gave him territory that he had already granted to both Maryland and Delaware! What an
William Penn was a writer, early on member of the Religious Order of Friends (Quakers), and founder of the English Due north American colony the Province of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of commonwealth and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans.
Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. Philadelphia was planned out to be grid-like with its streets and be 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 considering Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods”.
But in his defence force, the map he was using was inaccurate, and this threw everything out of whack. At start, information technology wasn’t a huge issue since the population in the area was so sparse there were non many disputes related to the border.
Simply every bit all the colonies grew in population and sought to expand westward, the thing of the unresolved border became a much more than prominent in mid-Atlantic politics.
In colonial times, as in modern times, besides, borders and boundaries were disquisitional. Provincial governors needed them to ensure they were collecting their due taxes, and citizens needed to know which country 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 about a century before in the somewhat disruptive proprietary grants past King Charles I to Lord Baltimore (Maryland) and by Male monarch Charles Two to William Penn (Pennsylvania and Delaware). Lord Baltimore was an English nobleman who was the first Proprietor of the Province of Maryland, ninth Proprietary Governor of the Colony of Newfoundland and 2d of the colony of Province of Avalon to its southeast. His title was “Outset Lord Proprietary, Earl Palatine of the Provinces of Maryland and Avalon in America”.
A problem arose when Charles 2 granted a charter for Pennsylvania in 1681. The grant divers Pennsylvania’southward southern border as identical to Maryland’s northern border, only described it differently, every bit Charles relied on an inaccurate map. The terms of the grant clearly indicate that Charles II and William Penn believed the 40th parallel would intersect the Twelve-Mile Circumvolve around New Castle, Delaware, when in fact information technology falls due north of the original boundaries of the City of Philadelphia, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony’s uppercase city. Negotiations ensued afterwards the problem was discovered in 1681.
Equally a result, solving this edge dispute became a major issue, and it became an even bigger deal when tearing conflict broke out in the mid-1730s over land claimed by both people from Pennsylvania and Maryland. This piddling consequence became known as Cresap’southward War.
To stop this madness, the Penns, who controlled Pennsylvania, and the Calverts, who were in charge of Maryland, hired Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to survey the territory and describe a boundary line to which everyone could agree.
Simply Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon only did this considering the Maryland governor had agreed to a border with Delaware. He later argued the terms he signed to were non the ones he had agreed to in person, but the courts made him stick to what was on paper. E’er read the fine impress!
This agreement fabricated it easier to settle the dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland because they could use the at present established boundary between 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 built-in.
Limestone markers measuring up to 5ft (one.5m) high – quarried and transported from England – were placed at every mile and marked with a P for Pennsylvania and Thou for Maryland on each side. So-called Crown stones were positioned every five miles and engraved with the Penn family’southward glaze 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 two 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 Mason–Dixon line to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, v degrees from the Delaware River.
Rittenhouse’s coiffure completed the survey of the Stonemason–Dixon line to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, v degrees from the Delaware River. Other surveyors continued west to the Ohio River. The section of the line betwixt the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and the river is the canton line between Marshall and Wetzel counties, West Virginia.
In 1863, during the American Civil State of war, West Virginia separated from Virginia and rejoined the Union, but the line remained as the border with Pennsylvania.
It’s updated several times throughout history, the almost recent being during the Kennedy Administration, in 1963.
The Mason-Dixon Line’s Place in History
The Bricklayer–Dixon line along the southern Pennsylvania edge
later became informally known every bit the purlieus betwixt the gratuitous (Northern) states and the slave (Southern) states.
Information technology is unlikely that Mason and Dixon e’er heard the phrase “Mason–Dixon line”. The official study on the survey, issued in 1768, did non 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 purlieus between slave territory and costless territory.
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was U.s. federal legislation that stopped northern attempts to forever prohibit slavery’s expansion by albeit Missouri as a slave land in exchange for legislation which prohibited slavery due north of the 36°30′ parallel except for Missouri. The 16th Us Congress passed the legislation on March three, 1820, and President James Monroe signed it on March vi, 1820.
At first glance, the Mason and Dixon Line doesn’t seem like much more than than a line on a map. Plus, it was created out of a conflict brought on by poor mapping in the beginning place…a problem more lines aren’t likely to solve.
But despite its lowly status as a line on a map, it eventually gained prominence in United states of america history and collective memory because of what it came to mean to some segments of the American population.
It starting time took on this meaning in 1780 when Pennsylvania abolished slavery. Over time, more northern states would do the same until all the states north of the line did not allow slavery. This fabricated it the edge between slave states and costless states.
Perhaps the biggest reason this is pregnant has to do with the hugger-mugger resistance to slavery that took place almost from the institution’s inception. Slaves who managed to escape from their plantations would endeavour to make their way north, by the Mason-Dixon Line.
However, in the early years of United States history, when slavery was still legal in some Northern states and fugitive slave laws required anyone who institute a slave to return him or her to their owner, pregnant Canada was often the final destination. Yet information technology was no clandestine the journey got slightly easier after crossing the Line and making it into Pennsylvania.
Considering of this, the Mason-Dixon Line became a symbol in the quest for freedom. Making it across significantly improved your chances of making it to liberty.
Today, the Mason-Dixon Line does not have the aforementioned significance (patently, since slavery is no longer legal) although it still serves every bit a useful demarcation in terms of American politics.
The “South” is still considered to start below the line, and political views and cultures tend to alter dramatically once by the line and into Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and and so on.
Beyond this, the line notwithstanding serves as the edge, and anytime two groups of people can agree on a border for a long time, everyone wins. At that place’southward less fighting and more peace.
The Line and Social Attitudes
Because when studying the United States history the most racist stuff e’er comes from the South, information technology’s easy to autumn into the trap of thinking the North was as progressive as the South was racist.
Simply this simply isn’t truthful. Instead, people in the N were just as racist, but they went well-nigh it in different ways. They were more subtle. Sneakier. And they were quick to judge Southern racist, pushing attention away from them.
In fact, segregation still existed in many northern cities, peculiarly when it came to housing, and attitudes towards blacks were far from warm and welcoming. Boston, a city very much in the N, has had a long history of racism, nevertheless Massachusetts was one of the get-go states to abolish slavery.
As a upshot, to say the Mason-Dixon Line separated the state past social attitude is a gross mischaracterization.
It’south true that blacks were generally safer in the North than in the South, where lynchings and other mob violence were quite common all the way up until the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Only the Mason-Dixon Line is best understood as the unofficial border between the North and the South as well as the divider between free and slave states.
The Future of the Mason-Dixon Line
Although it still serves as the border of iii states, the Stonemason-Dixon Line is most likely waning in significance. Its unofficial office as a edge between the North and Southward only really remains because of the political differences between the states on each side.
Withal, the political dynamic in the country is changing rapidly, specially as demographics shift. What this will practice to the difference betwixt North and S, who knows?
If we use history equally a guide, it’s safety to say the line volition go on to serve some significance if in nothing else except our collective consciousness. But maps are redrawn constantly. What’south a timeless border today can be a forgotten boundary tomorrow. History is nevertheless being written.
READ More than:
The Great Compromise of 1787
The 3-Fifths Compromise
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