The Mason-Dixon line is a significant cultural designation in the United States. The line was examined by Charles Mason in collaboration with Jeremiah Dixon from 1763 to 1767 to resolve a border dispute between Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania when America was a colony. The line remains a dividing line and forms a portion of the borders of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland
Geography of the Mason-Dixon line
The current survey line begins south of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and extends from a landmark in the east to the Delaware River and in the west to what has been included as a border with West Virginia. Mason and Dixon have set the border between the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware and the estimated north-south part of the Maryland-Delaware border. Much of the border between Delaware and Pennsylvania is in the form of an arch while the border between Delaware and Maryland, since it was designed to split the Delmarva peninsula in two and not follow the course of a meridian, does not run from north to south. The Maryland-Pennsylvania border is designed as an east-west line and its estimated average latitude is 39 ° 43’20 ”. Mason and Dixon have further extended the border 40 miles west of the western border of Maryland into a region that was still in dispute between the two states, although this was against their original charter. The survey was completed in October 9, 1767, approximately 31 miles east of the current southwestern corner of Pennsylvania.
History of the Mason-Dixon line
The survey was necessitated by disputes between Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, which were then British colonies. Some of these disputes were serious such that Maryland’s request would include Pennsylvania’s largest city in Philadelphia on its territory. The disputants enlisted in the services of a surveyor named Jeremiah Dixon and an astronomer named Charles Mason. The Penns of Pennsylvania and the Calverts of Maryland split up with 9 shillings 0 pence to get 244 inspections with precision. The line has four segments as established by the terms of the settlement and is the arc line, the tangent line, the north line and the parallel 39 ° 43 ‘N. The two experts began to monitor the Maryland-Pennsylvania line in April 1765 and to leave 11, 1767, after their Iroquois guides refused to proceed beyond the 244 miles west of Delaware since the team had reached the border between the Iroquois and Lenape. The Mason-Dixon was rethought in 1849 and again in 1900 and in the 1960s.
Symbolism of the Mason-Dixon line
The Mason-Dixon is popularly used as a cultural border to separate the North and the South (Dixie). When Pennsylvania ended slavery, the border became a mark of demarcation for the legality of slavery. However, the demarcation did not extend beyond Pennsylvania as Delaware was still a state of slavery and extended east and north of the border. New Jersey also extended east and north of the border, and although slavery had been demolished in 1846, slaves were still “apprentices” by their masters until 1865.
Naming the Mason-Dixon Line
Mason and Dixon most likely haven’t heard of the term “Mason-Dixon line”. The official survey work report was published in 1768 and did not mention their names. The term was sometimes used in the decades after the poll, but it was only when the Missouri Compromise included the “Mason and Dixon line” on the border between free land and the slave that became popular.