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The United States
cede to the State of Georgia

the lands

situated south of the southern boundaries of the States of Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and east of the boundary line herein above described as the eastern boundary of the territory ceded by Georgia to the United States.

For lands ceded to the United States Georgia was to be paid $1,250,000 from the net proceeds of land to be sold."

For a history of the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina, see South Carolina, page 152.

The history of the boundary between North Carolina and Georgia has already been given. (See p. 150.) It may be proper, however, to add that this line (the 35th degree of north latitude) was fixed by the cession, above detailed, from the United States to Georgia of that part of the South Carolina cession east of the present western boundary of Georgia.

A long controversy ensued between Georgia and North Carolina regarding the boundary, with no results until 1810, when Georgia empowered its governor to employ Andrew Ellicott to ascertain the true location of the 35th degree of latitude. Ellicott did so, and the point fixed by him was acquiesced in by both States.10

The boundary between Georgia and Tennessee was established in 1818 and is described as follows: 11

Beginning at a point in the true parallel of the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude, as found by James Camak, mathematician on the part of the State of Georgia, and James S. Gaines, mathematician on the part of the State of Tennessee, on a rock about two feet high, four inches thick, and fifteen inches broad, engraved on the north side thus: “ June 1st, 1818; var. 634 east," and on the south side thus: “ Geo, lat. 35 north; J. Camak,” which rock stands one mile and twenty-eight poles from the south bank of the Tennessee river, due south from near the center of the old Indian town of Nickajack, and near the top of the Nickajack Mountain, at the supposed corner of the states of Georgia and Alabama; thence running due east, leaving old D. Ross two miles and eighteen yards in the State of Tennessee, and leaving the house of John Ross about two hundred yards in the State of Georgia, and the house of David McNair one mile and one-fourth of a mile in the State of Tennessee, with blazed and mile-marked trees, lessening the variation of the compass by degrees, closing it at the termination of the line on the top of the Unicoi Mountain at five and one-half degrees.

Another line for the boundary between Georgia and Tennessee, based on new observations for latitude, was run in 1826 by James Camak, along a parallel about 37.9 chains north of the line run by him in 1818, but apparently it was not accepted by either State as the true line. Attempts have been made by Georgia to have the line relocated, but the line as run in 1818 still stands as the accepted boundary, although in places it is a mile south of the 35th parallel.

• Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 80.
10 See Cobb, T. R. R., Digest of State laws of Georgia to 1851, p. 150, 1851.

11 Tennessee Laws, 1817–1820, vol. 2, p. 475; Georgia acts, 1810_1819, p. 1217; see also Haywood, John, op. cit., p. 13. The description given by Haywood differs slightly in wording from the others, but the essential features are the same. A copy of the map of the survey is on file in the office of the Georgia Secretary of State.

The present boundary between South Carolina and Georgia is thus described : 12

Beginning at the mouth of the Savannah River; along the river to the junction of the Kiowee, and along the Tugaloo to the junction of the Tallulah and Chattooga; thence along the Chattooga to a point on the 35th parallel of north latitude, at the union of the northern boundary of South Carolina and the southern boundary of North Carolina. The general course is about N. 35° W., and the length, in a direct line, about 247 miles. It terminates at Ellicott's Rock, on the Chattooga River, marked " Lat. 35°, A. D. 1813, N. C., S. C.”

This line, in conformity with the treaty of Beaufort, separates Georgia from South Carolina (all the islands of the rivers Savannah, Tugaloo, and Chattooga being reserved to Georgia).

The boundary between Georgia and Florida was fixed by the treaty of 1783, between the United States and Great Britain, substantially as at present, namely:

Commencing in the middle of the Apalachicola or Catahouche River, on the thirty-first degree of north latitude; thence along the middle thereof to its junction with the Flint River; thence straight to the head of Saint Marys River, and thence down the middle of that river to the Atlantic Ocean.

This boundary was affirmed by the treaty of 1795 between the United States and Spain.

In 1799 Andrew Ellicott, as commissioner for the United States, was directed to survey and mark this line from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean. From a point near the Mississippi, determined by him as on the 31st parallel, he ran a line due east to a point near the mouth of the Flint River, the latitude of which he determined as 30° 42' 42.8'', where he was forced to stop work because of hostile Indians. He then proceeded by water to the St. Marys River and up that river to what he took to be the source of its longest branch, where he erected a large mound, the latitude of which he reported as “ about 30° 34' N.” 13

The line joining these two marks had not yet been surveyed when Spain ceded the Floridas to the United States in 1819, and the uncertainty regarding the position of this boundary was the cause of many disputes, which became more acute as the country became more thickly settled. Georgia claimed that the headwaters of the St. Marys were at the source of a southern branch. This claim if conceded would give additional territory to that State variously estimated at 800 to 2,355 square miles. On the other hand, the United States commis

19 Janes, T. P. (Commissioner of Agriculture), Handbook of the State of Georgia, p. 120, Atlanta, 1876.

13 Ellicott's journal relating to this survey, with maps, etc., was published in 1803 by Budd & Bartram, for Thomas Dobson, at the Stone House, 41 South Second Street, Philadelphia, and again in 1814 by William Fry, of Philadelphia.

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sioners maintained that the real source of the St. Marys was 2 miles north of the Ellicott mound.

Apparently Georgia, at least temporarily, accepted the Ellicott mound as the proper eastern terminus of the straight boundary, and some time before 1825 had the "Watson line run between the two marks established by Ellicott. It is uncertain when this line was run and whether it was ordered run by Georgia, although it is referred to in official documents as having been run by that State.

In 1825 a second line was run by D. F. McNeil, a contract surveyor for the United States General Land Office, and this line although not formally accepted by the General Land Office, was looked upon for more than 20 years as the proper location of the boundary.

In 1826 Congress authorized the survey and marking of a line which

shall be run straight from the junction of said rivers Chatahoochie and Flint to the point designated as the head of Saint Marys River.

Georgia, not content with either the Watson or the McNeil line, continued to press her claims and in 1827 passed an act forbidding any surveys of public land in the disputed territory (south of the Ellicott mound line) without authority of law.

In 1846 both Georgia and Florida consented to the appointment of commissioners who should fix the boundary, and this action resulted in 1859 in the running of the “ Orr and Whitner line” between the mouth of the Flint River and the Ellicott mound on the St. Marys. The line as then marked was accepted by Florida in 1861 and by Georgia in 1866.

All three of the lines described are indicated on township plats of the Generat Land Office in Florida book No. 43.14

The southern boundary of Georgia is thus described : 15

Thence, down the western bank of the river (Chattahoochee] at high water mark to its junction with Flint River, at a point now four chains below the actual junction—latitude 30° 42' 42", longitude 80° 53' 15''. The average direction of this line is about S. 6° E., and distance about 150 miles direct. About 130 miles it separates Georgia from Alabama, and the remaining 20 miles from Florida.

Thence along Orr and Whitner's line, S. 87° 17' 22'' E. (average direction), 158_28/80 miles, to a point 37 links north of Ellicott's mound, on St. Marys River. This line is marked by a succession of mounds about 10 feet at the base and 5 feet high-a very permanent form of landmark—and separates Georgia from Florida. It continues approximately and on an average as follows:

From Ellicott's mound S. 10° E., about 10 miles; thence east 8 miles; thence north 24 miles; thence east 33 miles, following the St. Marys River in its tortuous windings to the Atlantic Ocean.

14 For copies of official documents, Federal and State, relating to this boundary, of dates from 1789 to 1846, see 33d Cong., 2d sess., S. Misc. Doc. 25, 1855, a book of more than 400 pages.

16 Janes, T. P., op. cit., p. 121 ; Georgia Code, 1873, p. 7; and Florida Code, 1872.

In 1872 Congress passed an act to confirm the titles to land “between the line run by Georgia, known as the Watson line, and the Orr and Whitner line, lately established as the true boundary between the said States.” 16

The line between Georgia and Alabama was fixed by the act of cession from Georgia to the United States in 1802. (See p. 154.) In 1822–1825 Georgia, desiring to have the line run from the Chattahoochee to the point where it strikes the Tennessee line, appointed commissioners for that purpose and requested the cooperation of Alabama and the United States; the latter, however, took no action.

It had been ascertained by actual survey in running the random line that the first great bend in the river next above the mouth of the Uchee, from which a right line would run to Nickajack without touching the river, was the Big Shoal or Millers Bend, and this the commissioners on the part of Georgia contended was the bend at which the line should begin."

In this contention the commissioners from Alabama refused to concur; consequently the line was run from Nickajack to Millers Bend by the Georgia commissioners alone.18 Alabama protested against this line and made repeated efforts to reopen negotiations concerning it, to all of which Georgia steadily refused to accede, until finally, January 24, 1840, the Legislature of Alabama passed the following joint resolution:

Resolved, That the State of Alabama will and do hereby, accept as the true dividing line between this State and that of Georgia, the line which was run and marked out by the commissioners of Georgia in 1826, beginning at what is called Millers Bend, on the Chattahoochee River; thence along said marked line to Nickajack.

The line is described in the Code of Alabama in the following words: 19


The boundary line between Alabama and Georgia commences on the west side of the Chattahoochee River at the point where it enters the State of Florida ; from thence up the river, along the western branch thereof, to the point on Millers Bend next above the place where the Uchee Creek empties into such river; thence in a direct line to Nickajack.

The description of the western boundary of Georgia follows:

From Nickajack the line between Georgia and Alabama runs south 9° 30' east to Millers Bend, on the Chattahoochee River, about 146 miles. Thence down the western bank of the river at high-water mark to its junction with Flint River, at a point now four chains below the actual junction, latitude 30° 42' 42'', longitude 80° 53' 15'. The average direction of this line is about south 6° east, and distance about 150 miles direct.

18 See U. S. Geol. Survey Bull. 440, p. 170, 1910, for location of two points on this line. 17 Laws of Georgia, 1826, p. 209.

18 The original report of the commissioners is said to be filed in the Department of Archives and History of Alabama, at Montgomery.

19 Alabama Code, 1876, p. 189. 20 Janes, T. P., op. cit., p. 121,

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The United States Supreme Court 21 decreed regarding the river boundary between Georgia and Alabama that The boundary line runs up the river on and along its western bank the water line impressed upon the bank above the slope is the line Both bank and bed are to be ascertained by inspection, and the line is where the action of the water has permanently marked itself upon the soil.

We must reject, altogether, the attempt to trace the line by either ordinary low water or low water. These terms are only predicable of those parts of rivers within the ebb and flow of the tides,

The permanent fast-land bank is referred to as governing the line. And where the bank is fairly marked by the water, that water level will show at all places where the line is.




Florida was originally settled by the Spaniards and was held as a Spanish Province for nearly 200 years. In 1763 it was ceded by Spain to Great Britain, which divided it into the two Provinces of East Florida and West Florida, separated by the Apalachicola River East Florida had the same northern boundary as the present State (fig. 11), and West Florida at first had a northern boundary on the 31st parallel, but in 1764 the Province was extended northward to the parallel through the mouth of Yassous River (now the Yazoo), said to be in latitude 32° 28'.22 (Geological Survey maps show an old mouth of the Yazoo in latitude 32° 22'.)

The peace treaty concluded in 1782 between the United States and Great Britain specified the 31st parallel as the boundary between the United States and West Florida, but by a separate article provided as follows: 23

It is hereby understood and agreed that in case Great Britain, at the conclusion of the present war, shall recover or be put in possession of West Florida, the line of north boundary between the said province and the United States shall be a line drawn from the mouth of the river Yassous, where it unites with the Mississippi, due east to the river Apalachicola.

In 1783 Great Britain retroceded Florida to Spain without a definite settlement of the northern boundary of West Florida, which at once became a matter of dispute between the United States and Spain. Spain claimed the territory as far north as the parallel through the mouth of the Yassous, whereas the United States claimed the 31st parallel as the boundary under the treaties of 1782 and 1783, and on that parallel it was fixed by the treaty with Spain signed October 27, 1795.24

21 13 Howard, 381. See also 260 U. S. 628.

21 Lowry, Robert, and McCardle, W. H., A history of Mississippi, p. 108, Jackson, 1891. Donaldson, Thomas, op. cit., p. 108.

23 Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 1, p. 584.

24 Chambers, H. E., West Florida and its relations to the historical cartography of the United States : Johns Hopkins Univ. Studies in Historical and Political Science, May, 1898. See also 13 Howard, 406 ; Fairbanks, G. R., History of Florida, p. 209, Philadelphia, 1871; Fuller, H. B., The purchase of Florida, Cleveland, 1906.

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