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Not only was the northern boundary of West Florida in dispute, but after the Louisiana purchase of 1803 the United States claimed the entire area east to the Perdido River. (See p. 34.) The act of February 12, 1813,25 authorized the President to occupy that area and appropriated $20,000 for carrying the act into effect.
Although the Spanish treaty concluded February 22, 1819, was not in full effect until February 22, 1821 (see p. 36), Congress, by act of March 3, 1819,26 authorized the President to take possession of the Floridas and to establish a temporary government therein.
By an act approved March 30, 1822,27 the territory east of the Mississippi River ceded to the United States by Spain was made the Territory of Florida, embracing the same area as the present State. On March 3, 1845, Florida was admitted to the Union as an independent State.28
For a history of the northern boundary of Florida see Georgia, pages 157-159.
In 1831 Congress passed an act relating to the boundary between Florida and Alabama, from which the following is an extract : 29
That the Presidewt of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause to be run and marked the boundary line between the state of Alabama and the territory of Florida, by the surveyors-general of Alabama and Florida, on the thirty-first degree of north latitude.
In 1847 the agreement of commissioners previously appointed by Florida and Alabama was ratified, and the line is described as follows: 80
Commencing on the Chattahoochee River near a place known as Irwin's Mills ” and running west to the Perdido, marked throughout by blazes on the trees; and also by mounds of earth thrown up on the line, at distances of 1 mile, more or less, from each other, and commonly known as the mound line," or Ellicott's line."
This line was run in 1799 by Andrew Ellicott. It was retraced and re-marked in 1853–54 by B. F. Whitner, jr., and again retraced in 1911, by authority of an act of Congress approved June 25, 1910.31 The examiner in 1911 reported 82 that
Many of the mounds erected by Whitner in reestablishing the Ellicott line are in perfect condition and are the best evidence remaining of the original surveys in the vicinity.
The line between the two States is given in general terms in the Florida Code as follows:
% 3 Stat. L. 472.
Commencing at the mouth of the Perdido River, from thence up the middle of said river to where it intersects the south boundary line of the State of Alabama and the thirty-first degree of north latitude; then due east to the Chattahoochee River.
ALABAMA On March 3, 1817, by an act of Congress Alabama Territory was formed from the eastern part of Mississippi Territory with the following boundaries 83 (see fig. 12): beginning at the point where the line of the thirty-first degree of north latitude intersects the Perdido river; thence east to the western boundary line of the state of Georgia; thence along said line to the southern boundary line of the state of Tennessee; thence west along said boundary line to the Tennessee rlver; thence up the same to the mouth of Bear creek; thence by a direct line to the northwest corner of Washington county; thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico; thence eastwardly, including all the islands within six leagues of the shore, to the Perdido river; and thence up the same to the beginning.
On December 14, 1819, Alabama was admitted as an independent State, with boundaries as above described.
An act of Congress approved March 2, 1819,35 made it the duty of the surveyor of the lands of the United States south of the state of Tennessee, and the surveyor of the public lands in the Alabama territory, to run and cut out the line of demarcation, between the state of Mississippi and the state to be formed of the Alabama territory; and if it should appear to said surveyors, that so much of said line designated in the preceding section, running due south, from the north-west corner of Washington county to the Gulf of Mexico, will encroach on the counties of Wayne, Green, or Jackson, in said state of Mississippi, then the same shall be so altered as to run in a direct line from the north-west corner of Washington county to a point on the Gulf of Mexico, ten miles east of the mouth of the river Pascagola.
In 1820, in accordance with this statute, a trial line was run north from the northwest corner of what was then Washington County, marked by a stump of an oak tree 20 feet tall, to the mouth of Bear Creek on the Tennessee River, from which the true bearing of this part of the boundary was found to be N. 2° 8' E. The final line was run on that course, and posts were established at each mile, the measured distance being 204 miles 30 chains.
Another party ran a trial line Yue south to the Gulf, from which it was found 86 that the experimental line encroached on the Counties of Wayne, Green and Jackson in the State of Mississippi &
falls on the Gulf of Mexico six miles, 22 chains & 54 links East of the Mouth of the river or Bay of Pascagola
we have determined to alter said line to a point on the Gulf of Mexico three miles, 57 chains & 46 links East of the experimental line,
833 Stat. L. 371.
38 Manuscript dated May 29, 1820, signed by John Coffee and Thomas Freeman, U. S. surveyors; reports and plats are on file in the General Land Office, division L.
which will be ten miles east of the mouth of the river or Bay of Pascagola, and there fix permanently the termination of the boundary line between the States of Mississippi & Alabama.
The final line was run and marked as above described for a distance of a little more than 102 miles, and a terminal mound was established about 3 miles from the Gulf, further progress being prevented by swamps. The entire line was cleared, all near-by trees were blazed, posts were set at each mile, and at important points mounds of earth 12 feet at the base and 5 feet high were erected.
The boundary between Alabama and Mississippi is described as follows: 37
[Beginning at] a point on the west bank of the Tennessee river, six fourpole chains south of and above the mouth of Yellow creek; thence up the said river to the mouth of Bear creek; thence by a direct line to what was formerly the northwest corner of the county of Washington, (Ala.) ; thence in a direct line to a point ten miles east of the Pascagoula river, on the Gulf of Mexico:
The boundary between Alabama and Tennessee is by statute the 35th parallel of north latitude (see North Carolina, p. 147); from Nickajack (see Georgia, p. 159) the line runs west along the southern boundary line of the state of Tennessee crossing the Tennessee river, and on to second intersection of said river by said line.
In October, 1807, Thomas Freeman made sextant observations for latitude a short distance east of the Elk River, near longitude 87° He marked a point which he estimated was on the 35th parallel, the north boundary of the area then called the Mississippi Territory, and ran the line between the Elk River and the old Cherokee line, a distance of about 30 miles. In 1817 the line was extended westward to the Tennessee River, a measured distance of a little more than 7142 miles. Between 1822 and 1839 this boundary line was run eastward as far as the northwest corner of Georgia. The notes of these surveys are in the Alabama field notebooks of the General Land Office.
For the history of the boundary between Alabama and Georgia see Georgia, pages 159–160, and for the history of the boundary between Alabama and Florida see Florida, pages 161–162.
The northeast corner of Alabama, as now marked, is more than a mile south of the 35th parallel. The north boundary crosses the 35th parallel near longitude 87° 20', and at the northwest corner of the State it is about half a mile north of its proper position as defined by statute. The latitude and longitude of a number of points on the western part of the north boundary are given in United States Geological Survey Bulletins 216, 276. 440, and 551.
37 Whitefield, A. H., Catchings, T. C., and Hardy, W. H., The Mississippi code of 1906,
38 Keys, Wade, and Wood, F. M., Code of Alabama, p. 189, Montgomery, 1877.
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By an act approved April 7, 1798,39 Congress authorized the establishment of Mississippi Territory, the boundaries of which were thus described:
All that tract of country bounded on the west by the Mississippi, on the north by a line to be drawn due east from the mouth of the Yasous (now called the Yazoo] to the Chatabouchee; on the east by the Chatabouchee; and on the south by the thirty-first degree of north latitude.
But as jurisdiction over this area was claimed by Georgia, the act provided for the appointment of commissioners to determine and adjust Georgia's claims, which were “declared to be as firm and available as if this act had never been made."
Georgia ceded its rights in this area to the United States in 1802. (See p. 154.) South Carolina having also ceded to the United States its claims to territory west of its present limits, the General Government in 1804, by an act of Congress, annexed to the Mississippi Territory the tract of country lying north of the Territory and south of the State of Tennessee and bounded on the east by Georgia and west by Louisiana.40
In 1812 the United States added to Mississippi Territory all the lands lying east of the Pearl River, west of the Perdido, and south of the 31st degree of latitude.41 The United States claimed this area as part of the Louisiana Purchase but had acquiesced in its temporary occupancy by Spain. By proclamation dated October 27, 1810, the President declared that possession should be taken on behalf of the United States and directed the Governor of Orleans Territory to assume control of it. 42
By these additions the Mississippi Territory was made to comprise what is now included in the States of Alabama and Mississippi.
On December 10, 1817, the western part of the Mississippi Territory was made a State and admitted into the Union,43 with boundaries (see fig. 12) given in the enabling act of March 1, 1817, as follows: 44
Beginning on the river Mississippi at the point where the southern boundary of the state of Tennessee strikes the same, thence east along the said boundary line to the Tennessee river, thence up the same to the mouth of Bear Creek, thence by a direct line to the northwest corner of the county of Washington, thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico, thence westwardly, including all the islands within six leagues of the shore, to the most eastern junction of Pearl river with Lake Borgne, thence up said river to the thirty-first degree of north latitude; thence west along said degree of latitude to the Mississippi river; thence up the same to the beginning.
391 Stat. L. 549.
44 3 Stat. L. 348. There is a historical description of the Mississippi boundary line in the Revised Code of the statute laws of Mississippi, pp. 47–49, Jackson, 1857.
For further information concerning the eastern boundary see Alabama, page 162.
In 1819 the line between Mississippi and Tennessee was run by commissioners. In 1833 the Legislature of Tennessee passed an act *
FIGURE 12.-Historical diagram of Mississippi defining the south boundary as the line run in 1830 by John Thompson, commissioner acting for Tennessee, but Mississippi refused to accept the line as thus marked.46 In 1837 the line was again run by commissioners from the two States and ratified by the legislatures. The commissioners' report was as follows: 47
Commencing at a point on the west bank of the Tennessee river six four-pole chains south, or above the mouth of Yellow Creek, and about three-quarters of a mile north of the line known as “ Thompson's line,” and twenty-six
45 Laws of Tennessee for 1833, p. 52.
48 See Laws of Tennessee for 1833, p. 122, and Resolution No. 9, for reference to the Walker line.
67 Tennessee Laws, p. 27, 1837.