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BOUNDARIES OF THE
river with Lake Borgne; then up said Pearl river to the thirty-first degree of north latitude; then west along said degree of latitude to the middle or thread of the stream of the Mississippi river; thence up the middle of the Mississippi river, or thread of the stream, to the place of beginning, including all islands lying east of the thread of the stream of said river, and also including all lands which were at any time heretofore a part of the state.
For further information concerning the eastern boundary, see Alabama, page 109.
In 1819 the line between Mississippi and Tennessee was run by commissioners. In 1833 the Legislature of Tennessee passed an act (Laws of Tennessee, 1833, p. 52) 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.22 In 1837 the line was again run by commissioners from two States and ratified by the legislatures. The commissioners' report was as follows (Tennessee laws, 1837, p. 27):
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 chains and ten links north of Thompson's line
at the basis meridian of the Chickasaw surveys, and terminating at a point on the east bank of the Mississippi river (opposite Cow Island) sixteen chains north of Thompson's line.
By joint resolutions (35 Stat. L. 1160, 1161) approved January 26, 1909, Congress authorized Mississippi and Louisiana and Mississippi and Arkansas to fix the river boundary lines between them and to cede the one to the other any tracts of land that had been separated from the main body of either State by changes in the channel of Mississippi River.23
The change in the location of the river channel caused by the avulsion of 1912-13 at Albemarle Bend (about 15 miles north of Vicksburg) was referred to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the boundary between the two States would remain as it was before the avulsion occurred (283 U.S. 791). The river is now (1975) considerably west of its former position.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision dated February 26, 1974, ruled that an area known as Luna Bar was formed by accretion resulting from a gradual westward movement of the Mississippi River, and was therefore a part of the State of Mississippi (415 U.S. 302).
In the Mississippi State Code the river boundary is described as "the Mississippi River (meaning thereby the center of said river or thread of stream)."
LOUISIANA The original territory of Louisiana was acquired from France. (See p. 23 and fig. 3.) In 1804 a portion of
99 See Laws of Tennessee for 1833, p. 122, and Resolution 9 for reference to the Walker line.
23 Similar authority was granted to Missouri and Kansas and to Ore and Washington in 1910 (36 Stat. L. 881; see also 211 U.S. 127 and 214 U.S. 217).
FIGURE 24.--Historical diagram of Mississippi.
BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES
this territory comprising part of the present State of Louisiana and the area south of lat 31° N. eastward to the Perdido, claimed by the United States as a part of the Louisiana Purchase, was organized into a Territory under the name of Orleans, and the rest of the Louisiana Purchase was named the District of Louisiana (2 Stat. 283). This name was changed to the Territory of Louisiana by act of March 3, 1805 (2 Stat. 331). By act of Congress of April 8, 1812 (2 Stat. 702), effective April 30, the Territory of Orleans, except the area north and east of Lake Pontchartrain, which was added by a later act, was admitted as a State under the name of Louisiana, and by the act of June 4, 1812, the name of the Territory of Louisiana was changed to Missouri Territory. (See fig. 27.) In the same year the limits of the State were enlarged on the southeast to their present extent (2 Stat. 708). The United States claim to the area between the Sabine and the Mississippi was not recognized by Spain until 1819.
The act approved March 26, 1804, (2 Stat 283) defines the Territory of Orleans as
limit of Texas' 9-mile grant under the Submerged Lands Act. The case is to be argued in the October term of the Supreme Court in 1975. Information on the past actions in the case and the position of the United States is set forth in the pretrial brief presented by the Department of Justice in May 1974.
The Iberville River is now known as Bayou Manchac. (See p. 23.)
An act approved April 14, 1812 (2 Stat. 708), made the following addition to Louisiana:
Beginning at the junction of the Iberville with the river Mississippi, thence along the middle of the Iberville, he river Amite, and of the lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain, to the eastern mouth of the Pearl River; thence up the eastern branch of Pearl River to the thirty-first degree of north latitude; thence along the said degree of latitude to the river Mississippi; thence down the said river to the place of beginning, shall become and form a part of the State of Louisiana.
all that portion of country, ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, which lies south of the Mississippi territory. and of an east and west line to commence on the Mississippi river, at the thirty-third degree of north latitude, and to extend west to the western boundary of the said cession, shall constitute a Territory of the United States, under the name of the territory of Orleans.
The following clause from the act admitting Louisiana as a State defines its original boundaries:
beginning at the mouth of the river Sabine; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of said river, including all islands, to the thirty-second degree of latitude; thence due north, to the northernmost part of the thirty-third degree of north latitude; thence along the said parallel of latitude to the river Mississippi; thence down the said river to the river Iberville, and from thence along the middle of the said river and lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico; thence, bounded by the said gulf, to the place of beginning, including all islands within three leagues of the coast.
A case was brought in the Supreme Court by Texas against Louisiana to establish the location of the boundary in the Sabine River. The Court adopted the report of the Special Master, who recommended that the boundary is the geographic middle of the river and that Louisiana held all islands in the eastern half of the river and those that have existed in the western half since 1812 (410 U.S. 702).
The Court then held that the United States "should be requested to present any claims it may have to any of the islands in the western half of the Sabine
Subsequently Louisiana moved to enlarge the reference of the Special Master to include the establishment of Louisiana's lateral boundary with Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The United States recommended enlargement of the Special Master's reference to include the extension of that boundary to the seaward
This change in the boundary, whereby an area of more than 5,000 square miles was added to the State, required acceptance by the legislature before it became effective. (See fig. 25.)
The question has often been asked why the State boundary as fixed by the act of April 8, 1812, was not made to include the area added a few days later. When the enabling act of February 20, 1811, was under consideration, it was proposed to include in the new State all or part of West Florida as described in the treaty of 1763 between Spain and Great Britain, but because of numerous objections this area was purposely omitted. The matter was brought up in the constitutional convention of January 1812, when it was again proposed to include the West Florida area east to the Perdido River, but the proposition was voted down, presumably because the enlarged area would include too many Anglo-American inhabitants, the objectors being largely among the Creoles of Louisiana (Cox, 1918, p. 548, 599, 601, 604).
A few days later, however, the convention sent a memorial to Congress asking that the West Florida area, west of the Pearl River, be at once made a part of the proposed State. This request was refused, as it was deemed best to provide for the change in a separate bill. The principal reasons for this action were that it gave the people of the new State an opportunity for accepting or refusing the addition as they saw fit, and although the United States was in actual possession of the area, the title was in dispute and according
BOUNDARIES OF THE
The Geological Survey has located points on this line as follows: Near east end of line, lat 33°00'16.5" N., long 91°13'21.2" W.; near Arkana, lat 33°01'11.0" N., long 93°40'24.7" W.; 1% miles east of the northwest corner of the State, lat 33°01'09.7'' N., long 94°01'18.6" W. For reference to the survey of the west boundary, see Texas, page
to the presidential proclamation of October 27, 1810, was subject to "amicable negotiation." 24
The water boundary between Mississippi and Louisiana south of the Pearl River is thus described (202 U.S. 58; see also 202 U.S. 1):
the deep water channel sailing line emerging from the most eastern mouth of Pearl River into Lake Borgne and extending through the northeast corner of Lake Borgne, north of Half Moon or Grand Island, thence east and south through Mississippi Sound, through South Pass between Cat Island and Isle a Pitre, to the Gulf of Mexico,
The north boundary of the Territory of Orleans (now the State of Louisiana) was surveyed in 1806, presumably along the 33d parallel, from the west bank of the Mississippi River to the east bank of the Red River, a reported distance of 147 miles 49 chains. Most of the marks were blazed trees. This location of the line was accepted in 1841 as the State boundary. From mile 101 to the Red River this line was resurveyed and re-marked in 1841. Other parts of the line have been resurveyed as part of the regular work of the General Land Office. West of the Red River the line was surveyed in 1839. The western 6 miles was resurveyed in 1895, and a stone post 48 inches long and 10 inches square was placed on the Texas line to mark the northwest corner of the State.
ALABAMA On March 3, 1817, by an act of Congress, Alabama Territory was formed from the eastern part of Mississippi Territory. Alabama was admitted into the Union by resolution dated December 14, 1819. The enabling act of March 2, 1819 (3 Stat. L. 490), describes the boundaries as follows:
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 river; 3 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.
Section 3 of the enabling act provided that it should be 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.
24 For references to Congressional debates on this subject, see "Annals of Congress" (Pub. in 1853), Ilth Cong., 3d sess., p. 486; 12th Cong., Ist sess., v. 1, p. 186–194, 1159; v. 2, p. 1185-1216.
25 The western crossing of the Tennessee River is intended.
BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES
That part of the Alabama-Mississippi boundary from the mouth of Bear Creek, on the Tennessee River, southerly to the northwest corner of what was then Washington County, Ala., was surveyed by James W. Exum, U.S. deputy surveyor, in 1820 under the direction of john Coffee and Thomas Freeman. The field noies and plats of this survey, which were approved by John Coffee on October 12, 1820, are filed in the Records of the General Land Office, now in the custody of the National Archives and Records Service. A trial line was run northerly from the stump of an oak tree 20 feet tall which marked the corner of the county. The true bearing of this part of the boundary was found to be N. 2° 08' E. The final line was run on that course, and posts were established at each mile, the measured distance being 204 miles 30 chains.
The part of the boundary between the line described above and the Gulf of Mexico was also surveyed in 1820 under the direction of Thomas Freeman.26 From this survey it was found 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, 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 nearby 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 (Whitefield, 1906, p. 244):
[Beginning at] a point on the west bank of the Tennessee river, six four-pole 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. 97); from Nickajack (see Georgia, p. 103) the line runs (Keys and Wood, 1877, p. 189) 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 long 87° W. 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 71/2 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, page 103; and for the history of the boundary between Alabama and Florida, see Florida, page 102.
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 long 87°20' W. 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 U.S. Geological Survey Bulletins 216, 276, 440, and 551 (Gannett, 1903, 1905; R. B. Marshall, 1910, 1914).
TENNESSEE Tennessee was originally a part of North Carolina. In 1784 the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act of cession to the United States of its western counties. Although the act was soon afterward repealed, the people of Greene, Sullivan, and Washington Counties (now eastern Tennessee), believing themselves to be without proper government and inadequately defended against the Indians, revolted in 1785 and proceeded to organize an independent State to be called Franklin. A constitution was adopted, and a governor and a legislature were elected. It was planned to invite the inhabitants of adjoining areas now forming parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama to join the movement and thus create a large State; but the continued opposition of North Carolina finally prevailed, and in 1788 North Carolina again gained control. (Haywood, 1823, p. 142-175; Am. Hist. Rev., 1903, v. 8, p. 271-293.)
p North Carolina in 1790 again passed an act ceding her western lands to the United States. The cession was accepted by act of Congress approved on April 2 of that year, and a government was provided for in "An act for
* See unpublished report by John Coffee and Thomas Freeman, dated May 29, 1820, and field notes on file in the records of the General Land Office.
BOUNDARIES OF THE
eastern corner of Kentucky to the Tennessee river; tience with and up said river to the point where the line of Alexander and Munsell, run by them in the last year under the authority of an act of the legislature of Kentucky entitled an act to run the boundary line between this state and the state of Tennessee, west of the Tennessee river, approved February the 8th, 1819, would cross said river; and thence with the said line of Alexander and Munsell to the termination
thereof on the Mississippi river, below New Madrid. the government of the territory of the United States In 1858–59 commissioners were appointed by Kensouth of the Ohio River" (1 Stat. L. 123). The boundaries tucky and Tennessee to rerun this line. The report of (fig. 21) described in the act of cession are substantially the commission on the part of Tennessee, giving those of the State of Tennessee at the present day. courses, bearings, and milestones erected can be found (Carroll, 1903, p. 240-243; Staunton, 1860, p. 211-220; in the State statutes (Thompson and Steger, 1873, p. Shannon, 1917, v. 1, p. 33–62.)
223–243). The report of the commission on the part of Tennessee was admitted to the Union as a State by Kentucky, including latitudes and a map of the line, act approved June 1, 1796. The act of admission de
was printed at Frankfurt by the State printer, in 1860, fined it as "the whole of the territory ceded to the as a pamphlet of 98 octavo pages. Between CumberUnited States by the State of North Carolina" (1 Stat. land Gap and the Tennessee River the line is from 534 L. 491).
to 12 miles north of lat 36°30' N. As a result of this and For the history of the eastern boundary, see North other errors in the location of its boundaries, Tennessee Carolina, page 98; for the southern boundary, see gained about 2,500 square miles of territory that it Georgia, pages 101, 102; Alabama, page 109; and Mis- would not have had if the lines had been correctly sissippi, page 105.
located. The middle of the Mississippi River became the west- The line was run from the Mississippi eastward to ern boundary of this area by the treaty of peace of the Tennessee, thence down that river to a point at ap1783.
proximate lat 36°40'45' N., and thence eastward; it Virginia and North Carolina, prior to the creation of followed the old Walker line wherever identifiable, and the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, appointed com- where no marks were known it was run to points where missioners-Messrs. Walker and Henderson to run the Walker line was reputed to be. At the southwest and mark their common boundary on the parallel of lat corner of Virginia is an offset from the Walker line, 36°30' N. From a point on the top of the Cumberland which had been adopted for the Kentucky boundary, Mountains, now the southeast corner of Kentucky, to the compromise line agreed on by Virginia and Walker ran and marked the line to a point on the Tennessee in 1803. The line was continued to the Tennessee River. This line, called Walker's line, was northeast corner of the State and thence about 1/2 regarded for many years as the dividing line between miles southwest to the North Carolina line, a total distKentucky and Tennessee. It has since been ascertained, ance of about 432 miles. however, that Walker's line was about 3 minutes There are many angles and offsets in the line east north of lat 36°30' N.
of the Tennessee River that can scarcely be attributed The Indian title to the land west of the Tennessee to errors in surveying. It seems, however, that the River being extinguished by the treaty of 1819, the commissioners who first ran the line between Virginia Legislature of Kentucky appointed Robert Alexander and North Carolina (the Byrd line) and the Tennessee and Luke Munsell to ascertain the true point of lat 36° north boundary (the Walker line) were allowed to 30' N. on the Mississippi and to run and mark a line change the lines at their discretion provided the comeast on that parallel, which was done as far east as missioners for both States agreed; consequently they the Tennessee (Carroll, 1903, p. 240-243).
ran the line on an irregular course to accommodate inIn 1820 commissioners were appointed by Kentucky fluential inhabitants along the boundary who desired and Tennessee to settle the boundary. Their report, to remain in one State or the other. (For a compreratified by the States and approved by Congress May hensive history of this line, see Garrett, 1884.) 12, 1820, is in part as follows (Haywood, 1823, p. 485; By act of January 28, 1901, Tennessee ceded the Carroll, 1903, p. 240; 3 Stat. L. 609. For reference to north half of the main street in the old town of Bristol the 1826 survey of this line by Thomas J. Matthews, to Virginia. This cession was accepted by Virginia see Henry, 1920, p. 177-184).
February 9, 1901, and approved by Congress March The line of boundary and separation between the States of Ken- 3, 1901. (31 Stat. L. 1465. See 190 U.S. 75 for reference tucky and Tennessee shall be as follows, to wit: The line run by the to this cession.) Virginia commissioners, in the years 1779 and 1780, commonly called Walker's line, as the same is reputed, understood, and acted upon by
For a history of the boundary between Virginia and the said States, their respective officers and citizens, from the south
Tennessee, see Virginia, page 95.