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81

BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

PENNSYLVANIA

It should be observed that the geographers of that day considered degrees of latitude as zones taking designation from their northern parallels; hence the north boundary of Pennsylvania, designated as the beginning of the 43d degree, is really the 42d parallel. The south boundary, being the beginning of the 40th degree, was really the 39th parallel, a construction for which Penn earnestly contended in his dispute with Lord Baltimore in relation to the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Cushing (1920, p. 33) says: "The idea of a parallel of latitude seems to be a band about the earth parallel to the Equator and lo wide, with the beginning' newest the Equator."

The grant to William Penn included a large tract of land in the northeastern part of the present State of Pennsylvania, generally referred to as the Wyoming Valley, which was claimed by Connecticut under its charter of 1662. (See fig. 19.) The Indian title to this land was transferred to settlers from Connecticut by deed dated July 11, 1754, wherein the area was thus described (Miner, 1845, p. 69; Stone, 1844, app.):

Beginning from the one and fortieth degree of north latitude, at ten miles distance east of Susquehanna River, and from thence, with a northerly line ten miles east of the river, to the forty-second, or beginning of the forty-third degree of north latitude, and to extend west two degrees of longitude, one hundred and twenty miles, and from thence south to the beginning of the forty-second degree, and from thence east to the aforementioned bounds This area was organized by Connecticut in 1776 as the county of Westmoreland. The conflicting claims of Connecticut and Pennsylvania to this land were for many years a cause of dispute, and several battles were fought for its possession, but a court of arbitration appointed by the Continental Congress awarded it to Pennsylvania in 1782.

For a history of the northern and eastern boundaries of Pennsylvania, see New York, page 78 and New Jersey, page 80.

That part of the southern boundary of Pennsylvania which separates Pennsylvania from Delaware, as defined by the charter of 1681, is an arc of a circle of 12 miles radius, having New Castle, Del., as its center. This line was surveyed and marked in 1701 under a warrant from William Penn. (See p. 84.)

According to the original grant of 1681 the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland was to be the "beginning of the 40th degree of northern latitude," or what we would now call the 39th parallel of latitude. (See p. 80.) This boundary was for many years in dispute, Lord Baltimore claiming the country along Delaware Bay and River to the mouth of the Schuykill, which was also claimed by the Duke of York under his grant of 1664. William Penn, in 1682, obtained from the Duke of York a release of his claim, but not until 1760 was an agreement reached with Maryland. Commissioners were appointed in 1732 and again in 1739 to run the line, but they failed to agree, and chancery suits were the result. Finally a decision of Lord Chancellor Hardwick in 1750 was taken as a basis for adjudication, and an agreement was signed July 4, 1760, by which the line between Pennsylvania on the one part and Delaware and Maryland on the other was to be determined as follows:

A due east-west line was to be run across the peninsula from Cape Henlopen to Chesapeake Bay. From the exact middle of this line a line was to be drawn

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BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

82

boundaries in that locality; consequently Maryland (in 1846), Delaware (in 1847), and Pennsylvania (in 1849) authorized the appointment of commissioners to undertake the task. An Army officer was delegated by them to make the surveys, which were completed in 1850. In the resurvey of the arc boundary and of the

adjacent lines, the surveyor in charge unfortunately north which would be tangent to the western arc of a disregarded "the well-known rule that an actual line circle having a radius of 12 English statute miles meas- upon the ground is to be preferred to the written de ured horizontally from the center of the town of New scription of the same line in a deed." He changed the Castle. From the tangent point a line was to be drawn position of the arc boundary as marked in 1701 and due north until it intersected a parallel of latitude 15 assigned to Pennsylvania the triangular strip 34/2 miles miles due south of the southernmost part of the city of in length (about 840 acres in area) west of the arc Philadelphia. This point of intersection would be the boundary, east of Maryland and south of the Mason northeast corner of Maryland, and from it the line was and Dixon line, which had previously been assumed to be run west on a parallel as far as it formed the to belong to Delaware. This survey was approved by boundary between the two Provinces.

the commissioners from the three States, but no formal In 1760 commissioners and surveyors were ap- action regarding it appears to have been taken by the pointed; they spent several years in measuring the State legislatures.89 base line and the tangent line between Maryland and In 1889 and 1900 the Legislatures of Pennsylvania Delaware. The proprietors became wearied with the and Maryland authorized the appointment of a joint delay and sent from England two famous mathemati- commission to "ascertain and re-mark" the boundary cians, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who veri- between the two States. The field work for this survey fied the work of their predecessors and ran the line was commenced in 1900 and completed in 1903. No between Pennsylvania and Maryland, ever since called changes in the line as run by Mason and Dixon were the Mason and Dixon line and probably the most made; straight lines were run between original monuwidely known boundary in the United States. (See fig.

ments, and many new stones were set on the lines 19.) Mason and Dixon determined the lattitude of this thus established. The report of the commission, dated line, which they located 15 miles south of Philadephia, January 25, 1907, was published in 1908 by authority to be 39°43'17.6'' N. That they were skilled and did of the Legislature of Maryland and in 1909 by Pennsyltheir work carefully is shown by the fact that by the vania. These volumes contain a description of each of resurvey, made 200 years later with modern instru

the 225 boundary monuments, including many of the ments and methods, the position found for the line at original stones that were repaired and reset; they also the northeast corner of Maryland differed only 1.9" contain a bibliography of manuscripts and documents from that determined by them. The later position is relating to the line ,which has more than 2,000 entries. 39°43'19.521" N. (See p. 85.)

Positions for a dozen or more points on the Mason Mason and Dixon began work on this line in 1763 and Dixon line have been determined by the U.S. but were stopped by Indians in 1767, after having run

Geological Survey, some of which are as follows: the line about 244 miles west of the Delaware (230 miles

Latitude (N.) Longitude (W.) 18 chains 21 links from the northeast corner of Mary

39°43' 12.9" 77° 29'05.6" land) and thus not quite finishing the work as planned,

39°43'13.0" 76°59'42.3'' although it has since been ascertained that they had run

39°43'13.5" 76°57' 26.9"

39°43' 13.8" 76°55'11.4" about 30 miles beyond the northwest corner of Mary

39°43' 14.2" 76°52'55.7'' land.88

39°43'17.5" 76°41'54.3" The original stones for 5-mile marks on this line were

In 1889 the Legislatures of Delaware and Pennsylcarved in England from politic limestone; Lord Balti

vania authorized the re-marking of the boundary bemore's coat of arms was shown on the Maryland side

tween the two States. The commissioners agreed that and the Penn arms on the Pennsylvania side. (See

the northern boundary of Delaware should run due fig. 2D.) Intermediate milestones were smaller and

east from the northeast corner of Maryland to a point were marked "M" and "P" only, on opposite sides.

12 miles from the New Castle courthouse and thence Because of the removal of the stone at the northeast

follow a curved line passing through as many boundcorner of Maryland and for other reasons, it was

ary marks of the 12-mile circle of 1701 as could be deemed desirable to resurvey and re-mark the State

80 For report of the surveyor, see Delaware Senate Jour. for 1851, P. & For a popular description of the work by Mason and Dixon, see 56-109. A copy of the report and a map are filed in the Maryland Land Luquer (1931, p. 375).

Office at Annapolis.

BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

identified. The resurvey was made, 90 and 46 marks

83 were set on the arc boundary in 1892–93. The triangular tract assigned to Pennsylvania by the commissioners of 1849 thus reverted to Delaware. The report of the

PENNSYLVANIA commission and the line as marked by it were "accepted, approved, and confirmed" by the Legislature of Pennsylvania by act of June 22, 1897 (Pennsylvania Laws for 1897, p. 183), but were not formally accepted The Ohio-Pennsylvania boundary was resurveyed by the Legislature of Delaware until March 28, 1921. and re-marked between 1878 and 1882, commencing The assent of Congress to the action of the States was at a granite monument 6 feet high and 3 feet square at given on June 30, 1921 (42 Stat. L. 104). The land part the base, which was erected by the commissioners at of the Pennsylvania-Delaware line as determined by a point 2,400 feet south of the edge of Lake Erie. The this survey is 22.87 miles in length.

position of this monument is lat 41°58'15.23" N., long Commissioners from Virginia and Pennsylvania 80°31'10.60" W. (1927 N.A.D.). From this point the line agreed in 1779 that the boundary between those States was run south to the Ohio River, a distance of 92 should be fixed as follows. 91

miles.92

The monument established in 1785 on the north bank That the line commonly called Mason's and Diron's line be extended due west five degrees of longitude to be computed from the

of the Ohio in the west boundary of Pennsylvania is of river Delaware, for the southern boundary of Pennsylvania; and considerable historical importance, for it marks the that a meridian drawn from the western extremity thereof to the point from which the first surveys for dividing public northern limits of the said states, respectively, be the western boundary

land in the United States into ranges and townships of Pennsylvania forever.

were commenced (Peters, 1918, p. 33, 67; Sherman, In order to locate the boundaries as thus described,

1916-33, v. 3, chap. 14).93 This general system of surobservations of the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites were veys has been extended over all the public-land States made in 1784 at Wilmington and at a point estimated

and has even been adopted by some foreign countries. to be 5° of longitude west of the Delaware River. While

The original marker used as a point of departure has this work was being done the Mason and Dixon line

long since disappeared. The location of this marker was extended westward by commissioners from Vir

is referred to as the "point of beginning." A large ginia (one of whom was Andrew Ellicott) and from

granite monument was erected by Ohio and PennsylPennsylvania, and a point was marked for the south

vania in 1881 for the purpose of remarking the State west corner of Pennsylvania, which the astronomic

line. This monument was near the original stake. It computations showed should be a little more than 1972

was moved to a more conspicuous position in 1961, and miles east of the assumed position, where the observa

a bronze plaque was added commemorating the 175th tory had been placed. From the southwest corner of

anniversary of the establishment of the "point of be Pennsylvania the meridian boundary was run to the

ginning." (Popp, 1960, p. 229.) north side of the Ohio River. The line between the

By the formation of the State of Ohio from lands Ohio and Lake Erie was surveyed and marked in 1785

ceded to the United States by Virginia in 1784 and by by another commission.

Connecticut in 1800 and by the separation of West The southern part of the west boundary was again Virginia from Virginia in 1862, the above-mentioned surveyed and marked in 1883 by commissioners rep

meridian line became the boundary between Pennsylresenting the two States. The survey was commenced

vania on the east and Ohio and West Virginia on the at the Ohio, and the line was run south to the south

west. west corner of Pennsylvania, a measured distance of

The cession of 1781 by New York to the United States a little more than 63/2 miles. Twenty-three of the old

included a triangle of land, about 324 square miles in monuments were found, and 48 new ones were estab

area, bounded by New York, Pennsylvania, and Lake lished. Astronomic positions of several marks on this

Erie. In order to give Pennsylvania a larger outlet to the boundary were determined in 1883 in connection with

lake, this tract, known as the "Erie triangle," was sold the resurveys. Two of these positions are as follows:

by the General Government to that State for $151,Southwest corner of Pennsylvania, lat 39°43'18.2" N.,

02 For other details concerning the survey of the west boundary of long 80°31'08.2" W.; near Smiths Ferry on the Ohio

Pennsylvania, see report of Pennsylvania Dept. Internal Affairs (1883), River, lat 40°38'27.2"' N., long 80°31'07.5'' W.

which contains a description of each mark and a plat of the line; see also report for 1887. A historical sketch of the original surveys of the west

boundary of Pennsylvania of 1785 and 1786, the report of the resurvey of - For a report of this survey and a historical sketch of the Mason and the Ohio part of this line in 1878 to 1882, descriptions of the boundary, Dixon line, see Hodgkins (1895).

and plats of the line were published by the State of Ohio in 1883 (Joint m Pennsylvania Dept. Internal Affairs (1887, p. 293); a separate volume Commission on Pennsylvania and Ohio boundary line, 1883). of boundary maps accompanies this report. See also Hening (1822, v. 10, B3 See plat of the seven ranges of townships, Ohio Surveys, 1785–1787; p. 519_537).

U.S. General Land Office file 57, Ohio.

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BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

84

previously been known as "the Government of the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware," and declared that thereafter the Territory should be called "Delaware State." The boundaries then were substantially as at present. (Thorpe, 1909, v. 1, p. 561– 562.)

For a history of the boundary between Delaware and 640.25,94 and the deed, dated March 3, 1792, was signed Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania, page 82; and for that by George Washington.

between Delaware and New Jersey, see New Jersey, The east line of the Erie triangle, being part of the

pages 79, 80. west boundary of New York, was first surveyed and From 1732 to 1769 there was a controversy between marked in 1790. (See p. 78.) In 1869 a new granite mon- the proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland in reument was placed on this boundary near the lake. In gard to boundaries. The boundaries of Delaware on the 1885 this monument was repaired, and the boundary south and west were determined as follows: was rerun to the south line of New York, a distance of Beginning at Cape Henlopen and running due west a little more than 18 miles. In all, there were then 51 34 miles 309 perches; thence in a straight line 81 miles marks on the line. (See Pennsylvania Dept. Internal 78 chains and 30 links up the peninsula until it touches Affairs, 1887, p. 590, 592.)

and makes a tangent to the western periphery of a

circle drawn at the horizontal distance of 12 English DELAWARE

statute miles from the center of the town of New Castle.

From this tangent point a line was run due north The area now forming the State of Delaware was

till it cut a parallel of latitude 15 miles due south of originally settled by Sweden. In 1655 it was surrendered

the most southern part of the city of Philadelphia. This to the Dutch, who in turn, in 1664, surrendered it to the

point of intersection is the northeast corner of MaryEnglish; the Duke of York then took possession of it.

land. As the tangent line bears a little west of north, William Penn, who had received in 1681 a grant of

the due-north line from the tangent point cuts off an the Province of Pennsylvania, bought or leased from

arc of the 12-mile circle. The narrow segment thus the Duke of York the territory included in present-day

formed is a part of Delaware and has an area of less Delaware, which was conveyed to him by two deeds

than 20 acres. The boundary line follows the arc of the of "feoffment" dated August 24, 1682. One conveyed

circle from the tangent point around to the point where a tract of land within a 12-mile circle about New Castle;

the due-north line intersects the 12-mile circle, then folthe other was for "all that tract of land upon Delaware

lows this due-north line to the northeast corner of MaryRiver and Bay beginning 12 miles south from the town

land. The length of this due-north line, as given by of New Castle and extending south to the Horekills,

Mason and Dixon, is 5 miles 1 chain and 50 links. otherwise called 'Lopen.'" Both leases were for a

In 1961 and 1962, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Surperiod of 10,000 years, but they conveyed land to which

vey resurveyed the north-south boundary between the Duke of York then had a very uncertain title. A Maryland and Deleware. The length of this line, from

, better title was obtained by royal grant soon afterward

"Middle Point" where the boundary turns north, to the and immediately transferred to William Penn (Mathews,

northeast corner of Maryland, is approximately 87 1909, p. 150). Lord Baltimore vigorously opposed Wil

miles. Stone markers had been established at l-mile liam Penn's claim, and the matter was settled in 1685

intervals by Mason and Dixon. In the resurvey of the by a royal order to divide the territory equally between

81 monuments established on the tangent line, 15 were the two claimants. For a description of the line as

missing and 5 were considered as having been dismarked, see pages 81, 82. (Dallas, 1797, p. 24).

placed. These five points were more than four feet In 1701 William Penn granted a charter under which

from a smooth curve passing through the end points the Province of Pennsylvania and the territories (as

and the new values of the intermediate points. The Delaware was then called) were authorized to act as

maximum displacement from a straight line is 18 feet, separate governments, though both were still under the

and is to the east. proprietary government of William Penn.

The 20 missing or displaced monuments along the Acting on the advice of the Continental Congress,

north-south tangent line are being replaced (1975). the people of Delaware called a convention, which met at New Castle in August, 1776, and on September 10

The east-west boundary was resurveyed in 1974.

The 5-mile markers established in the original survey adopted a constitution for the three counties that had

were recovered and accepted. The posts that had been * This is at the rate of 75 cents an acre for an estimated area of 202,187 set at l-mile intervals were presumably temporary acres (315.92 sq. mi.). The area scaled from the most recent maps (including Presque Isle, 3 sq. mi.) is 324 sq. mi.

and were not found. The bearing of this line from the

1

BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

MARYLAND

coast to monument 10 follows the parallel of latitude.

85 From monument 10 to the midpoint, the line bears a little north of west. The midpoint is the initial point of the 1961–62 survey and was held fixed. Its 1927 N.A.D. position is lat 38°27'35.869" N., long 75°41'38.456" W. (Written commun., 1974, B.K. Meade, National Geodetic Survey).

The boundary north of the tangent point follows an The foregoing statements explain the discrepancy arc of a circle. The radius of this circle from Newcastle between the base line across the peninsula and the was determined to be 12 miles plus 108 feet. The five position of Cape Henlopen on modern maps. monuments recovered were found to be within 4 feet of the circle. Engineers making the new survey consider that

MARYLAND Mason and Dixon determined the alinement of the

The territory embraced in the present State of Marymarkers with an amazing degree of accuracy in view

land was included in the previous charters of Virginia, of the instruments available in the 18th century. The

but nevertheless, in 1632, Lord Baltimore received a distances were consistently short by about 10 or 12 royal charter of the Province of Maryland, whose feet per mile. This may indicate that the foot was a

boundaries are defined in the following extract, translittle longer than it is today. (For a description of this lated from the original charter, which was in Latin survey, see Meade, 1964, p. 33.)

(Thorpe, 1909, v. 3, p. 1678): The northeast corner of Maryland is at lat 39°43' 19.521" N., long 75°47'20.172'' W. (1927 N.A.D.).

all that part of the Peninsula, or Chersonese, lying in the Parts

of America, between the Ocean on the East and the Bay of Chesapeake The southeast corner of Delaware is at lat 38°27'

on the West; divided from the Residue thereof by a right line drawn 04.082" N., long 75°03'19.185" W.

from the Promontory, or Headland called Watkins Point, situate upon The terminal monument on the Delaware River on the Bay aforesaid, near the River Wigloo on the West, unto the main the Pennsylvania-Delaware line is at lat 39°48'27.92" Ocean on the East; and between that Boundary on the South, unto N., long 75°25'31.53'' W.

that part of the Bay of Delaware on the North which lieth under the

fortieth degree of north latitude from the Equinoctial, where New By the survey of 1849 the distance between the

England is terminated; And all the Tract of Land within the Metes tangent point and the orth end of the curve on the

underwritten (that is to say), passing from the said Bay, called Delaryland boundary is 7,743.7 feet, which would make ware Bay, in a right line, by the Degree aforesaid, unto the true the latitude of the latter point 39°40'13.47'' N. The stone meridian of the first fountain of the River Pattowmack; thence verging set in 1849 at this point, was thus described (Delaware

towards the South unto the farther Bank of the said River, and follow

ing the same on the West and South unto a certain Place called S. Jour. for 1851, p. 102):

Cinquack, situate near the mouth of said River, where it disembogues At the point of junction of the three States, a triangular prismatic into the aforesaid Bay of Chesapeake, and thence by the shortest Line post of cut granite, 18 inches wide on each side, and 7 feet long was unto the aforesaid Promontory or Place, called Watkin's Point, so that inserted 41/2 feet of its length into the ground. It occupies the exact the whole tract of land divided, by the Line aforesaid, between the spot on which the old unmarked stone was found. It is marked with

main Ocean and Watkin's Point unto the promontory called Cape the letters M. P. and D., on the sides facing, respectively, towards Charles, may entirely remain forever excepted to Us. the States of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. On the north side, below the letter P., are the names of the commissioners, in deep

A comparison of the limits laid down in this charter cut letters, namely: H. G. S. Key, of Md., J. P. Eyre, of Pa., G. R. with the several charters of Virginia and the charter Riddle, of Del., Commissioners, with the date 1849.

and deeds to William Penn shows that there was a conThis post is still in place, but now it is a mark on flict of boundaries on both sides of the Maryland grant. the boundary between Delaware and Maryland only, The history of the long controversy with Pennsylvania not a tri-State monument.

has already been given. (See Pennsylvania, p. 82, and There was some confusion regarding the location Delaware, p. 84.) Virginia claimed the territory under of Cape Henlopen. The place chosen as the starting her charters and for a time seemed disposed to aspoint for the south boundary line of Delaware is not sert her claim, though in 1638 a proclamation by the the same as the present cape of that name. Lord governor and council of Virginia recognized the ProvChancellor Hardwick said regarding its position. ince of Maryland and forbade trade with the Indians that Cape Henlopen ought to be deemed at the place where within the limits of Maryland without the consent of laid down on the map or plan annexed to the said articles.

Lord Baltimore previously obtained (Bozman, 1837, William Penn directed that Cape Henlopen be called p. 586). Virginia's claim was finally given up by a Cape James or Jomus (Hazard, 1850, p. 606). The present treaty or agreement made in 1658, and her relinquishCape Henlopen was then called Cape Cornelis (Haz- ment was reaffirmed in the constitution of 1776 (Thorpe, ard, p. 5).

1909, v. 7, p. 3818).

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