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96

BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

The two commissions that were appointed met jointly and agreed upon a definition of the boundary. Their recommendations were adopted by the States in 1959. The boundary is thus described (U.S. 86th Cong., Ist sess., H. Rept. 7474):

Beginning at the top of Peters mountain, where the road crosses, corner common to Monroe county, West Virginia and Craig county, Virginia and on the Alleghany county-Virginia line where the Sweet Springs-Fincastle road crosses Peters mountain, thence in a straight line to the present state line concrete marker on highway route number three hundred eleven; thence in a straight line to the present state line highway marker on upper highway route number six hundred three (Slaty road or Big Ridge road); thence in a straight line to the Greenbrier county line on top of Alleghany mountain at a point on Fletchers Knob previously established by the West VirginiaVirginia boundary commission being approximately longitude eighty degrees eighteen and one-half minutes west and latitude thirty-seven degrees forty-one and one half minutes north, at a scaled elevation of three thousand one hundred fifty feet.

Congress gave its consent on September 21, 1959 (73 Stat. 599).

In the constitution of 1872, after a recapitulation of the counties transferred from Virginia to West Virginia, is found the following clause defining the boundaries on the south and west (Thorpe, 1909, v. 7, p. 4034):

to the west as far as the south seas, and so southerly as far as the river St. Matthias, which bordereth upon the coast of Florida, and within one and thirty degrees of northern latitude, and so west in a direct line as far as the south seas aforesaid.

CHARTER OF 1665 All that province, territory, or tract of land, scituate, lying or being within our dominions of America aforesaid; extending north and eastward, as far as the north end of Currituck river, or inlet, upon a strait westerly line to Wyonoak creek, which lies within or about the degrees of thirty-six and thirty minutes, northern latitude; and so west in a direct line as far as the South Seas. and south and westward, as far as the degrees of twenty-nine, inclusive, of northern latitude; and so west, in a direct line, as far as the South Seas;

The second charter fixed the northern boundary at approximately the present location of the northern boundary of North Carolina.

Because of the great distance between the settlements in the northern and southern parts of the Province, there was for many years a governor for each part. This condition finally resulted in the creation of separate Provinces, which became in full effect in 1729.11 Disputes regarding the division line commenced as early as 1732 and were not finally settled until 1813. In 1815 the unmarked part of the line was surveyed and marked, and the location was ratified by the legislature the same year. (Copper, 1836, p. 406-410.)

The following are positions for road crossings on the North Carolina-South Carolina line (Gannett, 1905, p. 88–89; 1907, p. 65–66; R. B. Marshall, 1914, p. 281; Birdseye, 1923, p. 877):

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The State of West Virginia includes the bed, bank, and shores of the Ohio River and so much of the Big Sandy River as was formerly included in the Commonwealth of Virginia; and all territorial rights and property in, and jurisdiction over the same, heretofore reserved by and vested in the Commonwealth of Virginia, are vested in and shall hereafter be exercised by the State of West Virginia. And such parts of the said beds, banks, and shores as lie opposite and adjoining the several counties of this State, shall form parts of said several counties, respectively.

In the constitution of North Carolina, adopted in 1776, this line is defined as stated in the subjoined extract (Thorpe, 1909, v. 5, p. 2789):

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beginning on the sea side at a cedar stake, at or near the mouth of Little River (being the southern extremity of Brunswick county) and running from thence a northwest course, through the boundary house, which stands in thirty-three degrees fifty-six minutes, to thirty-five degree north latitude, and from thence a west course so far as is mentioned in the charter of King Charles the Second to the late Proprietors of Carolina. Therefore, all the territories, seas, waters, and narbours, with their appurtenances, lying between line above described, and the southern line of the State of Virginia, which begins on the sea shore, in thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, and from thence runs west, agreeable to the said Charter of King Charles, are the right and property of the people of this State, to be held by them in sovereignty; any partial line, without the consent of the Legislature of this State, at any time thereafter directed or laid out in anywise notwithstanding.

11 In 148 U.S. 506, the date on which the separation was approved by the Crown is given as 1732, but 1729 is the date given in "South Carolina Resources and Population," p. 425, State Board of Agriculture, 1883. See also Mills (1826, p. 182; app. 34).

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BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

NORTH CAROLINA

• And provided also, That it shall not be construed so as to prevent the establishment of one or more governments westward of this State, by consent of the Legislature:

On December 2, 1789, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act ceding to the United States the western lands now constituting the State of Tennessee. (See fig. 21.) On February 25, 1790, the deed was offered, and on April 2, 1790, it was accepted by the United States.

In the Revised Statutes of North Carolina the boundaries of the State are described as follows: The north boundary, the parallel of 36°30'; the south boundary, a line running northwest from Goat Island, on the coast in lat 33°56' N., to the parallel of 35° and thence along that parallel to Tennessee; and the west boundary is the Smoky Mountains. The intention had been from the earliest colonial times to establish the northern boundary upon the parallel of 36°30'. This is the wording of every legislative act relating to it, and the errors of this boundary are due simply to errors in surveying.

The following description of the boundary lines of this State and of the various attempts made to locate them is taken from the report of the North Carolina Geological Survey (Kerr, 1875, v. 1, p. 2-4):

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part of this State; and the proposition was renewed in 1871, but ineffectually as before. In all these numerous attempts to establish the line of division between the two colonies and States the intention and the specific instructions have been to ascertain and mark, as the boundary of the two States, the parallel of 36°30'. The maps published toward the end of the last century by Jefferson and others give that parallel as the line, and the Bill of Rights of North Carolina claims that "all territory lying between the line above described (the line between North and South Carolina) and the southern line of the State of Virginia, which begins on the seashore in 36°30' north latitude, and from thence runs west, agreeably to the charter of King Charles, are the right and property of this State." But it appears from the operations of the United States Coast Survey at both ends of the line that the point of beginning on Currituck Inlet, instead of being, as so constantly assumed, in latitude 36°30', or as determined by the surveyors in 1728, 36°31', is 36°33'15'', and the western end (of "the Walker line," of 1779, at Bristol, Tenn.), 36°34'25.5''. (See p. 95 for later data.) It is stated in Byrd's Journal that the variation of the compass was ascertained to be a little less than 3° W. And no account is given of any subsequent correction, and if none was made at the end of the line surveyed by him the course would have been in error by nearly 3o, as the amount of variation in this State changes a little more than 1° for every 100 miles of easting and westing. So that the northern boundary of the State as run is not only the parallel of 36°30', but is far from coincident with any parallel of latitude and must be a succession of curves, with their concavities northward and connected at their ends by north and south offsets.

The southern boundary between this State and South Carolina and Georgia was first established by a joint colonial commission in 1735 to 1746. The commissioners ran a line from Goat Island on the coast (in latitude 33°56' as supposed), northwest to the parallel of 35°, according to their observations, and then due west to within a few miles of the Catawba River, and here, at the old Salisbury and Charleston road, turned north along that road to the southeast corner of the Catawba Indian lands. This line, resurveyed in 1764, was afterward (in 1772) continued along the eastern and northern boundaries of the Catawba lands to the point where the latter intersects the Catawba River; thence along and up that river to the mouth of the South Fork of the Catawba, and thence due west, as supposed, to a point near the Blue Ridge. This part of the line was resurveyed and confirmed by commissioners under acts of Assembly of 1803, 1804, 1806, 1813, 1814, and 1815, and continued west to and along the Saluda Mountains and the Blue Ridge to the intersection of the "Cherokee boundary" of 1797, and thence in a direct line to the Chatooga River at its intersection with the parallel of 35°. From this point the line was run west to the Tennessee line, between this State and Georgia, in 1807,13 confirmed and established by act of 1819.

The boundary between this State and Tennessee was run according to the course designated in the act of 1789, entitled "An act for the purpose of ceding to the United States certain western lands therein described" (the State of Tennessee)—that is, along the crest of the Smoky Mountains, from the Virginia line to the Cataluche River (in Haywood County), in 1799, under act of 1796. It was continued from this point to the Georgia line in 1821. The commissioners who completed this line, at the date last mentioned, instead of following their instructions, diverged from the crest of the Smoky (Unaka) Mountains

The first and only serious attempt to ascertain the northern boundary was that made in 1728 by Col. Wm. Byrd and others, commissioners on the part of the two colonies, acting under royal authority. From the account given by Byrd of this undertaking, it appears that they started from a point on the coast whose position they determined by observation to be in 36°31' north latitude, and ran due west (correcting for the variation of the compass), to Nottoway (Blackwater] River, where they made an offset " of a half mile to the mouth of that stream, again running west. The line was run and marked 242 miles from the coast, to a point in Stokes County, on the upper waters of the Dan River (on Peter's Creek), the North Carolina commissioners accompanying the party only about two-thirds of the distance. Beyond this point the line was carried some 90 miles by another joint commission of the two colonies in 1749; this survey, terminating at Steep Rock Creek, on the east of Stone Mountain, and near the present northwest corner of the State, estimated to be 329 miles from the coast. In 1779 the line was taken up again at a point on Steep Rock Creek, determined by observation to be on the parallel of 36°30' (the marks of the previous survey having disappeared entirely), and carried west to beyond Bristol, Tenn. This last is known as the Walker line (see p. 95 ), from one of the commissioners of Virginia.

These lines were run and the latitude observations taken with very imperfect instruments, and the variation of the compass was little understood, so that it was not possible to trace a parallel of latitude. The line, besides was only marked on the trees and soon disappeared. and as the settlements were very scattered, the location soon became a matter of vague tradition and presently of contention and litigation, so that in 1858, at the instance of Virginia commissioners were appointed to relocate the line from the end of the Byrd survey westward; but for some reason they did not act. In 1870 commissioners were again appointed by Virginia and similar action asked on the

12 This break in the line is in accordance with an agreement made in 1727 between the governors of the two colonies. Its measured length is 2,977 feet. For text of the agreement and abstract of report of the commissioners who ran part of the line in 1779–80, see 148 U.S. 507-510.

13 This is an error. The line was run in 1819.

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Beginning on the extreme height of the Stone Mountain at the place where the line of Virginia intersects it, in latitude thirty-six degrees

and thirty minutes north; running thence along the extreme height BOUNDARIES OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

of the said mountain to the place where Watauga River breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain, where Bright's road crosses the same; thence along the ridge of said mountain, between the waters of Doe River and the waters of Rock

Creek, to the place where the road crosses the Iron Mountain; from at the intersection of the Hiwassee turnpike and ran due South

thence along the extreme height of said mountain to where Nolichucky

to the Georgia line, thereby losing for the State the valuable mining

River runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald Mountain; region since known as Ducktown.

thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the Painted Rock, And as to the southern boundary, the point of beginning on Goat

on French Broad River; thence along the highest ridge of said mounIsland is in latitude 33°51'37'', as shown by the Coast Survey, and

tain to the place where it is called the Great Iron or Smoky Mountain; instead of running from Goat Island northwest to latitude of 35° and

thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the place where thence along that parallel, it appears, from the South Carolina geo

it is called Unicoi or Unaka Mountain between the Indian towns of graphical State survey of 1821-1825, that the course from the starting

Cowee and Old Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said point is N. 47°30' W., and instead of pursuing the parallel of 35o, it

mountain to the southern boundary of this State, as described in the turns west about 10 miles south of that line, and then, on approaching

act of cession of North Carolina to the United States of America. the Catawba River, turns northward, pursuing a zigzag line to the Commissioners appointed by authority of the Legisforks of the Catawba River, which is about 12 miles north of that lature of North Carolina surveyed and marked a part parallel; and from this point to the mountains the boundary line (of

of the Tennessee line in 1799. Beginning at the Vir. 1772) runs, not west, but N. 88° W., bringing its western end about

ginia line they ran southwestward along the crest of 17 miles too far north and reaching the (supposed) parallel of 35° at a distance of about 130 miles west of the Catawba River. The loss of

the mountains to the highest pinnacle of the Smoky territory to the State resulting from these singular deviations is prob Mountains beyond the French Broad River, where they ably between 500 and 1,000 square miles.

stopped. Neither Tennessee nor the United States was The U.S. Geological Survey has determined several represented in this survey. A certified copy of the field approximate positions for points on the North Carolina- notes was given to Tennessee in 1803, but it does not Virginia line, three of which are as follows:

appear that the line as run was ratified by either State. Latitude (N.)

North Carolina was, however, apparently bound by Longitude (W.) 36°32'42.6'' 77°31'50"

the action of its commissioners. 36°32' 29.6'' 79° 24'00"

In 1819 North Carolina authorized the extension of 36°32'21.9" 79°29'19''

the line of 1799 (Laws of North Carolina for 1819, chap. Four latitude stations were established near the east 11) and in 1820 Tennessee took like action. The line end of this line by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey was completed to the Georgia State line, and the exin 1886–87. (For descriptions, see Beall, 1925, p. 228.) tension was formally ratified by both States in 1821.

In 1972 the States of Virginia and North Carolina The original map for the 1821 survey of the North agreed to define their mutual seaward boundary as Carolina-Tennessee line is said to be in the State extending east along the parallel of latitude passing archives in Nashville. through the point where the land boundary meets the In 1885 commissioners were appointed to rerun the low-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean. Congress ap- part of the line of 1799 from Iron Mountain at Indian proved the boundary agreement and instructed the Grove Gap to the point where the Jonesboro and AsheSecretary of Commerce to have the latitude of the line ville road passes over Bald Mountain. The line was determined and so much of the land boundary marked run in 1886, but the commissioners failed to agree on as is necessary (86 Stat 1298).

a part of the line about 6 miles long near the NoliIn 1934 the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey deter- chucky River. The North Carolina commissioner folmined the position of boundary monument 1 to be: lowed as closely as possible the survey of 1799, but lat 36°33'00.8'' N., long 75°52'46.2" W. (1927 N.A.D.). the Tennessee commissioner insisted on a line about This monument is about 0.5 mile from the shoreline. a mile farther east. The report of the North Carolina The land boundary would meet the shoreline at the commissioner is given in full in Document 22 of the same latitude, as the next monument to the west is at North Carolina Legislature, session of 1887. No further this latitude.

action appears to have been taken by either State The following extract from the Tennessee constitu- toward a settlement of this dispute, but in 1915 a suit tion of 1796 defines the eastern boundary of that State, involving the proper location of the boundary was which is the western boundary of North Carolina, as decided in the Tennessee Supreme Court in favor of it was intended to be run and marked (Thorpe, 1909, the line as marked by the North Carolina commisv. 6, p. 3424):

sioner (Thompson, 1916, v. 7, p. 35-66).

The commissioners who surveyed the southern part 14 Probably run on compass meridian; the line as marked actually runs about 6° west of true south.

of the west boundary of North Carolina in 1821 de

BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES

17

pended almost entirely on blazes on trees for their

99 marks, and, although they did not run out the line as described by statute, the entire line as marked was

SOUTH CAROLINA accepted by the legislatures of the two States.

In recent years many disputes regarding the exact location of parts of the line have arisen, and they were finally taken to the Supreme Court of the United States. Commissioners appointed to re-mark the boundary

SOUTH CAROLINA filed their report October 29, 1915, having re-marked

The territory within the present State of South the line from the point where it first intersects the Little Tennessee River down the north side of the river about

Carolina was included in the charter of Carolina, which

also embraced what is now the State of Georgia. (See half a mile, thence across the river and up Slickrock

North Carolina, p. 96.)
Creek to a point near the mouth of Big Stack Gap
Branch, thence up a ridge leading to Big Fodderstack

The settlement of Carolina under the charter of 1665 Mountain, thence along the main ridge to a place had been carried on from two points, and locally known as "County Corners," thence along While there had been no formal division of the domain into distinct State Ridge to the Tellico River, thence in a south- territories, these settlements at the two points had at first distinct westerly course to the top of Jenks Knob. South of this

governments; and the northern portion had gradually acquired the

informal designation of North Carolina; the southern that of South point sufficient marks of the survey of 1821 were

Carolina (McCrady, 1899, p. 3]. known to fix the line as above described.15 The approximate position for the southwest corner

In 1719 there was a concerted revolt by the southern

settlements against the proprietary government of of North Carolina and the southeast corner of Tennessee at a point on the Georgia line is lat 34°59'17'' N.,

Carolina, but not until 1729 was the separation of the long 84°19'19" W.

two colonies formally recognized by the Parliament of In 1879 the legislature passed an act to appoint com

Great Britain.

For a history of the settlement of the boundary missioners to make a survey from the northeast corner

between North Carolina and South Carolina, see North of Georgia westward. This point of commencement is common to North Carolina, South Carolina and

Carolina, page 96. Georgia.

By the charter of Georgia (1732) the line between In 1881 the legislature passed another act providing

South Carolina and Georgia was to be the Savannah

River to its head. In 1762, difficulties having arisen for the appointment of a commissioner, who should act with commissioners from Virginia, South Carolina,

concerning the interpretation of the charter, the head Georgia, or Tennessee, to rerun and re-mark the bound

of the Savannah, and the title to the lands south of the

Altamaha River claimed by South Carolina, Georgia aries between North Carolina and the other States.

made complaint to the King, who issued a proclamaIn 1888 a joint commission reran the Byrd line of 1728 between the ocean at Currituck Inlet and the Not

tion in 1763 giving the lands between the Altamaha toway (now Blackwater) River, a distance of 592

and St. Marys Rivers to Georgia. The question of the

boundary on the Savannah, however, remained unmiles, 16 28 appropriately marked granite monuments

settled until 1787, when a convention between the two were established, and astronomic determinations of latitude were made for five of them, as follows (the

States was held at Beaufort, S.C., to determine it, and longitudes are approximate):

the line was fixed as at present. (See fig. 22.) The

following is an extract from the article of agreement Monument 2, Knott Island, lat 36°32'59" N., long

(1 Stat. L. 466): 75°55.7' W. Monument 7, Northwest River, lat 36°33'00'' N., long

The most northern branch or stream of the river Savannah from the 76°11.6' W.

sea or mouth of such stream to the fork or confluence of the rivers

now called Tugaloo and Keowa, and from thence the most northern Monument 11, Dismal Swamp Canal, lat 36°33'02''

branch or stream of the said river Tugaloo till it intersects the N., long 76°22.7' W.

northern boundary line of South Carolina, if the said branch or stream Monument 13, lat 36°33'01" N., long 76°33.5' W. of Tugaloo extends so far north, reserving all the islands in the said Monument 28, Nottoway (now Blackwater) River,

rivers Savannah and Tugaloo to Georgia; but if the head spring or lat 36°32'36'' N., long 76°56' W.

source of any branch or stream of the said river Tugaloo does not extend to the north boundary line of South Carolina, then a west line

to the Mississippi, to be drawn from the head spring or source of the 15 See 235 U.S. 3-17 for the decision of the court, which includes a

said branch or stream of Tugaloo River which extends to the highest historical description of the line and extracts from the field notes of the 1821 survey; and 240 U.S. 652 for report of commissioners. See Williams 17 For copies of laws, reports of commissioners, and references to docu(1920) for description of the survey of this line.

ments relating to the boundary lines of this State from 1576 to 1815, see 19 See North Carolina Pub. Doc. 31, sess. of 1889, for a full report.

Cooper (1836, p. 404-421).

100

BOUNDARIES OF THE
UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES

northern latitude, shall forever hereafter form the separation, limit, and boundary between the States of South Carolina and Georgia.

In the same year South Carolina ceded to the United States a strip of territory which she claimed, about 12 or 14 miles wide, south of the North Carolina line and extending from the source of the Chattooga River to the Mississippi. South Carolina's claim to this narrow strip south of the 35th parallel was based on inadequate geographic information. It was no doubt believed that the source of the "most northern branch or stream of the said river Tugaloo" was some distance south of the North Carolina line, but recent surveys show that the headwaters of the Chattooga, which is a branch of the Tugaloo, are north of the 35th parallel and within the limits of North Carolina. (See U.S. Geol. Survey map of the Cowee quadrangle, N.C.S.C.) Although South Carolina thus had no right to claim this strip, later disputes regarding it were made impossible by its cession to the United States in 1787 and the cession of the eastern part to Georgia by the United States in 1802. (See Georgia, below).

In 1917 the Legislature of Georgia authorized the bringing of suit in the Supreme Court of the United States in order to settle a long-standing dispute be tween that State and South Carolina regarding their common boundary. The court decision, rendered January 30, 1922, is in part as follows (see 257 U.S. 517 and 259 U.S. 572):

and westerly from the heads of the said riva:s, respectively, in direct lines to the south seas, with the islands of the sea, lyir:; opposite to the eastern coast of the said lands, within twenty leagues of the same.

This charter was surrendered in 1752, and a provincial government was established.

In 1763 the territory between the Altamaha and St. Marys Rivers was added to Georgia by royal proclamation. (See South Carolina, p. 99.)

In the constitution adopted by Georgia in 1798 the boundaries are thus described (see fig. 22) (Thorpe, 1909, v. 2, p. 794):

The limits, boundaries, jurisdictions, and authority of the State of Georgia do, and did, and of right ought to extend from the sea or mouth of the river Savannah, along the northern branch or stream thereof, to the fork or confluence of the rivers now called Tugalo and Keowee, and from thence along the most northern branch or stream of the said river Tugalo, till it intersect the northern boundary line of South Carolina, if the said branch or stream of Tugalo extends so far north, reserving all the islands in the said rivers Savannah and Tugalo to Georgia; but if the head, spring, or source of any branch or stream of the said river Tugalo does not extend to the north boundary line of South Carolina, then a west line to the Mississippi, to be drawn from the head, spring, or source of the said branch or stream of Tugalo River, which extends to the highest northern latitude; thence down the middle of the said river Mississippi until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, south by a line drawn due east from the termination of the line last mentioned, in the latitude of thirty-one degrees north of the equator to the middle of the river Apalachicola or Chatahoochee; thence along the middle thereof, to its junction with Flint River; thence straight to the head of Saint Mary's River, and thence, along the middle of Saint Mary's River, to the Atlantic Ocean, and from thence to the mouth or inlet of Savannah River, the place of beginning, including and comprehending all the lands and waters within the said limits, boundaries, and jurisdictional rights; and also all the islands within twenty leagues of the seacoast.

In 1802 articles of agreement were entered into whereby Georgia ceded to the United States the lands west of its present boundaries, and the United States ceded to Georgia the eastern part of the South Carolina cession of 1787. (See South Carolina, above.)

The following extracts (Georgia act of Apr. 24, 1802) show the limits of the two cessions:

(1) Where there are no islands in the boundary rivers the location of the line between the two States is on the water midway between the main banks of the river when the water is at ordinary stage; (2) where there are islands the line is midway between the Island bank and the South Carolina shore when the water is at ordinary stage; and (3) that islands in the Chattooga River are reserved to Georgia as completely as are those in the Savannah or Tugaloo rivers.

GEORGIA Georgia was included in the proprietary charter granted to the lords proprietors of Carolina in 1662 and 1663, for which a provincial charter was substituted in 1719.

In 1732 the charter of Georgia as an independent colony was granted by King George II. The following is an extract (Thorpe, 1909, v. 2, p. 771):

all those lands, countrys, and territories, situate, lying and being in that part of South Carolina, in America, which lies from the most northern part of a stream or river there, commonly called the Savannah, all along the sea coast of the southward, unto the most southern stream of a certain other great water or river called the Alatamaha,

The State of Georgia cedes to the United States all the right, title, and claim which the said State has to the jurisdiction and soil of the lands situated within the boundaries of the United States, south of the State of Tennessee and west of a line beginning on the western bank of the Chatahouchie River where the same crosses the boundary line between the United States and Spain; running thence up the said River Chatahouchie, and along the western bank thereof to the great bend thereof, next above the place where a certain creek or river, called "Uchee" (being thte first considerable stream on the western side, above the Cussetas and Coweta towns), empties into the Chatahouchie River; thence in a direct line to Nickajack, on Tennessee River; thence crossing the said last-mentioned river, and thence running up the said Tennessee River and along the western bank thereof to the southern boundary line of the State of Tennessee.

The United States cede to the State of Georgia

the lands situated south of the southern boundaries of the States of

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