Columbia Library columns (v.32(1982Nov-1983May))

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  v.32,no.2(1983:Feb): Page 29  

The Map that Marked the End of

a Landmark American

Boundary Dispute

A Gift from the Chew Family


F^OR nearly ninety years after the grant of lands to A\'illiam
Penn in 1681, the Pcnns and the Baltimores were in dispute
over the boundarv between their territories, which was
described ambiguously in the Maryland and the Pennsylvania
charters. The protracted dispute, which included an appeal to the
English High Court of Chancery in 1735, led to the establishment
of a Boundary Commission in 1750, whose members included the
jurist Benjamin Chew (1722-1810), appointed by Thomas and
Richard Penn. An agreement was made in 1763 between the parties
which called for the appointment of t\\() F.nglish astronomers,
Charles .Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, to survey the boundary and
thus bring the dispute to a conclusion. By 1767 the surveyors had
run their line two hundred and forty-four miles west of the Del¬
aware River and marked the boundary with milestones. Their sur¬
vey was ratified bv the (a-o«-n in 1769.

From the original draw ings by Mason and Dixon engravings
were made by two Philadclphians, Henry Dawkins who is respon¬
sible for the entire eastern section and some portion of the west
line, and James Smithcr who finished the east-west line. The hit¬
ter's work was completed on August 16, 1768, and on that day
Mason noted in his journal: "Two hundred copies of the Plans of
ye Lines Printed Off." The printing of this map marked the end
of one of the most famous boundary disputes in American histor\'.

Because of the length and configuration of the Mason and Dixon

Opposite: The eastern section of the map of the l>ouiidat\" surveyed
b\' Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon

  v.32,no.2(1983:Feb): Page 29