G S C gscole at ARK.SHIP.EDU
Tue Aug 10 15:54:03 UTC 1999

Merely some notes on Mason & Dixon items in MOA, plus a following
editorial comment.  The following citations are not meant to be of
academic quality, merely rough notes.  (Abbreviations for states are
mine, as are any oversights/omissions.)  If further detail is necessary,
please refer to the MOA database, with the search site being at:

Searching MOA:
-- first mention of "Mason and Dixon's line" is in _Southern Literary
Messenger_, Richmond, VA, August 1834.

-- "Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon", in _Message from the governor of
Maryland, . . ._, Washington, 1850.

-- "Mason & Dixon's line", in _Debow's Review. . . ._, New Orleans, Nov.

-- "Mason Dixon's line" in Frederick Douglas' _My Bondage and My
Freedom_, NY, 1857.

First usage of Mason/Dixon combination is in 1834.  Next is in
year-block from 1840-45.  Peaks in year-block of 1855-1860; ending in
year-block of 1895-1900.

'Southern'-based publications seem to be the first users (in the MOA
database) of the Mason/Dixon combination.

An editorial note, from a non-historian:  at the time of the Mason-Dixon
survey, Delaware was seen as being the lower three counties of Penn.
Thus, both the western and southmost lines for the State of Delaware
would have been part of the Mason-Dixon survey.  (The survey serving to
distinguish the boundary lines between Pennsylvania and Maryland.)  In
1776, Delaware declared itself to be free of the British Empire, the
First State, and established a state government that was separate from
Pennsylvania.  In the 2nd half of 1776, the Mason-Dixon line would have
served to differentiate the lower boundaries of Pennsylvania and
Delaware from the northern boundary of Maryland.

It seems that, for the sake of convenience, many dictionaries define the
Mason-Dixon line as being located between Pennsylvania and Maryland,
which would have been the technically correct definition in 1767.  Not
sure that such would be correct today, except in the common usage
sense.  Some information on Delaware history is presented at:

Again, merely some thoughts.

George S. Cole   gscole at ark.ship.edu
Shippensburg University

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