Wednesday, February 20, 2013

That Mason-Dixon Line

You can't live in the US and not have heard of the Mason Dixon Line.  Living in the South, doubly so. Though many people consider this the line, surveyed by two men named - wait for it - Mason and Dixon, (Yes, amazingly so!) was the demarcation of slavery, (See above sign) in reality it was actually the border which established legally the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania to the north, and Maryland and Delaware to the East. That's right, the line is in the shape of an L sort of laying sideways and maybe backwards. (Delaware was a slavery state so the idea that this divided slavery is very much in error!)  

Before Mr. Mason and Mr. Dixon made their great survey, there was a very lengthy dispute as to the border thanks to the states' original charters which gave differing amount of land to the states along this area.  The Mason-Dixon Line officially ended the dispute and entered the history books in 1767 almost a hundred years before the Civil War (1861 - 1865.)    

If you're like me, you're probably having a hard time visualizing it, so here's a map which lays it all out.  

I have to admit, I always thought the Mason-Dixon Line was, well, longer. And maybe wider. And was a bit further south, maybe the straight line border between Tennessee and Kentucky.  This may be just another light bulb for a guy who wants to be considered one of the Good Ol' Boys that I don't know my Southern Heritage, but you can't blame me.  I mean, come on, the Mason Dixon line is storied and sung with such emphasis as to its delineation of the North and South (Nawthunuh an' Good Ol' Boys) that one gets the idea that it's actually a heavy red line emblazoned across the landscape! (Ok, so there are stones placed every mile and 'crown stones' every 5 miles but I'd rather see some wide red line like a giant made with a great big magic marker, like a big 5 lane highway running straight across the landscape!) 

The Mason-Dixon also marks the historical and accepted segregation of the North and South which would later define the War of Northern Aggression. (Yeah, that's a story for another day!) But for the sake of history, it's merely the end of a legal dispute. 

So, now you know.  In fact, you probably will use this in a conversation someday very soon. In double fact, perhaps you should start one ("Hey, did you know that the Mason Dixon Line is not in Wyoming? Yes, it's true!")  You should do this.  Especially if your name is Mason or Dixon....or both. 

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