Drawing the Line: Surveying the Mason-Dixon Boundary

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades K-4:

Topic 2: The History of the Students’ Own State or Region 

STANDARD 3: The people, events, problems, and ideas that created the history of their state

Standard 3D: The student understands the interactions among all these groups throughout the history of his or her state.

3-4: Analyze the significance of major events in the state’s history, their impact on people then and now, and their relationship to the history of the nation. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships] 
3-4: Identify historical problems or events in the state and analyze the way they were solved and/or the ways that they continue to be addressed. [Identify issues and problems in the past] 
3-4: Examine various written accounts in order to identify and describe regional or state examples of major historical events and developments that involved interaction among various groups (e.g., the Alamo, the Underground Railroad, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and the California Gold Rush). [Consider multiple perspectives] 
3-4: Investigate the influence of geography on the history of the state or region and identify issues and approaches to problems such as land use and environmental problems. [Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage] 

Standard 3E: The student understands the ideas that were significant in the development of the state and that helped to forge its unique identity.

K-4: Draw upon visual and other data to identify symbols, slogans, or mottoes, and research why they represent the state. [Draw upon visual data] 
K-4: Research in order to explain why important buildings, statues, monuments, and place names are associated with the state’s history. [Obtain historical data] 
3-4: Draw upon a variety of sources to describe the unique historical conditions that influenced the formation of the state. [Obtain historical data] 

Primary Resources

  1. TITLE: Journal of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 15 Nov. 1763 - 11 Sep. 1768
    CONTENT NOTES from the National Archives: "Charles Mason maintained field notes throughout the nearly 5 years it took to complete his survey. The journal includes mathematical and astronomical data, as well as the daily progress of the survey. Prior to hiring Mason and Dixon to settle a boundary line once and for all, the quarreling parties of Maryland and Pennsylvania agreed that the line separating the two provinces would be run east to west along a latitudinal arc 15 miles south of Philadelphia. The entry for June 12, 1764, reveals how Mason and Dixon located the starting point of the line that would later bear their name. Based on their calculations, the point 15 miles south of the southernmost point of Philadelphia was in a field belonging to Alexander Bryan."
    SOURCE: Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, 1756 - 1979
    REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration

  2. TITLE: Commission to survey boundaries
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 5, 1760
    SOURCE: MARYLAND PROVINCIAL PAPERS (Boundary Papers, North and East), MSA S 52-32 [1/6/3/10]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  3. TITLE: Proceedings of the Joint Commissioners
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 19, 1760 - November 9, 1768
    SOURCE: MARYLAND PROVINCIAL PAPERS (Boundary Papers, North and East), MSA S 52-33 [1/6/3/9]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. TITLE: Field Notes and Journal of Surveyors
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 30, 1762 - August 30, 1763
    SOURCE: MARYLAND PROVINCIAL PAPERS (Boundary Papers, North and East), MSA S 52-35 [1/6/3/1]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  5. TITLE: Astronomical Observations and Journal, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1763
    SOURCE: MARYLAND PROVINCIAL PAPERS (Boundary Papers, North and East), MSA S 52-36 [1/6/3/1]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  6. TITLE: Letter of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon concerning the halting of the boundary line survey.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: October 28, 1767
    SOURCE: MARYLAND PROVINCIAL PAPERS (Boundary Papers, North and East), MSA S 52-35
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  7. TITLE: Introduction to the Following Observations, Made by Messieurs Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, for Determining the Length of a Degree of Latitude, in the Provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania, in North America; By the Reverend Nevil Maskelyne, B. D. F. R. S. Astronomer Royal
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1768
    SOURCE: Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 58. (1768), pp. 270-273
    REPOSITORY: JSTOR [Password required]

  8. TITLE: Observations for Determining the Length of a Degree of Latitude in the Provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania, in North America, by Messieurs Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
    AUTHORS: Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1768
    SOURCE: Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 58. (1768), pp. 274-328.
    REPOSITORY: JSTOR [Password required]

  9. TITLE: A Map of that part of America where a Degree of Latitude was Measured....
    CARTOGRAPHER: Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1768
    NOTES: Published in the Transactions of the Royal Philosophical Society.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-227
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  10. TITLE: A Plan of the Boundary Lines between ... Maryland and Virginia [E-W Boundary] [N-S Boundary]
    CARTOGRAPHER: [Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon]
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1768
    SOURCE: Maryland State Archives Map Collection, MSA SC 1427-447
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  11. TITLE: Mason Dixon marker crown stone
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: n. d.
    SOURCE: Robert G. Merrick Archives of Maryland Historical Photographs, MSA SC 1477-5151
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

Additional Media Resources

"Saving the Mason-Dixon Line." From National Geographic News concerning efforts to save the boundary markers. Includes links to additional resources.

Additional Instructional Resources

Close Encounters of the First Kind, 1585-1767, MSA SC 2221-1-17. Includes maps and documents relating to the first encounters of the English settlers and explorers with Native Americans. The objective is to introduce students to how explorers, settlers, and Native Americans reacted to, and learned from one another.

Secondary Resources

"Jeremiah Dixon's Theodolite" Geographical Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1. (Jan., 1916), pp. 1-3. 

Cope, Thomas D. "Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon" The Scientific Monthly, Vol. 62, No. 6. (Jun., 1946), pp. 541-554. 

Cope, Thomas S. "Jeremiah Dixon?" The Scientific Monthly (Jul. 1947): 88. 

Cope, Thomas D. and H. W. Robinson. "Charles Mason, Jeremiah Dixon and the Royal Society." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London (Oct. 1951): 55-78.

Cope, Thomas D. Charles Mason, Jeramiah Dixon and the Royal Society: Significance of Mason and Dixon in America and England n. pub., n.pl., 1951

Danson, Edwin. Drawing the Line : How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America. John Wiley & Sons: 2000.

Danson, Edwin. "Mason, Charles, and Jeremiah Dixon" American National Biography Online Jan. 2002 Update. Access Date: Wed Apr 9 11:57:00 EDT 2003

Echenbarger, William. Walkin' the Line: A Journey from Past to Present Along the Mason-Dixon. M Evans & Co: 2001.

Latrobe, John H.B. The history of Mason and Dixon's Line : contained in an address delivered by John H.B. Latrobe of Maryland, before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, November 8, 1854. From: African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P.Murray Collection, 1818-1907

Mason, A. Hughlett. Journal of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA, 1969.

Mason, Charles, Jeremiah Dixon and Nevil Maskelyne. "Introduction to the Following Observations, Made by Messieurs Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, for Determining the Length of a Degree of Latitude, in the Provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania, in North America; By the Reverend Nevil Maskelyne, B. D. F. R. S. Astronomer Royal." Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 58 (1768): 270-273.

Mason, Charles and Jeremiah Dixon. "Observations for Determining the Length of a Degree of Latitude in the Provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania, in North America, by Messieurs Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon." Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 58. (1768), pp. 274-328.

Papenfuse, E. C. and Coale, J. M. The Hammond Harwood Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland 1608-1908. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.

Papenfuse, Edward C., and Joseph M. Coale, III. The Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, 1608-1908. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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