Mason-Dixon Line

   It is generally understood that the Mason and Dixon line divides the North from the South in the Atlantic region of the United States, and it is used as a figure of speech when discussing regional custom and viewpoints of all sorts. Below the Mason-Dixon line is considered the South, and the phrase during the Civil War was used to mean the difference between free and slave states.
   The story behind this "line" began during colonial times when the Penns of Pennsylvania and the Calverts of Maryland had a dispute over their land grants. The matter was eventually taken to a London court and, in 1760, a compromise was reached. The compromise consisted simply of letting two English astronomers, acting as surveyors, mark the boundaries of the two grants. The names of these astronomer-surveyors were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.
   Mason and Dixon decided on an ambitious program. They imported from England milestones bearing the arms of the Penns on one side and of the Calverts on the other. The markers were placed every five miles, but the task was just too much for them. By 1767 they had placed the markers—had run the line—244 miles. The survey was completed by others for Maryland in 1773, all the way to its western border. The southern boundary of Pennsylvania was completed six years later. The line was fixed at 39° 43' 26.3° N.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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  • Mason-Dixon line — Line Line, n. [OE. line, AS. l[=i]ne cable, hawser, prob. from L. linea a linen thread, string, line, fr. linum flax, thread, linen, cable; but the English word was influenced by F. ligne line, from the same L. word linea. See {Linen}.] 1. A… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mason-Dixon line — [mā′sən dik′sən] [after C. Mason & J. Dixon, who surveyed it, 1763 67] boundary line between Pa. & Md., regarded, before the Civil War, as separating the free states from the slave states or, now, the North from the South: also Mason and Dixon s… …   English World dictionary

  • Mason-Dixon Line — 1779, named for Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, English astronomers who surveyed (1763 7) the disputed boundary between the colonial holdings of the Penns (Pennsylvania) and the Calverts (Maryland). It became the technical boundary between free …   Etymology dictionary

  • Mason-Dixon Line — Mason Dix|on Line the Mason Dixon Line the border between the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the US. It divided the states of the ↑South, where it was legal to own ↑slaveS, from the states of the ↑North, where it was illegal, until the… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Mason-Dixon Line — The Mason–Dixon Line (or Mason and Dixon s Line ) is a demarcation line between four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia (then part of Virginia). It was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by …   Wikipedia

  • Mason–Dixon Line — For other uses, see Mason Dixon. The original Mason Dixon Line The Mason–Dixon Line (or Mason and Dixon s Line) was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies… …   Wikipedia

  • Mason-Dixon-Line — Die Mason Dixon Linie Die Mason Dixon Linie, benannt nach dem Astronomen Charles Mason und dem Geometer Jeremiah Dixon, bildet die traditionelle Grenze zwischen den Nord und den Südstaaten der USA. Sie verläuft von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mason-Dixon line — n. (in the US) the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania, taken as the northern limit of the slave owning States before the abolition of slavery. Etymology: C. Mason & J. Dixon, 18th c. English astronomers who surveyed it * * * noun the… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mason-Dixon line — /may seuhn dik seuhn/ the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, partly surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon between 1763 and 1767, popularly considered before the end of slavery as a line of demarcation between free and slave states …   Universalium

  • Mason-Dixon Line — /meɪsən ˈdɪksən laɪn/ (say maysuhn diksuhn luyn) noun the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, partly surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon between 1763 and 1767, popularly considered before the abolition of slavery as a line of… …   Australian English dictionary

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