Mason-Dixon line

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The original Mason-Dixon line

The Mason-Dixon Line , named after the astronomer Charles Mason and the geodesist Jeremiah Dixon , forms the historic border between the northern and southern states of the USA . It runs essentially in an east-west direction at 39 ° 43'20 "north latitude .

The line was measured between 1763 and 1767 to determine the current border between Pennsylvania and Maryland and to end disputes between the Penn and Calvert families , who ruled Pennsylvania and Maryland, respectively.

The dispute arose over a faulty map . On its basis, King Charles I's charter , which established Maryland in 1632, granted this colony the Potomac River and the territory south of the 40th parallel. As a result, Philadelphia , the largest city in Pennsylvania, would have been located on the soil of Maryland. Therefore, the Calvert and Penn families commissioned Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to measure a new valid boundary.

The Mason-Dixon Line was added to the list of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1977.

The term "Mason-Dixon Line" is used to this day for the cultural border between the northern and southern states, especially with reference to the question of slavery . He is also one of the possible etymological sources of the terms "Dixie" and " Dixieland ".

Mention in music, literature and film

  • One song in which the line comes up is Across the Mason – Dixon Line , a classic example of barbershop .
  • The line also plays a role in the song Hey, Porter by Johnny Cash .
  • Mark Knopfler published the song Sailing to Philadelphia in 2000 , which tells the story of the two surveyors Mason and Dixon.
  • Thomas Pynchon published the novel Mason & Dixon in 1997 based on the genesis of this line.
  • Rita Mae Brown lets her novels jacket like pants , bingo and evil tongues play in the fictional place Runnymede, the center of which is exactly divided by the Mason-Dixon line.
  • Mason and Dixon played a supporting role in the 1947 film The Undefeated . Reference is made there to the Mason-Dixon lineage.
  • In the 2006 film Rocky Balboa , Rocky's opponent, the reigning world champion, is Mason "The Line" Dixon.


  • Edwin Danson: Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America. 2nd, revised edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York City 2016, ISBN 978-1-119-14187-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c A Plan of the West Line or Parallel of Latitude . In: World Digital Library . 1768. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  3. Lyrics of Hey, Porter
  4. Internet Movie Database (English)