The Missouri Compromise of 1820 AKA the Mason-Dixon Line

Calvert vs. Penn

In 1632, King Charles I of England gave the first Lord Baltimore, George Calvert, the colony of Maryland. Fifty years later, in 1682, King Charles II gave William Penn the territory to the north, which later became Pennsylvania. A year later, Charles II gave Penn land on the Delmarva Peninsula (the peninsula that includes the eastern portion of modern Maryland and all of Delaware).

The description of the boundaries in the grants to Calvert and Penn did not match and there was a great deal of confusion as to where the boundary (supposedly along 40 degrees north) lay.

The Calvert and Penn families took the matter to the British court and England's chief justice declared in 1750 that the boundary between southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland should lie 15 miles south of Philadelphia.

A decade later, the two families agreed on the compromise and set out to have the new boundary surveyed. Unfortunately, colonial surveyors were no match for the difficult job and two experts from England had to be recruited.

The Experts: Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon

The Missouri Compromise put off the Civil War by assuring the Northern (free) states and the Southern (slave) states that they would have an equal amount of representatives in Congress as the new states were brought into the Union. Therefore...each state had to have a buddy!

President James Monroe


Created with images by Throwingbull - "Mason Dixon Tangent Crownstone 70: Historic marker attached to the Crownstone" • Nicholas_T - "Schist" • Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL - "Map of the United States, showing by colors the area of freedom and slavery, and the territories whose destiny is yet to be decided, exhibiting also the Missouri compromise line, and the routes of Colonel Fremont in his famous explorations" • DEZALB - "united states washington federal parliament" • Tony Fischer Photography - "James Monroe, 5th US President, 1817-1825" • prosaica - "civil war cannon"

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