"I at least revealed a blundering sense of noblesse oblige by getting myself born below Mason and Dixon"

1864 map showing Mason Dixon line's division of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware
Public Domain1864 map showing Mason Dixon line's division of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware - Credit: Geographicus Rare Antique Maps
The Mason-Dixon line was the product of a series of inflammatory colonial and state boundary disputes. The English surveyors and astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, established the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland in the 1760s, ending a protracted row between the colonial proprietors of each. The line was later extended to determine the limits between Pennsylvania and Virginia (or West Virginia, as it is now known). More broadly, it came to represent a demarcation between slave-holding and free states, as well as the cultural, social and political divide between the North and South in general.