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