- 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.
Origin of Mason-Dixon line
Mason and Dixon Line
- the state boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania: surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon; popularly regarded as the dividing line between North and South, esp between the free and the slave states before the American Civil War
Word Origin and History for 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" and "slave" states after 1804, when the last slaveholding state above it (New Jersey) passed its abolition act. As the line between "the North" and "the South" in U.S. culture, it is attested by 1834.
A boundary line between Pennsylvania and Maryland, laid out by two English surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, in the 1760s. Before and during the Civil War, the line was symbolic of the division between slaveholding and free states. After the war, it remained symbolic of the division between states that required racial segregation and those that did not.