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Boundaries between countries are established by treaties made by the sovereign powers concerned.

A boundary between two States of the United States may be changed by agreement of the State legislatures, but this agreement must be approved by Congress. The United States Congress can not change a State boundary without the consent of the State, nor can two States by mutual agreement change their common boundary without the consent of Congress. The consent to a change in a boundary need not be granted by a special act but may be inferred from subsequent legislation by Congress. Several times Congress has given its consent in advance for adjoining States to fix an in- ' definite water boundary between them.

A boundary between a State and a Territory is fixed by joint action of Congress and the State. Boundaries between Territories are fixed

*U. S. Supreme Court Repts., 11 Wallace, pp. 39–59 (78 U. S. 39–59) ; 148 U. S. 502 et al. (Prior to 1875 the volumes of the United States Supreme Court reports were designated by the name of the official reporter and a number. Some sets of these early reports are now numbered serially also. In order of issue there are 4 reports by Dallas (serial Nos. 1-4), covering the years 1790 to 1800 ; 9 by Cranch (serial Nos. 5–13), 1801 to 1815; 12 by Wheaton (serial Nos. 14–25), 1816 to 1827; 16 by Peters (serial Nos. 26-41), 1828 to 1842; 24 by Howard (serial Nos. 42-65), 1843 to 1860; 2 by Black (serial Nos. 66–67), 1861 to 1862; and 23 by Wallace (serial Nos. 68-90), 1863 to 1874. Beginning with No. 91, for 1875, the volumes have been numbered serially only. References to these reports are customarily made thus: “6 Cranch 24," " 10 Howard 40." The serial number of the volume is sometimes given also. Beginning with volume 91, the references are given in the form “97 U. S. 271," meaning volume 97 of the United States Supreme Court reports, p. 271, the page number always being given last.)

#35 Stat. L. 1160–1161; 36 Stat. L. 881; see also 41 Stat. L. 1447, (References in this volume to acts of Congress, joint resolutions, and presidential proclamations, contained in the United States Statutes at Large, are given in the form here used ; “36 Stat. L 881," for example, means volume 36, p. 881.)

by congressional action alone. Disputes between States regarding boundaries must be settled by the United States Supreme Court, whose decisions are final.3

It is a well-established principle, recognized by the courts and by Congress, that a State or national boundary line as marked on the ground and accepted by the parties interested is the legal boundary for all purposes, whether it is the place designated by statutę or not.

If by treaty or statute a river or smaller stream is named as a boundary between States or nations and neither the bank nor the main channel is specified, the line midway between the two banks is the actual boundary.

A treaty, statute, or cession may specify that one bank or the other is the boundary; in that case either the high-water or the low-water mark may be the line, according to the wording of the agreement. For example, the north boundary of Kentucky is the low-water mark on the north bank of the Ohio (see p. 164), as fixed by the act of cession by Virginia, but the high-water mark on the west bank of Chattahoochee River forms part of the west boundary of Georgia (see p. 142).

If a boundary line described as following the middle of a river intersects an island, it is the usual policy to give the entire island to the State or Government to which the greater part would fall. This rule was followed by the commission acting under Article VI of the treaty of Ghent in fixing the St. Lawrence River boundary, also by the Rhode Island and Massachusetts commissions.

If a navigable river or bay constitutes the boundary and no specific line is mentioned, the boundary is the middle of the main channel; or if there are several channels, the middle of the one commonly used for navigation.

If the position of the main channel of a stream is changed by slowly acting natural causes, as the gradual erosion and deposition of alluvium, the boundary line changes with the stream;5 but if the change in the channel from natural causes is sudden (by avulsion), as when the stream in flood deepens one channel and fills another or when it cuts across a bend, the boundary is not changed thereby. Thus it may happen that a line described by statute or treaty as a river boundary later runs across dry land, where it remains fixed unless the river returns to its former channel and changes it by slow action. There are many illustrations of this rule in the United States-for example, along the Rio Grande below El Paso, along

148 U. S. 503. * 147 U. S. 1; 252 U. S. 282. 5 Convention with Mexico of Nov, 12, 1884, art. 1.

* 143 U. S. 359–367, 246 U. S. 158, 247 U. S. 461, etc. See Omicial Opinions of the Attorney General, vol. 8, pp. 175–180, for many references to this rule in international law.

Missouri River between Missouri and Kansas and between Missouri and Nebraska, and on the Mississippi between Tennessee and Arkansas.'

Changes in rivers caused by the work of man do not change boundaries.

All boundary lines should be well marked, the size and character of the marks to depend on the importance of the line. (See Pl. I.) Many State boundaries, even some run in recent years, have been very inadequately marked, blazes on trees or stones so small that they could be easily carried off having been used. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in litigation and in the resurvey of old lines would have been saved had the lines been properly marked when first run. Many lines have marks at intervals of 1 mile. A better rule to follow is to place the marks in such a way that from any one of them two others may be seen, all obstructing trees and brush being cleared away. Marks should also be placed at road crossings and other important points.

A State-line mark should project not less than 3 feet above ground (4 feet is better) and should be so firmly set that it can not be easily overturned nor disturbed by frost. These conditions are most easily met by constructing monuments of concrete or of metal posts set on concrete bases. Each monument should have the State names on opposite sides; it should bear also the year of survey, an identifying number, and, if practicable, a reference to the treaty or act in accordance with which the line was run.

The most recent practice in marking curved or crooked boundaries is to make them a series of conneeted straight lines, and for water boundaries to set suitable reference marks on shore. This plan was authorized by the British treaty of 1908 for the rivers on the Canadian boundary and was adopted in marking the MassachusettsRhode Island line.

The boundary marks should be protected by law and should be inspected frequently and repaired whenever necessary. Some States provide for such attention-New York at three-year intervals, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts at five-year intervals.8

There is a United States statute, approved March 4, 1909, which makes it a misdemeanor to molest any monument or witness tree on a Government survey. It provides as follows:


See Geological Survey maps of the Nemaha quadrangle (Mo.-Nebr.), Fort LeavenForth quadrangle (Mo.-Kans.), El Paso quadrangle (Tex.), etc. See also maps in Elimination of Bancos, treaty of 1905 : Proceedings of the International Boundary Commission, Cnited States and Mexico, 2d ser., Nos. 59 and 89, U. S. Dept. State (1912].

See New York laws for 1887, ch. 421, and for 1892, ch. 678; Pennsylvania act approved May 4, 1889; and Massachusetts revised laws, ch. 1, sec. 4. • Crim, Code, sec. 57, also in 35 Stat. L. 1099.

Whoever shall willfully destroy, deface, change, or remove to another place any section corner, quarter-section corner, or meander post, on any Government line of survey, or shall willfully cut down any witness tree or any tree blazed to mark the line of a Government survey, or shall willfully deface, change, or remove any monument or bench mark of any Government survey, shall be fined not more than two hundred and fifty dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Many references to court decisions regarding boundaries can be found in the following publications:

Clark, F. E., A treatise on the law of surveying and boundaries, chap. 21, Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1922.

Mack, William, Cyclopedia of law and procedure, vol. 36, p. 842, New York, American Law Book Co., 1910.

Mack, William, and Hale, W. B., Corpus juris, Boundaries, vol. 9, pp. 145–298, New York, American Law Book Co., 1916.

McKinley, W. M., and Rich, B. A., Ruling case law, Boundaries, vol. 4, pp. 77–132, 1914, and States, vol. 25, pp. 373–376, Northport, N. Y., Edward Thompson Co., 1916.

Michie, T. J., The encyclopedia of Supreme Court reports, vol. 3, pp. 494_507, Charlottesville, Va., 1909.

Moore, J. B., A digest of international law: 56th Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. 551, vol. 1, pp. 272, 273, 618, 619, 747, 1906.

Taylor, R. H., A treatise on the law of boundaries and fences, Albany, William Gould & Son, 1874.

Digest of U. S. Supreme Court reports (subject “Boundaries "), vol. 2, p. 1132, Rochester, N. Y., 1908; Decennial supplement, 1908–1917, p. 204.





The original limits of the United States were first definitely described in the provisional treaty concluded with Great Britain November 30, 1782. The second article of that treaty defines them as follows 10 (see fig. 1):

ARTICLE II. From the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, viz, that angle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of St. Croix River to the highlands; along the highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River; thence down along the middle of hat ver to the Sth degree of north latitude; from thence, by a line due west on said latitude until it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy [St. Lawrence]; thence along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario, through the middle of said lake until it strikes the communication by water between that lake and Lake Erie; thence along the middle of said communica

10 Malloy, W. M., Treaties, conventions (etc.), between the United States and other powers, 1776-1909 : 61st Cong., 2d sess., S. Doc. 357, vol. 1, p. 581, 1913.

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E. INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY MARKS. A. The mark farthest north on the Lake of the Woods meridian boundary; B. Monument No. 167 on the Mexican boundary; C. A cast-iron post on the forty-ninth parallel boundary; D, Type of small no umeat on Alaska boundary; E. Type of large monument on Alaska boundary.

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