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The area now forming the State of Delaware was originally settled by the Swedes. In 1655 it was surrendered to the Dutch, who in turn, in 1664, surrendered it to the English; it was then taken possession of by the Duke of York.
William Penn, who had received in 1681 a grant of the Province of Pennsylvania, bought or leased from the Duke of York the territory included in the present State of Delaware, which was conveyed to him by two deeds of “ feoffment” dated August 24, 1682. One conveyed a tract of land within a 12-mile circle about New Castle; the other was for "all that tract of land upon Delaware River and Bay beginning 12 miles south from the town of New Castle and extending south to the Horekills, otherwise called 'Lopen.'” Both leases were to be for a period of 10,000 years, but they conveyed land to which the Duke of York then had a very uncertain title. A better title was obtained by royal grant soon afterward and immediately transferred to William Penn. Lord Baltimore vigorously opposed William Penn's claim, and the matter was settled in 1685 by a royal order to divide the territory equally between the two claimants. For a description of the line as marked see pages 105–107.?
In 1701 William Penn granted a charter under which the Province of Pennsylvania and the territories (as Delaware was then called) were authorized to act as separate governments, though both were still under the proprietary government of William Penn.
Acting on the advice of the Continental Congress, the people of Delaware called a convention, which met at New Castle in August, 1776, and on September 10 adopted a constitution for the three counties that had previously been known as “the Government of the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware," and declared that thereafter the Territory should be called “Delaware State," the boundaries then being substantially as at present.”
For a history of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania, pages 103-108, and for that between Delaware and New Jersey, see New Jersey, pages 102-103.
From 1732 to 1769 there was a controversy between the proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland in regard to boundaries.
The boundaries of, Delaware on the south and west were determined as follows:
Beginning at Cape Henlopen and running due west 34 miles 309 perches; thence in a straight line 81 miles 78 chains and 30 links up
* See Assembly of Pennsylvania Report on the resurvey of the Mason and Dixon line, p. 150, 1909, and a similar report by Maryland, Maryland Geol. Survey Special Pub., vol. 7, Baltimore, 1908.
* See also Dallas, A. J., Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1797, vol. 1, appendix, p. 24.
3 Thorpe, F. N., op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 561, 562.
the peninsula until it touches and makes a tangent to the western periphery of a circle drawn at the horizontal distance of 12 English statute miles from the center of the town of New Castle.
From this tangent point a line was run due north till it cut a parallel of latitude 15 miles due south of the most southern part of the city of Philadelphia. This point of intersection is the northeast corner of Maryland. As the tangent line bears a little west of north, the due north line from the tangent point cuts off an arc of the 12mile circle. The narrow segment thus formed is a part of Delaware and has an area of less than 20 acres. The boundary line follows the arc of the circle from the tangent point around to the point where the due north line intersects the 12-mile circle, then follows this due north line to the northeast corner of Maryland. The length of this due north line is 5 miles 1 chain and 50 links, as given by Mason and Dixon.*
The following geographic positions on the Delaware boundary were determined from the survey of 1892:
The “ tangent point,” the southern of the two points where the 12mile circle intersects the Maryland east boundary, latitude 39° 38' 36.95", longitude 75° 47' 20.04".
The northeast corner of Maryland, a point on the Mason and Dixon line, latitude 39° 43' 19.91", longitude 75° 47' 20.03". The southeast corner of Pennsylvania, where the Mason and Dixon line intersects the 12-mile circle, latitude 39° 43' 19.91", longitude 75° 46' 26.69". These two corners are 0.79 mile apart.
The terminal monument on Delaware River on the PennsylvaniaDelaware line, latitude 39° 48' 27.92", longitude 75° 25' 31.53". By the survey of 1849 the distance between the tangent point and the north end of the curve on the Maryland boundary is 7,743.7 feet, which would make the latitude of the latter point 39° 40' 13.47" The stone set in 1849 at this point was thus described : 5 At the point of junction of the three States, a triangular prismatic post of cut granite, 18 inches wide on each side, and 7 feet long, was inserted 41 feet of its length into the ground. It occupies the exact spot on whch the old unmarked stone was found. It is marked with the letters M. P. and D., on the sides facing, respectively, towards the States of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. On the north side, below the letter P., are the names of the commissioners, in deep cut letters, namely: H. G. S. Key, of Md., J. P. Eyre, of Pa, G. R. Riddle, of Del., Commissioners, with the date 1849.
This post is still in place, but now it is a mark on the boundary between Delaware and Maryland only, not a tri-State monument.
* See Delaware 8. Jour., 1851, p. 56 ; Pennsylvania, Rept. Secy. Internal Affairs for 1887, p. 349. See U. 8. Coast and Geodetic Survey Rept. for 1893, pp. 192–193, for more recent measurements. Delaware S. Jour. for January, 1851, p. 102.
There was some confusion regarding the location of Cape Henlopen. The place chosen as the starting point for the south boundary line of Delaware is not the same as the present cape of that name. Lord Chancellor Hardwick said regarding its position that Cape Henlopen ought to be deemed
at the place where laid down on the map or plan annexed to the said articles.
William Penn directed that Cape Henlopen be called Cape James or Jomus. The present Cape Henlopen was then called Cape Cornelis.
The foregoing statements explain the discrepancy between the base line across the peninsula and the position of Cape Henlopen on modern maps.
MARYLAND. The territory embraced in the present State of Maryland was included in the previous charters of Virginia, but nevertheless, in 1632, Lord Baltimore received a royal charter of the Province of Maryland, whose boundaries are defined in the following extract, translated from the original charter, which was in Latin: 8 all that part of the Peninsula, or Chersonese, lying in the Parts of America, between the Ocean on the East and the Bay of Chesapeake on the West; livided from the Residue thereof by a right line drawn from the Promontory, or Headland called Watkins Point, situate upon the Bay aforesaid, near the River Wigloo on the West, unto the main Ocean on the East; and between that Boundary on the South, unto that part of the Bay of Delaware on the North, which lieth under the fortieth degree of north latitude from the Equinoctial, where New England is terminated; And all the Tract of Land within the Metes underwritten (that is to say), passing from the said Bay, called Delaware Bay, in a right line, by the Degree aforesaid, unto the true meridian of the first fountain of the River Pattowmack; thence verging towards the South unto the farther Bank of the said River, and following the same on the West and South unto a certain Place called Cinquack, situate near the mouth of said River, where it disembogues into the aforesaid Bay of Chesapeake, and thence by the shortest Line unto the aforesaid Promontory or Place, called Watkin's Point, so that the whole tract of land divided, by the Line aforesaid, between the main Ocean and Watkin's Point unto the promontory called Cape Charles,
may entirely remain forever excepted to Us. By comparing the limits laid down in this charter with the several charters of Virginia and the charter and deeds to William Penn it will be seen that there was a conflict of boundaries on both sides of the Maryland grant. The history of the long controversy with Pennsylvania has already been given. (See Pennsylvania, pp. 105–108, and Delaware, pp. 110–111.) Virginia claimed the territory under her charters and for a time seemed disposed to assert her claim,
* Hazard, Samuel, op. cit., p. 606. ? Idem, p. 5. & Thorpe, F. N., op. cit., VOL 3, p. 1678.
though in 1638 a proclamation by the governor and council of Virginia recognized the Province of Maryland and forbade trade with the Indians within the limits of Maryland without the consent of Lord Baltimore previously obtained. Virginia's claim was finally given up by a treaty or agreement made in 1658, and her relinquishment was reaffirmed in the charter of 1776.10
In 1663 the Virginia Assembly ordered a survey of the line between Virginia and Maryland on the peninsula and declared it to be “ from Watkins Point east across the peninsula.” They defined Watkins Point " to be the north side of Wicomicoe River on the eastern shore and neere unto and on the south side of the straight limbe opposite to Patuxent River.” 11
In 1668 commissioners were appointed by Maryland and Virginia to fix the boundary across the peninsula. Their report, dated June 25, 1668,12 is as follows:
After a full and perfect view taken of the point of land made by the north side of Pocomoke Bay and south side of Annamessexs Bay have and do conclude the same to be Watkins Point, from which said point so called, we have run an east line, agreeable with the extreamest part of the westermost angle of the said Watkins Point, over Pocomoke River to the land near Robert Holston's, and there have marked certain trees which are so continued by an east line running over Swansecutes Creeke into the marsh of the seaside with apparent marks and boundaries. Virginia, by the adoption of her constitution of 1776, relinquished all claim to territory covered by the charter of Maryland, thereby fixing Maryland's western boundary as follows:
Commencing on a true meridian of the first fountain of the river Pattawmack, thence verging towards the south unto the further bank of the said river and following the same on the west and south unto a certain place called Cinquack, situate near the mouth of said river where it disembogues into the said aforesaid bay of Chesapeake, and thence by the shortest line unto the aforesaid promontory or place called Watkins Point; thence a right line to the main ocean on the east.
The boundaries thus described are substantially the present boundaries, but for many years after they were adopted they remained a matter of controversy.
In the constitution of 1776 Virginia “reserved the property of the Virginia shores or strands [of Potomac and Pocomoke rivers]
and all improvements which have or will be made thereon." Maryland, in 1785, assented to this and declared 13 that
* Bozman, J. L., History of Maryland from 1633 to 1660, vol. 2, p. 586, Baltimore, 1837. 1 Thorpe, F. N., op. cit., vol. 7, p. 3818.
Hening, W. W., Virginia Stat. L. from 1619 to 1792, vol. 2, p. 184. > Maryland Hist. Soc. Coll. State Papers, vol. 4 LCB, pp. 63–64. * 217 U. S. 579–580 ; Thorpe, F. N., op. cit., vol. 7, p. 3818.
the citizens of each State
shall have full property on the shores of the Potomac
with all emoluments and adyantages thereunto belonging, and with the privilege of making and carrying out wharves and other improvements.
In 1786 a compact 14 was entered into between the States of Maryland and Virginia, but as this referred more particularly to the navigation and exercise of jurisdiction of the waters of Chesapeake Bay and Potomac and Pocomoke rivers, it is not given here.
From 1821 to 1858 legislation was frequently enacted in regard to the Virginia boundary. In 1858 commissioners were appointed by Maryland and Virginia, respectively, who, with the assistance of Lieut. N. Michler, United States Engineers, undertook the survey of the lines.
In 1860 the Governor of Virginia, under a resolution of the legislature, appointed an agent and sent him to England to collect records and documentary evidence bearing on this question, but the Civil War ensuing, nothing further was done until 1867, when legislation again commenced.
The question of this boundary was referred to arbitrators by an agreement made in 1874, in which each State bound itself to accept their award as final and conclusive. In 1877 the arbitrators made the following award : 15
Beginning at the point on the Potomac River where the line between Virginia and West Virginia strikes the said river at low-water mark, and thence following the meanderings of said river, by the low-water mark to Smith's Point æt or near the mouth of the Potomac, in the latitude 37° 53' 8'', and longitude 76° 13' 46''; thence crossing the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, by a line run. ning north 65° 30' east, about nine and a half nautical miles, to a point on the western shore of Smith's Island at the north end of Sassafras Hammock, in latitude 37° 57' 13'', longitude 76° 2' 52'' ; thence across Smith's Island south 88° 30' east five thousand six hundred and twenty yards to the center of Horse Hammock, on the eastern shore of Smith's Island, in latitude 37° 57' 8"', longitude 75° 59' 20''; thence south 79° 30' east four thousand eight hundred and eighty yards to a point marked A on the accompanying map, in the middle of Tangier Sound, in latitude 37° 56' 42'', longitude 75° 56' 23'', said point bearing from Janes Island light south 54° west, and distant from that light three thousand five hundred and sixty yards; thence south 10° 30' west four thousand seven hundred and forty yards by a line dividing the waters of Tangier Sound, to a point where it intersects the straight line from Smith's Point to Watkins Point, said point of intersection being in latitude 37° 54' 21", longitude 75° 56' 55'', bearing from Janes Island light south 29° west and from Horse Hammock south 34° 30' east; this point of intersection is marked B on the accompanying map. Thence north 85° 15' east six thousand seven hundred and twenty yards along the line above mentioned ,which runs from Smith's Point to Watkins Point until it reaches the latter spot, namely, Watkins Point, which is in latitude 37° 54' 38'', longitude 75° 52' 44"; from Watkins Point
14 Hening, W. W., op. cit., vol. 13, p. 50.
18 20 Stat. L. 481-482. In the original report the degrees of latitude and longitude are given in words; they are here put in figures for convenient reference,