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the boundary line runs due east seren thousand eight hundred and eighty yards. to a point where it meets a line running through the middle of Pocomoke Sound, which is marked C on the accompanying map, and is in latitude 3° 51' 38", longitude 75° 47' 50''; thence by a line dividing the waters of Pocomoke Sound north 47° 30' east five thousand two hundred and twenty yards, to a point in said sound marked D on the accompanying map, in latitude 37° 56' 25", longitude 75° 45' 26"'; thence following the middle of the Pocomoke River by a line of irregular curves, as laid down on the accompanying map, cotil it intersects the westward protraction of the boundary line marked by Scarborough and Calvert, May 28th, 1668, at a point in the middle of the Pocun noke River, and in the latitude 37° 59' 37'', longitude 75° 37' 4"; thence by the Scarborough and Calvert line, which runs 5° 15' north of east, to the At. lantic Ocean: the latitudes, long tudes, courses, and distances here given have been measured upon the Coast Chart No. 33 of the United States Coast Survey sheet No. 3, Chesapeake Bay).

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The middle thread of the Pocomoke River is equidistant as nearly as may be bei ween the two shores without considering arms, inlets, creeks, or affluents as parts of the river, but measuring the shore from headland to headland.

* The low. water mark on the Potomac to which Virginia has a right in the soil, is to be measured by the same rule.

The original charter to Lord Baltimore embraced Potomac River to high-water mark on the south or Virginia shore, 16 but the arbitrators of 1877 changed the boundary to the low-water line, giving , as their reason for doing so the long occupation by Virginia of the land above that line; they declared that “ the length of time that raises a right of prescription in private parties likewise raises such a presumption in favor of States as well as private parties," and that “ Virginia, from the earliest period of her history, used the south bank of the Potomac as if the soil to low-water mark had been. her own.” 17 The award of the arbitrators was accepted by the legislatures of the two States and was approved by act of Congress March 3, 1879.18

In 1879 and 1880 acts were passed by the Legislatures of Maryland and Virginia to appoint commissioners and to request the General Government to designate one or more officers of the Engineer Corps to survey and mark this line and erect monuments thereon, but little of permanent value seems to have been accomplished.18 Commissioners were appointed by the States of Maryland and

Virginia in 1916

to mark and maintain with buoys placed at intervals of not more than one mile apart the line between the waters of the State of Maryland and the waters of the State of Virg'nia, from Cedar Straights in Pocomoke Sound to Williams Point in Pocomoke River.

* 174 U. S. 225. 17 217 U. 8. 580. * 20 Stat. L. 481. * See a brief report on the boundary between Maryland and Virginia in U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Rept. for 1890, pp. 621-623.

Their report, dated December, 1916, with descriptions of marks established and some historical matter, was published in Baltimore in 1917.

Commissioners appointed in 1859 by Virginia and Maryland surveyed a line for the western boundary of Maryland from the “Fairfax Stone” (see p. 125), at the “first fountain ” of the Potomac, north to the Pennsylvania line. This survey was accepted by

. Maryland but not by Virginia, nor was it accepted by West Virginia when made a State. An area of about 40 square miles remained in dispute until 1910, when commissioners appointed by the United States Supreme Court and acting under its direction resurveyed the line and placed the initial point, which thereby became the southwest corner of Maryland, on the south bank of the North Branch of Potomac River, 3,989 feet from the Fairfax Stone on a line N. 0° 56' E. from it. From that point (monument No. 1) the line crosses the said North Branch of the Potomac, and thence running northerly, as near as may be, with the Deakins or old State line to the line of the State of Pennsylvania.

The "Deakins line” followed the boundaries of old land grants made by Maryland and Virginia and, as reestablished in 1910 by the commissioners, is a broken line with a general bearing a little east of north. There are five offsets in the line, which run nearly east and west and range in length from 54 to 971 feet. A large concrete monument was erected at each angle and many at intermediate points, 60 in all, on the line, which is nearly 36 miles long.

The following quotation from the report, dated October 31, 1911, of the commissioners to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was confirmed by the court at its October term, 1911, shows how boundary lines are often determined 20 (see Pl. VI, A): a large anciently marked white oak tree.

This tree was cut and blocks were taken out by your commissioners which showed surveyors' axe narks in the wood; one 130 years old, one 117 years, and the last 78 years, thus indisputably establishing this course as following the oldest marked line extant.

The computed position of the Fairfax Stone is latitude 39° 11' 41.92", longitude 79° 29' 15.50”. Monument No. 1 is in latitude 39° 12' 21.34", longitude 79° 29' 14.67", and the monument on the Mason and Dixon line is in latitude 39° 43' 15.88", longitude 79° 28' 37.72". These positions are referred to the North American datum.

From monument No. 1 the boundary between Maryland and West Virginia runs along the south bank of the North Branch of the Potomac till it strikes the line between Virginia and West Virginia.

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20 225 U, S. 3.


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On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress met at Philadelphia. Two years later it adjourned to Baltimore. During the Revolution and subsequent to the treaty of peace it met in various places. After the end of the war much debate took place in regard to the location of a permanent seat of the Government of the United States. Several States made propositions to Congress, offering to cede çer; tain lands for the purpose, but no determination of the location was made by Congress until 1790.

On December 23, 1788, the State of Maryland passed the following act:

Be it enacted by the general assembly of Maryland, That the representatives of this State in the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, appointed to assemble at New York on the first Wednesday of March next, be, and they are hereby, authorized and required on the behalf of this State to cede to the Congress of the United States any district in this State, not exceeding ten miles square, which the Congress may fix upon and accept for the seat of government of the United States.

In the following year (December 3, 1789), the State of Virginia passed a similar act, of which the following is an extract:

Be it therefore enacted by the general assembly, That a tract of country not exceeding ten miles square or any lesser quantity, to be located within the limits of the State and in any part thereof as Congress may by law direct, shall be, and the same is hereby, forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, in full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of said soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the eighth section of the 1st article of the Constitution of the Government of the United States.

After long discussion Congress, in view of the foregoing cessions by Maryland and Virginia, passed an act, approved July 16, 1790, from which the following is an extract: 21

That a district of territory, not exceeding ten miles square, to be located as bereafter directed on the river Potomac, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern Branch and Connogochegue, be, and the same is hereby, accepted for the permanent seat of the government of the United States: Provided, nevertheless, That the operation of the laws of the State within such district shall not be affected by this acceptance until the time fixed for the removal of the Government thereto, and until Congress shall otherwise by law provide.

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*, three commissioners, who, or any two of whom, shall, under the direction of the President, survey, and by proper metes and bounds define and limit, a district of territory, under the limitations above mentioned; and the district so defined, limited, and located shall be deemed the district accepted by this act for the permanent seat of the Government of the United States.

*, That on the first Monday in December, in the year 1800, the seat of the Government of the United States shall, by virtue of this act, be transferred to the district and place aforesaid.

21 Stat. L. 130.

In 1791 the foregoing act was amended, in order to include a portion of Anacostia River (“Eastern Branch") and the town of Alexandria within the limits of the District.

The following is an extract from the act of amendment, approved March 3, 1791:22

: * *, That so much of the act entitled “An act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the government of the United States " as requires that the whole of the district of territory, not exceeding ten miles square, to be located on the river Potomac for the permanent seat of the government of the United States, shall be located above the mouth of the Eastern Branch, be, and is hereby, repealed, and that it shall be lawful for the President to make any part or the territory below the said limit and above the mouth of Hunting Creek, a part of the said district, so as to include a convenient part of the Eastern Branch, and of the lands lying on the lower s'de thereof, and also the town of Alexandria ; and the territory so to be included shall form a part of the district not exceeding ten miles square for the permanent seat of the government of the United States, in like manner and to all intents and purposes as if the same had been within the purview of the above recited act: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall authorize the erection of the public buildings otherwise than on the Maryland side of the river Potomac, as required by the aforesaid act.

In pursuance of the foregoing acts, three commissioners were appointed, who made surveys of the territory, and on March 30, 1791, President Washington issued a proclamation, in which the bounds of the District were defined as follows:

Beginning at Jones's Point, being the upper cape of Hunting Creek, in Virginia, and at an angle in the outset of 45 degrees west of the north, and running in a direct line 10 miles for the first line; then beginning again at the same Jones's Point and running another direct line at a right angle with the first. across the Potomac, 10 miles for a second line; then, from the termination of the said first and second lines, running two other direct lines, of ten miles each, the one crossing the Eastern Branch aforesaid, and the other the Potomac, and meeting each other in a point.

In 1800 Congress removed to this District. In 1801 the District was divided into two counties, as follows: 23

the said district of Columbia shall be formed into two counties; one county shall contain all that part of said district which lies on the east side of the river Potomac, together with the islands therein, and shall be called the county of Washington; the other county shall contain all that part of said district which lies on the west side of said river, and shall be called the county of Alexandria ; and the said river, in its whole course through said district, shall be taken and deemed to all intents and purposes to be within both of said counties.

In 1846 Congress passed an act retroceding to the State of Virginia that part of the District of Columbia originally ceded to the

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21 Stat. L. 214. 23 2 Stat. L. 105.

United States by Virginia. The following is an extract from this act : 24


That with assent of the people of the county and town of Alexandria, to be ascertained as hereinafter prescribed, all of that portion of the District of Columbia ceded to the United States by the State of ginia, and all the rights and jurisdiction therewith ceded over the same, be, and the same are, bereby ceded and forever relinquished to the State of Virginia in full and absolute right and jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon.

The method prescribed for ascertaining the assent of the people of Alexandria was by viva voce vote of free white male citizens, to be taken before five commissioners appointed by the President.

The passage of this act made the southern boundary of the District of Columbia coincident with that part of the boundary of Maryland prior to December 23, 1788, regarding which the United States Supreme Court stated 25 that upon all the evidence, the charter granted to Lord Baltimore, by Charles 1, in 1632, of the territory known as the Province of Maryland, embraced the Potomac River and the soil under it, and the islands therein, to highwater mark on the southern or Virginia shore;

nor was such grant affected by the subsequent grant to Lord Culpepper.

Congress in the act 26 approving the award of the arbitrators of 1877 for the States of Maryland and Virginia provided that nothing therein contained "shall be construed to impair or in any manner affect any rights of jurisdiction of the United States in and over the islands and waters" [of the Potomac].

Below are given extracts from an opinion by the Attorney General dated January 16, 1912, relating to the high-water line on the south bank of the Potomac as the boundary line between the District of Columbia and the State of Virginia.

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In the Potomac River there is a high-water line due to freshets at 13 feet above mean low tide. There is a high-tide line not influenced by freshets or caused by high winds at 8.8 feet above mean low tide. There is a mean high tide at about 5 feet above mean low water, and that is the elevation along which drift, trash, etc., remain as an indication; and there is a mean tide line at 3 feet above low water.

High water mark in a river or stream is “the point to which the water usually rises in an ordinary season of high water." 27

** High-water mark is to be determined not from human records but from the records which the river makes for itself," and the true line is “ that which the river impressd upon the soil as the limit of its dominion.” 23

High-water mark is coordinate with the imit of the bed of the water; and that only is to be considered the bed which the water occupies sufficiently long

* 9 Stat, L. 35-36.
* 174 U. S. 225.
* 20 Stat. L. 481.
3 Johnson v. Knott, 13 Oregon 308.
* Houghton v. The Chicago D. & M. R. Co.: 47 Iowa, 370–373.

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