Mason–Dixon line  

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The Mason–Dixon line (or Mason's and Dixon's line) was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies in Colonial America. It is a demarcation line among four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia (then part of Virginia). In popular usage, the Mason–Dixon line symbolizes a cultural boundary between the Northeastern and the Southern United States (Dixie). It was not the demarcation line for the legality of slavery, however, since Delaware, a slave state, falls north and east of the boundary. Also lying north and east of the boundary was New Jersey where, in reality, slavery existed, in limited numbers, until 1865. It was not until 1846 that New Jersey abolished slavery, but it qualified it by redefining former slaves as apprentices who were "apprenticed for life" to their masters. Slavery did not truly end in the state until it was ended nationally in 1865 after the American Civil War and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. The Missouri Compromise Line had a much more definitive geographic connection to slavery in the United States leading up to the Civil War.

Mason & Dixon is the title of a 1997 novel by American author Thomas Pynchon. The novel meanders widely through the lives of Mason and Dixon, traditional American history, and other themes such as hollow earth theory, geomancy, deism and - perhaps - alien abduction.

See also

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