In this richly layered, thoroughly researched history of the Mason-Dixon Line, Walker crisscrosses the boundaries of geography, culture, economics, science, mathematics, politics and religion to reveal that drawing lines is as likely to cause conflict as settle it.
The story of the boundary lines surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon is just one thread of this sweeping historical chronicle. The storied boundary is most associated with the divide between the North and the South and the bloody history wrought by that line, but Walker reveals a fascinating and complicated history of exploration, family feuds, persecution, ideological conflicts, scientific experimentation and advancement, and the forging of a national identity. Beginning in the 16th century and ending in the present, the account of the Mason-Dixon Line often serves as a window into some of the pivotal developments of American history. The author ably makes the case that “[t]he many boundary journeys found in the complete story of the Mason-Dixon Line are relevant today.” Abundant use is made of quotations from primary sources, and many photographs and archival images enrich the narrative.
A thoughtful, insightful, challenging and extensively researched chronicle of United States history and the shaping of national identity from a unique perspective. (maps, photographs, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)