This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
October 18 is the 291st day of the year (292nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 74 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1767, Mason and Dixon Draw a line.
Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon complete their survey of the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland as well as areas that would eventually become the states of Delaware and West Virginia. The Penn and Calvert families had hired Mason and Dixon, English surveyors, to settle their dispute over the boundary between their two proprietary colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.
Maryland’s charter granted the land north of the entire length of the Potomac River up to the 40th parallel. A problem arose when Charles II granted a charter for Pennsylvania. The grant defined Pennsylvania’s southern border as identical to Maryland’s northern border, the 40th parallel. But the terms of the grant clearly indicate that Charles II and William Penn assumed the 40th parallel would intersect the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle, Delaware when in fact it falls north of Philadelphia, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony’s capital city. Negotiations ensued after the problem was discovered in 1681. A compromise proposed by Charles II in 1682, which might have resolved the issue, was undermined by Penn receiving the additional grant of the ‘Three Lower Counties’ along Delaware Bay, which later became the Delaware Colony, a satellite of Pennsylvania. These lands had been part of Maryland’s original grant.
In 1732 the proprietary governor of Maryland, Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, signed a provisional agreement with William Penn’s sons which drew a line somewhere in between, and also renounced the Calvert claim to Delaware. But later Lord Baltimore claimed that the document he signed did not contain the terms he had agreed to, and refused to put the agreement into effect. Beginning in the mid-1730s, violence erupted between settlers claiming various loyalties to Maryland and Pennsylvania. The border conflict between Pennsylvania and Maryland would be known as Cresap’s War.
The issue was unresolved until the Crown intervened in 1760, ordering Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore to accept the 1732 agreement. Maryland’s border with Delaware was to be based on the Transpeninsular Line and the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle. The Pennsylvania-Maryland border was defined as the line of latitude 15 miles south of the southernmost house in Philadelphia.
As part of the settlement, the Penns and Calverts commissioned the English team of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to survey the newly established boundaries between the Province of Pennsylvania, the Province of Maryland, Delaware Colony, and parts of Colony and Old Dominion of Virginia.
After Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1781, the western part of this line and the Ohio River became a border between free and slave states, although Delaware remained a slave state.
1009 – The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a Christian church in Jerusalem, is completely destroyed by the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who hacks the Church’s foundations down to bedrock.
1016 – The Danes defeat the Saxons in the Battle of Ashingdon.
1081 – The Normans defeat the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Dyrrhachium.
1210 – Pope Innocent III excommunicates German leader Otto IV.
1356 – Basel earthquake, the most significant historic seismological event north of the Alps, destroyed the town of Basel, Switzerland.
1386 – Opening of the University of Heidelberg
1561 – Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima – Takeda Shingen defeats Uesugi Kenshin in the climax of their ongoing conflicts.
1599 – Michael the Brave, Prince of Wallachia, defeats the Army of Andrew Bathory in the Battle of Selimbar, leading to the first recorded unification of the Romanian people.
1648 – Boston Shoemakers form first U.S. labor organization.
1748 – Signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ends the War of the Austrian Succession.
1767 – Mason-Dixon line, survey separating Maryland from Pennsylvania is completed.
1775 – African-American poet Phillis Wheatley freed from slavery.
1851 – Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.
1860 – The Second Opium War finally ends at the Convention of Peking with the ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin, an unequal treaty.
1867 – United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. Celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.
1898 – United States takes possession of Puerto Rico.
1912 – The First Balkan War begins.
1914 – The Schoenstatt Movement is founded in Germany.
1921 – The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is formed as part of the RSFSR.
1922 – The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) is founded by a consortium, to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service.
1925 – The Grand Ole Opry opens in Nashville, Tennessee.
1929 – Women are considered “Persons” under Canadian law.
1936 – Adolf Hitler announces the Four Year Economic Plan to the German people. The plan details the rebuilding of the German military from 1936 to 1940.
1944 – Adolf Hitler orders the establishment of a German national militia.
1944 – Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia.
1944 – Adolf Hitler orders the public funeral procession of Nazi field Marshall Erwin Rommel, commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps
1945 – The USSR’s nuclear program receives plans for the United States plutonium bomb from Klaus Fuchs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
1945 – A group of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, led by Mario Vargas, Marcos Perez Jimenez and Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, staged a coup d’etat against then president Isaias Medina Angarita, who is overthrown by the end of the day.
1954 – Texas Instruments announces the first Transistor radio.
1964 – The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair closes for its first season after a six-month run.
1967 – The Soviet probe Venera 4 reaches Venus and becomes the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet.
1968 – The U.S. Olympic Committee suspends Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a “black power” salute during a victory ceremony at the Mexico City games.
1968 – Bob Beamon sets a world record of 8.90 m in the long jump at the Mexico City games.
1977 – German Autumn: a set of events revolving around the kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the hijacking of a Lufthansa flight by the Red Army Faction (RAF) comes to an end when Schleyer is murdered and various RAF members allegedly commit suicide.
1989 – East German leader Erich Honecker resigns.
1991 – Azerbaijan declares independence from USSR.
2003 – Bolivian Gas War: President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, is forced to resign and leave Bolivia.
2007 – Karachi bombings: attempted assassination of Benazir Bhutto.