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FROM 1779 TO 1781.
Resolutions and Reports of Commis- Pennsylva
nia boundasioners on the subject of the disputed ry. boundary between the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The papers relating to this subject, so far as they have yet been published, cast but a few rays of light on the points in controversy, between the two states.-Indeed, the resolution of the 18th of December 1776, and the final report of the commissioners of the 23rd of August 1785, who were merely appointed to run und mark the line, previously agreed on, are the only oficial documents, that have been published; and they were locked up in perfect obscurity, until the publication of the Revised Code of 1819. They will be found in the first volume of that work, pages 51, 52, But the claims of Pennsylvania to an extension of territory, and the grounds on which they were resisted by Virginia, are very imperfectly known.
The following papers are intended to fill up the chasm between the resolution of 1776, and the report of the commissioners of 1785; without which it is impossible to understand the principles on which the two states came to an amicable adjustment of their boundary.
[For the resolution of December 18th 1776, See I Rev. Code of 1819, chap. 16, pa. 51.]
Pennsylvani. Resolution respecting Commissioners
on boundary line with Pennsylva-
Resolution In the House of Delegates, May 20th 1779. agreeing to
Resolved that the governor be desired to inform the appoint commissioners commissioners appointed on the part of Pennsylvania on the dis- to adjust the boundary between that and this state, that puted boun- this assembly will proceed to nominate commissioners dary be. tween Vir.
for the same purpose; to sig:ify that the place appointginia and ed by them is agreeable; but to desire that such meetPennsylva: ing may be postponed until the assembly shall have risen, of which notice shall be given them.
E. RANDOLPH, C. H. D.
John BECKLEY, C. S.
Resolution respecting appointment of
Commissioners to run the boundary
line with Pennsylvania. Resolution for appoint
In the House of Delegates, June the 4th 1719. ing commis
Resolved that three commissioners ought to be apadjust the pointed on the part of this commonwealth, by joint boundary. ballot of both houses of assembly, to meet with com
missioners appointed on the part of the state of PennVirginia and
sylvania, to adjust their boundaries, whose proceedings Pennsylvania, whose
shall be subject to be ratified or disagreed to by the proceedings general assembly. are to be ra- June 5th 1779.
Teste, tified or disagreed to by
E. RANDOLPH, C. H. D. the general Agreed to by the senate, assembly.
John BECKLEY, C. S.
4 Journal of the proceedings of the Pennsylvania Commissioners from
Baltimore, August 27, 1779.
proceedings Virginia, James Madison and Robert Andrews, and of Virginia on the part of Pennsylvania, George Bryan, John and PennsylEwing and David Rittenhouse.—Thomas Lewis, one
missioners. of the commissioners from Virginia, was not present.
The commissioners from each state first shewed their respective powers, and it was determined that their proceedings were to be reported to the assemblies of each state for their consideration.
It was then proposed that the commissioners from Pennsylvania should state their claims in writing, which they did in the following manner.
To the Virginia Commissioners.
It appears from the charter of Pennsylvania Pennsylva. that its eastern boundary is the river Delaware, from nia commistwelve miles above New-Castle, and below that point sioners to
Virginia a part of a circle drawn at the distance of twelve miles
commission from the centre of New-Castle; that its northern boun-ers. dary is the beginning of three and fortieth degree of north lititude; and that its southern boundary is the said circle at twelve miles distance from New-Castle northwards and westwards unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude, and then a straight line westwards to the limits of five degrees of longitude; and that it shall extend westward five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bounds.
Pennsylvani On this we beg leave to remark, that the breadth a boundary. from north to south of this tract of land, is three de
grees of latitude, viz. from the beginning of the fortieth degree of north latitude unto the beginning of the forty third degree, and that the distance of the northern and southern limits so expressly contains three degrees of latitude, that it is not in the power of language to be more determinate and precise with respectto the breadth of the same; that the expressions the beginning of the fortieth degree, and the beginning of the forty third degree of latitude which mark the northern and southern boundary of Pennsylvania, are so clear and definitive as not to be capable of any other meaning than to determine the parallels where the thirty ninth and forty second degrees end, and are compleated, reckoned from the equator, as all nations reckon them.
It appears also from Mr. Penn's petition to the crown of England for this tract of land, that he requested a tract three degrees in breadth and five in length, in compensation for money advanced by his father, and that the said quantity of land was actually intended to be granted to him is evident from the express words of the grant, which includes that quantity.
We are, gentlemen, also of opinion, that the supposition or apprehension of the grantor, that the said circle round New-Castle would, somewhere in its course, intersect the beginning of the fortieth degree of latitude, when it is since found in fact that it does not intersect it, ought not in any reasonable and equitable construction to be adduced as an argument for curtailing the said grant or removing the southern boundary of the state farther towards the north, than the | precise and indisputable expressions of the charter fix
it to be, when it is a known and universal rule of determining the boundaries of land, that when two expressions in the grant point out two different terms or limits, the one vague and uncertain, the other known and determinate, to prefer that which is known and capable of an indisputable and certain determination; as if the line of a tract of land is said to extend from a fixed point, one hundred perches to a known tree, river or creek, although the number of perches should not reach so far. Now should there be supposed any uncertainty or ambiguity in the words which ascertain the place of the southero boundary of Pennsylvania,