Topic: Books - Nonfiction
William Ecenbarger set out to follow the Mason-Dixon line from where it starts at the southeast corner of Delaware to the western end 233 miles later between West Virginia and Pennsylvania. He gives us the historical facts of how Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, between 1763 and 1768, surveyed the line that separated Maryland from Delaware and Pennsylvania in order to settle a dispute going back to the 1600s.
He interweaves this with how things look now and how they were before, during and after the Civil War when it divided free states from slave states and became not just a state line but an icon and rallying point. He has so many sad stories but among them are happy ones of the slaves that made it to freedom and stayed free. One of the saddest chapters is that being too close to the line wasn't safe for African Americans as slave catchers would capture escaped and even legally free slaves and sell them back into slavery. How terrible to finally be free and then be caught again.
It's very interesting as I have often heard the term Mason-Dixon and even had a vague idea where it was but never heard actual facts about how it came about.