The survey was supposed to extend a full five degrees of longitude (about 265 miles) to the west, but the Iroquois wanted the survey stopped. Negotiations between the Six Nations and William Johnson, the commissioner of Indian Affairs, lasted well into 1767. After a payment of ｣500 to the Indians, Mason and Dixon finally got authorization in June 1767 to continue the survey from the forks of the Potomac near Cumberland. They started out with more than 100 men that summer, including an Indian escort party and a translator, Hugh Crawford, as they continued the survey westward from mile 162.
As the survey party opened the visto further westward, the Indians grew increasingly resentful of the intrusion into their lands. The survey team reached mile 219 at the Monongahela River in September. Twenty-six men quit the crew in fear of reprisals from Indians, leaving only fifteen axmen to continue clearing vistos for the survey until additional axmen could be sent from Fort Cumberland. On October 9th, 231 miles from the Post mark壇 West, the survey crossed the Great Warrior Path, the principal north-south Indian footpath in eastern North America. The Mohawks accompanying the survey said the warpath was the western extent of the commission with the chiefs of the Six Nations, and insisted the survey be terminated there. Realizing they had gone as far as they could, Mason and Dixon set up their zenith sector and corrected their latitude, and backtracked about 25 miles to reset their last marks. They left a stone pyramid at the westernmost point of their survey, 233 miles 17 chains and 48 links west of the Post mark壇 West in Bryan痴 field.
The Mason-Dixon Trail is a 193-mile hiking trail, marked in light blue paint blazes. It begins at the intersection of Pennsylvania Route 1 and the Brandywine River in Chadds Ford, PA; runs southeast through Hockessin and Newark, DE; eastward though Elkton to Perryville and Havre de Grace, MD (although pedestrians are not allowed on the Rt. 40 bridge!); then northward up the west side of the Susquehanna into York County, PA, and proceeding northwest through York County through Gifford Pinchot State Park to connect with the Appalachian Trail at Whiskey Springs. The Mason-Dixon Trail does not actually follow any line that Mason and Dixon surveyed, but it痴 an interesting trail over diverse terrain.
In the middle of the 20th century the Mason-Dixon Line was the backdrop for one of the five school desegregation cases that were eventually consolidated into the US Supreme Court痴 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case. Until 1952, public education in Delaware was strictly segregated. Since the late 19th century, property taxes paid by whites in Delaware had funded whites-only schools, while property taxes paid by blacks funded blacks-only schools. In the 1910痴, P.S. duPont had financed the construction of schools for black children throughout Delaware, and effectively shamed the Legislature into providing better school facilities for whites as well. There was only high school for black children in the entire state幽oward High School. Persistent income disparities between blacks and whites insured persistent inequalities in public education. In 1950 the Bulah family had a vegetable stand at the corner of Valley Road and Limestone Road, and Shirley Bulah attended Hockessin Colored Elementary School 107, which had no bus service. The bus to Hockessin School 29, the white school, went right past the Bulah farm, and the Bulahs merely asked if Shirley could ride the bus to her own school. But Delaware law prohibited black and white children on the same school bus.
Shirley痴 mother Sarah Bulah contacted Wilmington lawyer Louis Redding, who had recently won the Parker v. University of Delaware case forcing the University to admit blacks. In 1950, the Wilmington chapter of the NAACP had launched an effort to get black parents in and around Wilmington to register their children in white schools, but the children were turned away. Redding chose the Bulahs as plaintiffs in one of two test cases, and convinced Sarah Bulah to sue in Delaware痴 Chancery Court for Shirley痴 right to attend the white school (Bulah v. Gebhart). Parents of eight black children from Claymont filed a parallel suit (Belton v. Gebhart). The complaints argued that the school system violated the "separate but equal" clause in Delaware痴 Constitution (taken from Plessy v. Ferguson) because the white and black schools clearly were not equal.
Redding knew that a court venue on the Mason-Dixon Line, with its local legacies of slavery and abolitionism, would be most likely to support integration. He argued the cases pro bono and the Wilmington NAACP paid the court costs. In 1952, Judge Collins Seitz found that the plaintiffs black schools were not equal to the white schools, and ordered the white schools to admit the plaintiff children. The Bulah v. Gebhart decision did not challenge the "separate but equal" doctrine directly, but it was the first time an American court found racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. The state appealed Seitz痴 decision to the Delaware Supreme Court, where it was upheld. The state痴 appeal to the US Supreme Court was consolidated into the Brown v. Board case, which also upheld the decision.
The town of Milford, Delaware, had riots when it integrated its schools immediately after the Brown decision. Elsewhere in Delaware, school integration proceeded slowly; the resistance to it was passive but pervasive. A decade after Brown, Delaware still had seventeen blacks-only school districts. As Wilmington痴 schools were integrated, upscale families, both black and white, were moving to the suburbs, leaving behind high-poverty, black-majority city neighborhoods. Wilmington痴 public school system, now serving a predominantly black, low-income population, was mired in corruption and failure.
Following a second round of civil rights litigation in the 1970痴, the US Third Circuit court imposed a desegregation plan on New Castle County in 1976, under which schools in Wilmington would teach grades 4, 5 and 6 for all children in the northern half of the county, while suburban schools would teach grades 1-3 and 7-12. Wilmington children would have nine years of busing to the suburbs; suburban children would have three years of busing to Wilmington. After the 1976 desegregation order, a spate of new private schools popped up in the suburbs. One third of all schoolchildren living within four districts around Wilmington now attend non-public schools.
In 1978 the Delaware legislature split the northern half of New Castle County into four large suburban districts, each to include a slice of Wilmington. The Brandywine, Red Clay Consolidated and Colonial districts are contiguous to Wilmington and serve adjacent city neighborhoods. The Christina district has two non-contiguous areas: the large Newark-Bear-Glasgow area and a high-poverty section of Wilmington about 10 miles distant on I-95.
In 1995, the federal court lifted the desegregation order, declaring that the county had achieved "unitary status." Wilmington痴 poorest communities remain predominantly black, but the urbanized Newark-New Castle corridor now has far more minority households than Wilmington. The school districts are committed to reducing black-white school achievement gaps as mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (the 2000 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act).
Louis Redding and Collins Seitz both died in 1998. The city government building at 800 North French St. in Wilmington is named in Redding痴 honor.
till the Moment they must pass over the Crest of the Savage Mountain, does there remain to them, contrary to Reason, against the Day, a measurable chance,
Pynchon uses the titles of his next two books in Mason & Dixon. Inherent Vice back on page 271 and Against the Day here.
Note, "against the day" has appeared numerous times in this novel, and is also a term seen in history books about this time period, meaning, making action against the current day, for tomorrow, in a way, credit of action.