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This Day in Georgia History

June 18, 1807

Northern Boundary Dispute

Commissioners from Georgia and North Carolina agreed to recognize 35°N as the mutual boundary of the two states and “to run and mark the line [35th parallel] accordingly; which line, when ascertained and completed with joint concurrence, shall forever after be regarded as the line of separation and boundary between the two states.” Commissioners, however, were unable to agree on where the 35th parallel should be marked. North Carolina’s legislature ratified the agreement, while Georgia’s would not. Faulty surveying later would mark the 35th parallel south of its true location for almost all of Georgia’s northern boundary. Since then, both North Carolina and Tennessee have insisted on the surveyed boundary rather than true 35°N. To this day, Georgia law continues to prescribe the 35th parallel as the state’s northern boundary. If this boundary were observed, a good portion of southern Chattanooga, Tenn. would fall within the jurisdiction of Georgia. Perhaps more importantly, in view of recent droughts and the uncertain future for Atlanta’s water supply, the northwest tip of Georgia would fall in the middle of the Tennessee River, giving Georgia access to water from the river. In recent years, Georgia has tried to get Tennessee to recognize the 35th parallel as the true boundary separating the two states - but Tennessee refuses to negotiate on the matter.