This Day in History
October 11th: The Mason-Dixon Line is completed; The Battle of Valcour Island is fought and other events of the date
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October 11th: The Mason-Dixon Line is completed; The Battle of Valcour Island is fought and other events of the date



A number of important events took place on October 11th in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.

1767 – The Mason-Dixon Line is completed

America is a country of mostly straight borders between the states, which makes the U.S. much different from many other countries in the world: the vast majority of them, actually.  As for the states of the North-East this phenomenon is a direct heritage of the late colonial era. Yet, before the establishment of the Mason-Dixon Line back in 1767 everything was not that clear at all.

The English geographers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon had been drawing the line between Maryland and Pennsylvania for four years. The actual survey line eventually began to the south of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and extended from a benchmark east to the Delaware River and west to what was then the boundary with western Virginia.

What the surveyors also did was fix the boundary between the Delaware and Pennsylvania territories, drawing the line to include the north-south portion of the boundary between Delaware and Maryland. The main problem they had to tackle while making the boundaries “nice” was that most of the natural Delaware–Pennsylvania boundary was an arc, and the Delaware–Maryland boundary didn’t run truly north-south because it was intended to bisect the Delmarva Peninsula rather than follow a meridian.

1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Valcour Island is fought

This naval battle took place on Lake Champlain, right along the modern day U.S.-Canada border. The main military actions happened in Valcour Bay, which is, from a geographic point of view, a narrow strait between the New York mainland and Valcour Island.

This was one of the first naval battles of the War, and consequently – one of the first battles in the history of the U.S. Navy. From a tactical point of view, this also was one of the first crushing defeats in the history of the U.S. Navy, since most of the American fleet under the command of Benedict Arnold was either destroyed, or captured by the Brits under General Guy Carleton. The Brits were also helped by the forces of Hesse-Hanau: a secundogeniture territory of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet, from the strategic point of view – the Americans managed to stall British plans to reach the upper Hudson River valley, so the true result of the Battle of Valcour Island is still a matter of argument between historians. 

As a result, Americans lost 11 ships, 80 sailors killed or wounded and 120 – captured, whilst the Brits only lost 3 small gunboats, and 40 killed or wounded. However, the main naval battles of the American Revolutionary War were yet to be fought.

1890 – The Daughters of the American Revolution organization is founded

Another topic considering the American Revolutionary War we shall mention today, as the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) organization was founded on this day back in 1890. Nowadays, this is a lineage-based membership service organization for women who can call themselves direct descendents of any person involved in the United States’ efforts towards independence. So, who knows – there may be members of it, whose ancestries fought in the Battle of Valcour Island as well. A non-profit group, today they work to promote historic memory preservation, education, and “American patriotism.” The motto of DAR is: "God, Home, and Country."

Also on this date:

1899 – The Western League of Professional Baseball Clubs is renamed the American League

1910 – Theodore Roosevelt became the first President in U.S. history to fly in an airplane. The flight only lasted for four minutes.

These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on October 11th, at least in our view.

Author: USA Really