It’s always been about “states’ rights” in the South. This time, Georgia state legislators say they have the right to water from the Tennessee River, citing a faulty 1818 survey that placed the Georgia-Tennessee border over a mile south of where it should be.
The border should have been set at the 35th parallel, but according to reports by the AP, surveyors sent to the piedmont from Washington either used antiquated equipment or were scared off by an Indian party. Either way, the border was set about a mile off its mark.
Georgia state Sen. David Shafer (R) says “It’s never too late to right a wrong,” and is eyeing the River as Atlanta searches for ways to quench its thirst during the unprecedented drought that has gripped the Southeast in the last year.
On November 1, 2007, the White House brokered a deal between Georgia, Alabama and Florida over rights to water from the Chattahoochee River (I noted at the time that it was interesting to see Washington stepping in to assist Southern governors afflicted by an act of God. On the same day in 1861, another act of God — a late-season hurricane — battered Union ships off the Georgia coast and saved the Southern governors who were rebelling from Washington).
The Georgia-Tennesee line isn’t the only state border that has been disputed recently. Developers in New Jersey who were trying to build a natural gas refinery on the banks of the Delaware River were thwarted by Delaware legislators who reminded them that the New Jersey’s border stopped at the banks of the river. The docks would have been crossing into Delaware.
Rarely do these disputes ever result in new border lines, and almost never do states settle the disputes with hostile action. But as Tennessee partisans are calling all hands to deck in the Vol Navy, they should remember Virginia’s successful invasion of North Carolina.
In the summer of 1718, a ruthless pirate named Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach) ran his Queen Anne’s Revenge aground on the shoals of the Albemarle Sound. After Blackbeard set up a de facto truce with North Carolina’s weak governor, Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood decided it was time to rid the Atlantic colonies of this menace.
Spotswood sent two sloops commanded by Lt. Robert Maynard into North Carolina. Maynard and the 60 men under his command ultimately defeated Blackbeard, and took his head back to Hampton, Va., where they placed in on a spike in the town square.
Georgia-Tennessee State Line (Google Maps)
New Jersey-Delaware State Line (Christian Science Monitor)