Having just moved up from Georgia I can sympathize with the water woes south of the border, but I'm baffled as to how there's anything left to investigate with regard to the location of the border. There's no question as to whether the state line is south of the 35th parallel; it is. And there's no question as to whether it was supposed to be on the 35th parallel; it was.
The 35th parallel was recognized as the territory's southern border as early as 1790, before statehood. Before that it was the dividing line between North Carolina and Georgia and, at one time, between North Carolina and South Carolina.
The fact that the lines on the ground aren't where they were supposed to be isn't anything new. We've known it for over a hundred years. It was looked into in the 1800s and again in the seventies and neither time did they do anything about it.
And that is precisely why there is no issue: shoddy surveying can't change the state's lines, but a state's inaction sure will. Georgia will lose this land for exactly the same reason it lost the Barnwell Islands in the Savannah River to South Carolina. Tennessee has established sovereignty over this strip by prescription and acquiescence since Georgia has done nothing to tax, police, or patrol the property for well over the requisite period of time since discovering the error.
In the words of the Supreme Court in Rhode Island v. Massechusetts, "This possession has ever since been steadily maintained, under an assertion of right. It would be difficult to disturb a claim thus sanctioned by time, however unfounded it might have been in its origin."
If it was just recently discovered that actual location of the 35th parallel was north of the marked state line they would have every right to insist that the state line be moved. Heck, Tennessee insisted that Mississippi move its northern border south to what was then considered the 35th parallel giving up a couple hundred thousand acres. We certainly wouldn't be in any condition to insist
that Georgia accept any less from us. But they can't just sit on the information until there's something about the property that makes it worth taking. If they decided the territory along the border wasn't worth fighting for before they can't change their minds now.
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I'm originally from Tennessee, live in Georgia and I must admit that I'm incredibly humiliated about the issue of trying to move the Tennessee/Georgia state line north to include the Tennessee River to ease our drought.
I'm thankful I didn't vote for these simpletons and only hope that whoever makes the decision in this case thinks it's about as asinine as the day is long.
What an embarrassment to the state of Georgia.
Katherine C. Ingram
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The recent controversy over the Tennessee-Georgia boundary is nothing more than an attempt at a land grab of Tennessee's water resources by Georgia. They do not want to take control of East Ridge, St. Elmo, or Lookout Mountain, but they greedily want our water. Volunteers be careful; Georgia will probably offer to let Tennessee "keep" its present boundary in exchange for access to Nickajack Lake.
Georgia does not have legal standing to redraw our maps. Georgia knew in 1826 that the original survey done in 1818 was incorrect. For 182 years they have done nothing, because they knew how the law works in regard to surveys. James Camak conducted the original survey in 1818 and an additional one eight years later to determine the current boundary corner of Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. He noted that due to inaccurate instruments and poor vantage points that Georgia lost over fifty square miles of land. He recorded in his report,
"In the Spring of 1818, the State of Georgia & Tennessee by their commissions ascertained and marked their dividing line. I received, on that occasion, the appointment of Mathematician from Gov. Rabun. The 35th parallel of North latitude constitutes that boundary and there was nothing more to do than to trace & mark that parallel on the surface of the earth. For that purpose of ascertaining the point of commencement, astronomical observations were made on the top of Raccoon Mountain near Nickajack. The result of the observation, made on that occasion differs from that of those contained in this report."
Since the original northern boundary of Georgia had already been approved by the commissions and legislatures of each state, Camak had to leave the boundary as originally recorded. As with all old survey boundaries, the original markers hold true and become the standard. Furthermore, the present boundary line was monumented and accepted by the legislatures of both states and is recorded as follows: (note the reference to establishment of the marker)
"Beginning at a point in the true parallel of the thirty- fifth degree of North latitude, as found by James Camak, mathematician on the part of the State of Georgia, and James S. Gaines, mathematician on the part of the State of Tennessee, on a rock about two feet high, four inches thick, and fifteen inches broad, engraved on the North side thus: June 1st. 1818, var. 6 3' 4" East" and on the South side thus, "Geo lat. 35 North; James Camak", which rock stands one mile and twenty-eight poles from the South bank of the Tennessee River, due South from near the old Indian town of Nickajack, and near the top of Nickajack Mountain, at the supposed corner of the States of Georgia and Alabama . . ."
Instead of trying to steal our land and resources, Georgia needs to focus on regulating growth for Atlanta. Greed and avarice must be opposed. If allowed, Atlanta will drain the Tennessee River dry just as it has done all of its own resources.
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The Georgia Legislature is a scream.
The Peach State would stand a better chance seceding from the union.
And they know that isn't going to happen, either.