The Black-Jenkins Award, which established the boundary line between the Commonwealth and Maryland and was ratified on March 14, 1878, by an act of the General Assembly shall be and remain obligatory on this Commonwealth and the citizens thereof, and shall be forever observed and kept by the Commonwealth and all of its citizens according to the true intent and meaning of the same, and to that end the faith of the Commonwealth stands pledged.
Code 1950, § 7-6; 1966, c. 102, § 7.1-7; 2005, c. 839.
Virginia and Maryland Boundary Agreement of 1878
ACTS OF ASSEMBLY, 1877-78 CHAPTER 246
An Act to approve, confirm, and ratify the award made by the arbitrators appointed to ascertain and fix the boundary between the states of Virginia and Maryland, and procure the assent of the congress of the United States thereto.
Approved March 14, 1878
Whereas, by an act of the general assembly of Virginia, approved March twenty-eighth, eighteen hundred and seventy-four, and an act amendatory thereof, approved February tenth, eighteen hundred and seventy-six, it was provided that the settlement and determination of the true line of boundary between the states of Virginia and Maryland should be referred to the Honorable Jeremiah S. Black of Pennsylvania, the Honorable James B. Beck of Kentucky, and the Honorable Charles A. Jenkins of Georgia, with power to make and deliver their award in writing, any two of them concurring therein; and did thereby pledge the faith of this state to accept and abide by the award of said arbitrators, as to said boundary line, as final and conclusive, with the proviso and saving clauses as to private rights as in the said acts set forth; and whereas the said arbitrators did proceed in the premises to examine into and ascertain the true line of said boundary, and did award as to the same in words following, to wit:
And now, to wit: January sixteenth, anno domini eighteen hundred and seventy-seven, the undersigned, being a majority of the arbitrators to whom the states of Virginia and Maryland, by acts of their respective legislatures, submitted the controversies concerning their territorial limits, with authority to ascertain and determine the true line of boundary between them, having heard the allegations of the said states, and examined the proofs on both sides, do find, declare, award, ascertain, and determine that the true line of boundary between the said states, so far as they are conterminous with one another, is as follows, to wit:
Beginning at the point on the Potomac River where the line between Virginia and West Virginia strikes the said river at low-water mark, and thence, following the meanderings of said river, by the low-water mark, to Smith's point, at or near the mouth of the Potomac, in the latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-three minutes, eight seconds, and longitude seventy-six degrees, thirteen minutes, forty-six seconds, thence crossing the waters of the Chesapeake bay, by a line running north sixty-five degrees, thirty minutes east, about nine and a half nautical miles, to a point on the western shore of Smith's island, at the north end of Sassafras hammock, in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-seven minutes, thirteen seconds, longitude seventy-six degrees, two minutes, fifty-two seconds; thence across Smith's island, south eighty-eight degrees, thirty minutes east, five thousand six hundred and twenty yards, to the centre of Horse hammock, on the eastern shore of Smith's island, in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-seven minutes, eight seconds, longitude seventy-five degrees, fifty-nine minutes, twenty seconds; thence south seventy-nine degrees, thirty minutes east, four thousand, eight hundred and eighty yards, to a point marked ""A'' on the accompanying map, in the middle of Tangier sound, in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-six minutes, forty-two seconds, longitude seventy-five degrees, fifty-six minutes, twenty-three seconds, said point bearing from Jane's island light, south, fifty-four degrees west, and distant from that light three thousand five hundred and sixty yards; thence south ten degrees, thirty minutes, west four thousand seven hundred and forty yards, by a line dividing the waters of Tangier sound to a point where it intersects the straight line from Smith's point to Watkins' point, said point of intersection being in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-four minutes, twenty-one seconds; longitude seventy-five degrees, fifty-six minutes, fifty-five seconds, bearing from Jane's island light south, twenty-nine degrees west and from Horse hammock, south, thirty-four degrees, thirty minutes east; this point of intersection is marked ""B'' on the accompanying map; thence north eighty-five degrees, fifteen minutes, east, six thousand seven hundred and twenty yards along the line above mentioned, which runs from Smith's point to Watkins' point until it reaches the latter spot, namely, Watkins' point, which is in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-four minutes, thirty-eight seconds; longitude seventy-five degrees, fifty-two minutes, forty-four seconds; from Watkins' point, the boundary line runs due east seven thousand eight hundred and eighty yards, to a point where it meets a line running through the middle of Pocomoke sound, which is marked ""C'' on the accompanying map, and is in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-four minutes, thirty-eight seconds, longitude seventy-five degrees, forty-seven minutes, fifty seconds; thence by a line dividing the waters of Pocomoke sound north forty-seven degrees, thirty minutes, east five thousand two hundred and twenty yards, to a point in said sound marked ""D'' on the accompanying map, in latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-six minutes, twenty-five seconds, longitude seventy-five degrees, forty-five minutes, twenty-six seconds; thence following the middle of the Pocomoke river by a line of irregular curves, as laid down on the accompanying map, until it intersects the westward protraction of the boundary line marked by Scarborough and Calvert, May twenty-eight eighteen hundred and sixty-eight, at a point in the middle of Pocomoke river, and in the latitude thirty-seven degrees, fifty-nine minutes, thirty-seven seconds, longitude seventy-five degrees, thirty-seven minutes, four seconds; thence by the Scarborough and Calvert line, which runs five degrees, fifteen minutes north of east, to the Atlantic ocean; the latitudes, longitudes, courses, and distances here given have been measured upon the Coast Chart, number thirty-three, of the United States coast survey, (sheet number three, Chesapeake bay), which is herewith filed as part of this award, and explanatory thereof; the original charter line is marked upon the said map and shaded in blue; the present line of boundary, as ascertained and determined, is also marked and shaded in red, while the yellow indicates the line referred to in the compact of seventeen hundred and eighty-five, between Smith's point and Watkins' point; in further explanation of this award, the arbitrators deem it proper to add that-
First. The measurements being taken and places fixed according to the coast survey, we have come as near to a perfect mathematical accuracy as in the nature of things is possible; but in case of any inaccuracy in the described course or length of a line, or in the latitude or longitude of a place, the natural objects called for must govern.
Second. The middle thread of Pocomoke river is equidistant as nearly as may be, between the two shores, without considering arms, inlets, creeks, or affluents as parts of the river, but measuring the shore lines from headland to headland.
Third. The low-water mark on the Potomac, to which Virginia has a right in the soil, is to be measured by the same rule, that is to say, from low-water mark at one headland to low-water at another, without following indentations, bays, creeks, inlets, or affluent rivers.
Fourth. Virginia is entitled not only to full dominion over the soil to low-water mark on the south shore of the Potomac, but has a right to such use of the river beyond the line of low-water mark as may be necessary to the full enjoyment of her riparian ownership, without impeding the navigation or otherwise interfering with the proper use of it by Maryland, agreeably to the compact of seventeen hundred and eighty-five.
J. S. BLACK, of Pennsylvania
CHARLES J. JENKINS, of Georgia
A. W. Graham, Secretary.
And which award is now deposited, with the map accompanying the same, in the office of the secretary of the commonwealth; now, therefore,
1. Be it enacted by the general assembly of Virginia, That the said award is hereby approved, accepted, confirmed, and ratified, and that as soon as the same is also approved, accepted, confirmed, and ratified by the general assembly of the state of Maryland, and by the Congress of the United States, thereupon and immediately thereafter the said award and survey, matter and thing therein contained, shall be obligatory on the state and the citizens thereof, and shall be forever faithfully and inviolably observed and kept by this state and all its citizens, according to the true intent and meaning of the same, and to that end the faith of this state shall stand pledged.
2. The governor is hereby requested to forward a copy of this act to the governor of Maryland, with a request that the general assembly of said state shall also enact a law in accordance herewith; and shall also forward a copy to our senators and representatives in congress, with a request that they procure such legislation on the part of the United States as may be needful in the premises for their assent to and ratification of said award.
3. This act shall be in force from its passage.