Item #58714 Contemporary manuscript "true copy" of the boundary settlement between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Nathaniel Pain, Joseph Jencks.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island agree on the disputed border

Contemporary manuscript "true copy" of the boundary settlement between Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts: October 22, 1718. One-page folio holograph document (approx. 12¼" x 7½"), docketed on verso: "Settlement of ye line between the Massachusetts & Rhode Island - copy" and in a lighter hand beneath "Sandford's copy." Previous folds (professionally reinforced on verso), the whole lightly toned; very good. This document records a settlement of the northern boundary of the colony of Rhode Island and the southern boundary of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The document was drawn up by seven commissioners "being the major part of the committee appointed and empowered by the Governments of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." The signatures of the seven commissioners all appear to be in the clerk's hand (see below). For years the two colonies were at odds over boundary lines, as the 1642 charter granted to Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, set the colony's northern border at the southern border of Massachusetts Bay, without referring to specific geographic points. The charter of Massachusetts Bay defined its southern border, per their charter of 1629, as lying three miles to the south of the Charles River. The colonies hired Nathaniel Woodward and Solomon Saffery to locate and survey this boundary in 1642 and they set the border at Wrentham. Later surveys would prove that Woodward and Saffrey miscalculated, and that the Wrentham boundary was in fact over seven miles south of the Charles River. Rhode Island Governor William Greene protested this to George II in 1752, but the boundary stood until 1883 when minor adjustments were made to account for the growth of towns situated along the border. The present-day northern boundary of Rhode Island was essentially set by this agreement. The signatories include Nathaniel Pain, Joseph Jencks, Nathaniel Blagrove, Randal Houldon, Samuel Thaxter, Samuel Wilkinson, and Thomas Fry. Countersignatures by Richard Ward, recorder, and Benjamin Rolf, clerk. "Writing in 1974, one author declared that the boundary between Rhode Island and Massachusetts 'was in some respects the most remarkable boundary question with which the country has had to deal' (Franklin van Zandt, Boundaries of the United States and Several States (Washington, D.C., Department of the Interior, 1975, p. 66). "Agreements established by committees in 1711 and 1718 were disputed. The dispute, which lasted some two hundred years, went to the Supreme Court twice (1832-1846 and 1860-1861). Both states filed bills of equity with the Supreme Court in 1852, and after more surveying and negotiation, a decree was issued on December 16, 1861 and a Supreme Court ruling became effective on March 1, 1862. At times, Rhode Island tried to run lines but could get no agreement on its work from Massachusetts. The disagreement covered the entire area from the Atlantic Ocean to Connecticut. The conflict initially arose partly from the fact that Rhode Island succeeded in getting a royal charter defining its boundaries from King Charles II in 1663, and Massachusetts could not get its suspended colonial charter revived until 1691. In addition, vaguely worded agreements with Native American tribes, inadequate geodetic methodologies of the time, the shifting landscape and displaced markings and monuments over time, the boundaries between Rhode Island and its neighbor states may have been a source of contention, investigation, and negotiation from the eighteenth to well into the twentieth century" (RI Secretary of State Office on line). Item #58714

Price: $2,500.00

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