Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The Pennsylvania-Maryland boundary dispute began in 1681 and climaxed in the late 1730s although a final boundary line was not run until the 1760s. During that time, the nature of the dispute changed dramatically from a personal contest between two proprietors for the control of an uncharted wilderness to a multi-leveled conflict involving imperial officials, proprietary families, members of two rival provincial elites, and local border dwellers. From Whitehall to Philadelphia and Annapolis, to the disputed frontier, the interests of the Penns and Calverts, provincial leaders in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and the local border population became intertwined in an expanding web of participation that culminated in a series of dramatic encounters during the 1730s.;For the proprietary families, the bitter rivalry between William Penn and Lord Baltimore set the tone of the first 35 years of the dispute. The need to maintain honour and status made a settlement difficult, and personal and family problems and changing political circumstances precluded an agreement before 1732. Between 1685 and 1732, provincial elites emerged in Philadelphia and Annapolis, and settlers began to flock into the border region. At the proprietary level, face-to-face negotiations, the pursuit of the politics of 'interest' and recourse to formal litigation punctuated the contest during the 1730s. The border region witnessed ethnic and inter-family clashes that were fostered by members of the provincial elites. In this local conflict, provincial designations were deceiving; borderers were more conscious of family and ethnic loyalties than provincial affiliation. For provincial leaders, the boundary commission, various delegations, and the courts provided the arenas of conflict in their struggle to legitimize provincial ambitions and extend control over the frontier hinterland.;By the 1730s, the boundary dispute became a matter of local, provincial and proprietary concern. Ultimately, it also became an imperial concern. Despite the increase in local population, the growth of provincial power and the continuing antagonism of the proprietary families, imperial intervention succeeded in 1738 where it had failed in 1685. In an era of 'salutary neglect,' recourse to the crown proved to be a significant alternative.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.