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Maryland and Virginia Boundary Agreement of 1785

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Maryland and Virginia Boundary Agreement of 1785
Formation date: 1785
Member jurisdictions: 2
Issue(s): Boundaries

The Maryland and Virginia Boundary Agreement of 1785 is an interstate compact between Maryland and Virginia.

Text of the compact

The legislature of each member state passes the laws with certain modifications, but the core of the legislation remains the same.

An ACT to approve, confirm and ratify, the compact made by the commissioners appointed by the general assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia, and the commissioners appointed by this state, to regulate and settle the jurisdiction and navigation of Patowmack and Pocomoke rivers, and that part of Chesapeake bay which lieth within the territory of Virginia. Lib. TBH. No. A. vol. 584.

Whereas, at a meeting of the commissioners appointed by the general assemblies of the commonwealth of Virginia, and the state of Maryland, for forming a compact between the two states, to regulate and settle the jurisdiction and navigation of Patowmack, Pocomoke rivers, and that part of Chesapeake bay which lieth within the territory of Virginia, to wit: George Mason and Alexander Henderson, Esquires, on the part of the commonwealth of Virginia, and Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, Thomas Stone and Samuel Chase, Esquires; on the part of the state of Maryland, at Mount Vernon, in Virginia, on the twenty-eighth day of March, in the year one thousand, seven hundred and eightyfive, the following compact was mutually agreed to by the said commissioners.

  1. First, The commonwealth of Virginia disclaims all right to impose any toll; duty or charge, prohibition or restraint, on any vessel whatever sailing through the capes of Chesapeake bay to the state of Maryland, or from the said state through the said capes outward bound; and agrees that the waters of Chesapeake bay, and the river Pocomoke, within the limits of Virginia, be for ever considered as a common highway, free for the use and navigation of any vessel belonging to the said state of Maryland, or any of its citizens, or carrying on commerce to or from the said state, or with any of its citizens, and that any such vessel, inward or outward bound, may freely enter any of the rivers within the commonwealth of Virginia as a harbour, or for safety against an enemy, without the payment of port duties, or any other charge; and also that the beforementioned parts of Chesapeake and Pocomoke river be free for the navigation of vessels from one port of the state of Maryland to another.
  2. Second, The state of Maryland agrees, that any vessel belonging to the commonwealth of Virginia, or any of its citizens, or carrying on commerce to or from the said Commonwealth, or with any of its citizens, may freely enter any of the rivers of the said state of Maryland as a harbour, or for safety against an enemy, without the payment of any port duty, or any other charge.
  3. Third, Vessels of war, the property of either state, shall not be subject to the payment of any port duty, or other charge.
  4. Fourth, Vessels not exceeding forty feet keel, nor fifty tons burthen, the property of any citizen of Virginia or Maryland, or of citizens of both states, trading from one state to the other only, and having on board only the produce of the said states, may enter and trade in any part of either state, with a permit from the naval officer of the district from which such vessel departs with her cargo, and shall be subject to no port charges.
  5. Fifth, All merchant vessels (except such as are described in the fourth article) navigating the river Patowmack, shall enter and clear at some naval-office on the said river in one or both states, according to the laws of the state in which the entry shall be made; and where any vessel shall make an entry in both states, such vessel shall be subject to tonnage in each state, only in proportion to the commodities carried to or taken from such state.
  6. Sixth, The river Patowmack shall be considered as a common highway for the purpose of navigation and commerce to the citizens of Virginia and Maryland, and of the United States, and to all other persons in amity with the said states trading to or from Virginia or Maryland.
  7. Seventh, The citizens of each state respectively shall have full property in the shores of Patowmack river adjoining their lands, with all emoluments and advantages thereunto belonging, and the privilege of making and carrying out wharfs and other improvements, so as not to obstruct or injure the navigation of the river, but the right of fishing in the river shall be common to, and equally enjoyed by, the citizens of both states; provided, that such common right be not exercised by the citizens of the one state to the hindrance or disturbance of the fisheries on the shores of the other state, and that the citizens of neither state shall have a right to fish with nets or seanes on the shores of the other.
  8. Eighth, All laws and regulations which may be necessary for the preservation of fish, or for the performance of quarantine, in the river Patowmack, or for preserving and keeping open the channel and navigation thereof, or of the river Pocomoke within the limits of Virginia, by preventing the throwing out ballast, or giving any other obstruction thereto, shall be made with the mutual consent and approbation of both states.
  9. Ninth, Light-houses, beacons, buoys or other necessary signals, shall be erected, fixed and maintained, upon Chesapeake bay, between the sea and the mouths of the rivers Patowmack and Pocomoke, and upon the river Patowmack, at expense of both states; if upon Patowmack river, at the joint and equal charge of both states, and if upon the before-mentioned part of Chesapeake bay, Virginia shall defray five parts, and Maryland three parts, of such expense, and if this proportion shall in future times be found unequal, the same shall be corrected. And for ascertaining the proper places, mode and plans, for erecting and fixing light-houses, buoys, beacons, and other signals, as aforesaid, both states shall, upon the application of either to the other, appoint an equal number of commissioners, notless than three or more than five from each state, to meet at such times and places as the said commissioners, or a major part of them, shall judge fit, to fix upon the proper places, mode and plans, for erecting and fixing such light-houses, beacons, or other signals, and report the same, with an estimate of the expense, to the legislatures of both states, for their approbation.
  10. Tenth, All piracies, crimes or offences, committed on that part of Chesapeake bay which lies within the limits of Virginia, or that part of the said bay where the line of division from the south point of Patowmack river (now called Smith’s Point) to Watkins’s Point, near the mouth of Pocomoke river, may be doubtful, and on that part of Pocomoke river within the limits of Virginia, or where the line of division between the two states upon the said river is doubtful, by any persons not citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia, against the citizens of Maryland, shall be tried in the court of the state of Maryland which hath legal cognizance of such offences. And all piracies, crimes and offences, committed on the before-mentioned parts of Chesapeake bay and Pocomoke river, by any persons not citizens of Maryland, against any citizen of Virginia, shall be tried in the court of the commonwealth of Virginia which hath legal cognizance of such offences. All piracies, crimes and offences, committed on the said parts of Chesapeake bay, and Pocomoke river, by persons not citizens of either state, against persons not citizens of either state, shall be tried in the court of the commonwealth of Virginia having legal cognizance of such offences. And all piracies, crimes and offenses, committed on the said parts of Chesapeake bay and Pocomoke river, by any citizen of the commonwealth of Virginia, or of the state of Maryland, either against the other, shall be tried in the court of that state of which the offender is a citizen. The jurisdiction of each state over the river Patowmack shall be exercised in the same manner as is prescribed for the before-mentioned parts of Chesapeake bay and Pocomoke river in every respect, except in the case of piracies, crimes and offences, committed by persons not citizens of either state, upon persons not citizens of either state, in which case the offenders shall be tried by the court of the state to which they shall first be brought; and if the inhabitants of either state shall commit any violence, injury or trespass, to or upon the property or lands of the other, adjacent to the said bay or rivers, or to any person upon such lands, upon proof of due notice to the offender to appear and answer, any court of record, or civil magistrate, of the state where the offense shall have been committed, having jurisdiction thereof, may enter the appearance of such person, and proceed to trial and judgment in the same manner as if legal process had been served on such offender; and such judgment shall be valid and effectual against the person and property of offender, both in the state where the offender shall have been committed, and also in the state where the said offender may reside, and execution may be issued by the court, or magistrate, giving such judgment, in the same manner as upon judgments given in other cases; or upon a transcript of such judgment properly authenticated being produced to any court of magistrate of the state where such offender may reside, having jurisdiction within the state or county where the offender may reside, in cases of a similar nature, such court or magistrate shall order execution to issue upon such authenticated judgment, in the same manner and to the same extent, as if the judgment had been given by the court or magistrate to which such transcript shall be exhibited.
  11. Eleventh, Any vessel entering in any port on the river Patowmack, may be libelled or attached for debt by process from the state in which such vessel entered; and if the commercial regulations of either state shall be violated by any person carrying on commerce in Patowmack or Pocomoke rivers, the vessel owned or commanded by the person so offending, and the property on board, may be seized by process from the state whose laws are offended, in order for trial; and if any person shall fly from justice in a civil or criminal case, or shall attempt to defraud creditors, by removing his property, such person, or any property so removed, may be taken on any part of Chesapeake bay, or the rivers aforesaid, by process of the state from which such person shall fly, or property be removed; and process from the state of Virginia may be served on any part of the said rivers upon any person, or property of any person, not a citizen of Maryland, indebted to any citizen of Virginia, or charged with injury having been by him committed; and process from the state of Maryland may be served on any part of the said rivers upon any person, or property of any person, not a citizen of Virginia, indebted to a citizen of Maryland, or charged with injury having been by him committed. And in all cases of trial in pursuance of the jurisdiction settled by this compact, citizens of either state shall attend as witnesses in the other, upon a summons from any court or magistrate having jurisdiction, being served by a proper officer of the county where such citizen shall reside.
  12. Twelfth, The citizens of either state having lands in the other, shall have full liberty to transport to their own state the produce of such lands, or to remove their effects, free from any duty, tax or charge whatsoever, for the liberty to remove such produce or effects.
  13. Thirteenth, These articles shall be laid before the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland, and their approbation being obtained, shall be confirmed and ratified by a law of each state, never to be repealed or altered by either without the consent of the other; And whereas this general assembly are of opinion, that the said compact is made on just and mutual principles, for the true interest of both governments, and if executed with good faith, will perpetuate harmony, friendship and good offices, between the two states, so essential to the prosperity and happiness of their people;

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