Move the line, get some water.

Sen. David Shafer wants to redraw the border with Tennessee:

Desperate for water amid a historic drought, some Georgia lawmakers are trying to reopen an 1818 border dispute with Tennessee.

They have set their sights on a stretch of the 652-mile long Tennessee River that flows tantalizingly close to the Georgia line – and by some historic accounts, should be within Georgia’s borders.

“It’s never too late to right a wrong,” said state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth.

Shafer’s Senate resolution says a flawed survey in 1818 mistakenly marked Georgia’s border one mile south of the 35th parallel – and thus excluded the Tennessee River from Georgia’s reach.

The Tennessee River has a flow about 15 times greater than the Chattahoochee, which supplies Atlanta with its water.

The resolution would not change Georgia’s borders, but it would create a “boundary line commission” that aims to resolve the dispute. It was co-sponsored by all of Georgia senators, and a similar proposal was introduced in the House.

Good move Senator!

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  1. Chris says:

    A resolution is nice and all, however unless Tennessee is willing to give us that mile I don’t see how this does anything. I suppose we could file suit and see how the activist SCOTUS judges rule.

  2. StevePerkins says:

    Heh… my professor mentioned this story in Property Law class a few months ago. Apparently when survey teams were laying out the border between Tennessee and Georgia almost 200 years ago, the Georgia guy showed up late and/or didn’t have the right equipment or something… and just decided to take the Tennessee guy’s word for it. If he had been on the ball, we’d have access to the Tennessee River today.

    Of course, this is never going anywhere in 2008. Chalk this up right next to Native Americans getting their land back, or black people getting 40 acres and a mule.

  3. Chris says:

    I’m told by the resolution author that It is a joint resolution with the force of law if passed. It authorizes the boundary commission to “take whatever action or pursue whatever remedies deemed necessary.”

    That would explain all the war comments I’ve been hearing.

  4. DoubleDawg3 says:

    Wow – I can’t believe this is coming back again. See, I shared this story with my 1L Property teacher back in the day after finding an old article in a Time magazine.

    See, this isn’t the first time that a state legislator in Georgia has tried to claim part of Tennessee over this border dispute – as the article references, there was another attempt about 37 years ago.

    The Legislator – Larry Thomason (not sure who he was? Maybe someone with a few more years of “wisdom” can enlighten me).

    Here is the article from the Time Magazine Archive, in its entirety- detailing the 1971 attempt, which the Macon paper only briefly mentioned:

    “Road maps say that the border of Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina is a crow-flies straight line along the 35th parallel from Scaly Mountain, N.C., to Guild, Tenn. But for more than a century a rather quaint controversy has cooked over whether an 1811 surveyor made a southward error —thrown off by a forest fire and Indian harassment—and gave Tennessee and North Carolina some 300 sq. mi. of mountainous woods that actually belong to Georgia.

    Mountaineers along the borderline do not raise the issue often, since, according to Georgia Historian E. Merton Coulter. 81, “They pay taxes to one state one year and another the next and no taxes at all some years.” Now Georgia State Legislator. Larry Thomason has earnestly set off with Geodetic Survey maps to claim Georgia’s lost territories. Thomason has even planted a Georgia flag 500 yds. north of the accepted boundary. If Thomason’s claim were to stick, the entire southern half of Chattanooga would sink into Georgia, and Tennessee’s Senator William Brock would be out of a job, since his Lookout Mountain residence would be inside Georgia.

    For its part, North Carolina has reacted with revolutionary aplomb. The legislature in Raleigh resolved that “immediate steps should be taken for the actual defense of North Carolina’s borders with Georgia, including measures to mobilize the North Carolina highway patrol, North Carolina National Guard and, if necessary as a last resort, build fortifications on the present border.”

    Let’s hope TN and NC don’t respond with sending the State Patrol to the border again – that’d be a hoot!

  5. DoubleDawg3 says:

    No Doug, you forget that as we go to sleep tonight, TN and NC are probably erecting a massive border fence, actually 2 fences, complete with border patrol and MinuteMen to prevent any “illegal Georgia immigrants” from crossing the Tennessee River. Thus, our invading army will be shut down.

    Of course, Sen. Isakson and Sen. Chambliss have already issued press releases that SHOULD we obtain our rightful piece of Tennessee, all current citizens will be granted amnesty and will be able to remain in Georgia.

  6. Still Looking says:

    Above and beyond stupid. Is this the only thing Shafer can do to make a headline? Maybe he sponsor a study committee to determine the line between legislator and prostitute.

  7. Bill Simon says:

    Hey, Still

    Remember, the South is STILL trying to rise. That’s our water, dad gummit, and we’re going to load our muskets and drag a siphon to the Tennessee River, drop it in, and we’ll get some blowhard legislators to take turns sucking a vacuum until the water flows from the river to Georgia.

  8. shakennstirred says:

    Rather than erecting a fence, TVA has decided it would be easier to just re-direct the flow of the river away from the land in question.

    I had heard this story many years ago in Tennessee. Just to let you know they are going with the Georgia guy showing up late & lazy story.

  9. juliobarrios says:

    “Apparently when survey teams were laying out the border between Tennessee and Georgia almost 200 years ago, the Georgia guy showed up late and/or didn’t have the right equipment or something… and just decided to take the Tennessee guy’s word for it.”

    There is actually an additional part to the story. The Georgia guy worked for the equivalent of the DOT at the time and after it was learned he faked the surveys, he was allowed to “retire” after 29 years as a state employee – with full benefits.

  10. drjay says:

    maybe there can be an actual solution in this hoopla where the tva allows some tenn river water to be directed toward n. ga maybe a new reservoir along the border or infrastructure allowing us to draw a bit of her water into an existing tributary on our side or something like that–i’d hate to have to go to war w/ tennessee or nc–my in laws have a condo in asheville…

  11. shakennstirred says:

    There ya go! Threaten the folks on “The Mountain” as they like to call it in Chattanooga with the meth labs coming up the hill. That will get the land back.

  12. joe says:

    I don’t remember which it is, but in the Savannah area, either Georgia owns part of South Carolina, or SC owns part of GA. (something having to do with a place to dump river dredge)

    If GA were to buy 2-3 acres of TN, then GA could install a great canal. How much can it cost?

  13. jonboy3 says:

    Larry Thomason worked very hard to try and bring a solution with the Georgia Tennessee border. In the late 60’s and early 70’s the issue was about Copperhill. Mr. Thomason had a very distinguished career. He ran for the Public Service Commission and was defeated. He returned to private life and had a very sucessful law practice. He is a man of great talent and intellictual ability. That is Mr. Larry Thomason.

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