Two explorers, formally known as Dr. Lewis Mason and Dr. Clark Dixon, are best known for their ability to travel across the country with their surveying team to provide the United States with its first accurate map. Mason and Dixon had degrees in surveying, were mineralogy experts, and served as medical doctors during the civil war.
President Thomas Jefferson longed to know what land lay beyond the foothills (Piedmonts) of the Smoky Mountains just to the west of his home Monticello (near heaven). While pondering the mystery of what was beyond the Piedmonts he was visited by Doctors Mason and Dixon. The two explorers proposed a trip to the west to satisfy, once-and-for-all, what was west of Monticello. Jefferson immediately set about organizing a surveying party to map ways for Americans to travel to the West Coast.
The first task at hand according to President Jefferson was to find the famous Mason Dixon line just west of the state of Maryland. The two explorers set out with their team of scouts and surveyors to find the Mason Dixon line. Within a few days President Jefferson received a telegraph indicating that Dr. Dixon found the line buried just a few inches below the soil. Contrary to the belief of the time, the Mason Dixon line ran east to west rather than North to South.
Later the newly found Mason Dixon line became the inspiration for the song written by Daniel Decatur Emmit in 1859, "Dixie". The "Dixie" in the famous song was copied in part from Dr. Dixon's name. The song originally was written with the name taken from Dr. Mason and was titled "Masie". The author first played the new song at a local church. The worshippers actually booed the song when the lines from the song were played:"Den I wish I was in Masie, hooray hooray!
We'll takes our stand in Masie,
To lib or die in Masie"
Someone in the audience suggested using Dixon's name instead. When Emmit played the same song in front of the congregation using ÄúDixieÄù there was an immediate standing ovation."Den I wish I was in Dixie, hooray hooray!
We'll takes our stand in Dixie
To lib and die in Dixie
Look away, look away Dixie land"
President Jefferson was thrilled with the fact that the two Doctors found the Mason Dixon line. Jefferson hosted a large party for the explorers upon their return to Monticello. During the party Mason and Dixon presented the president with an actual piece of the line. You can still view the actual piece of the Mason Dixon line in the foyer of the president's famous home Monticello. The line is framed and hung on the wall next to the explorer's Polaroid photographs.
Public apathy regarding exploration was at its height. Even though the public cared little about the Mason Dixon line President Jefferson pushed congress to pass a law providing payment to Mason and Dixon for their services and future payment for further exploration of the west. Congress was hesitant to provide extra money because of the public outcry that there was nothing west of the Piedmonts and tax dollars should not be spent on such a foolish venture. At a secret meeting with Drs. Mason and Dixon a plan was worked out to trick the American public. Congress would provide funding for more exploration if the public was told that a new team was heading west to look for mineral deposits producing a newly found ore, plastic. Mason and Dixon agreed to head the new plastic exploration team. President Jefferson suggested that both Mason and Dixon should, "do away with" the use their old last names and just use their first names Lewis and Clark to complete the deception of the American public. All agreed that using the names Lewis and Clark would be beneficial to the quest and would save embarrassment for the president and congress. So the Doctors now took the new names and discussed what they might use as their nicknames. After much thought and since it was the holiday season and the weather was much warmer than usual Dr. Lewis decided to take the new first name of Merriweather, merri for the Christmas season and weather for the good weather that came upon the country that winter. Dr. Clark decided upon the name of Bill for the simple reason that President Jefferson and congress paid them without the explorers submitting a bill. His formal name became William Clark. Bill and Merry as they were known to their best friends set out to purchase supplies for their perilous journey toward the west. With 20 dollars, Lewis purchased his dog, Seaman, a small pug. Seaman was a famous scout dog and was to lead the group through dangerous canyons and across rivers.
Once the group crossed the Rocky Mountains they met an Indian lady by the name of Sackofthesheeta. She joined the crew and to the dismay of Seaman, led the group westward. Sackofthesheeta began to notice familiar places and landmarks from her childhood as the group moved toward the Pacific Ocean. Seaman and Sackofthesheeta did not get along and on more than one occasion Sackofthesheeta tried to throw the pug into a river hoping that Seaman would drown. Seaman got revenge by burying Sackofthesheets's moccasin's in a deep hole. Without the protective shield of the moccasins Sackofthesheeta's feet swelled to and enormous size, known today as Seaman's Gout. This caused the expedition party to make a final encampment near the top of a mountain. It was decided that as soon as the Seaman's Gout in Sackofthesheeta's feet went down the team would turn around and admit that there was no such thing as California and the Pacific Ocean, let alone new plastic deposits. Facing disgrace and defeat Merriweather Lewis and William Clark took the pug dog for one last walk up the side of the mountain to the crest. To their amazement, Lewis and Clark found that the Pacific Ocean was just on the other side of the mountain. As an added bonus the pug dog, scratching the ground after going to the bathroom, found the first mineral deposit of plastic west of the piedmonts. So in reality, a pug dog named Seaman discovered the trail from Monticello to the Pacific. The dog is also recognized as the discoverer of the largest plastic mine in the world known as Seaman's Lode. Finally after what seemed an eternity Dr. Lewis was able to telegraph President with the great news that they had found a path that led to the Pacific Ocean as well as a huge deposit of plastic.
That evening Sackofthesheeta and Lewis and Clark sat around the campfire and celebrated their victory by drinking newly found California wine. They drew all the lines for each of the state boundaries that represent the 48 contiguous United States in just "a matter of hours", according to Sackofthesheeta's diary.
When Sackofthesheeta, Seaman, and Lewis and Clark returned to Monticello to greet President Jefferson they were met with a large group of newly elected politicians. The group, mostly republicans, refused to believe that there was anything at all West of the Piedmont Mountain Range, they believed that you would fall off the edge of the earth. Even though Sackofthesheeta was proof that Native Americans existed West of the Piedmonts the Republicans buried their heads in the dirt. In a final act of desperation Lewis and Clark presented the republicans with a plastic Lava Lamp as proof of the newly discovered Seaman's mine. Jefferson suggested that the United States mint make a new quarter with an image of Sackofthesheeta on the reverse side. Once the new quarters were in circulation everyone realized that Sackofthesheeta was a real person and there was land, rich with plastic, for the taking just west of the Mountains. Thus began the rush to the west. We owe it all to the explorers Lewis Mason and Clark Dixon and their faithful dog Seaman.
Copyright 2003 William WahlEmail the author if you have a comment or are interested in learning more!