Here is what they didn’t teach you about colonial America in school.

The Mason-Dixon line

You probably know of the Mason-Dixon line as the border between the north and the south, but do you know of the 82-year family feud story behind it? It started when England's king gave William Penn II the go-ahead in 1681 to just lay claim to everything between Maryland and New York. Things got ugly, surveys weren't completed, and mediations and conferences didn't help. Finally, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were summoned all the way from the Royal Observatory in England to put the whole thing to rest. When the two territories signed a peace treaty in 1738, they agreed there wouldn't be any more riots, but it was still another 12 years before the border was legalised and a further 17 years until the Pennsylvania Penns and the Maryland Calverts agreed on the Mason-Dixon line.

The first settler murderer

Some folks have an idealised vision of those people who first came to the New World, and they are thought of as the devout sort who spent the journey alternately praying and being kind to their neighbours. That definitely wasn't the case for all of them. Let's take John Billington for example. The Billingtons were fleeing to the New World to escape some serious debts in England, and thanks to his kids, the ship almost didn't make it. At one point, one of the boys fired a gun below decks in a cabin full of people and barrels of gunpowder. Later, John not only refused the mandatory bit of military service but started spouting anti-establishment propaganda. It wasn't until 1630 that he got into an argument with a new settler and shot him and Billington had the dubious honour of being hanged as the first settler murderer.

to be continued...