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concerning the number of persons engaged in a few of the great classes of occupations, the number of foreigners not naturalized, and the number of persons who were blind, deaf and dumb, or mentally defective. The distribution of the various elements of the population by age and sex was very limited at these earlier censuses, and it was not until the fifth and sixth censuses, those of 1830 and 1840, that the age distribution of the free white population was made to comprehend quinquennial and decennial periods, while the distribution of the free colored and slave elements was much more limited and covered a different classification of age than that applied to the free whites. These items of inquiry were gathered in connection with the name of the head of the family only, and showed simply the number of persons in each family, according to the various specifications of age, sex, and color prescribed by the several census acts. The enumeration, although taken as of a specified day, extended over a very long period of time, varying from nine months in 1790 to twice that period in 1840, before the field work was finally completed.
As a matter of course, from the nature of the inquiries, which were fixed and determined by the schedules prescribed, there was no tabulation required beyond the simple addition of the various entries concerning each family enumerated to determine the totals for each county, city, town, or other civil division comprehended in the several judicial districts and territories. These returns were made, more or less incomplete as to civil divisions, to the Secretary of State, with the exception of the first enumeration, when they were sent direct to the President, and were published in practically the shape in which they were received, without any attempt to present the details uniformly by cities and towns or to summarize the results for each State by counties, unless they happened to be so returned originally. A summary of the results by States and Territories was added in the office of the Secretary of State, in order to show the aggregate results for the entire country, and this represented the only work done at the central office, in the way of compilation of results, aside from the revision of the returns made in 1830 and 1810, to note the clerical errors, as directed by Congress. The methods in vogue at the first six censuses, therefore, were somewhat crude and essentially primitive, and the results presented covered but comparatively few details.
THE SEVENTH CENSUS: 1850.
As a result of the discussion which had arisen concerning the inaccuracies in the Report of the Sixth Census, it was realized that more adequate provision should be made for the seventh census, to be taken in 1850. This idea was recognized by the select committee of the House charged with the consideration of the errors reported in the sixth census, and in their report the statement is made that the defects of this census form a strong argument for the establishment of a bureau of statistics, while in the report of the Senate Committee on the Library, concerning the same subject, offered by Senator Choate, it is stated that "in view of the manifest and palpable, not to say gross, errors of the late census, the committee feel bound to suggest to the Senate the necessity of some legislation with a view to prevent similar errors and inaccuracies in the census to be taken in 1850;" and, further, that they would “express with emphasis their opinion that, in the law providing for the taking of the next census, care should be taken to insert provisions which will insure fidelity on the part of those whose duty it will be to take the census, and accuracy on the part of those on whom it may devolve to prepare the results for publication. It was not until very near the close of the decade, however, that active steps were taken to modernize the work of the seventh census, and to improve the machinery by which it was prosecuted.
The first action toward making provision for the seventh census was taken at the session of Congress which convened in 1848, when it was proposed to use the schedules of 1840 again, but to eliminate therefrom what were termed the objectionable inquiries. This proposition met with a firm protest both in and out of Congress, and Mr. Capen, of Massachusetts, suggested that commissioners be appointed to take the census, and in a letter to a Senator from the same State recommended that a board of inquiry be appointed to examine and report upon the features which should properly be embraced in the census. By an act approved March 3, 1849, a census board was established, to be composed of the Secretary of State, the Attorney-General, and the Postmaster-General, and this board was required by said act “to prepare and cause to be printed such forms and schedules as may be necessary for the full enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States; and also proper forms and schedules for collecting in statistical tables, under proper heads, such information as to mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, education, and other topics as will exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country; it being provided that the number of said inquiries, exclusive of the enumeration, shall not exceed one hundred, and that the expense in preparing and printing said forms and schedules shall not exceed $10,000.” Section 2 of the act also provided for the appointment by the board of a secretary, whose compensation was to be determined by Congress, and which was subsequently fixed at $3,000 per annum.
By another act of the same date the Department of the Interior was established, and in section 7 of said act it was provided that the Secretary of the Interior should “exercise all the supervisory and appellate powers now exercised by the Secretary of State in relation to all acts of marshals and others in taking and returning the census of the United States.”
Subsequent to the formation of the census board, Mr. Shattuck, of Boston, also recommended that a central board of three persons, as commissioners, should be organized at Washington, to be selected “not for their political opinions, but for their scientific attainments and knowledge of the matters they are to investigate," and to have the whole management of planning and carrying into execution all matters relating to the census. It was also a part of his plan that similar commissions of three competent persons should be appointed by this central board in each State, with the consent of the governor thereof, and that each State commission should appoint district commissions, believing that by “this machinery a more perfect collection of facts could be obtained than in any other way.”
The Senate at its next session also appointed a special committee to make provision for the census, and this committee began its work without much reference to the plans of the census board already created. This board, however, in the course of its work, called into consultation many eminent statisticians, including, among others, Mr. Shattuck, Mr. Capen, Dr. Chickering, and Dr. Jarvis, and its plan was afterwards submitted to the Senate committee, by whom its principal features were adopted. (a)
Provision was made for taking the seventh census, therefore, by act of May 23, 1850, in which six schedules or tables were prescribed and made a part of the act, and by which the information called for by Congress was defined. This census was taken, as heretofore, by the marshals and their assistants, and the enumeration, which was made as of June 1, 1850, was to close and the results thereof be returned to the Secretary of the Interior on or before the 1st day of the following November. Indians not taxed were omitted from the enumeration of the inhabitants, and in the Territories any part or all the statistics except those of population could be omitted, at the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior. He was also authorized to extend the time for making the returns in the Territories, if necessary, and if in any district or Territory there should be no marshal, the President was directed to appoint some suitable person to take the census.
Each marshal, before entering upon his duties, was required to take an oath or affirmation, according to the form prescribed by the act, and, when duly authenticated, to be deposited with the Secretary of the Interior; and until these provisions had been complied with, no marshal should perform any of the duties required of him.
The various subdivisions into which each marshal's district was separated were not to contain, so far as practicable, more than 20,000 inhabitants, and were to be bounded by known civil divisions, highways, or natural boundaries, such as rivers, lakes, etc. For each of these subdivisions an assistant was to be appointed, who should be a
a Compendium of the Seventh Census, pp. 12, 13.
resident therein, and to whom the marshal was required to give a commission under his hand, authorizing him to perform the duties of an assistant, and setting forth the boundaries of his subdivision.
Each marshal was further required to “supply each assistant with the instructions issued by the Department of the Interior, the blanks provided for the enumeration of the population, and the collection of other statistics, and give to him, from time to time, all such information and directions as may be necessary to enable him to discharge his duty." He was also directed to carefully examine the returns of each of his assistants, and if not properly made, to require them to be corrected; to determine the rate of compensation to be paid to each assistant, subject to the final approval of the Secretary of the Interior; to keep himself posted as to the progress made by each assistant in his work, and in case of inability or neglect, arising from sickness or other cause, to appoint a substitute.
Any marshal could appoint a deputy or deputies to act in his behalf, if not inconsistent with the duties of his assistants, and such deputies could collect the social statistics, if so desired; but the marshal was made responsible for their acts in all cases. Furthermore, in the Territories or sparsely settled districts, the Secretary of War was directed to allow the services of the officers and other persons belonging to the Army to be utilized in the taking of the census, where needed, if it could be done without prejudice to the public service.
Each assistant, having received his commission and taken the oath or affirmation prescribed by the act and forwarded a copy thereof, duly authenticated, to the marshal of his district, was required to "perform the service required of him by a personal visit to each dwelling house, and to each family in the subdivision assigned to him, and to ascertain, by inquiries made of some member of each family, if anyone can be found capable of giving the information, but if not, then of the agent of such family, the name, age, place of birth, and all the other particulars required concerning each member thereof; he was also required to visit personally the farms, mills, shops, mines, and other places respecting which information is required in his district, and to obtain all such information from the best and most reliable sources; and when, in either case, said information had been obtained and entered on the schedules, it was to be immediately read to the person or persons furnishing the facts, to correct errors, and supply omissions, wherever necessary.
The assistants were required by their instructions to furnish, prior to October 1, 1850, the original census returns to the clerks of their respective county courts, and to forward two copies, duly compared and corrected, to the marshals; but by act of August 30, 1850, the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to extend the time in delayed districts to any day not later than January 1, 1851, and in California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico to such time as in his discretion
be deemed advisable. Each assistant was also required to sign each page of the schedules before being sent to the marshals, and to state on the last page the whole number of pages in each return and to certify that "they were well and truly made according to the tenor of his oath of office."
The act provided for the transmission through the mails, free of postage, of all documents and papers relating to the census, and, for the purpose of covering the expense of transmitting the blanks and other matter through the mail, appropriated $12,000, to be paid to the Post-Office Department.
The marshals were not allowed a fixed sum for their services, as in preceding censuses, but were compensated at the rate of $1 for each 1,000 persons in each district containing more than 1,000,000 inhabitants, and at the rate of $1.25 for each 1,000 persons in each district containing less than 1,000,000 inhabitants; but no marshal was to receive less than $250, and where the compensation did not exceed $500 a reasonable allowance for clerk hire was to be made, the amount to be determined by the Secretary of the Interior.
The assistants, instead of being allowed, as heretofore, a certain rate for a specified number of persons returned, were paid for each person and each farm and establishment, as follows:
Two cents for each person enumerated, and 10 cents per mile for necessary travel, “to be ascertained by multiplying the square root of the number of dwelling houses in the division by the square root of the number of square miles in each division, and the product shall be taken as the number of miles traveled for all purposes in taking this census;" 10 cents for each farm; 15 cents for each establishment of productive industry; 2 cents for each death, and for the social statistics 2 per cent upon the amount allowed for the enumeration of population.
By act of August 30, 1850, assistant marshals and agents were allowed 8 cents for each page of the two copies of the original census returns required by section 11 of the census act, and extra compensation was allowed to marshals or agents and their assistants in California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico. One-half of the compensation of an assistant was to be paid upon the certificate of the marshal that the work had been completed to his satisfaction and a return had been made of the subdivision confided to him, and one-half after the returns had been examined at the Department of the Interior and found to be satisfactory. Payments were to be made in the same manner to the several marshals, and it was also provided by the act that a marshal, at his discretion, could perform the duties of an assistant in any subdivision in which he may reside, and receive the compensation allowed to an assistant for like services.
In case a marshal should knowingly neglect or refuse to perform the duties assigned him, or should in any way secure any fee, reward, or compensation for the appointment of an assistant, or any part of