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the data to be obtained for the purpose of determining the value and importance of the commercial and industrial interests of the country at that time. For the collection of this information a separate schedule was provided, which prescribed by name the classes of establishments or products concerning which a return was to be made "in statistical tables" by the marshals and their assistants. These inquiries related usually to the quantity or value produced (or both, in some cases), number of employees, amount of capital invested, and number of establishments (in certain cases), for certain specified products of mining, of the fisheries, and of manufactures; the quantity or value of certain specified products of agriculture or of the forest; the number of commercial and commission houses, and of retail dry goods, grocery, and other stores, with the capital invested therein; the number of men employed by butchers, packers, etc., and in internal transportation, and the number of men employed, capital invested, and number of establishments engaged in the lumber trade.
The compensation of assistants, of whom there were, approximately, 2,048, was materially increased at this census, they receiving $2 for every 100 persons returned in country districts, and in cities and towns of 3,000 inhabitants or more, at the rate of $2 for each 100 persons up to 3,000 persons, and at the rate of $2 for every 300 persons over 3,000, while in those divisions where $2 for 100 persons would not be sufficient compensation, they could receive as high as $2.50 for every 50 persons returned. In those cases where the superficial content of a county or parish exceeded, in either case, 20 or 40 miles square, and the number of inhabitants did not exceed 3,000, the same provision for further allowance was made as in 1830, but by the terms of the supplemental act of February 26, 1840, the assistants, instead of receiving $5 for each of the two copies of their return of population to be made and set up for the inspection of all concerned, as in 1830 and as originally provided by the act of March 3, 1839, were allowed “at the rate of $5 for ten sheets, or in that proportion for a less number, and at the rate of 30 cents for every sheet over ten in the copy of the return." In all cases, also, where the assistants had performed the duties and made the returns of manufacturing and other industrial statistics, as prescribed by section 13 of the act of March 3, 1839, they were allowed therefor a sum equal to 20 per cent of the allowance made to them respectively for the enumeration. The compensation of the marshals of the several districts and territories, now numbering 39 in all, was also increased very materially, and the amounts prescribed varied from $50 for each of the three districts in the Territory of Florida to $500 for the district of Ohio.
The marshals were allowed the amount of the postage expended by them in connection with their work, and the papers relating to the sixth census were carried in the mails regardless of their weight, and
for the transmission of such papers between the marshals and their assistants periodical pamphlet postage only was charged.
The Secretary of State was authorized to have printed 10,000 copies of the aggregate returns received from the marshals, including the census of pensioners and the statistical tables of manufactures and other industries, and was further directed to cause to be noted all the clerical errors in the returns of the marshals and assistants, whether in the additions, classification of inhabitants, or otherwise, and that he should direct to be printed the corrected aggregate returns only. He was also directed by the act of September 1, 1841, to cause to be printed 20,000 copies of a compendium or abridgement of the census, by counties and principal towns; and by the resolution of February 24, 1843, providing for the distribution of the census reports and compendium, he was directed to send one copy of each to universities, colleges, and literary institutions entitled to receive Congressional documents. The act of February 26, 1840, also fixed the compensation for a superintending clerk (a) at $1,500 per annum, a recording clerk at $800 per annum, two assistant clerks at $650 per annum each, and such other clerks as might be needed in examining and correcting the census returns, to be paid out of the appropriations for the sixth census; while under the provisions of the act of January 14, 1841, extra compensation was allowed to the superintending clerk for arranging and preparing the census of pensioners, and for the compiling and supervision of the printing of the statistical returns relating to the commerce and industries of the country.
The act of March 3, 1839, provided that the original returns of the enumeration, within thirty days after they had been laid before the grand juries, should be transmitted by the clerks of the district and superior courts to the Department of State, but by section 5 of the act of February 26, 1840, this provision of the census act was repealed, the same as in 1830.
The printed results of the sixth census are contained in three volumes, one relating to the enumeration of the inhabitants, one to the statistics of industry and commerce, and one to the census of pensioners; and, in addition, a "compendium of the enumeration of the inhabitants and statistics of the United States."
The results pertaining to population are presented in the northern States for cities, towns, and the other civil divisions, with a recapitulation by counties, and usually in the southern States for counties and a few civil divisions; and are followed in each case by an epitome of the population for the entire State or district. The presentation of the statistics of industry and commerce follows the plan of the report on population, so far as the nature of the returns will permit, showing
a William A. Weaver, of Virginia, who served as superintending clerk until March 18, 1842.
the results returned under the various heads prescribed by the schedule by towns, townships, etc., in the northern sections and mainly by counties in the southern sections, with recapitulations by counties, where necessary, and a summary by States and districts. The compendium is an exhibit of the population and industries of the country according to counties and principal towns, to which is appended an abstract of each preceding census, while the volume relating to pensioners gives the names, ages, and places of residence of pensioners for Revolutionary or military services, and the names of the heads of families with whom they resided June 1, 1840; but the number of such pensioners returned at the sixth census is given in the report of the census proper, in connection with the returns relating to the color, sex, and age of the population.
The total population of the United States in 1840 was 17,069,453, including 6,100 persons on public ships in the service of the United States, not credited to any State or Territory.
The total cost of the sixth census was $833,370.95, subdivided as follows: For enumerating the inhabitants, $586,628.74; for printing and binding, $184,629.92; for postage, $11,048.08; for temporary clerk hire, etc., at the Department of State, $41,294.83; for incidental and contingent expenses, $9,769.38. (a)
The census of 1840 may be said to mark the beginning of a concerted effort to make the decennial enumeration the instrument for ascertaining something beyond the mere number of persons of each sex and of various ages constituting each of the three great divisions of the population. Beyond these items, with one or two other minor particulars added from time to time, and two fruitless efforts to secure industrial statistics, nothing had been attempted thus far which, in any way, would show the growth and development of the country with respect to its industries and resources. Imbued with this feeling, however, President Van Buren, in his second annual message to Congress, (b) dated December 8, 1838, not only recommended the adoption of the necessary provisions for taking the sixth census, but also suggested "whether the scope of the measure might not be usefully extended by causing it to embrace authentic statistical returns of the great interests specially intrusted to or necessarily affected by the legislation of Congress." This suggestion found expression in the requirements of the census act, by which it was directed that the marshals and assistants should "collect and return in statistical tables all such information in relation to mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and schools, as will exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country;" but these efforts to expand the scope of the census were not wholly suc
a Report of Seventh Census, viii.
Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 3, p. 49.
cessful. Complaint was made concerning the many errors to be found in the census, and memorials calling attention to them were presented to Congress. One of these memorials was that of the American Statistical Association, (a) made to Congress in 1843, in which it is set forth that various and gross errors have been discovered in the printed edition of the sixth census, but that the committee of the association appointed to investigate the matter and report thereon to Congress, not having reliable data with which to compare all the details of the census, have confined their investigations to the reports respecting education, nosology, and employments.
In connection with the statement of the errors in the returns for colleges and universities, the memorialists believe "there is good reason to suppose that the number of colleges given is almost twice as large as the true number, and that the number of students is exaggerated nearly as much," while as to common schools, the errors in regard to which "are the most striking," the memorialists speak at length, and show in a table for various cities, towns, and counties where the "number of scholars at public charge" exceeds, and sometimes very greatly, the whole number of scholars reported. The memorialists further find that, in returning the people according to their several employments, some of the marshals "seem to have included the whole population, men, women, and children, in these classes, arranging them, probably, according to the employment of the head of the family, and some seem to have noticed only the males over 21 years of age; others seem to have noticed all who were sufficiently able to perform any service; and, lastly, some seem to have entirely neglected this duty, and have recorded none in some of the employments; and in many counties none are reported to have any employment whatever." Some of these various classes of error and omission are cited in a table, and further comparison made of the number reported in mining and commerce with the returns made concerning these two classes on the schedule showing the capital invested, value of products, and persons employed in mining, agriculture, commerce, and manufactures. But, according to the memorialists, "the most glaring and remarkable errors are found in the statements respecting nosology, the prevalence of insanity, blindness, deafness, and dumbness, among the people of this nation." A comparison of these statements with other and more reliable data shows that they vary widely from the truth, and, further, that a comparison of the statements in one part of the census with those in another has shown the most extraordinary discrepancies. A comparison of the original manuscript copy of the returns for Massachusetts with the printed copies of the census shows a similar variance in the results, while a careful comparison of "the number of colored insane and idiots, and of the deaf and dumb and blind, with
a House Reports, Twenty-eighth Congress, first session, Vol. III, No. 580.
the whole number of the colored population, as stated in the printed edition of the census, in every city, town, and county in the United States" showed "extraordinary contradictions and improbabilities," the results of these comparisons being set forth in tabular form. The memorialists also found that "in many towns all the colored population are stated to be insane; in very many others, two-thirds, one-third, one-fourth, or one-tenth of this ill-starred race are reported to be thus afflicted," while a further statement is made that "the errors of the census are as certain, if not as manifest, in regard to insanity among the whites as among the colored population."
The memorialists conceive, in view of these facts, "that such documents ought not to have the sanction of Congress, nor ought they to be regarded as containing true statements relative to the condition of the people and the resources of the United States;" and that some action should be taken for their correction, or, if that is impossible, for the discarding and disowning of the same, "as the good of the country shall require and as justice and humanity shall demand."
These memorials were referred to the Committee on the Library in the Senate and to a select committee in the House, and in the reports of these committees the errors were admitted, although their source was not determined and no steps were taken toward their correction.
These errors were due, for the most part, to the ineffectiveness of the machinery by which the census was then taken, arising from the large increase in the number of inquiries, for which an inadequate compensation was provided, and from the lack of proper supervision of the work of the assistants by the marshals, who had other duties to perform; and it is not to be wondered at that, under these conditions, errors should have crept in and become painfully manifest in the printed reports. Indeed, the attempt to gather the industrial and commercial statistics was looked upon with very great disfavor in some sections of the country, and a leading journal of the South went so far as to inquire whether "this Federal prying into the domestic economy of the people" was not "a precursor to direct taxes," and whether it was "worthy of the dignity and high functions of the Federal Government to pursue such petty investigations."
The census of 1840 brought to a close, however, the first period of census taking in this country, the leading facts of which can be briefly summarized. The first six censuses were limited practically to population, so far as any real results were concerned, although at three of these censuses, those of 1810, 1820, and 1840, an effort was made to extend the scope of the census to include statistics of industry. These efforts were of little avail, however, and the results, although printed, have but little value. With respect to population, the inquiries had to do almost wholly with the color, sex, and age of the population, to which were added at some of the later periods two or three inquiries