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governing the second census, to make the enumeration of 1800 the vehicle for ascertaining sundry facts highly interesting and important to society, and for that purpose presented to Congress two memorials (a) which were communicated to the Senate January 10, 1800. One of these memorials, that of the American Philosophical Society, was signed by Thomas Jefferson as its president, and begged leave to submit to the wisdom of the legislature the expediency of requiring, in addition to the table of population, as in the former act, “others presenting a more detailed view of the inhabitants of the United States, under several different aspects;" and for these purposes, suggested that a table be presented showing the number of births and the number of persons “2, 5, 10, 16, 21, and 25 years of age, and every term of five years from thence to one hundred," in order that there may be calculated therefrom “the ordinary duration of life in these States, the chances of life for every epoch thereof, and the ratio of the increase of their population; firmly believing that the result will be sensibly different from what is presented by the tables of other countries, by which we are, from necessity, in the habit of estimating the probabilities of life here;” that "for the purpose also of more exactly distinguishing the increase of population by birth and immigration," another table should contain “the respective numbers of native citizens, citizens of foreign birth, and of aliens;" and that "in order to ascertain more completely the causes which influence life and health, and to furnish a curious and useful document of the distribution of society in these States, and of the conditions and vocations of our fellow-citizens,” another table should specify “the number of free male inhabitants, of all ages, engaged in business, under the following or such other descriptions as the greater wisdom of the legislature shall approve, to wit: (1) Men of the learned professions, including clergymen, lawyers, physicians, those employed in the fine arts, teachers, and scribes in general. (2) Merchants and trades, including bankers, insurers, brokers, and dealers of every kind. (3) Marines. (4) Handicraftsmen. (5) Laborers in agriculture. (6) Laborers of other descriptions. (7) Domestic servants. (8) Paupers. (9) Persons of no particular calling, living on their income; care being taken that every person be noted but once in the table, and that under the description to which he principally belongs.” The other memorial, that of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was signed by Timothy Dwight, its president, recited the fact that it was the belief of the memorialists that to present and future generations it will be highly gratifying to observe the progress of population in

a A comparison of these memorials, as printed in Garfield's Report on the Ninth Census (House Reports, Forty-first Congress, second session, Vol. I, No. 3), pp. 35, 36, with the originals on file in the office of the Secretary of the Senate, shows minor differences in the text, which have been made use of in this article.

this country, and to be able to trace the proportion of its increase from native Americans and from foreigners immigrating at successive periods; to observe the progress or decline of various occupations; the effects of population, luxury, mechanic arts, the cultivation of lands, and the draining of marshes on the health and longevity of the citizens of the United States;” and that "for the accomplishment of these and other scientific objects, to which, on this extensive scale, no individual industry is competent,” they begged leave to request that the next census “may comprehend the following particulars, viz, the number of children under the age of 2 years, and between the ages

of 2 and 5 years; the number of persons between the ages of 16 and 30, 30 and 50, 50 and 70, 70 and 80, 80 and 90, 90 and 100, and above 100, distinguishing in each class the males from the females; the number of natives and of persons not born in the United States; the number of persons in each of the handicraft occupations; the number of merchants, cultivators of land, and professional men, distinguishing their professions; the number of married persons, of unmarried persons above 30 years of age, of widows, and widowers;” and also “that the returns from the several cities, towns, counties, or other districts may be kept distinct."

These memorials were referred by the Senate to a committee to whom the preparation of a census law had already been intrusted, but this committee, although instructed to do so, apparently made no report thereon, nor is there any mention made of these memorials in the recorded debates. (a)

The total population of the United States in 1800 was 5,308,483, and the total cost of the enumeration was $66,109.04. (6)

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The third census was taken under the direction of the Secretary of State, and under the same general provisions of law which governed the two preceding, but by the terms of the act of March 26, 1810, the marshals and the secretaries of the territories were required to appoint one or more assistants in each county and city, who must be residents thereof, and to assign to each assistant a certain division of their districts; but such division could not consist of more than one county or city, but might be composed of one or more towns, townships, wards, hundreds, or parishes, plainly and distinctly bounded by water courses, mountains, public roads, or other monuments.

The enumeration, which the law now stipulated was to be made " by an actual inquiry at every dwelling house, or of the head of every family within each district, and not otherwise," was to commence on

a Garfield's Report on Ninth Census (House Reports, Forty-first Congress, second session, Vol. I, No. 3), pp. 36, 37.

6 Report of Seventh Census, viii.

the first Monday in August and to close in nine calendar months thereafter. By act of April 12, 1810, however, the time was limited to five months, but as this did not prove sufficient for the completion of the work, by act of March 2, 1811, the time for assistants to make their return was extended to the first Monday in June, and that for the marshals and secretaries to the first Monday in July, 1811.

The schedule of inquiries relating to population called for exactly the same information as at the census of 1800, and the assistants received compensation for this work at the same rates prescribed for that census, including the allowance for the two copies to be set up at two of the most public places, except that the rate allowed for increased compensation in sparsely settled areas was not to exceed $1.25 for every 50 persons, instead of $1, as theretofore. There were 26 districts and territories to be enumerated at this census, Tennessee being divided into two districts, and the amount of compensation allowed to the marshals and secretaries was increased in several instances over the amount received at the preceding censuses; but the highest amount allowed in any case was $500, that paid to the marshal of the district of Virginia, as before, while the smallest compensation was $50, that of the marshal of the District of Columbia, separately enumerated for the first time at this census.

In case there was no secretary in either of the territories, provision was made for the performance of the duties directed by the act by the governor of such territory, for which he was to receive the same compensation to which the secretary would have been entitled and was subject to the same penalties.

The marshals and secretaries, in filing the returns of their assistants with the clerks of the district and superior courts, were also required by the law of 1810 to file an attested copy of the return which they were directed to transmit to the Secretary of State.

The results of this census or enumeration of the population were printed in a long folio of 180 pages, without title-page, the summary of the population of the several districts and territories being preceded by the following caption: “Aggregate amount of each description of persons within the United States of America, and the territories thereof, agreeably to actual enumeration made according to law, in the year 1810.” The various subdivisions of the population called for by the act were presented by counties and towns in the northern sections of the country (except New York, which was by counties only), and also in Ohio, Kentucky, and Georgia. The returns for the southern

, districts were limited, as in preceding censuses, to counties, usually, while the population of the territories was generally returned by counties and townships.

As has been noted, no additional details concerning the population were ascertained at this census, but by a later provision of law an

The printed results of the first enumeration are contained in a small octavo pamphlet of fifty-six pages, consisting of a reproduction in each case of the returns of the different marshals in the exact form as transmitted by them, the returns being preceded by a summary of the population of the United States by districts, added in the office of the Secretary of State. The returns of the marshals, as printed, although covering usually the details required by the act as to the number of each class of persons enumerated, do not present these details for cities and towns except for the districts of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and part of New Jersey, the printed results for the remaining districts being confined to counties only and a few of the larger cities and towns. For the district of Maine the return, although given for cities and towns, relates only to the total population, without any subdivision whatever. The return for the district of Massachusetts gives, in addition to the items prescribed by the census act, the number of dwelling houses and families, respectively, in each city and town covered by the report, while the marshal for the district of New York includes in his return the excess of males or females among the white population of each city and town for which report is made. A statement of the population of the Southwest Territory, as returned by the governor thereof, and based upon the reports of the captains of the several districts, is also contained in the printed report, which bears the indorsement by Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, under date of October 24, 1791, as being “truly stated from the original returns deposited in the office of the Secretary of State."

The leading features of the law of 1790, and the statement of the manner in which the returns were made thereunder, have been given somewhat at length, not only because very nearly the same provisions of law governed the taking of the census until 1850, with minor modifications and extensions, but also because of its historical interest as being the first enumeration under the Constitution, and the earliest attempt anywhere to institute a periodical census.


For these reasons, therefore, it may be a matter of interest to note that the result of this enumeration did not meet with favor, and much disappointment was felt at the small total reported as compared with public expectation, and, as stated by Mr. Tucker, (a) “the census was supposed by many to be inaccurate, and the assumed error was imputed, I know not on what evidence, to the popular notion that the people were counted for the purpose of being taxed, and that not a few had, on this account, understated to the deputy marshals the number of persons in their families." This belief was also shared by the officials of the Government, and Mr. Jefferson, the Secretary of State, was careful not only

a Tucker's Progress of the United States in Population and Wealth in Fifty Years,

P. 15.

to inform our representatives abroad, in sending copies of the published tables to them, that the returns were far short of the truth, but also to supply omissions by entries "in red ink.” (a) The subsequent enumerations established, however, the substantial accuracy of these results and showed that the disappointment of the public was largely due to the exaggerated estimates of colonial population which preceded the first systematic enumeration of the people.

From this summary of the law governing the first enumeration it will be observed that the returns required of the marshals were transmitted direct to the President, and that there was no central directing office clothed with authority to supervise the work of enumeration. This provision was made in the law governing the second census, as will appear later on, but at the time of the first enumeration, in 1790, it is to be presumed that the Secretary of State, acting under the direction of the President, sent to each marshal copies of the act prescribing the inquiries to be made concerning each family and the manner in which they were to make their returns. An inquiry at the State Department has revealed no further information, and the conclusion is inevitable that, in all probability, the marshals were left practically to carry out the provisions of the act in their own way.

The total population of the United States in 1790 was 3,929,214, and the entire cost of the first enumeration was $14,377.28. (6)


By the act of February 28, 1800, providing for taking the second census or enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States, the marshals of the several districts and the secretaries of the territory northwest of the river Ohio and of the Mississippi Territory, respectively, were required to cause the number of inhabitants within their respective districts to be taken, under the same general provisions of law as to division of districts, appointment of assistants, and manner of making the enumeration, as governed the first enumeration, except that the work was to be carried on under the direction of the Secretary of State, who was required, in accordance with the provisions of a section which was added to the law of 1800, to transmit to the marshals and secretaries “regulations and instructions, pursuant to this act, for carrying the same into effect, and also the forms contained therein of the schedule to be returned, and proper interrogatories to be administered by the several persons who shall be employed therein."

The schedule of inquiries, which was prescribed by the act, called for the name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resides (which did not appear in the schedule for 1790); the

a Harper's First Century of the Republic, chap. vii.

6 Report of Seventh Census, viii. S. Doc. 194 -2

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