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territory plainly and distinctly bounded by water courses, mountains, or public roads. The marshals and assistants, before entering upon the discharge of their duties, were required to take an oath or affirmation to make, or cause to be made, as the case may be, "a just and perfect enumeration and description of all persons” resident within their several districts, and, in the case of the assistants, to make due return thereof to the marshal, and, in the case of the marshals, to return the same to the President of the United States, agreeably to the directions of the act aforesaid, according to the best of their abilities. The assistants were required within the said nine months to transmit to the marshals accurate returns of all persons, except Indians not taxed, within their respective divisions, said returns to be made in a schedule (the form of which was prescribed by the act), distinguishing the several families by the names of their master, mistress, steward, overseer, or other principal person therein. The inquiries in 1790 related to but six items, and called for the name of the head of the family and the number of persons in each family of the following descriptions: Free white males of 16 years and upward; free white males under 16 years; free white females; all other free persons; slaves. In case any assistant failed to make return within the time specified by the act, or made a false return, he was to forfeit $200.
For the purpose of settling “all doubts which may arise respecting the persons to be returned, and the manner of making returns,” it was provided by the act that every person whose usual place of abode was in any family on the aforesaid first Monday in August next should be returned as of such family; in the case of persons having no settled place of residence it was provided that they should be enumerated in the division where they happened to be on the first Monday in August, and in the case of persons occasionally absent at the time of enumeration, as belonging to the place where they usually reside in the United States. The act also made it obligatory upon each and every person more than 16 years of age, whether the head of a family or not, to render a true account, to the best of his knowledge, of every person belonging to the family in which he usually resided, if so required by the assistant of his division, under penalty of forfeiting $20.
Each assistant, before making his return to the marshal, was further required to "cause a correct copy, signed by himself, of the schedule containing the number of inhabitants within his division to be set up at two of the most public places within the same, there to remain for the inspection of all concerned,” for each of which copies he was to receive $2 upon submitting satisfactory proof of such action at the time of making his return to the marshal; but in case any assistant failed to make such proof he was to forfeit the compensation allowed him by the act.
The marshals were required to file the assistants' returns with the clerks of their respective district courts, .who were in turn directed to receive and carefully preserve the same, while the marshals were further required to transmit to the President of the United States, on or before September 1, 1791, “the aggregate amount of each description of persons within their respective districts.” In case a marshal failed to file the returns, or any of them, or to make the return to the President, as required, he was to forfeit the sum of $800; and "for the more effectual discovery of such offenses” the judges of the district courts were required to cause the returns of the assistants to be laid before the grand juries, for their inspection, at the next session to be held after the expiration of the time allowed for making the returns to the President.
In the case of Rhode Island and Vermont, subsequent legislation was had July 5, 1790, and March 2, 1791, respectively, by which the terms of the act providing for the first enumeration were extended to these two districts, the enumeration in Vermont to commence on the first Monday in April, 1791, and to close within five calendar months thereafter. By act of November 8, 1791, also, the time for the completion of the census in South Carolina was extended to March 1, 1792.
The assistants were to receive compensation at the rate of $1 for every 150 persons in country districts and at the rate of $1 for every 300 persons in cities and towns containing more than 5,000 persons; but in those divisions where, “from the dispersed situation of the inhabitants," $1 for 150 persons should prove insufficient, the marshals were authorized, subject to the approval of the judges of their respective districts, to increase the compensation not to exceed in any case $1 for every 50 persons returned.
The amount of compensation prescribed by the several acts for each of the marshals of the sixteen districts varied from $100 to $500, as follows:
$100-Rhode Island, Delaware.
500—Virginia. There was no uniformity in the returns made by the several assistants, so far as the size of the sheets used is concerned, and it was not, in fact, until the fifth census, that of 1830, that the assistants made use of a printed schedule of uniform size for the purposes of the enumeration required by the several census acts. Until that census, all sorts of sizes and shapes of books and sheets were used by the assistants, the columns being ruled in ink and the headings indicated thereon, while in some instances a printed slip containing the column headings was used, following the form of the inquiries prescribed by the law.
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,
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)
THE SECOND CENSUS: 1800.
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.
b Report of Seventh Census, viii. S. Doc. 194—2
name of the head of the family; a statement for each family of the number of free white males and females, respectively, under 10 years of age, of 10 and under 16, of 16 and under 26, of 26 and under 45, and of 45 years and upward; the number of all other free persons, except Indians not taxed, and the number of slaves.
The enumeration was to begin, as before, on the first Monday in August and to close in nine calendar months thereafter. The marshals and secretaries and their assistants were required to take an oath or affirmation before entering upon their work and were subject to the same penalties as prescribed by the law of 1790. The marshals and secretaries were required to deposit the returns of their assistants, which were to be transmitted to the marshals within the nine months specified, with the clerks of the district courts or, in the case of the Territories, the superior courts, but were required on or before September 1, 1801, to transmit their return of the aggregate amount of each description of persons to the Secretary of State, instead of to the President, as provided in 1790.
The assistants were compensated at the rate of $1 for every 100 persons returned in country districts, instead of 150 persons, as in 1790, and $1 for every 300 persons returned in cities and towns having upward of 3,000 persons, instead of 5,000 persons or more, as in 1790, while the increased compensation to be paid in some divisions, with the approval of the judges, was not to exceed $1 for every 50 persons, the same as before. The assistants were also allowed $2 for each of the two copies, which they were required to have set up at two of the most public places in their divisions, the same as in 1790, and under the same conditions of proof. The only changes in the compensation of marshals from the amount allowed in 1790 was an increase from $100 to $150 in the district of Rhode Island, an allowance of $200 to the marshal of the new district of Tennessee; a similar allowance to the secretary of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, and an allowance of $100 to the secretary of the Mississippi Territory, making in all 19 districts and territories to be canvassed.
The printed report of the second census consisted of a folio volume of seventy-four pages, which was printed by order of the House of Representatives in 1801. As in 1790, the results of the enumeration of population are shown by counties, cities, and towns in the northern and eastern districts, and by counties only in the southern sections of the country, while the returns are given for the territories by counties and townships.
The scope of the second census differed from the first only in an extension of the age distribution of the free white element of the population and in that this distribution by age was made to apply to females as well as males. An effort was made, however, by the members of two learned societies, previous to the enactment of the law