1850 United States Census

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Filled-out census-taker's form from 1850 US Census, including household of Abraham Lincoln

The United States Census of 1850 was the seventh census of the United States. Conducted by the Census Office on June 1, 1850, it determined the resident population of the United States to be 23,191,876 — an increase of 35.9 percent over the 17,069,453 persons enumerated during the 1840 Census. The total population included 3,204,313 slaves.

This was the first census where there was an attempt to collect information about every member of every household, including women, children, and slaves. Prior to 1850, census records had recorded only the name of the head of the household and broad statistical accounting of other household members (three children under age five, one woman between the age of 35 and 40, etc.). It was also the first census to ask about place of birth.

Hinton Rowan Helper made extensive use of the 1850 census results in his politically notorious book The Impending Crisis of the South (1857).

Census questions[edit]

The 1850 census collected the following information:[1]

  • name
  • address
  • age
  • sex
  • color (white, black or mulatto) for each person
  • whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane or idiotic
  • value of real estate owned (required of all free persons)
  • profession, occupation or trade of each male over 15 years of age
  • place (state, territory or country) of birth
  • whether married within the year
  • whether attended school within the year
  • whether unable to read and write (for persons over 20)
  • whether a pauper or convict

Full documentation for the 1850 population census, including census forms and enumerator instructions, is available from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.

Economy[edit]

The 1850 United States Census collected a great amount of data that gave insight into the state of the U.S. economy in 1850. Some of the data revealed the growth of the economy with regards to agricultural and manufactured production, international trade, federal debt, taxation, transportation, education, and land expansion.

Agricultural Production
This census calculated the total land by state (in square miles), the total production of major goods and livestock per state (in respective units), the total value of each good produced, the total number of plantations per state, and various other statistics. The total agricultural production between in 1850 was calculated at about 1.3 billion dollars.
Manufactured Production
This census included the total manufactured production (in dollars), the total amount of capital invested, the total value of wages paid, the percent of profit (by state and total), the profit by state of major industries (cotton, wool, various iron work, breweries, fishing, salt), and other less significant statistics. Total manufactured production was valued at just over one billion dollars. This is a great increase over the totals estimated in 1820 and 1840. Also, in total, the manufacturing industry recorded an overall profit of 43%.
International Trade
The 1850 census contains the total value of imports and exports by state, statistics and names of the major imports and exports, the total values of shipping by state, and the value of imports and exports with various individual countries. The United States traded most with Great Britain. The imports and exports with England were both valued around 145 million dollars.
Federal Debt
This census contains yearly federal debt totals, total federal revenues, and total expenditures from 1790-1853. The total debt of the United States on July 1, 1854 was roughly 47.2 million dollars.
Taxation
The census contains some calculation of total annual federal taxes, but it is incomplete. It does however, give state taxation totals.
Transportation and Communication
This census calculates the total cost, size, and quantity of railroads and canals. The funded debt for railroads and canals in 1853 was 130 million. Their gross earnings were more than 38 million dollars. This census also contains estimates for growth in mileage of telegraphic lines in the United States. In 1853 the country contains 89 telegraph lines that stretched 23,261 miles (37,435 km). When published in 1854, the country had an estimated 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of telegraphic lines, a drastic increase.
Education
This census displays the advances of the United States in education and literacy by documenting the number of libraries, the number of schools (public, private, and colleges), state literacy rates, the total newspaper production and consumption, the educational levels of differing races, the total value of tuition costs, the amount of federal land given for education, and other various statistics.
Land Expansion
The 1850 census shows the great amount of territorial expansion that took place in the United States, following the Admission of Texas, the Oregon Treaty, and the Treaty with Mexico. These three pieces of land totaled an addition of more than a million square miles to the nation. In 1850, the United States contained 31 states and 4 organized territories (Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah).
Significance
The 1850 United States Census can be seen as a historical document that gives insight into the state of the nation's economy in 1850. It is much more detailed and provides more information than the 1840 census.

This census was during a very important period of growth and innovation in the United State, the Industrial Revolution. The statistics in this census provide data on the rate of growth that was taking place in 1850, that would lead to the emergence of the United States as an economic world power. Many of the statistics were compared to those of Great Britain and other world powers. This shows where the United States stood economically relative to the rest of the world.

Data availability[edit]

Microdata from the 1850 population census are freely available through the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Aggregate data for small areas, together with compatible cartographic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System.

City rankings[edit]

Rank City State Population[2] Region (2016)[3]
01 New York New York 515,547 Northeast
02 Baltimore Maryland 169,054 South
03 Boston Massachusetts 136,881 Northeast
04 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 121,376 Northeast
05 New Orleans Louisiana 116,375 South
06 Cincinnati Ohio 115,435 Midwest
07 Brooklyn New York 96,838 Northeast
08 St. Louis Missouri 77,860 Midwest
09 Spring Garden Pennsylvania 58,894 Northeast
10 Albany New York 50,763 Northeast
11 Northern Liberties Pennsylvania 47,223 Northeast
12 Kensington Pennsylvania 46,774 Northeast
13 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 46,601 Northeast
14 Louisville Kentucky 43,194 South
15 Charleston South Carolina 42,985 South
16 Buffalo New York 42,261 Northeast
17 Providence Rhode Island 41,513 Northeast
18 Washington District of Columbia 40,001 South
19 Newark New Jersey 38,894 Northeast
20 Southwark Pennsylvania 38,799 Northeast
21 Rochester New York 36,403 Northeast
22 Lowell Massachusetts 33,383 Northeast
23 Williamsburgh New York 30,780 Northeast
24 Chicago Illinois 29,963 Midwest
25 Troy New York 28,785 Northeast
26 Richmond Virginia 27,570 South
27 Moyamensing Pennsylvania 26,979 Northeast
28 Syracuse New York 22,271 Northeast
29 Allegheny Pennsylvania 21,262 Northeast
30 Detroit Michigan 21,019 Midwest
31 Portland Maine 20,815 Northeast
32 Mobile Alabama 20,515 South
33 New Haven Connecticut 20,345 Northeast
34 Salem Massachusetts 20,264 Northeast
35 Milwaukee Wisconsin 20,061 Midwest
36 Roxbury Massachusetts 18,364 Northeast
37 Columbus Ohio 17,882 Midwest
38 Utica New York 17,565 Northeast
39 Charlestown Massachusetts 17,216 Northeast
40 Worcester Massachusetts 17,049 Northeast
41 Cleveland Ohio 17,034 Midwest
42 New Bedford Massachusetts 16,443 Northeast
43 Reading Pennsylvania 15,743 Northeast
44 Savannah Georgia 15,312 South
45 Cambridge Massachusetts 15,215 Northeast
46 Bangor Maine 14,432 Northeast
47 Norfolk Virginia 14,326 South
48 Lynn Massachusetts 14,257 Northeast
49 Lafayette Louisiana 14,190 South
50 Petersburg Virginia 14,010 South
51 Wilmington Delaware 13,979 South
52 Manchester New Hampshire 13,932 Northeast
53 Hartford Connecticut 13,555 Northeast
54 Lancaster Pennsylvania 12,369 Northeast
55 Oswego New York 12,205 Northeast
56 Springfield Massachusetts 11,766 Northeast
57 Fall River Massachusetts 11,524 Northeast
58 Poughkeepsie New York 11,511 Northeast
59 Wheeling Virginia 11,435 South
60 Paterson New Jersey 11,334 Northeast
61 Dayton Ohio 10,977 Midwest
62 Taunton Massachusetts 10,441 Northeast
63 Nashville Tennessee 10,165 South
64 Portsmouth New Hampshire 9,738 Northeast
65 Newburyport Massachusetts 9,572 Northeast
66 Newport Rhode Island 9,563 Northeast
67 Auburn New York 9,548 Northeast
68 Camden New Jersey 9,479 Northeast
69 Augusta Georgia 9,448 South
70 Covington Kentucky 9,408 South
71 New London Connecticut 8,991 Northeast
72 Schenectady New York 8,921 Northeast
73 Memphis Tennessee 8,841 South
74 Alexandria Virginia 8,734 South
75 Montgomery Alabama 8,728 West
76 Portsmouth Virginia 8,626 South
77 Concord New Hampshire 8,576 Northeast
78 Nantucket Massachusetts 8,452 Northeast
79 Georgetown District of Columbia 8,366 South
80 Chicopee Massachusetts 8,291 Northeast
81 Lawrence Massachusetts 8,282 Northeast
82 Augusta Maine 8,225 Northeast
83 Dover New Hampshire 8,196 Northeast
84 New Albany Indiana 8,181 Midwest
85 Lexington Kentucky 8,159 South
86 Danvers Massachusetts 8,109 Northeast
87 Indianapolis Indiana 8,091 Midwest
88 Lynchburg Virginia 8,071 South
89 Bath Maine 8,020 Northeast
90 Madison Indiana 8,012 Midwest
91 Dorchester Massachusetts 7,969 Northeast
92 Zanesville Ohio 7,929 Midwest
93 Harrisburg New Jersey 7,834 Northeast
94 Gloucester Massachusetts 7,786 Northeast
95 Warwick Rhode Island 7,740 Northeast
96 North Providence Rhode Island 7,680 Northeast
97 West Troy New York 7,564 Northeast
98 Pottsville Pennsylvania 7,515 Northeast
99 Wilmington North Carolina 7,264 South
100 Easton Pennsylvania 7,250 Northeast

Controversy[edit]

The Utah Territorial Secretary Broughton Harris refused to certify the 1850 census of Utah territory. Harris complained that Brigham Young had conducted the census without him and that there were several irregularities.[4] The census only reported 26 slaves, with a note that all of them were heading to California, making it seem like there would not be any slaves in Utah. It did not include any of the slaves held in Bountiful, Utah.[5] John David Smith estimates that there were 100 blacks, with the majority being slaves.[6] Utah had been actively seeking to hide its slave population from Congress, fearing it might impede its state status.[7] Because of the irregularities, Harris withheld government funds reserved for taking the census.[4] The fallout from the controversy contributed to Harris' decision to join the other Runaway Officials of 1851 in abandoning their posts in Utah territory. Relationships continued to sour and eventually resulted in the Utah War.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Library Bibliography Bulletin 88, New York State Census Records, 1790-1925". New York State Library. October 1981. pp. 44 (p. 50 of PDF). 
  2. ^ Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990, U.S. Census Bureau, 1998 
  3. ^ "Regions and Divisions". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b W. Paul Reeve, Ardis E. Parshall. Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. p. 26. 
  5. ^ Ronald G. Coleman. Blacks in Utah History: An Unknown Legacy (PDF). 
  6. ^ John David Smith. Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. 
  7. ^ Nathaniel R. Ricks (2007). A Peculiar Place for the Peculiar Institution: Slavery and Sovereignty in Early Territorial Utah. 

External links[edit]