1790 United States Census

The United States Census of 1790 was the first census of the whole United States. It recorded the population of the United States as of Census Day, August 2, 1790, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and applicable laws. In the first census, the population of the United States was enumerated to be 3,929,214.[1]

Congress assigned responsibility for the 1790 census to the marshals of United States judicial districts under an act which, with minor modifications and extensions, governed census taking until the 1840 census. "The law required that every household be visited, that completed census schedules be posted in 'two of the most public places within [each jurisdiction], there to remain for the inspection of all concerned...' and that 'the aggregate amount of each description of persons' for every district be transmitted to the president."[2]

1790 United States Census
Seal of the United States Census Bureau
Title page of 1790 United States Census
General information
CountryUnited States
Date takenAugust 2, 1790
Total population3,893,635
Most populous stateVirginia
Least populous stateDelaware

Contemporary perception

Both Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and President George Washington expressed skepticism[3] over the results, believing that the true population had been undercounted. If there was indeed an undercount, possible explanations for it include dispersed population, poor transportation links, limitations of contemporary technology, and individual refusal to participate.

Loss of data

Although the Census was proved statistically factual, based on data collected, the records for several states (including: Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, and Virginia) were lost sometime between 1790 and 1830.[4] Almost one third of the original census data have been lost or destroyed since their original documentation. These include some 1790 data from: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont; however, the validity and existence of most of these data can be confirmed in many secondary sources pertaining to the first census.[5]

Data availability

No microdata from the 1790 population census are available, but aggregate data for small areas, together with compatible cartographic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System.


Census data included the name of the head of the family and categorized inhabitants as follows: free white males at least 16 years of age (to assess the country's industrial and military potential), free white males under 16 years of age, free white females, all other free persons (reported by sex and color), and slaves.[6] Under the direction of the current Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, marshals collected data from all thirteen states (Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia), and from the Southwest Territory.[2] The census was not conducted in Vermont until 1791, after that state's admission to the Union as the 14th state on March 4 of that year. (From 1777 until early 1791, and hence during all of 1790, Vermont was a de facto independent country whose government took the position that Vermont was not then a part of the United States.)

At 17.8 percent, the 1790 Census's proportion of slaves to the free population was the highest ever recorded by any census.

State Free white males of 16 years and upward, including heads of families. Free white males under 16 years. Free white females, including heads of families. All other free persons. Slaves. Enslaved % of State Population Total. % of US Population
Vermont 22,435 22,328 40,505 255 16[a][7] 0.02% 85,539[b] 2.2%
New Hampshire 36,086 34,851 70,160 630 158 0.1% 141,885 3.6%
Maine 24,384 24,748 46,870 538 0 0.0% 96,540 2.5%
Massachusetts 95,453 87,289 190,582 5,463 0 0.0% 378,787[c][8] 9.7%
Rhode Island 16,019 15,799 32,652 3,407 948 1.4% 68,825 1.5%
Connecticut 60,523 54,403 117,448 2,808 2,764 1.2% 237,946 6.1%
New York 83,700 78,122 152,320 4,654 21,324 6.3% 340,120 8.7%
New Jersey 45,251 41,416 83,287 2,762 11,423 6.2% 184,139 4.7%
Pennsylvania 110,788 106,948 206,363 6,537 3,737 0.9% 434,373 11.2%
Delaware 11,783 12,143 22,384 3,899 8,887 15.0% 59,094[d] 1.5%
Maryland 55,915 51,339 101,395 8,043 103,036 32.2% 319,728 8.2%
Virginia 110,936 116,135 215,046 12,866 292,627 39.1% 747,610[e][8] 19.2%
Kentucky 15,154 17,057 28,922 114 12,430 16.9% 73,677 1.9%
North Carolina 69,988 77,506 140,710 4,975 100,572 25.5% 393,751 10.1%
South Carolina 35,576 37,722 66,880 1,801 107,094 43.0% 249,073 6.4%
Georgia 13,103 14,044 25,739 398 29,264 35.5% 82,548 2.1%
Total 807,094 791,850 1,541,263 59,150 694,280 17.8% 3,893,635 99.9%
  1. ^ The census of 1790, published in 1791, reports 16 slaves in Vermont. Subsequently, and up to 1860, the number is given as 17. An examination of the original manuscript allegedly shows that there never were any slaves in Vermont. The original error occurred in preparing the results for publication, when 16 persons, returned as "Free colored", were classified as "Slave". But this claim is disputed by at least one historian.
  2. ^ Corrected figures are 85,425, or 114 less than the figures published in 1790, due to an error of addition in the returns for each of the towns of Fairfield, Milton, Shelburne, and Williston, in the county of Chittenden; Brookfield, Newbury, Randolph, and Strafford, in the county of Orange; Castleton, Clarendon, Hubbardton, Poultney, Rutland, Shrewsburg, and Wallingford, in the county of Rutland; Dummerston, Guilford, Halifax, and Westminster, in the county of Windham; and Woodstock, in the county of Windsor.
  3. ^ The figures for Massachusetts do not include the population of Maine. Though Maine was then a part of Massachusetts, the Maine figures were compiled separately, and are shown on the line for Maine.
  4. ^ Corrected figures are 59,096, or 2 more than figures published in 1790, due to error in addition.
  5. ^ The figures for Virginia do not include the population of Kentucky. Though Kentucky was then a part of Virginia, the Kentucky figures were compiled separately, and are shown on the line for Kentucky. The Virginia figures do include the portion of Virginia that later became the state of West Virginia.

City rankings

Pitcher commemorating the first United States census, c. 1790, made in England - National Museum of American History - DSC06150
Commemorative pitcher with census results
Rank City State Population[9] Region (2016)[10] Population (2010)
01 New York New York 33,131 Northeast 1,585,873 [Manhattan only]
02 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 28,522 Northeast 1,526,006
03 Boston Massachusetts 18,320 Northeast 617,594
04 Charleston South Carolina 16,359 South 120,083
05 Baltimore Maryland 13,503 South 620,961
06 Northern Liberties Pennsylvania 9,913 Northeast N/A
07 Salem Massachusetts 7,921 Northeast 41,340
08 Newport Rhode Island 6,716 Northeast 24,672
09 Providence Rhode Island 6,380 Northeast 178,042
10 Marblehead Massachusetts 5,661 Northeast 19,808
11 Southwark Pennsylvania 5,661 Northeast N/A
12 Gloucester Massachusetts 5,317 Northeast 28,789
13 Newburyport Massachusetts 4,837 Northeast 17,416
14 Portsmouth New Hampshire 4,720 Northeast 21,233
15 Sherburne Massachusetts 4,555 Northeast 10,172
16 Middleborough Massachusetts 4,526 Northeast 23,116
17 New Haven Connecticut 4,487 Northeast 129,779
18 Taunton Massachusetts 3,804 Northeast 55,874
19 Richmond Virginia 3,761 South 204,214
20 Albany New York 3,498 Northeast 97,856
21 New Bedford Massachusetts 3,313 Northeast 95,072
22 Beverly Massachusetts 3,290 Northeast 39,502
23 Plymouth Massachusetts 2,995 Northeast 56,468
24 Norfolk Virginia 2,959 South 242,803
25 Rochester New Hampshire 2,857 Northeast 29,752
26 Petersburg Virginia 2,828 South 32,420
27 Alexandria Virginia 2,748 South 139,966
28 Hartford Connecticut 2,683 Northeast 124,775
29 Londonderry New Hampshire 2,622 Northeast 24,129
30 Gilmanton New Hampshire 2,613 Northeast 3,777
31 Hudson New York 2,584 Northeast 6,713


  1. ^ "History: 1790 Fast Facts". U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. ^ a b "History: 1790 Overview". U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. ^ "1790 Overview". U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. ^ Dollarhide, William (2001). The Census Book: A Genealogists Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes. North Salt Lake, Utah: HeritageQuest. p. 7.
  5. ^ "1790 Census". 1930 Census Resources for Genealogists.
  6. ^ "1790 Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015.
  7. ^ http://slavenorth.com/vermont.htm
  8. ^ a b "A Century of Population Growth from the First Census of the United States to the Twelfth, 1790–1900". 1909. p. 47.
  9. ^ Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990, U.S. Census Bureau, 1998
  10. ^ "Regions and Divisions". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.

External links

Media related to 1790 United States Census at Wikimedia Commons

16th New York State Legislature

The 16th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from November 6, 1792, to March 12, 1793, during the sixteenth year of George Clinton's governorship, in New York City.

17th New York State Legislature

The 17th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 7 to March 27, 1794, during the seventeenth year of George Clinton's governorship, in Albany.

18th New York State Legislature

The 18th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 6 to April 9, 1795, during the eighteenth year of George Clinton's governorship, first in Poughkeepsie, then in New York City.

19th New York State Legislature

The 19th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 6 to April 11, 1796, during the first year of John Jay's governorship, in New York City.

British Americans

British American usually refers to Americans whose ancestral origin originates wholly or partly in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). In the 2017 American Community Survey 1,891,234 individuals or 0.6% of the responses self-identified as British. It is primarily a demographic or historical research category for people who have at least partial descent from peoples of Great Britain and the modern United Kingdom, i.e. English, Scottish, Welsh, Scotch-Irish, Manx and Cornish Americans.

There has been a significant drop overall, especially from the 1980 census where 49.59 million people reported English ancestry.Demographers regard current figures as a serious under-count, as a large proportion of Americans of British descent have a tendency to identify as 'American' since 1980 where over 13.3 million or 5.9% of the total U.S. population self-identified as "American" or "United States", this was counted under "not specified". This response is highly overepresented in the Upland South a region settled historically by the British. Many of mixed European ancestry, may identify with a more recent and differentiated ethnic group. Of the top ten family names in the United States (2010), seven have English origins or having possible mixed British Isles heritage, the other three being of Spanish origin.Not to be confused when the term is also used in an entirely different (although possibly overlapping) sense to refer to people who are dual citizens of both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Demographics of Washington, D.C.

The demographics of the District of Columbia are ethnically diverse in the cosmopolitan federal district. In 2017, the District had a population of 693,972 people, for a resident density of 11,367 people per square mile.

Founded as a political act rather than for economic or societal factors, the District of Columbia had relatively few residents until the Civil War. The presence of the U.S. federal government in Washington has been instrumental in the city's later growth and development. Its role as the capital leads people to forget that the District of Columbia has a native resident population.In 2011, the District of Columbia's black population slipped below 50 percent for the first time in over 50 years. The District was a majority-black district from the late 1950s through 2011. The District of Columbia has had a significant African-American population since the District's creation; several neighborhoods are noted for their contributions to black history and culture. Like numerous other border and northern cities in the first half of the 20th century, the District of Columbia received many black migrants from the South in the Great Migration. African Americans moved north for better education and job opportunities, as well as to escape legal segregation and lynchings. Government growth during World War II provided economic opportunities for African Americans, too.

In the postwar era, the percentage of African Americans in the District steadily increased as its total population declined as a result of suburbanization, supported by federal highway construction, and white flight. The black population included a strong middle and upper class.

Since the 2000 U.S. Census, the District has added more than 120,000 residents and reversed some of the population losses seen in previous decades. The growth is speeding up; the population increased more than 90,000 since the 2010 Census. The proportion of white, Asian, and Hispanic residents has increased, and the proportion of black residents decreased. Some of the latter have moved to the suburbs; others have moved to new opportunities in the South in a New Great Migration.

Differential privacy

Differential privacy is a constraint on the algorithms used to publish aggregate information about a statistical database which limits the privacy impact on individuals whose information is in the database. For example, differentially private algorithms are used by some government agencies to publish demographic information or other statistical aggregates while ensuring confidentiality of survey responses, and by companies to collect information about user behavior while controlling what is visible even to internal analysts.

Roughly, an algorithm is differentially private if an observer seeing its output cannot tell if a particular individual's information was used in the computation.

Differential privacy often discussed in the context of identifying individuals whose information may be in a database. Although it does not directly refer to identification and reidentification attacks, differentially private algorithms provably resist such attacks.Differential privacy was developed by cryptographers and is thus often associated with cryptography, and it draws much of its language from cryptography.

Moses Tunda Tatamy

Moses Tunda Tatamy (c. 1690—1760) or Tashawaylennahan was a Lenape translator and guide.

Race and ethnicity in the United States Census

Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino origin (the only categories for ethnicity).The racial categories represent a social-political construct for the race or races that respondents consider themselves to be and, "generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country." OMB defines the concept of race as outlined for the US Census as not "scientific or anthropological" and takes into account "social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry", using "appropriate scientific methodologies" that are not "primarily biological or genetic in reference." The race categories include both racial and national-origin groups.Race and ethnicity are considered separate and distinct identities, with Hispanic or Latino origin asked as a separate question. Thus, in addition to their race or races, all respondents are categorized by membership in one of two ethnic categories, which are "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino". However, the practice of separating "race" and "ethnicity" as different categories has been criticized both by the American Anthropological Association and members of US Commission on Civil Rights.In 1997, OMB issued a Federal Register notice regarding revisions to the standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB developed race and ethnic standards in order to provide "consistent data on race and ethnicity throughout the Federal Government. The development of the data standards stem in large measure from new responsibilities to enforce civil rights laws." Among the changes, OMB issued the instruction to "mark one or more races" after noting evidence of increasing numbers of interracial children and wanting to capture the diversity in a measurable way and having received requests by people who wanted to be able to acknowledge their or their children's full ancestry rather than identifying with only one group. Prior to this decision, the Census and other government data collections asked people to report only one race.

Samuel Fraunces

Samuel Fraunces (1722/23 – October 10, 1795) was an American restaurateur and the owner/operator of Fraunces Tavern in New York City. During the Revolutionary War, he provided for prisoners held during the seven-year British occupation of New York City (1776-1783), and claimed to have been a spy for the American side. At the end of the war, it was at Fraunces Tavern that General George Washington said farewell to his officers. Fraunces later served as steward of Washington's presidential household in New York City (1789–1790) and Philadelphia (1791–1794).

Since the mid-19th century, there has been a dispute over Fraunces's racial identity. According to his 1983 biographer, Kym S. Rice: "During the Revolutionary era, Fraunces was commonly referred to as 'Black Sam.' Some have taken references such as these as an indication that Fraunces was a black man. ...[W]hat is known of his life indicates he was a white man." Some 19th- and 20th-century sources described Fraunces as "a negro man" (1838), "swarthy" (1878), "mulatto" (1916), "Negro" (1916), "coloured" (1930), "fastidious old Negro" (1934), and "Haitian Negro" (1962), but most of these date from more than a century after his death. As Rice noted in her Documentary History of Fraunces Tavern (1985): "Other than the appearance of the nickname, there are no known references where Fraunces was described as a black man" during his lifetime.The familiar oil-on-canvas portrait, long identified as depicting Samuel Fraunces and exhibited at Fraunces Tavern since 1913, was recently discredited by new evidence. German historian Arthur Kuhle found a portrait of the same sitter in a Dresden museum in 2017, and suspects that the sitter had been a member of Prussian king Frederick the Great's royal court.

Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War

This timeline of events leading to the American Civil War is a chronologically ordered list of events and issues which historians recognize as origins and causes of the American Civil War. These events are roughly divided into two periods: the first encompasses the gradual build-up over many decades of the numerous social, economic, and political issues that ultimately contributed to the war's outbreak, and the second encompasses the five-month span following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860 and culminating in the capture of Fort Sumter in April 1861.

Scholars have identified many different causes for the war. Among the most polarizing of the underlying issues from which other proximate causes developed was whether the institution of slavery should be retained and even expanded to other territories or whether it should be contained and eventually abolished. Since the early colonial period, slavery had played a major role in the socioeconomic system of British North America and was recognized in the Thirteen Colonies at the time of the United States' Declaration of Independence in 1776. During and after the American Revolution, events and statements by politicians and others brought forth differences, tensions and divisions between citizens of the slave states of the Southern United States and citizens of the free states of the Northern United States (including several newly admitted Western states) over the topics of slavery. In the many decades between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, such divisions became increasingly irreconcilable and contentious.Events in the 1850s culminated with the election of the anti-slavery Republican Abraham Lincoln as President on November 6, 1860. This provoked the first round of state secession as leaders of the cotton states of the Deep South were unwilling to remain in what they perceived as a second-class political status, with their way of life now threatened by the President himself. Initially, seven states seceded: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. After the Confederates attacked and captured Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for volunteers to march south and suppress the rebellion. This pushed four other states in the Upper South (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas) also to secede, completing the incorporation of the Confederate States of America by July 1861. Their contributions of territory and soldiers to the Confederacy ensured the war would be prolonged and bloody.

Transportation in New York (state)

Transportation in New York is made up of some of the most extensive and one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the country. Engineering difficulties because of the terrain of New York State and the unique issues of New York City brought on by urban crowding have had to be overcome since the state was young. Population expansion of the state generally followed the path of the early waterways, first the Hudson River and then the Erie Canal. Today, railroad lines and the New York State Thruway follow the same general route.

United States labor law

United States labor law sets the rights and duties for employees, labor unions, and employers in the United States. Labor law's basic aim is to remedy the "inequality of bargaining power" between employees and employers, especially employers "organized in the corporate or other forms of ownership association". Over the 20th century, federal law created minimum social and economic rights, and encouraged state laws to go beyond the minimum to favor employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires a federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 but higher in 28 states, and discourages working weeks over 40 hours through time-and-a-half overtime pay. There are no federal or state laws requiring paid holidays or paid family leave: the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 creates a limited right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in larger employers. There is no automatic right to an occupational pension beyond federally guaranteed social security, but the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires standards of prudent management and good governance if employers agree to provide pensions, health plans or other benefits. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employees have a safe system of work.

A contract of employment can always create better terms than statutory minimum rights. But to increase their bargaining power to get better terms, employees organize labor unions for collective bargaining. The Clayton Act of 1914 guarantees all people the right to organize, and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 creates rights for most employees to organize without detriment through unfair labor practices. Under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, labor union governance follows democratic principles. If a majority of employees in a workplace support a union, employing entities have a duty to bargain in good faith. Unions can take collective action to defend their interests, including withdrawing their labor on strike. There are not yet general rights to directly participate in enterprise governance, but many employees and unions have experimented with securing influence through pension funds, and representation on corporate boards.Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all employing entities and labor unions have a duty to treat employees equally, without discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." There are separate rules for sex discrimination in pay under the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Additional groups with "protected status" were added by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. There is no federal law banning all sexual orientation or identity discrimination, but 22 states had passed laws by 2016. These equality laws generally prevent discrimination in hiring, terms of employment, and make discharge because of a protected characteristic unlawful. There is no federal law against unjust discharge, and most states also have no law with full protection against wrongful termination of employment. Collective agreements made by labor unions and some individual contracts require people are only discharged for a "just cause". The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 requires employing entities give 60 days notice if more than 50 or one third of the workforce may lose their jobs. Federal law has aimed to reach full employment through monetary policy and spending on infrastructure. Trade policy has attempted to put labor rights in international agreements, to ensure open markets in a global economy do not undermine fair and full employment.

Washington County, D.C.

The County of Washington was one of five original political entities within the District of Columbia, the capital of the United States. Formed by the Organic Act of 1801 from parts of Montgomery and Prince George's County, Maryland, Washington County referred to all unincorporated parts of the District of Columbia "on the east side of the Potomac, together with the islands therein." The bed of the Potomac River was considered to be part of Washington County as well.Originally Alexandria County, D.C. and the City of Alexandria formed the portion of the District west of the Potomac, ceded by the commonwealth of Virginia. Those sections were returned to Virginia by Congress in 1846, leaving the District with three components: the City of Washington, Georgetown, and rural Washington County. Upon the passage of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, those three subdivisions were unified under a single District government and made coterminous, ending Washington County's separate identity.

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