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Facts from the Census in America

The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1113, p. 409.

October 19, 1861

As the exact and official returns of the Census are being made public, we behold more clearly (says the New York Times) the precise march and direction of the population which has been filling up, during the last ten years, the unoccupied territory of the Union. Its grand and main course is westward, with some currents to the north-west and some to the south-west. The flood of population over some of our new States in the Far West has probably never been equaled equalled in the history of emigration, both in the character of the emigrants and in the number placed upon new soil, where before were the animals of the prairie and the forest and the roving Indian.

Minnesota, for instance, increases from 6077 inhabitants in 1850 to 162,022 in 1860, or at the rate of increase of over 2500 percent; Oregon, from 18,294 to 52,464, or at the rate of 294 per cent; Iowa, from 192,214 to 674,948, or at 251.22 per cent; Texas, from 212,592 to 602,432, or 183.37 per cent; Wisconsin, from 305,391 to 775,873, or 154.06 per cent; Arkansas increases 107 per cent, and Illinois over 100 per cent.

The average rate of the growth of population in all the States the last decade is 35.02 per cent. There are nineteen States below this average, the lowest in order being Vermont, 0.32 per cent; then New Hampshire, 2.55 per cent; and next South Carolina, 5.28; Maine following with 7.73; and Tennessee with 11.68, and once powerful Virginia with only 12.27, while North Carolina shows only 14.23. There are eleven States counting 19,528,555 inhabitants, or an average of more than one million and a half each—namely, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia.

In territories the greatest advance is, of course, in Utah, or 254.07 per cent; in New Mexico it reaches 51.98.

The black current must always be the important one to the statistician of this continent. The Census reveals a steady stream of negroes from the seaboard towards the south-west. Virginia retains her old pre-eminence as the breeder of slaves for market, in which noble occupation she is apparently closely followed by South Carolina, while the States whither this disgusting traffic tends are Arkansas, Mississippi, and especially Texas. The average increase of slaves is moderately large, or 23.42 per cent. There is a loss in but two States—Delaware (of 21.48 per cent.) and Maryland (3.52). The increase in Virginia is only 3.88 per cent, and in South Carolina 5.28—this small advance evidently resulting from exportation. Kentucky, too, shows an increase of but 4.87 per cent the last decade, which gives a most gratifying prospect of the destiny of the system in Kentucky, as it is believed no very important numbers have been exported during the last ten years from that State. North Carolina only exhibits an advance of 14.74, and Tennessee of 15.17 per cent. Missouri presents a larger increase than was expected—namely, 31.51. The great increase is in Texas, where it reaches over 210 per cent (210.66); in Arkansas it is 135.89; in Florida, 57.09; and in Mississippi, 40.93.

In two States only are the slaves more numerous than the whites—in South Carolina, where they number 402,541, against 291,623 of the white inhabitants; and in Mississippi, being 436,696 to 353,969 whites. Their largest number in any one State is in Virginia (490,887), and the next in Georgia (462,232).

In the territories there are 10 slaves enumerated in Nebraska, 24 in New Mexico, and 29 in Utah. The district of Columbia shows a loss of slaves of 13.72 per cent.

Among the free coloured population the increase is very small through the Union—only 10.63 per cent. Their largest numbers are to be found, as usual, in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Little valuable in a statistical point of view is to be extracted from the tables of this population, as the dimunition from banishment or emigration cannot be distinguished from that arising from natural and regular causes. The theory sustained recently by an able statistician in Washington (Mr. Weston), that the free negro inevitably diminishes on this continent, is not yet sufficiently confirmed by facts to be admitted as a satisfactory scientific hypothesis. The race undoubtedly dies out in climates not adapted to it—as, for instance, in the Northern States; but whether it decays in freedom in the middle or Southern latitudes does not yet fully appear. In many of the Southern and Western States there are laws expelling the free negroes, and their decrease observed in those States during the last decade may be due to these extraneous causes. Their greatest increase in a Slave State is in Georgia (18.01 per cent); in Alabama, 16.11; in Maryland, 12.04; the greatest decrease in Arkansas, 77.47. Greatest increase in a Free State, in Minnesota, 487.18 per cent; in New York they lose 2.18 per cent.

It will probably be many decades before we shall show such a rapid growth of numbers as in the last. The next Census will, no doubt, reveal new currents and new directions in our population. Instead of streams from east to west, we may then have many from north to south, and new results to chronicle in regard to the movements or decrease of the black population.

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