1840 United States Census

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1840 United States Census
Seal of the United States Census Bureau.svg
General information
CountryUnited States
Date takenJune 1, 1840 (1840-06-01)
Total population17,069,453
Percent changeIncrease2.svg 32.7%

The United States Census of 1840 was the sixth census of the United States. Conducted by the Census Office on June 1, 1840, it determined the resident population of the United States to be 17,069,453 an increase of 32.7 percent over the 12,866,020 persons enumerated during the 1830 Census. The total population included 2,487,355 slaves. In 1840, the center of population was about 260 miles (418 km) west of Washington, near Weston, Virginia.

United States Census decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution

The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States ... according to their respective Numbers .... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years." Section 2 of the 14th Amendment states: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed." The United States Census Bureau is responsible for the United States Census. The Bureau of the Census is part of the United States Department of Commerce.

United States Census Bureau bureau of the United States responsible for the census and related statistics

The United States Census Bureau is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American people and economy. The Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its director is appointed by the President of the United States.

An enumeration is a complete, ordered listing of all the items in a collection. The term is commonly used in mathematics and computer science to refer to a listing of all of the elements of a set. The precise requirements for an enumeration depend on the discipline of study and the context of a given problem.


This was the first census in which:

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Baltimore Largest city in Maryland

Baltimore is an independent city in the state of Maryland within the United States. Baltimore was established by the Constitution of Maryland as an independent city in 1729. With a population of 611,648 in 2017, Baltimore is the largest such independent city in the United States. As of 2017, the population of the Baltimore metropolitan area was estimated to be just under 2.808 million, making it the 20th largest metropolitan area in the country. Baltimore is located about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington, D.C., making it a principal city in the Washington-Baltimore combined statistical area (CSA), the fourth-largest CSA in the nation, with a calculated 2017 population of 9,764,315.

Controversy over statistics for mental illness among Northern blacks

The 1840 Census was the first that attempted to count Americans who were "insane" or "idiotic". Published results of the census indicated that alarming numbers of black persons living in non-slaveholding States were mentally ill, in striking contrast to the corresponding figures for slaveholding States.

Pro-slavery advocates trumpeted the results as evidence of the beneficial effects of slavery, and the probable consequences of emancipation. [1] Anti-slavery advocates contended, on the contrary, that the published returns were riddled with errors, as detailed in an 1844 report by Edward Jarvis of Massachusetts in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, later published separately as a pamphlet, [1] [2] and in a memorial from the American Statistical Association to Congress, praying that measures be taken to correct the errors. [3]

Edward Jarvis was a United States physician.

The American Statistical Association (ASA) is the main professional organization for statisticians and related professionals in the United States. It was founded in Boston, Massachusetts on November 27, 1839, and is the second oldest continuously operating professional society in the US. The ASA services statisticians, quantitative scientists, and users of statistics across many academic areas and applications.

The memorial was submitted to the House of Representatives by John Quincy Adams, who contended that it demonstrated "a multitude of gross and important errors" in the published returns. [4] In response to the House's request for an inquiry, Secretary of State John C. Calhoun reported that a careful examination of the statistics by the supervisor of the census had fully sustained their correctness. [5] [6] The returns were not revised. [7]

John Quincy Adams 6th president of the United States

John Quincy Adams was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and diarist who served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829. He previously served as the eighth United States Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825. During his long diplomatic and political career, Adams also served as an ambassador, and represented Massachusetts as a United States Senator and as a member of the United States House of Representatives. He was the eldest son of John Adams, who served as president from 1797 to 1801. Initially a Federalist like his father, he won election to the presidency as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, and in the mid-1830s became affiliated with the Whig Party.

John C. Calhoun 7th Vice President of the United States

John Caldwell Calhoun was an American statesman and political theorist from South Carolina, and the seventh vice president of the United States from 1825 to 1832. He is remembered for strongly defending slavery and for advancing the concept of minority party rights in politics, which he did in the context of protecting the interests of the white South when it was outnumbered by Northerners. He began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent of a strong national government and protective tariffs. In the late 1820s, his views changed radically and he became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification, and opposition to high tariffs—he saw Northern acceptance of these policies as the only way to keep the South in the Union. His beliefs and warnings heavily influenced the South's secession from the Union in 1860–1861.

Census questions

The 1840 census asked these questions: [8]

Data availability

No microdata from the 1840 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. A compendium of data from the sixth census, organized by States, counties, and principal towns is available on the web site of the Census Bureau.

In the study of survey and census data, microdata is information at the level of individual respondents. For instance, a national census might collect age, home address, educational level, employment status, and many other variables, recorded separately for every person who responds; this is microdata.

In statistics, aggregate data are data combined from several measurements. When data are aggregated, groups of observations are replaced with summary statistics based on those observations.

The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) is a historical GIS project to create and freely disseminate a database incorporating all available aggregate census information for the United States between 1790 and 2010. The project has created one of the largest collections in the world of statistical census information, much of which was not previously available to the research community because of legacy data formats and differences between metadata formats. The statistical and geographic data are disseminated free of charge through a sophisticated online data access system.

State rankings

01New York2,428,921
07North Carolina753,419
11South Carolina594,398
18New Jersey373,306
22New Hampshire284,574
XWest Virginia [9] 224,537
24Rhode Island108,830
XDistrict of Columbia [10] 33,745

City rankings

RankCityStatePopulation [11] Region (2016) [12]
01 New York New York 312,710 Northeast
02 Baltimore Maryland 102,313 South
03 New Orleans Louisiana 102,193 South
04 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 93,665 Northeast
05 Boston Massachusetts 93,383 Northeast
06 Cincinnati Ohio 46,338 Midwest
07 Brooklyn New York 36,233 Northeast
08 Northern Liberties Pennsylvania 34,474 Northeast
09 Albany New York 33,721 Northeast
10 Charleston South Carolina 29,261 South
11 Spring Garden Pennsylvania 27,849 Northeast
12 Southwark Pennsylvania 27,548 Northeast
13 Washington District of Columbia 23,364 South
14 Providence Rhode Island 23,171 Northeast
15 Kensington Pennsylvania 22,314 Northeast
16 Louisville Kentucky 21,210 South
17 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 21,115 Northeast
18 Lowell Massachusetts 20,796 Northeast
19 Rochester New York 20,191 Northeast
20 Richmond Virginia 20,153 South
21 Troy New York 19,334 Northeast
22 Buffalo New York 18,213 Northeast
23 Newark New Jersey 17,290 Northeast
24 St. Louis Missouri 16,469 Midwest
25 Portland Maine 15,218 Northeast
26 Salem Massachusetts 15,082 Northeast
27 Moyamensing Pennsylvania 14,573 Northeast
28 New Haven Connecticut 12,960 Northeast
29 Utica New York 12,782 Northeast
30 Mobile Alabama 12,672 South
31 New Bedford Massachusetts 12,087 Northeast
32 Charlestown Massachusetts 11,484 Northeast
33 Savannah Georgia 11,214 South
34 Petersburg Virginia 11,136 South
35 Springfield Massachusetts 10,985 Northeast
36 Norfolk Virginia 10,920 South
37 Allegheny Pennsylvania 10,089 Northeast
38 Hartford Connecticut 9,468 Northeast
39 Lynn Massachusetts 9,367 Northeast
40 Detroit Michigan 9,102 Midwest
41 Roxbury Massachusetts 9,089 Northeast
42 Nantucket Massachusetts 9,012 Northeast
43 Bangor Maine 8,627 Northeast
44 Alexandria District of Columbia 8,459 South
45 Lancaster Pennsylvania 8,417 Northeast
46 Reading Pennsylvania 8,410 Northeast
47 Cambridge Massachusetts 8,409 Northeast
48 Wilmington Delaware 8,367 South
49 Newport Rhode Island 8,333 Northeast
50 Portsmouth New Hampshire 7,887 Northeast
51 Wheeling Virginia 7,885 South
52 Taunton Massachusetts 7,645 Northeast
53 Paterson New Jersey 7,596 Northeast
54 Worcester Massachusetts 7,497 Northeast
55 Georgetown District of Columbia 7,312 South
56 Newburyport Massachusetts 7,161 Northeast
57 Lexington Kentucky 6,997 South
58 Nashville Tennessee 6,929 South
59 Schenectady New York 6,784 Northeast
60 Fall River Massachusetts 6,738 Northeast
61 Warwick Rhode Island 6,726 Northeast
62 Portsmouth Virginia 6,477 South
63 Dover New Hampshire 6,458 Northeast
64 Augusta Georgia 6,403 South
65 Lynchburg Virginia 6,395 South
66 Gloucester Massachusetts 6,350 Northeast
67 Cleveland Ohio 6,071 Midwest
68 Dayton Ohio 6,067 Midwest
69 Nashua New Hampshire 6,054 Northeast
70 Columbus Ohio 6,048 Midwest
71 Harrisburg Pennsylvania 5,980 Northeast
72 Hudson New York 5,672 Northeast
73 Auburn New York 5,626 Northeast
74 Marblehead Massachusetts 5,575 Northeast
75 New London Connecticut 5,519 Northeast
76 Wilmington North Carolina 5,335 South
77 Augusta Maine 5,314 Northeast
78 Plymouth Massachusetts 5,281 Northeast
79 Cumberland Rhode Island 5,225 Northeast
80 Andover Massachusetts 5,207 Northeast
81 Frederick Maryland 5,182 South
82 Bath Maine 5,141 Northeast
83 Middleborough Massachusetts 5,085 Northeast
84 Gardiner Maine 5,042 Northeast
85 Danvers Massachusetts 5,020 Northeast
86 Concord New Hampshire 4,897 Northeast
87 Dorchester Massachusetts 4,875 Northeast
88 Easton Pennsylvania 4,865 Northeast
89 York Pennsylvania 4,779 Northeast
90 Zanesville Ohio 4,766 Midwest
91 Beverly Massachusetts 4,689 Northeast
92 Chicago Illinois 4,470 Midwest
93 Carlisle Pennsylvania 4,351 Northeast
94 Pottsville Pennsylvania 4,345 Northeast
95 Columbia South Carolina 4,340 South
96 Haverhill Massachusetts 4,336 Northeast
97 Barnstable Massachusetts 4,301 Northeast
98 Fayetteville North Carolina 4,285 South
99 Steubenville Ohio 4,247 Midwest
100 New Albany Indiana 4,226 Midwest

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  1. 1 2 Leon F. Litwack (1958), "The Federal Government and the Free Negro, 1790-1860", Journal of Negro History, 43 (4): 261–78, 263–68, JSTOR   2716144 , and sources there cited.
  2. Edward Jarvis (1844). Insanity Among the Coloured Population of the Free States. Philadelphia: T.K. & P.G. Collins, Printers. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  3. Edward Jarvis; William Brigham; J. Wingate Thornton (1844). Memorial of the American Statistical Association Praying the Adoption of Measures for the Correction of Errors in the Returns of the Sixth Census. Public Documents Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States, Second Session of the Twenty-Eighth Congress. I. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  4. John Quincy Adams (1877). Charles Francis Adams, ed. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: comprising portions of his diary from 1795 to 1848. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. pp. 27–28, 61, 119–20. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  5. Litwack (1958), 267
  6. John Caldwell Calhoun; South Carolina General Assembly (1859). Richard K. Crallé, ed. The Works of John C. Calhoun: Reports and Public Letters. V. New York: D. Appleton and Company. p. 458. Retrieved May 31, 2013. Calhoun engaged William A. Weaver, the superintendent of the 1840 census, to review the figures and check them against related data from the 1830 census. Ibid. Weaver reported that he had examined "each specification of error" and concluded that the memorialists had themselves erred in their claims. While there doubtless had been minor errors, he said, there had been no glaring methodological mistakes as charged. See William Edwin Hemphill, ed., The Papers of John C. Calhoun: 1845, Columbia, S.C.: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1993, vol. 21, p. 156.
  7. Litwack (1958), 268
  8. "Library Bibliography Bulletin 88, New York State Census Records, 1790-1925". New York State Library. 1981. Note that several pages on U.S. federal web sites incorrectly assert that the 1840 census questionnaire closely followed that from the 1830 census, which did not include questions concerning mental illness.
  9. Between 1790 and 1860, the state of West Virginia was part of Virginia; the data for each states reflect the present-day boundaries.
  10. The District of Columbia is not a state but was created with the passage of the Residence Act of 1790. The territory that formed that federal capital was originally donated by both Maryland and Virginia; however, the Virginia portion was returned by Congress in 1846.
  11. Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990, U.S. Census Bureau, 1998
  12. "Regions and Divisions". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.