1850 United States census

Last updated

1850 United States census

  1840 June 1, 1850 (1850-06-01) 1860  

Seal of the United States Census Bureau.svg
1850 census Lincoln.gif
Filled-out census-taker's form from 1850 U.S. census, including household of Abraham Lincoln
General information
CountryUnited States
Total population23,191,876 (Increase2.svg 35.9%)
Most populous state New York
Least populous state Florida

The United States census of 1850 was the seventh census of the United States. Conducted by the Census Office, 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.


Although the official date of the census date was June 1, 1850, [1] completed census forms indicate that the surveys continued to be made throughout the rest of the year. [2] [3]

This was the first census where there was an attempt to collect information about every member of every household; women and children were named. Slaves were included by gender and estimated age on Slave Schedules, listed by the name of the owner. 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.). This was also the first census to ask about place of birth of free residents.

Hinton Rowan Helper made extensive use of the 1850 census results in his influential anti-slavery book The Impending Crisis of the South (1857).

Census questions

The 1850 census, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, collected the following information: [4]

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


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 regard 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 the United Kingdom. The imports and exports with the United Kingdom were both valued around 145 million dollars.
Federal Debt
This census contains yearly federal debt totals, total federal revenues, and total expenditures from 1790 to 1853. The total debt of the United States on July 1, 1854, was roughly 47.2 million dollars.
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.
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 following the war in 1848. These three pieces of territory 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).
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 conducted during a very important period of growth and innovation in the United States, the Industrial Revolution. The statistics in this census provide data on the rate of growth that was taking place in 1850, which resulted in 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

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.

State rankings

01New York3,097,394
04Virginia [5] 1,421,661
10North Carolina869,039
14South Carolina668,507
19New Jersey489,555
22New Hampshire317,976
XWest Virginia [6] 302,313
28Rhode Island147,545
XNew Mexico61,547
XDistrict of Columbia [7] 51,687

City rankings

RankCityStatePopulation [8] Region (2016) [9]
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 Smithfield Rhode Island 11,500 Northeast
60 Wheeling Virginia [10] 11,435 South
61 Paterson New Jersey 11,334 Northeast
62 Dayton Ohio 10,977 Midwest
63 Taunton Massachusetts 10,441 Northeast
64 Nashville Tennessee 10,165 South
65 Portsmouth New Hampshire 9,738 Northeast
66 Newburyport Massachusetts 9,572 Northeast
67 Newport Rhode Island 9,563 Northeast
68 Auburn New York 9,548 Northeast
69 Camden New Jersey 9,479 Northeast
70 Augusta Georgia 9,448 South
71 Covington Kentucky 9,408 South
72 New London Connecticut 8,991 Northeast
73 Schenectady New York 8,921 Northeast
74 Memphis Tennessee 8,841 South
75 Alexandria Virginia 8,734 South
76 Montgomery Alabama 8,728 South
77 Portsmouth Virginia 8,626 South
78 Concord New Hampshire 8,576 Northeast
79 Nantucket Massachusetts 8,452 Northeast
80 Georgetown District of Columbia 8,366 South
81 Chicopee Massachusetts 8,291 Northeast
82 Lawrence Massachusetts 8,282 Northeast
83 Augusta Maine 8,225 Northeast
84 Dover New Hampshire 8,196 Northeast
85 New Albany Indiana 8,181 Midwest
86 Lexington Kentucky 8,159 South
87 Danvers Massachusetts 8,109 Northeast
88 Indianapolis Indiana 8,091 Midwest
89 Lynchburg Virginia 8,071 South
90 Bath Maine 8,020 Northeast
91 Madison Indiana 8,012 Midwest
92 Dorchester Massachusetts 7,969 Northeast
93 Zanesville Ohio 7,929 Midwest
94 Harrisburg Pennsylvania 7,834 Northeast
95 Gloucester Massachusetts 7,786 Northeast
96 Warwick Rhode Island 7,740 Northeast
97 North Providence Rhode Island 7,680 Northeast
98 Burlington Vermont 7,585 Northeast
99 West Troy New York 7,564 Northeast
100 Pottsville Pennsylvania 7,515 Northeast


The Utah Territorial census was taken in 1851. Secretary Broughton Harris refused to certify the census of Utah territory. Harris complained that Brigham Young had conducted the census without him, claimed several irregularities, and consequently withheld funds reserved for the census. [11] The controversy contributed to Harris' decision to join other Runaway Officials of 1851 and abandon his post in Utah Territory. Relationships with the federal government continued to sour and eventually resulted in the Utah War.

Local government officials feared having an enslaved population might impede the territory's quest for statehood, since certain members of Congress were concerned about expansion of slavery into the western territories. [12] The 1850 census slave schedule for Utah Territory reported only 26 slaves, with a note that all of them were heading to California, and did not include any enslaved people remaining in the territory. [13] John David Smith estimates that there were 100 blacks in Utah by 1850, with two-thirds of them enslaved. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Economy of Canada National economy of Canada

The economy of Canada is a highly developed mixed-market economy. It is the 8th-largest GDP by nominal and 15th-largest GDP by PPP in the world. As with other developed nations, the country's economy is dominated by the service industry which employs about three quarters of Canadians. Canada has the third-highest total estimated value of natural resources, valued at US$33.98 trillion in 2019. It has the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and is the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil. It is also the fifth-largest exporter of natural gas.

The economy of the United States Virgin Islands is primarily dependent upon tourism, trade, and other services, accounting for nearly 60% of the Virgin Island's GDP and about half of total civilian employment. Close to two million tourists per year visit the islands. The government is the single largest employer. The agriculture sector is small, with most food being imported. The manufacturing sector consists of rum distilling, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. Rum production is significant. Shipments during a six-month period of fiscal year 2016 totaled 8,136.6 million proof gallons.

Compromise of 1850 American political compromise

The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850 that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired in the Mexican–American War. It also set Texas' western and northern borders and included provisions addressing fugitive slaves and the slave trade. The compromise was brokered by Whig senator Henry Clay and Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas, with the support of President Millard Fillmore.

Demographic history of the United States

This article is about the demographic history of the United States.

Slavery in the United States

The legal institution of human chattel slavery, comprising the enslavement primarily of Africans and African Americans, was prevalent in the United States of America from its founding in 1776 until 1865, predominantly in the South. Slavery was established throughout European colonization in the Americas. From 1526, during early colonial days, it was practiced in Britain's colonies, including the Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. Under the law, an enslaved person was treated as property that could be bought, sold, or given away. Slavery lasted in about half of U.S. states until abolition. In the decades after the end of Reconstruction, many of slavery's economic and social functions were continued through segregation, sharecropping, and convict leasing.

New Mexico Territory Territory of the United States of America, 1850–1912

The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912. It was created from the U.S. provisional government of New Mexico, as a result of Nuevo México becoming part of the American frontier after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It existed with varying boundaries until the territory was admitted to the Union as the U.S. state of New Mexico. This jurisdiction was an organized, incorporated territory of the US for nearly 62 years, the longest period of any territory in the contiguous United States.

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

The United States census is a census that is legally mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and takes place every 10 years. The first census after the American Revolution was taken in 1790, under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; there have been 23 federal censuses since that time.

Mexican Cession Land the U.S. acquired following the Mexican-American War

The Mexican Cession is the region in the modern-day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. This region had not been part of the areas east of the Rio Grande that had been claimed by the Republic of Texas, though the Texas annexation resolution two years earlier had not specified the southern and western boundary of the new state of Texas. At roughly 529,000 square miles (1,370,000 km2), the Mexican Cession was the third-largest acquisition of territory in U.S. history, surpassed only by the 827,000-square-mile (2,140,000 km2) Louisiana Purchase and the 586,000-square-mile (1,520,000 km2) Alaska Purchase.

Antebellum South Historical period in the Southern United States from 1815 to 1861

In the history of the Southern United States, the Antebellum Period spanned the end of the War of 1812 to the start of the American Civil War in 1861. The Antebellum South was characterized by the use of slavery and the culture it fostered. As the era proceeded, Southern intellectuals and leaders gradually shifted from defending slavery as an embarrassing and temporary system, to a full-on defense of slavery as a positive good, and harshly criticized the budding abolitionist movement.

Domestic slave trade Trade of enslaved people among states within the United States

The domestic slave trade, also known as the Second Middle Passage and the interregional slave trade, was the term for the domestic trade of enslaved people within the United States that reallocated slaves across states during the Antebellum period. It was most significant after 1808, when the importation of slaves was prohibited. Historians estimate that one million slaves were taken in a forced migration from the Upper South, primarily Maryland and Virginia, to the territories and then new states of the Deep South: Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.

1840 United States census National census

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.

1790 United States census First 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.

1810 United States census United States census

The United States census of 1810 was the third census conducted in the United States. It was conducted on August 6, 1810. It showed that 7,239,881 people were living in the United States, of whom 1,191,362 were slaves.

1820 United States census Fourth US census

The United States census of 1820 was the fourth census conducted in the United States. It was conducted on August 7, 1820. The 1820 census included six new states: Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama and Maine. There has been a district wide loss of 1820 census records for Arkansas Territory, Missouri Territory and New Jersey.

1830 United States census Fifth US census

The United States census of 1830, the fifth census undertaken in the United States, was conducted on June 1, 1830. The only loss of census records for 1830 involved some countywide losses in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Mississippi.

1860 United States census National census

The United States census of 1860 was the eighth census conducted in the United States starting June 1, 1860, and lasting five months. It determined the population of the United States to be 31,443,322 in 33 states and 10 organized territories. This was an increase of 35.4 percent over the 23,069,876 persons enumerated during the 1850 census. The total population included 3,953,762 slaves.

1880 United States census 10th U.S. national census

The United States census of 1880 conducted by the Census Bureau during June 1880 was the tenth United States census. It was the first time that women were permitted to be enumerators. The Superintendent of the Census was Francis Amasa Walker. This was the first census in which a city—New York City—recorded a population of over one million.

1870 United States census Ninth U.S. national census; first to provide detailed demographic info on African Americans

The United States census of 1870 was the ninth United States census. It was conducted by the Census Bureau from June 1, 1870, to August 23, 1871. The 1870 census was the first census to provide detailed information on the African-American population, only five years after the culmination of the Civil War when slaves were granted freedom. The total population was 38,925,598 with a resident population of 38,558,371 individuals, a 22.6% increase from 1860. The 1870 census' population estimate was controversial, as many believed it underestimated the true population numbers, especially in New York and Pennsylvania.

1930 United States census National census

The United States census of 1930, conducted by the Census Bureau one month from April 1, 1930, determined the resident population of the United States to be 122,775,046, an increase of 13.7 percent over the 106,021,537 persons enumerated during the 1920 census.

Foreign trade of the United States Overview of foreign trade in the United States of America

Foreign trade of the United States comprises the international imports and exports of the United States. The country is among the top three global importers and exporters.


  1. "What day was the census taken each decade?". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  2. "United States Census 1850, Maryland, Washington county Film Viewer – Image 127 of 529". familysearch.org. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  3. "United States Census, 1850, Tennessee, Bedford county Film Viewer – Image 250 of 389". familysearch.org. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  4. "Library Bibliography Bulletin 88, New York State Census Records, 1790–1925". New York State Library. October 1981. pp. 44 (p. 50 of PDF).
  5. Includes population in future state of West Virginia.
  6. Until 1863, the state of West Virginia was part of Virginia; the data for each state reflect the present-day boundaries.
  7. The District of Columbia is not a state but was created with the passage of the Residence Act of 1790.
  8. Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990, U.S. Census Bureau, 1998
  9. "Regions and Divisions". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  10. Is located in present day West Virginia
  11. W. Paul Reeve; Ardis E. Parshall (2010). Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. p. 26. ISBN   978-1-59884-107-7.
  12. Nathaniel R. Ricks (2007). A Peculiar Place for the Peculiar Institution: Slavery and Sovereignty in Early Territorial Utah.
  13. Ronald G. Coleman. Blacks in Utah History: An Unknown Legacy (PDF).
  14. Randall M. Miller; John David Smith (1997). Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. Greenwood Publishing. p. 506. ISBN   978-0-275-95799-5.