America in 1810

To keep the images manageable and marginally legible without clicking through, I’ve split them by section.

Ten years rolled by and 1810 brought the third census, a snapshot of America during the Madison years. Between last census and this one the nation expanded through the Louisiana Purchase. For the first time since the Northwest Ordinance passed, the United States had territory not yet spoken for with respect to slavery. As of 1804, New Jersey adopted gradual emancipation. As of January 1, 1808, the United States forbade the importation of slaves.

The nation stood 16.45% enslaved, down from 1800’s 16.84% and 1790’s 17.75%. Of those slaves, only 2.31% lived in the North, down from 4.05% in 1800 and 5.75% in 1790.

The North in the third census. (Click for a larger version.)

The North in the third census. (Click for a larger version.)

In 1790, the North enslaved 59.72% of its black population. In 1800, it enslaved 43.44%, nearly reversing the proportion in just ten years.  Come 1810, it enslaved only 26.03%. The bottom fell out of Yankee slavery in both metaphor and geography: in advance of emancipation dates, many slaveholders sold their human property South.

Though officially free, only five locales lacked slaves entirely: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Vermont. Connecticut,  Illinois, my native Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island join them below the typical minimum national rate of enslavement, 1.54% in 1810. As before, nowhere in the North exceeds the typical national rate.

Setting aside national standards and just looking at the North on its own terms tells a different story just as it has before. Anything beyond 1.58% enslaved puts a state or territory out of pace with Northern norms. New York, which adopted emancipation in 1799, has fallen into line with the rest of the section. In 1800, the Empire State enslaved 3.52%. Now it held only 1.57%. Fellow 1800 misfit Illinois also falls into line, dropping from 4.35% to 1.37%. New Jersey, late to emancipate, now stands alone with 4.45% enslaved.

While not all sunset and light, the arc of history seems to point toward freedom…in the North.

The South in the third census. (Click for a larger version.)

The South in the third census. (Click for a larger version.)

Down south, much the opposite story played out. Between adding enslaved territory, twenty-five years of slaves coming in across the Atlantic, and human husbandry to grow the slave population (with a significant amount of a female slave’s value coming from the expectation of her producing more slaves, called her increase), much of the section comes in significantly above the national norm: Georgia (41.68%), Louisiana (45.27%), Mississippi (46.69%),  South Carolina (47.30%), and Virginia (40.27%). Among those national over-performers, Louisiana, Mississippi, and perennial favorite South Carolina exceed even the higher Southern norms. You can see the Deep South getting its start.

The lower end of normal for the South comes at 22.08% enslaved. Arkansas (12.81%…and all of two free black people), Delaware (5.75%), Maryland (3.02%), Missouri (14.43%), and Tennessee (17.02%) all fall out of the South. The District of Columbia (22.97%) comes close.

As in the two previous censuses, each region has its misfits but even the most enslaved Northern area comes in below the least enslaved Southern area. New Jersey (4.42%) and Delaware (5.75%) come very close, but even as they have converged the rest of the North has moved farther toward freedom. But while everywhere in the North sees slavery on the decline, only a few places in the South see the same: Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maryland.

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