According To The 1790 Census, Where Did Most Enslaved People Live?

The 1790 U.S. Census was the first census taken in the United States, and it included an enumeration of the nation’s enslaved population. The results of this census offer insight into the location of enslaved people at the time.

1790 Census Reveals

The 1790 Census revealed that the majority of enslaved people in the United States were located in the Southern states, particularly in Virginia and Maryland. In Virginia, the census revealed that there were a total of 292,627 enslaved people, making up nearly 40 percent of the state’s total population. Maryland’s enslaved population totaled 103,036, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the state’s population.

Most Enslaved People’s Location

The 1790 Census also revealed that there were significant numbers of enslaved people in the other Southern states, including South Carolina (107,094), North Carolina (100,572), Georgia (29,264) and Delaware (15,356). In the North, the states of New York (21,193), New Jersey (12,422) and Pennsylvania (3,707) each had substantial numbers of enslaved people.

Overall, the 1790 Census reveals that the majority of enslaved people in the United States were located in the Southern states, with Virginia and Maryland having the largest numbers. The census also reveals that, despite the small numbers in the North, there were significant numbers of enslaved people in the states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The 1790 census was the first of its kind in the United States, providing valuable insight into the demographics of the newly formed nation. One of the most striking findings of this census was that most enslaved people were concentrated in the Southern states. This aggregation of people into the slave-rearing southern states was further exacerbated by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.

The 1790 census showed that the majority of enslaved people living in the United States at the time were concentrated in the South. This included Virginia, with the most enslaved people (292,627), North Carolina (100,572), and South Carolina (107,094). The final tally showed that 809,000 of the total population of 3,929,214 were enslaved people, making up approximately 21% of the population.

The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1793 furthered this concentration of people in the Southern states, as it made it illegal for enslaved persons to escape from their owners. In addition, the Act attempted to stop the Underground Railroad which offered refuge to slaves escaping to the free states in the north. The Fugitive Slave Act essentially made all states and regions equally obligated to return escaped slaves to their owners.

By the 1820 census, this pattern of heavily concentrated slave populations in the South was firmly in place. In that year approximately 1.6 million enslaved people were living in the United States, with 1 million, or 60%, of these individuals living in the Southern states.

The 1790 census provided an invaluable look into the demographics of the newly formed United States. One of its most telling results was the concentration of most of the enslaved population in the southern states. And the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act only increased this concentration, further entrenching the dynamics of slavery in the south.