Second Census of the United States, 1800


(click on the name of a county to see information specific to that location)
District of Columbia8,144
Indiana Territory4,975
Mississippi Territory7,600
New Hampshire183,858
New Jersey211,149
New York589,051
North Carolina478,103
Rhode Island69,122
South Carolina345,591
Territory Northwest of the River Ohio45,365

United States on 04 August 1800


(click on a title below to view laws involved in the formation or governance of the area)
(general information on the area to put it in the context of history)

By the act of February 28, 1800, providing for taking the second census or enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States, the marshals of the several districts and the secretaries of the territory northwest of the river Ohio and of the Mississippi Territory, respectively, were required to cause the number of inhabitants within their respective districts to be taken, under the same general provisions of law as to division of districts, appointment of assistants, and manner of making the enumeration, as governed the first enumeration, except that the work was to be carried on under the direction of the Secretary of State, who was required, in accordance with the provisions of a section which was added to the law of 1800, to transmit to the marshals and secretaries "regulations and instructions, pursuant to this act, for carrying the same into effect, and also the forms contained therein of the schedule to be returned, and proper interrogatories to be administered by the several persons who shall be employed therein."

The schedule of inquiries, which was prescribed by the act, called for the name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resides (which did not appear in the schedule for 1790); the name of the head of the family; a statement for each family of the number of free white males and females, respectively, under 10 years of age, of 10 and under 16, of 16 and under 26, of 26 and under 45, and of 45 years and upward; the number of all other free persons, except Indians not taxed, and the number of slaves.

The enumeration was to begin, as before, on the first Monday in August and to close in nine calendar months thereafter. The marshals and secretaries and their assistants were required to take an oath or affirmation before entering upon their work and were subject to the same penalties as prescribed by the law of 1790. The marshals and secretaries were required to deposit the returns of their assistants, which were to be transmitted to the marshals within the nine months specified, with the clerks of the district courts or, in the case of the Territories, the superior courts, but were required on or before September 1, 1801, to transmit their return of the aggregate amount of each description of persons to the Secretary of State, instead of to the President, as provided in 1790.

The assistants were compensated at the rate of $1 for every 100 persons returned in country districts, instead of 150 persons, as in 1790, and $1 for every 300 persons returned in cities and towns having upward of 3,000 persons, instead of 5,000 persons or more, as in 1790, while the increased compensation to be paid in some divisions, with the approval of the judges, was not to exceed $1 for every 50 persons, the same as before. The assistants were also allowed $2 for each of the two copies, which they were required to have set up at two of the most public places in their divisions, the same as in 1790, and under the same conditions of proof. The only changes in the compensation of marshals from the amount allowed in 1790 was an increase from $100 to $150 in the district of Rhode Island, an allowance of $200 to the marshal of the new district of Tennessee; a similar allowance to the secretary of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, and an allowance of $100 to the secretary of the Mississippi Territory, making in all 19 districts and territories to be canvassed.

The printed report of the second census consisted of a folio volume of seventy-four pages, which was printed by order of the House of Representatives in 1801. As in 1790, the results of the enumeration of population are shown by counties, cities, and towns in the northern and eastern districts, and by counties only in the southern sections of the country, while the returns are given for the territories by counties and townships.

The scope of the second census differed from the first only in an extension of the age distribution of the free white element of the population and in that this distribution by age was made to apply to females as well as males. An effort was made, however, by the members of two learned societies, previous to the enactment of the law governing the second census, to make the enumeration of 1800 the vehicle for ascertaining sundry facts highly interesting and important to society, and for that purpose presented to Congress two memorials1 which were communicated to the Senate January 10, 1800. One of these memorials, that of the American Philosophical Society, was signed by Thomas Jefferson as its president, and begged leave to submit to the wisdom of the legislature the expediency of requiring, in addition to the table of population, as in the former act, "others presenting a more detailed view of the inhabitants of the United States, under several different aspects;" and for these purposes, suggested that a table be presented showing the number of births and the number of persons "2, 5,10,16, 21, and 25 years of age, and every term of five years from thence to one hundred," in order that there may be calculated therefrom "the ordinary duration of life in these States, the chances of life for every epoch thereof, and the ratio of the increase of their population; firmly believing that the result will be sensibly different from what is presented by the tables of other countries, by which we are, from necessity, in the habit of estimating the probabilities of life here;" that "for the purpose also of more exactly distinguishing the increase of population by birth and immigration," another table should contain "the respective numbers of native citizens, citizens of foreign birth, and of aliens;" and that "in order to ascertain more completely the causes which influence life and health, and to furnish a curious and useful document of the distribution of society in these States, and of the conditions and vocations of our fellow-citizens," another table should specify "the number of free male inhabitants, of all ages, engaged in business, under the following or such other descriptions as the greater wisdom of the legislature shall approve, to wit: (1) Men of the learned professions, including clergymen, lawyers, physicians, those employed in the fine arte, teachers, and scribes in general. (2) Merchants and trades, including bankers, insurers, brokers, and dealers of every kind. (3) Marines. (4) Handicraftsmen. (5) Laborers in agriculture. (6) Laborers of other descriptions. (7) Domestic servants. (8) Paupers. (9) Persons of no particular calling, living on their income; care being taken that every person be noted but once in the table, and that under the description to which he principally belongs." The other memorial, that of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was signed by Timothy Dwight, its president, recited the fact that it was the belief of the memorialists "that to present and future generations it will be highly gratifying to observe the progress of population in this country, and to be able to trace the proportion of its increase from native Americans and from foreigners immigrating at successive periods; to observe the progress or decline of various occupations; the effects of population, luxury, mechanic arts, the cultivation of lands, and the draining of marshes on the health and longevity of the citizens of the United States;" and that "for the accomplishment of these and other scientific objects, to which, on this extensive scale, no individual industry is competent," they begged leave to request thatthe next census "may comprehend the following particulars, viz, the number of children under the age of 2 years, and between the ages of 2 and 5 years; the number of persons between the ages of 16 and 30, 30 and 50, 50 and 70, 70 and 80, 80 and 90, 90 and 100, and above 100, distinguishing in each class the males from the females; the number of natives and of persons not born in the United States; the number of persons in each of the handicraft occupations; the number of merchants, cultivators of land, and professional men, distinguishing their professions; the number of married persons, of unmarried persons above 30 years of age, of widows, and widowers;" and also "that the returns from the several cities, towns, counties, or other districts may be kept distinct."

These memorials were referred by the Senate to a committee to whom the preparation of a census law had already been intrusted, but this committee, although instructed to do so, apparently made no report thereon, nor is there any mention made of these memorials in the recorded debates.2

The total population of the United States in 1800 was 5,308,483, and the total cost of the enumeration was $66,109.04.3


1A comparison of these memorials, as printed in Garfield's Report on the Ninth Census (House Reports, Forty-first Congress, second session, Vol. I, No. 3), pp. 35-36, with the originals on file in the office of the Secretary of the Senate, shows minor differences in the text, which have been made use of in this article.
2Garfield's Report on Ninth Census (House Reports, Forty-first Congress, second session, Vol. I, No. 3), pp. 36,37.
3Report of Seventh Census, viii.

(click on title below to see a contemporary map of the State)

Image Links
(links to digitized images of the record)


Spacer for Taxonomy