1902 Encyclopedia > United States > United States - Population

United States
(Part 22)


Part 22. Population

The population of the English colonies in North American was at no time definitely ascertained. In his History of the Constitution, Mr. G.T. Curtis present a table showing the estimated numbers in the several States as that used by the "Federal Convention" of 1787. By this the aggregate population is put at 2,781,000. By the first census of the United States, however, taken in 1790, the population was ascertained to be then 3,929,214. The second census, in 1800, showed a population of 5,308,483; and the third, that of 1810, showed another prodigious advance, the register reading 7,239,881. An important prediction in the history of population is that of Elkanah Watson, of New York, who in 1815 undertook to project the population of the United States from 1820 to 1850 (Table I.), in comparison with the actual results of the successive enumerations: -

== TABLE ==

No similar series of statistical predictions ever attained such a degree of verification, or commanded equal interest or admiration. But quite as remarkable as the fulfillments of the earlier estimates have been the failures in the later ones, as shown by the corresponding figures for 1860 to 1900 (Table II.):-

== TABLE ==

Watson’s estimates came so true during the earlier decades because of the remarkable steadiness of the conditions then controlling population. In 1790 there were about 600,000 white families in the United States. Speaking broadly, there were few very rich, and, except from the effects of intemperance or the premature death of the breadwinner, there were few very poor. Food was abundant. Both social traditions and the religious beliefs of the people encouraged fecundity. The country enjoyed domestic tranquility. All this while, too, the land was but partially settled. Mechanical labor was scarce, and even upon the farm it was difficult to command hired service, almost the only farm laborers down to 1850, in the north, being young men who went out to work for a few years to get a little ready money to marry upon. The conditions recited are such as would allow population to expand without restriction. The change that was inevitable came between 1840 and 1850. That the reduction in the birth-rate coincided with a cause which was regarded as certain to quicken the increase of population, namely, the introduction of a vast body of fresh peasant blood from Europe, affords another instance in proof that, even in this matter of population, moral are far more potent than physical causes.

The accessions between 1840 an 1850 from Ireland and Germany were enormous, the total immigration rising to 1,713,251 against 599,125 during the decade preceding, and against only 143,439 from 1820 to 1830. and these people came in condition to breed with unprecedented rapidity, under the stimulus of an abundance, in regard to food, shelter, and clothing, such as the most fortunate of them had never known. Yet, in spite of these accessions, the population of the country realized a slightly smaller proportion of gain than when the foreign arrivals were almost insignificant.

The change which produced this falling off from the traditional rate of increase, namely, about 3 per cent. per annum, was that from the simplicity of the early times to comparative luxury, involving a rise in the standard of living, the multiplication of artificial necessities, the extension of a paid domestic service, the introduction of women into factory labor. For a time the retardation of the normal rate of increase among the native population was concealed from view by the extraordinary immigration. During the decade 1850 to 1860 the foreign arrivals rose to enormous total of 2,579,580, till it came about that almost one-seventh of the population of the country consisted of persons born abroad. And among this class no influence was yet exerted in restriction of population. Yet in spite of the arrival of 4,292,831 foreigners between 1840 and 1860, of whom 3,500,000 survived at the latter date, having had three (perhaps four) million children born to them on the soil, the census returns of 1860 showed a falling off from Watson’s prediction of 310,503. At the time that prediction was made (1815) the arrivals at ports of the United States had averaged about 5000 per annum. Had the reinforcement from the outside been enhanced only proportionally to the increase within the figures for 1860 would have found Watson’s estimate wrong by several millions,

The ten years from 1860 to 1870 witnessed the introduction of a new force operating to bring down the rate of national increase, namely, the war of secession. The superintendent of the ninth census, 1870, presented a computation of the effects of this cause, - first, through direct losses, by wounds or disease, either in actual service of the army or navy, or in a brief term following discharge; secondly, through the retardation of the rate of increase in the colored element, due to the privations, exposure, and excesses attendant upon emancipation; thirdly, through the check given to immigration by the existence of war, the fear of conscription, and the apprehension abroad of results prejudicial to the national welfare. The aggregate effect of all these causes was estimated as a loss to the population of 1870 of 1,765,000. Finally, the temporary reduction of the birth-rate, consequent upon the withdrawal of perhaps one-fourth of the natural militia (males of 18 to 44 years) during two fifths of the decade, may be estimated at perhaps three-quarters of a million. From these computations it would appear that, had the war of 1861-65 not broken out, the population of 1870 would still, in spite of accession from abroad and of the quickened fecundity of the newly arrived elements, have shown a large deficiency from the numbers estimated by Watson.

The tenth census put it beyond doubt that economic and social forces had been at work, reducing the rate of multiplication. The ascertained population of 1880 was 50,155,783, against the estimated 56,450,241. Yet no war had intervened; the industries of the land had flourished; the advance in accumulated wealth had been beyond all precedent; immigration had increased to 2,944,695 for the decade. It is hazardous to speak of the future; but the most reasonable computation which can at present be made fixes the population of 1900 at about eighty millions, or twenty millions less than the estimate of Watson.

The achievement of independence found the people of the United States owning the entire country between the Gulf and the Great Lakes, exception only Florida, as far to the west as the Mississippi; but the actual settlements were, with a few minor exceptions, confined to a narrow strip of territory along the Atlantic shore. The depth of settlement, from the coast inland, varied greatly, ranging from what would be involved in the mere occupation of the shore for fishing purposes to a body of agricultural occupation extending back to the base of the great Atlantic chain.

If we trace the western boundary of the body of continuous settlement at that time, we find, beginning at the north-east, sparse settlements extending along the entire seaboard to the New Hampshire line. The southern two-thirds of New Hampshire and nearly all Vermont were thinly covered by population. Reaching New York, the line of population branched off from the Hudson, north of the Mohwak, the westward tide flowing through a broad gap between the Adirondacks and the Catskills, which constitutes the northernmost of four main paths along which migration has historically taken place. spreading over central New York, population had already covered the valley of the Mohawk and the region of the interior lakes. In Pennsylvania population had spread north-westward, occupying not only the Atlantic plain but also, with sparse settlements, the region traversed by the numerous parallel ridges of the eastern portion of the Appalachians. We omit, for the moment, consideration of the settlement around the junction of the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers, representing an overflow through the second of the four great channels of population, - that, namely, which crosses southern Pennsylvania, western Maryland, and northern Virginia, parallel to and along the course of the upper Potomac. Omitting then this, which we may term the Pittsburgh group, we find, in Virginia, that sparse settlements had in 1790 extended westward beyond the Blue Ridge, and into what is now West Virginia, on the western slope of the Alleghany Mountains, while another narrow tongue of population had penetrated south-westwards, down to the head of the Tennessee river, in the great Appalachian valley, having found out the third of the four main channels alluded to. In New Carolina settlement was still limited by the base of the Appalachian. Georgia was as yet, owing to the presence of Indian tribes, only occupied to the depth of about two counties along the Savannah river. The reservations of the Red Men still prevented population from moving westward along the fourth of the great natural paths alluded to, - namely, that around the southern end of the Appalachian chain.

In the preceding rapid survey of the new nation four groups have been omitted, - the first, the Pittsburgh group, in south-western Pennsylvania; the second, the smallest, in West Virginia, upon the Ohio and Kanawha rivers; the third, and by far the largest, in northern Kentucky, upon the Ohio river comprising about 11,000 square miles; and the fourth upon the Cumberland river, in Tennessee. The existence of these outlying groups of population in 1790 bore witness to the daring and even reckless courage of the American pioneer.

In additional there were in 1790 a score or more of small posts or incipient settlements, mainly of French origin, scattered over what was then an almost unbroken wilderness. Among these were Detroit, Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Prairie Du Chien, Machinac, and Green Bay. The entire settled area at the first census is computed to have been 239,935 square miles, which, with aggregate population of 3,929,214, would yield an average density of 16.4 persons to the square mile. The center of population, as that phrase is commonly understood, rested east of Baltimore.

The census of 1800 showed a total settled area computed at 305,708 square miles, including all outlying tracts. As the population had risen to 5,308,483, the average density of settlement had become 17.4. The center of population had moved 41 miles west, along the 39th parallel of latitude.

The map of 1810 shows a vast change, owing to the acquisition of Louisiana from France; the settled area was 407,945 square miles, which, with an ascertained population of 7,239,881, gave an average of 17.7 persons to the square mile. It is remarkable that the American people in nearly doubling their numbers between 1790 and 1810, only increased the average density of settlement from 16.4 to 17.7. At the latter date we find the hills of western New York now almost entirely covered with population, which has spread along the southern shore of Lake Erie, well over into Ohio, effecting a junction with the previously existing body of settlement about the forks of the Ohio. The occupation of that river has become complete from its source to its mouth, with the exception of small gaps below the entrance of the Tennessee. The early Kentucky settlements have expanded in every direction, until almost the entire State is covered, while that body of population has been extended southwards to the Tennessee, in what is now northern Alabama. In Georgia settlement is still held back by the presence of the Creek and Cherokee Indians, although a treaty with the former tribe in 1802 has opened up portions of the State, which have been eagerly occupied. In Ohio the movements of population northward from the river of that name and westward from Pennsylvania have carried forward the line of settlement until it comprises two thirds of the State. Michigan and Indiana, still Territories, remain virgin soil, with the exception of a little strip around Detroit, and a small area in the south-western part of Indiana. St Louis has been transferred, by the purchase of Louisiana, from a foreign jurisdiction to that of the United States, and has become an important center of population, settlements having spread from it northward to above the mouth of the Missouri, and southward, along the Mississippi, to the mouth of the Ohio. At the mouth of the Arkansas is found a similar body of population. Looking still farther south, settlements are observed in the newly organized territory of Orleans, extending across the Mississippi to its left bank, and reaching up to the site of Vicksburg.

In 1820, at the fourth census, the population had become 9,633,822; the area of settlement had reached 588,717 square miles, yielding an average density of 18.9. The effect of the westward movement during the decade had been to move the center of population 50 miles still on the 39th parallel.

In 1830 the area of settlement was 632,717 square miles, yielding, with an aggregate population of 12,866,020, an average density of 20.3 The center of population had passed westward only 30 miles, the energies of the people having been given largely to filling up the already included areas. The most noticeable changes are in the south. In Georgia the settlements have spread westward, across the entire breadth of the State, where they have struck against the barrier of the diminished Creek reservation. Stopped at this point, they have moved downwards into the south-west corner of the State, and over the boundary line into Florida, recently acquired from Spain. No general advance is to be noted in Mississippi, owing to the continued presence of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. The Alabama group has widened and deepened, until perhaps two-thirds of the State is covered. In Mississippi the chief growth has been through a broad belt, up the river of the same name, reaching to the present site of Kansas City. Population has progressed northward in Illinois until more than half the State is covered; while Indiana and Ohio have greatly reduced their vacant areas.

The settled area of 1840 was 807,292 square miles; the population was 17,069,453, the average density 21.1. The center of population had moved 55 miles, almost exactly due west. The most marked changes during the ten years had been in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, whence the Indian tribes- Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws- had been removed to the Indian Territory. Now, at last, we see population taking the southernmost of the four western routes of migration, - that round the lower end of the Appalachian chain. Innorthern Illinois, the Sac and Fox and Pottawatamie tribes having been removed to the Indian Territory, their country has been promptly taken up; and we now find settlement carried over the whole extent of Indiana and Illinois, and northwards across Michigan and Wisconsin, as far as the 43d parallel. Population has passed the Mississippi into Iowa Territory, and occupies a broad belt up and down that stream. In Missouri the settlements have spread northwards from the Missouri river nearly to the boundary of the State, and in the opposite direction until they cover mot of the southern portion, making connection with the settlements in Arkansas, population has largely increased in Florida; but the southern portion of the State remains unoccupied, owing to the hostility of the Seminole Indians.

Between 1840 and 1850 the limits of the United States had been greatly extended by the annexation of Texas and the territory ceded by Mexico in the treaty of Gudadalipe Hidalgo, these acquisitions embracing an area larger than the original area of the United States as defined by the treaty of 1783. The frontier of population now rests on the Missouri through a great north and south extent; and this date thus marks the natural division of the history of population in the United States into two parts. The map of 1850 does indeed show a few settlements on the newly acquired Pacific coast, sparsely covering perhaps 30,000 square miles, with mining camps from a few weeks to a year old, comprising in all about 100,000 souls. But these small and distant groups may, in a survey like the present, be disregarded. In this great journey of the English race to the Missouri we have seen the population increase from 3,929,214 to 23,191,876; the settled area has increased from 239,985 square miles to 979,249. The territory of the United States has grown, through purchase and war, from 827,844 to 2,980,961 square miles. The original thirteen States have become thirty. The center of population ha moved westward, during sixty years, over the space of 276 miles, notwithstanding the deepening of agricultural settlement in the older portions of the country and the growth of large commercial towns upon the seaboard, which have raised the average density to 23.7 persons to the square mile.

In 1860 the population of the Pacific coast settlements (about 100,000 in 1850) had risen to about 620,000, covering sparsely about 100,000 square miles. In the east the great fact observed is the extension of settlement, for the firs time, beyond the line of the Missouri. The movement up the slope of the great plains has begun. Into Kansas and Nebraska, especially the former, settlers are pouring rapidly, under the influence of the fierce struggle which is being waged to determine the political character of those territories. Population has reached even beyond the 97th meridian. In the south Texas has filled up still more rapidly, its extreme settlements reaching to the 100th meridian. The small groups about St Paul, in Minnesota, have spread in all directions, after forming a broad band of union with the main body of population, down the line of the Mississippi. In Iowa population has crept steadly north-westward, along the course of the drainage, until the State is nearly covered. Following up the Missouri, settlers have crossed into the south-eastern corner of the present Territory of Dakota. In Wisconsin the settlements have moved at least one degree farther north. In the upper peninsula of Michigan the little settlements which appeared in 1850, in the upper region around Keweenaw Point, have extended and increased in density as that mining region has developed in importance. The hitherto unsettled regions in southern Missouri, north-eastern Arkansas, and north-western Mississippi have become sparsely covered. The entire occupied area of 1860 is 1,194,754 square miles; the population is 31,443,321, and the average density 26.5. The center has moved 81 miles westward since 1850.

The year 1870 found the nation undivided, with an aggregate population of 38,558,371, occupying 1,272,239 square miles, the average density being 30.3. The new Cordilleran and pacific coast settlements, beyond the 100th meridian, comprising about 1,000,000 souls, occupying about 120,000 square miles, have arranged themselves, rudely, in three longitudinal belts. The most eastern of these lies in central Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, and along the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains. Population was first largely attracted thither in 1859 and 1860 by the discovery of mineral deposits, and had been retained there by richness of the soil and the abundance of water for irrigation. The second belt is that of Utah, settled by the Mormon. This community differs radically in character from other Rocky Mountain settlements, being essentially agricultural, the mining industries having been discountenanced as tending to fill their "Promised Land" with Gentile adventurers. The settlements here in 1870 extended from southern Idaho southward, through central Utah, into northern Arizona. With the exception of the two considerable towns of ogden and salt Lake, they consisted mainly of scattered hamlets and small villages, around which were grouped the farms of the several communities. The third belt is that in the Pacific States and Territories, extending from Washington Territory southward to southern California, and eastward to the systems of "Sinks," so called, in western Nevada. This highly complicatd body of population owes its existence to the mining industry. Beginning in 1849, it has grown through successive mineral discoveries, although more than one of its chief seats in earlier days have long since become deserted camps, more dreary even than before the white man came. Latterly the value of this region to the agriculturist has been recognized, and the occupations of the inhabitants are undergoing a marked change. These three longitudinal belts comprised nine-tenth of the population of 1870 which was west of the general frontier line. The remainder were scattered about in the valleys and on the mountains of Montana, Idaho, and Arizona, in military posts, in isolated mining camps, and on cattle ranches.

In the east the traditional westward movement proceeded at less than its usual rate during 1860-70. Whereas the center of population moved 81 miles in 1850-60, it accomplished a journey of only 42 miles in the succeeding decade. In part this was due to the discouragement of pioneer enterprise by the state of war, portions of the frontier being involved in Indian hostilities, or becoming the scene of guerilla atrocities, all the way from Minnesota to Arizona ; in part, to the absorption into the army of the restless portion of the population which had been wont to lead the race in opening up new regions. In larger part, however, it was due to the prodigious growth, under the artificial encouragement afforded by war, of the manufacturing industries of the east. Nevertheless, in southern Minnesota population had gone to the boundary of the State, and had poured up the Big Sioux river in south-eastern Dakota; Iowa had become entirely occupied; through Kansas and Nebraska population had moved westward, following, in general, the courses of the larger streams and of the newly constructed pacific railroads.

The tenth census (1880) disclosed a population of 50,155,783. The first thing which strikes one is the vast extent of territory brought under occupation for the first time. the settled area has risen sharply to 1,569,570 square miles, so that, with nearly twelve millions added to the population, the average density of settlement has only increased from 30.3 to 32. The settlements in the Cordilleran territory. In the east we note changes which are far greater in absolute importance, though less conspicuous in comparison with the extent of previously existing settlement. In Kansas and Nebraska a broad tide has spread westward over the plains, annexing vast tracts before unoccupied. At several points the pioneer line has reached the boundary of the Humid region, so that further extension must hereafter be governed by the supply of water in the streams. Hence we already see the principal river marked by long ribbon-like bands of population. In Minnesota and east Dakota the building of railroads and the remarkable wheat-producing capabilities of the region have caused a rapid development of population. Besides the agricultural region of east Dakota, we note the formation of a body of settlement in the Black Hills, in the southwest corner, the result of important discoveries of gold deposits. In Wisconsin the unsettled area has rapidly decreased as railroad construction has advanced. In the upper peninsula of Michigan the copper and iron interests, and the railroads which subserve them, have people a large extent of territory. In the lower peninsula not only have settlements surrounded the head of the peninsula, but there remains only a small body of unsettled lands in the interior, the vast pine forests having been swept away by the activity of the lumbering industry. In the south Texas has made great strides, through the extension of railroads and the development of the cattle and sheep interest. The unsettled area in the peninsula of Florida has decreased decidedly, while the vacant spaces heretofore seen along the upper coast of Florida and Louisiana have disappeared. The center of population moved 58 miles westward between 1870 and 1880, making the total journey 457 miles since 1790.

The following tables (III., IV.) show the distribution of population by drainage basins and according to altitude: -

== TABLE ==

From the latter table it appears that nearly one-fifth of the inhabitants of the country lived below 100 feet, i.e., along the immediate seaboard and in the swampy alluvial regions of the south; more than two-fifths lived below 500 feet, more than three-fourths below 1000 feet, while 97 per cent. lived below 2000 feet. Within the area below 500 feet is included nearly all that part of the population which is engaged in manufacturing, in the foreign commerce of the country, and in the culture of cotton, rice, and sugar. The interval between the 500 and the 1500 contours comprises the greater part of the prairie region and the grain-producing States of the north-west. The mean elevation of the surface of the United States is roughly computed at 2600 feet. The mean elevation of the actual population of 1880 is estimated at 700 feet.

At the date of the census of 1880 there were 6,679,943 persons residing in the United States who had been born in foreign lands, while at the same time there were 9,593,106 born in the United States who were living in other States than those of their birth. Generally speaking, the migrations of natives of the country have been, if not as usual directly along parallels of latitude, at least within the immediate zones of the individuals thus seeking new homes. Historically the statistics of the foreign elements are very incomplete. For only four censuses (1850-80) has the place of birth been returned in the enumeration of inhabitants. From 1850 backwards to 1820 we have only tables compiled from the passenger lists of vessels bringing in emigrants, data notoriously imperfect. Prior to 1820 there are only scraps of evidence. The following tables (V., VI.) show the arrivals at United States ports from 1820 to 1850 by decades, and the total population and total number of persons of foreign birth, with the proportions subsisting between the two, at each of the four censuses taken since this class of statistics began to be collected: -


The foreign-born have settled mainly between the 38th and 45th degrees of latitude; more than two-thirds of them are found between the 39th and 43d degrees.

The following table (VII). shows the proportion per 10,000 of the natives of the foreign countries named: -


The occupations most affected by foreigners will appear from the following table (VIII.), in which the units represent thousands: -


In the following table (IX.) a few of the more important single occupations are selected for a further comparison: -


The question of the degree to which foreign elements have contributed to the remarkable growth of population in the United States has formed the subject of much discussion. In 1870 an important step towards the obtaining of adequate statistical data for the solution of the problem was made by ascertaining, in addition to the number of persons born abroad, the number having a foreign-born father or mother, or both. From this count it appeared that, while there were (1) 5,567,229persons resident in the United States who were born in other countries, there were (2) 10,521,233 who had a foreign father, (3) 10,105,627 who had a foreign mother, (4) 9,734,845 who had both parents foreign, and (5) 10,892,015 who had one or both parents foreign. Another and important step was taken in 1880, when the census office obtained the means of determining the number of persons one or both of whose parents had been born in each specified foreign country. From this enumeration it appeared that, while there were then in the United States (1) 6,679,943 persons who had themselves been born abroad, there were (2) 14,349,310 who had a foreign father, (3) 13,585,080 who had a foreign mother, (4) 13,011,646 who had both parents foreign, and (5) 14,922,744 who had one or both parents foreign. In addition to the above were found 33,252 persons, themselves born abroad, but of parents native to the United States. This would make the total number of persons born abroad, and of persons of foreign parentage, 14,955,996. This aggregate was distributed as following among the chief nationalities (Table X.) : -


Comparing these results with the total number of persons from each specified foreign country resident in the United States, we find that, for every 1000 persons living in the United States who were born in Ireland, there were in 1880 2442 who had an Irish father, 2387 who had an Irish mother; for every 1000 persons born in Germany there were 2483 who had a German father, 2306 who had a German mother; for every1000 persons born in Great Britain there were 2223 who had a Britain father, 1941 who had a British mother; for every 1000 persons born in Sweden or Norway there were 1690 who had a Swedish or Norwegian father, 1671 who had a Swedish or Norwegian mother; for ever 1000 persons born in British American there were 1310 who had a British American father, 1292 who had a British American mother.

These ratios do not accurately represent the comparative fecundity of the foreign population, unless reference be had to the periods of time during which the several elements have respectively formed an important part of the population of the United States. The fact that for every 1000 persons born in Ireland there were in 1880 2442 persons (including of course the 1000 mentioned), who had an Irish father, while for every 1000 British Americans there were only 1310 who had a British American father, would seem to indicate that the Irish are vastly more prolific than the British Americans. The disproportion is, however, mainly due to the fact that the Irish residence have lived in the country for a very much longer period of time than the British Americans. Thus, of every 10,000 foreigners in the United States in 1850, 4285 were Irish, while only 658 were British Americans. In 1880, out of every 10,000 foreigners, only 2776 were Irish, 1074 were British Americans. Again, it will have been noted that, in every case mentioned, there are more of persons having a foreign father than of persons having a foreign mother. This is true regarding each nationality, not only for the country, but for each State, and is due to the fact the immigration is predominantly of males.
The first census (1790) showed the member of colored persons to be 757,208, the colored element thus constituting a larger proportion of the population than ever after, i.e. 19.3 per cent. By 1800 the colored element had increased absolutely to 1,002,037, being a gain per cent. of 32.32, but had declined relatively to 18.9 per cent. of the entire population. By 1810 it had reached 1,377,808, a gain of 37.05 per cent upon its own numbers in 1790; it had also advanced towards is former share of the population, being 19 per cent. of the whole. By 1820 the number had risen to 1,771,656, a gain of 28.55 per cent. in ten years; the share of this elements in the total population had sunk to 18.4 per cent. by 1830 the number had increased to 2,328,642, a gain of 31.44 per cent; the ratio to the total population had sunk to 18.2 By 1840 the total numbers had risen to 2,873,648, a gain of 23.4 per cent. (16.8 per cent. of the whole population. In 1850 the number was 3,638,808 (13.3 of whole population), a gain of 26.62 per cent. in ten years. On the threshold of the civil war in 1860 the number had risen to 4,441,830 (14.1 per cent. of whole population), being a gain of 22.06 per cent. in ten years. The enumeration of the colored population in 1870 was subsequently proved to have been partial and inaccurate in many parts of several Southern States. The number returned was only 4,880,000 (12.7 per cent. of total population), a gainof only 9.86 per cent. in ten years. In 1880 the number was 6,580,793 (13.1 of the whole), an increase of 34.85 per cent. over 1870.

The following table (XI.) summarizes the facts of gain per cent. within the colored population by ten, twenty, and thirty-year periods, from 1790 to 1880:-


The colored people, all but an inconsiderable fraction, live between the 29th and 40th degrees of latitude. In this respect, the foreign and the colored elements are largely complementary. Only between the 38th and 40th parallels are both elements found in considerable numbers. In longitude the colored are much more widely spread than are the foreigners. Again, the temperature and rainfall groups which contain one of these elements largely seldom embrace any considerable portion of the other. Thus, it appears that, while more than 87 per cent. of the foreign-born live in regions having a mean annual temperature of 40o to 55o F., more than 93 per cent of the colored reside in regions having a mean annual temperature of 50o to 70o. In the region having a rainfall of about 60 inches annually, the colored form no less than 43 per cent. of the total, and in the next grade 36.5 per cent, while in the region having a rainfall of 50 to 55 inches more than half the inhabitants are colored. Where the rainfall is less than 45 inches the colored population falls below the average, in some cases very far below. Not less than 85 per cent. of the colored are found within regions between 40 and 60 inches. The foreign population, on the other hand, is chiefly grouped in regions between 30 and 50 inches, those regions containing nearly 85 per cent. of the foreign-born. Further, only 14.10 per cent. of the foreign population live in the regions raised 100 to 500 feet above the sea, while within those regions are found not less than 44.95 per cent. of the colored population.

The question of the future of the colored race in the United States mainly depends on the answer to a prior question, whether the fact of the concentration in so great a degree of this element upon the lands at once very hot and very moist, which has actually taken place,, is due to the superior attractions of cotton planting in the past and even in the present, or represents also the special physiological aptitudes of the race. The enormous apparent increase in this element during 1870 to 1880 led some persons to project a line of ascent which would, in a few generations, cause the continent to be peopled almost entirely by members of the African race. such prediction are as idle as were those of the speedy extinction of the colored population after the disparaging but erroneous results of the census of 1870 were published. Inasmuch as twenty-year periods have, from the beginning, shown a steady successive decline in the rate of increase among the colored populations (see Table XI.), it would seem that some positive reason should be shown for anticipating any higher rate for the future than that of 54.57 for 1840-60. Such a rate of increase among the colored people would steadily reduce the share of that element in the population of the country, bringing its numbers up to about ten millions in 1900 out of a not improbable population of eighty millions. Whether there is really room, economically speaking, for so large a colored population, considering the limited area of the lands, already fairly well occupied, within which alone that race has any marked advantage over the whites by reason of their physiological adaptation to the climate, and considering the industrial advantages which the white race enjoy wherever the climate conditions are equally favorable, may be gravely doubted.

The growth of city populations during the ninety years embraced by the ten successive censuses of the United States has been little less remarkable than the increase of population throughout the country as a whole. The following table (XII) gives the aggregate for cities of 8000 inhabitants and upwards from 1790 to 1880:-


In 1880 there were 286 cities with over 8000 inhabitants, and the following twenty exceeded 100,000: - New York, N.Y., 1,206,299; Philadelphia, Pa., 847,170; Brooklyn, N.Y. 566,663; Chicago, III., 503,185; Boston, Mass, 362,839; St Louis. Mo., 350,518; Baltimore, Md., 332,313; Cincinnati, O., 255,139; San Francisco, Cal., 233,959; New Orleans, La., 216,090; Cleveland, O., 160,146; Pittsburgh, Pa., 156,389; Buffalo, N.Y. 155,134; Washington, D.C. 147,293; Newark, N.J. 136,508; Louisville, Ky., 123,758; jersey City, N.J., 120,722; Detroit, Mich., 116,340; Milwaukee, Wis., 115,587; Providence, R.I. 104,857.

The urban population of the United States is predominantly sustained by manufactures and mechanical industry rather than by commerce. Taking for the purposes of this analysis the fifty largest cities, we have an aggregate of 3,083,172 workers, of whom 32 per cent. are engaged in personal and professional services, 24 per cent. in trade and transportation, 43 per cent in manufactures and mechanical industry, the remaining 1 per cent. being employed in agriculture, as nurserymen, florists, market gardeners, &c. Of the total body workers reported 77 per cent, are males, 23 females. Again, 3 _ per cent. are under 16 years of age, 3 per cent. are over 60. 93 _ per cent, are between 16 and 60.

The proportion of workers to population varies greatly in American cities, according to the industries pursued, according to the constituents of the populations, according to age and sex, and according to certain social causes affecting then employment of women and young children.

The American census took no account of the occupations of the people till 1850, when the occupations of the free male inhabitants over 15 years of age were ascertained. In 1860 the statistics were made to include the gainful occupations of free women as well, but the exclusion of the entire slave population from the account, together with defects of classification due to the inherent difficulties of the work, make it impossible to institute satisfactory comparisons with statistics subsequently obtained. At the ninth and tenth censuses (1870 and 1880) special efforts directed to this end, aided by the great progress made of recent years in industrial organization and by the abolition of slavery, resulted in statistical accounts which afford a fair view of the occupations of the people at those dates.

The census of 1870 gave the number of people pursuing gainful occupations as 12,505,923, being 32.43 per cent. of the total population, 44.3 per cent of the total population above ten years of age. In 1880 the corresponding number was 17,392,099, being 34.68 per cent. of the entire population, 47.31 per cent. of the population above ten years of age. This increase means a larger engagement of women and children in labor outside the family. The division of the grand total of 1880among the four principal groups of occupations, with the further distinction of ex, appears in the following table (XIII.):-


Of these, 825,187 males and 293,169females were from 10 to 15 years of age, 12,986,111 males and 2,283,115 females from 16 to 59, and 933,644 males and 70,873 females 60 and upwards.

It appears that 7,670,493 persons were in 1880 employed in agriculture, constituting 44.1 per cent. of the whole number, against 74.3 in 1870, - a slight relative decline in this class during the decade. 4,225,945 persons reported themselves as farmers or planters. This agrees well with he number of farms and plantations returned on the agricultural schedule, i.e. 4,0008,907, 3,323,876 persons report themselves as farm laborers, while about 120,000 are returned as apiarists, dairymen, florists, gardeners, nurserymen, stock-drovers, turpentine farmers, &c. Agricultural still remains the predominant industry of the United States, employing nearly half the working population, and, since a greater number of persons are dependent upon the average farmer or farm laborer than upon the average factory operative or domestic servant, furnishing subsistence to considerably more than half the people.

The number of persons engaged in mechanical labor and in manufacturing and mining pursuits in 1880 was 3,837,112,- 22 per cent. of the total, against 21.6 per cent. in 1870.

The number of persons engaged in trade and transportation was in 1880 1,810,256, being 10.4 per cent. of the total. Between 1860 and 1870, with an increase in population of 22.8 per cent. the class engaged in trade and transportation gained 44 per cent., a result fairly attributable to the profits of middle-men, and the multiplication of stores, shops, and stands of every description, consequent upon the circulation of an irredeemable and fluctuating currency.

The last grand group of occupation to be mentioned is that characterized by te rendering of personal or professional services. This group in 1880 embraced 4,074,238 men, women, and children or 23.4 of al connected with gainful avocations, against 21.4 per cent. in 1870. The occupations within this group exhibit a wide range of character. We have at the one end the teacher, the Government official, the artist, the clergyman, the physician; at the other, the barber, the boot-black, the household drudge. The most important class of this group is that known as laborers, without further designation. This class, in the successive census reports, has always been large, doubtless too large for the facts of the case, since it seems probable that no inconsiderable share of these laborers are connected with agriculture or trade or some branch of manufacturing industry with sufficient definiteness to justify their being returned under one or other of those groups. The number reported under this title in 1850 was 909,786; in 1860, 969,301; in 1870; 1,031,666; in 1880, 1,859,223.

The number of domestic servants in 1880 was 1,075,655, against 975,734 in 1870. It might have been expected that the general increase of luxury and refinement during the preceding decade must have caused a large proportional increase in domestic service. Yet we find the number of domestic servants to have increased but 10 per cent., while population has grown 30 per cent. the only fact indicated by the table of occupations which serves at all to account for this failure of domestic service to keep pace with population is that the number of bakers has increased more than 50 per cent. during the decade, while the number of laundrymen and laundresses has grown from 60,906 to 121,942, showing that some part at least of the work formerly done in private houses is now done in shops. Yet we cannot fail to be struck with the fact that, while there was in 1870 1 servant to 7.76 families, 1880 found no more than 1 servant to 9.24 families.

The geographical distribution of domestic service throughout the United States is very irregular, the proportion between families and servants ranging from 2.5 families to 1 servant in the District of Columbia up to 24.8 families to 1 servant in Arkansas. The largest proportion of domestic servants is found in a group in the central Atlantic region,- Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, where slavery formerly prevailed more as a social and political than as an industrial institution. Thus Maryland has I servant to 4.9 families, Delaware 1 to 5.3, Virginia 1 to 5.7.

In 1870 the number of families returned was 7,579,363, the number of persons to a family being 5.09; the number of dwellings was 7,042,833, with 5.47 persons to a dwelling. In 1880 the total number of families returned was 9,945,916, the number of persons to a family being 5.04; the number of dwellings was 8,955,812, with 5.6 persons to a dwelling. In 1880 the number of persons to a family ranged from 3.94 in Montana to 5.54 in West Virginia; the number of persons to a dwelling ranged from 4.24 in Idaho to 6.68 in Rhode Island. Examination of the tables relating to the 100 largest cities in 1880 shows that the number of persons to a family ranges from 4.23 in Memphis to 5.99 in Denver. In general, the Southern cities rule low in this respect. The range as to the number of persons to a dwelling, among the cities of the United States, is much greater than in the case of persons to a family. Memphis has but 4.68 persons to a dwelling; New York has as many as 16.37. The other instances of a low proportion are Lancaster, Pa., 5.02; Davenport, Iowa, 5.04; Camden, N.J. 5.05; Sacramento, 5.07. The other instances of a high proportion are Hoboken, 11.50; Holyoke, Mass, 10.52; Brooklyn and Cincinnati, 9.11; Manchester, N.H., 9.09; Worcester, 8.79; Fall River, 8.75; Jersey City, 8.59; Lawrence, 8.5; Boston, 8.26; Chicago, 8.24; Troy; 8.16; St Louis, 8.15. The other large cities show the following proportions: - Philadelphia, 5.79; New Orleans, 5.95; Baltimore, 6.54; San Francisco, 6.86. The remarkable low proportion, considering the population, which obtains in Philadelphia is due to the admirable manner in which that city has been built up, largely under the system of ground rents, little known in other cities.


Page 821
1 The reader will understand that these sums are not to be added together, as has been done in some statistical publications, yielding an aggregate somewhat larger than the population of the entire United States at the time. No. 1 is included in No. 4, which is itself included in both Nos. 2 and 3, which are in turn included in No. 5, which is the outside statement of that portion of the population whose members were either themselves born abroad, or had either a father or mother born abroad.

Read the rest of this article:
United States - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries