# Activity: The Growth of Slavery

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# Background

This lesson focuses on the growth of slavery in the period 1790-1820. In the American Constitution, the Founders specified that an accurate count of the number of citizens in the country had to be made every 10 years. This was to ensure that the number of congressional districts kept up with population growth and, thus, the House of Representatives would truly represent all citizens. Generally, white men of a certain age with some property were able to vote in these congressional districts and in their states, yet congressional representation was based on the total number of all people, including women, children, slaves, and indentured servants.

In the case of slaves, including them in the census count was a problem, as they were considered property rather than human beings; yet the southern states feared a loss of legislative power if slaves were not included in the count. The Founders, therefore, crafted a compromise in the Constitution to appease slave states: the new republic would count all slaves but only include three-fifths of their number when formulating congressional districts.

The official census bureau was not founded until 1840; before then, marshals of the state courts were supposed to conduct a census every 10 years, a much less accurate process than the one later conducted by the federal government. In fact, the 1800 census was particularly poorly done and presents problems when we do a decade-by-decade comparison. Therefore, this exercise will measure the growth of slavery using these two data points — 1790 and 1820.

# Source

For this activity, Source and Analyze the Evidence sections are combined. Please continue to Analyze the Evidence.

# Analyze the Evidence

### Questions

According to Winterer, as the US gained territory in the early Southwest (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc.), slaves began to be sold from the old slave states of Virginia and Maryland to the new slave states in these territories. What was the percentage population of slaves to total population in the states in 1790 compared to the percentage population in 1820?

Instructions: Fill out the white boxes in the chart below using these calculation instructions.

First, note that some of the states did not report census figures for slaves or total population in a year, so you will not be able to do the calculations in grayed out boxes. Please complete the calculations in the white boxes. In the first column of white boxes (1790) and the second column (1820), you will make the same calculation: the percentage of the state’s population that was slave. Let us take Connecticut as an example.

In 1790 in Connecticut, there were 2,764 slaves out of a total population of 237,946. To determine the percentage of slaves, divide the slave population by the total population using this formula. You will note that the slave population was very small at 1.16%.

2,764 ÷ 237,946 = .0116 × 100 = 1.16%

Do the same formula for 1820 in Connecticut. While the total population of Connecticut grew in 30 years, the slave population reduced dramatically to .008% of the total.

25 ÷ 297,675 = .00000839 × 100 = .008%

Now we are going to calculate the percent change in column 3, which will tell us how much Connecticut’s slave population shrank in 30 years. We will be using only the slave figures to make this calculation. Take Connecticut’s slave population in 1820 (25) and subtract it from the slave population in 1790 (2,764), and you will get a negative number of -2,739. Then you will divide the negative number by the population of slaves in 1790, which gets you the negative figure of -.99, which you multiply by 100 to create a negative percentage of -99%. The percent change of -99% indicates not only that slavery in Connecticut declined over 30 years but that it plummeted and was close to disappearing.

25 – 2,764 = -2,739 ÷ 2,764 = -.99 × 100 = -99%

Finally, in the last row make the same three calculations on the US population.

### Percent Change in Slavery in the North and the South, 1790-1820

 Population in 1790 Population in 1820 State /Territory Total Slave % of Slave Total Slave % of Slave Slave % Change,1790 v. 1820 Alabama 309,527 117,549 Connecticut 237,946 2,764 297,675 25 Delaware 59,094 8,887 76,748 3,292 District of Columbia 39,834 6,119 Georgia 82,548 29,264 516,823 217,531 Indiana 343,031 3 Illinois 157,445 747 Kentucky 73,677 12,430 687,917 165,213 Louisiana 215,739 109,588 Maine 96,540 0 399,437 6 Massachusetts 378,787 0 610,408 4 Maryland 319,728 103,036 447,040 102,994 Mississippi 136,621 65,659 Missouri 140,455 25,091 New Hampshire 141,885 158 269,328 5 New Jersey 184,139 11,423 320,823 2,254 New York 340,120 4,654 1,918,608 76 North Carolina 393,751 100,572 737,987 245,601 Ohio 935,884 6 Pennsylvania 434,373 3,737 1,348,233 403 Rhode Island 68,825 948 97,199 14 South Carolina 249,073 107,094 581,185 315,401 Tennessee 681,903 141,603 Vermont 85,539 16 280,657 0 Virginia 747,610 292,627 1,211,405 469,757 Southwest Territory 35,691 3,417 Arkansas Territory 30,388 4,576 Florida Territory 34,730 15,501 Michigan Territory 31,639 32 Totals 3,929,326 681,027 12,858,669 2,009,050

Using the information gained from the chart, answer these two questions. How did the change in slave population over 30 years in Virginia and Maryland compare to the slave population of Deep South states like Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina? Do these statistics support Winterer’s argument?

Compare the slave populations of the Southern states with the New England States, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. What seems to be happening to slavery in the North and the South?