November 6: The Spread of the Southern “Cotton Kingdom”

In this exercise you will examine the demographic changes associated with slavery between 1790 and 1860.  You’ll learn to access the appropriate data and create and edit maps to display your findings.

1. Go to the Historical Census Browser.

2. Go to the box labeled “Choose a category to begin examining data:” and click “Slave Population.”

3. On the next page, change the end date from 1960 to 1860.  Then click to highlight “Total Slaves (1790-1860).”  Click “Submit.”

4. On the next page, “Census Data Over Time,” check one of the boxes by any state that had a slave population during the period.  Then scroll to the bottom of the table and click “Retrieve County-Level Data.”  Choose a first year (I recommend 1790 for northern states or 1820 for southern states) and click “Map It!” beneath it.  A smaller window will appear, and within a few seconds a map in it.  This indicates relative concentrations of slaves in different counties in that state.

5. Returning to the county-level data page, repeat step #4 with a different year (I recommend 1820 for northern states or 1860 for southern states).  Map this data as you did above.

6. Because each map initially divides the data into four quartiles, it is difficult to compare two maps unless you change these quartiles into a more standardized set of ranges.  The lowest and highest numbers must remain constant, but you should change the others to rounder numbers like 2000, 4000, 6000, etc., or 5000, 10000, 15000, etc., depending on the data.  Make your decision based on the population ranges you note on both maps.  Your goal is to have two maps that enable you to compare the slave population in two years and draw some conclusions.

In a comment to this blog post, write a paragraph or two about the changes you see between the first and second year. Make sure you note the state and years you analyzed. Referring to your textbook, pp. 268-70 and pp. 383-86, speculate on how the changes you note may reflect larger patterns. What do you think accounts for the changes you see?

12 thoughts on “November 6: The Spread of the Southern “Cotton Kingdom”

  1. Howard Wolsky

    I chose to compare the State of Maryland in 1820 an 1860 and found the following statistical results;
    Total slave population went from 107,356 in 1820 to 87,789 in 1860. This represented a drop of 18.2%.
    The number of counties in MD that had slaves in 1820 was 20 of 24 total counties. By 1860 23 of 24 reported a slave population however the counties that reported a drop in total numbers of slaves was 17 which represented 65% of MD counties.
    Howard county was the only MD that showed a significant increase in their slave population over he 40 year period.
    8 counties in 1820 had slave populations over 6000. By 1860 that number had dropped to 4.
    These patterns were consistent with the rest of the Chesapeake region as the tobacco crops and yields were shrinking and the cotton business was booming. Many Maryland slave owners began selling their slave populations to southern plantation owners desperate for labor. These sales often split families and increased the hardships on the African Americans.

  2. Erin Thomas

    I’m not quite sure I did this right. I analyzed
    the state of Georgia from 1820 to 1860. The maps loaded very slowly, so i had a hard time refreshing the maps when I wanted to see them reconfigured with different tabs selected but. From what I can see, the slave population in Georgia went up from 320,000 at most to a half a million slaves, again at most. I believe that is an 65% increase of slaves in 20 years. This happend because of the cotton boom. Slaves were no longer worked at an individual pace, but they were led by an overseer in gang labor system. Some southern states showed a decline in slave owners, but Georgia was one of the main producers of cotton, so it’s slave population increased.

  3. Tom Jaracz

    The state I looked at was Georgia in 1820 and in 1860. After looking at both maps one can see that in 1820, when the slave population was lower, that most of the slaves were condensed into the eastern part of the state with very little slaves in the western part of Georgia. After looking at the map of Georgia in 1860 one can see that there were many more slaves and that the slaves had a large population in almost every area of the state. In addition there are some areas with more slaves than others but for the most part slaves are spread evenly throughout the state.

    There are a few things that may account for this change in slave population. One of which was the growth of cotton industry, with this cotton growers wanted to make as much money as possible and package as much cotton as possible and with that came an increased need for slaves. Another reason for the increase in slave population was the expansion of the western boundary of the plantation system by about 600 miles. With this the area that slaves worked on nearly doubled in size. In addition many slave owners could make more money by selling their slaves to slave traders so many did sell their “surplus” to the traders. In addition between 1780 and 1808 about 250k slaves were added to the southern workforce and between 1790 and 1820 whites were relocating to the southwest and brought about 150k slaves with them.

  4. Nate Hottinger

    I choose to look at Maryland in 1790 and in 1820. In that 30 year span. 5 of the 18 counties on the map saw a decline in their slave population. The middle of the state had the most African Americans, and their population really didn’t change very much. I think the reason why the populations fell where they did was because a lot of the smaller farmers lived along the outside of the state and sold many of their slaves they didn’t need to farmers in the South who needed them for the cotton boom. Those who lived in the middle of the state may have been big plantation owners who needed their slaves more and didn’t want to sell them.

  5. Lindsey

    When I look at New York in 1790 and then look at New York in 1820, i really only notice one thing that is a very big difference. This one thing I notice is that from 1790 to 1820, the slavery moves more to the southern part of the state. Another thing that I noticed was that there was more slavery inthe island off of the thip of New York and then in 1820 the number seems to decrease.
    I think one of the major reasons that the slavery was moving and spreading out through New York is because the states were starting to form more counties. Becuase in 1790 there were only 11 counties. But then looking at the map of New York from 1820 there is about 20 or more counties. Maybe the salvery was moving becuase there was not as big ofneed for slaves when the counties were being formed.

  6. Nick Durda

    Between the two maps that were generated, I was able to see a significant difference from 1820 to 1860 in total slave population. In 1820 the highest concentration of slaves in Virginia with a moderate slave population in surrounding states such as Maryland, North Carolina, and Kentucky. By 1860 the concentration of slaves moves south, with high populations in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and increased population in Tennessee and North Carolina. The slave population also seems to decrease in Maryland and spread westward to Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma territories.

    The reason for this dramatic increase in 40 years is because of the cotton and sugar boom that took place in the southern states. Up to the 1820s most of the slave population was used for tobacco and rice plantations, which were centered around Virginia and the Carolinas. With the market demand for cotton and sugar increasing, planation owners had to meet that demand with increase slaves to do more labor. These changes are clear evidence of the pattern of slave population in the south.

  7. Britny Snodgrass

    Georgia 1820&1860:
    In 1820 the slave population was lower and most slaves were in eastern part of Georgia. In 1860 there were more slaves spread throughout Georgia.
    Reasons for change may include: The cotton industry was rapidly growing and slaves were necessary to work the fields. Secondly is the expansion of the western boundary if the plantation system. (600 miles.)
    In 1780 and 1808 about 250k slaves were added to the southern workforce and between 1790 and 1820 whites moved southwest and along with them came about 150k slaves.

  8. Thomas Renicker

    The state that I analyzed was Kentucky in the years 1790 and 1820. In the year 1790 Kentucky had a total of 3,752 slaves. In the year the number of slaves almost tripled to 9,274. The heavy concentration of slaves for both maps seems to be towards the center of the state. In 1820 though the concentration in the northren part of the state seemed to have decreased compared to the map of 1790. The western center portion of the state also decreased where as the south-western part of the state increased. The middle part of the state seemed to of stayed the most heavily concentrated of the entire state. I don’t think Kentucky seemed to of really followed a larger parttern in the country. I say this because with the south increasing in slavery over the years I would of been under the impression that the state would of became more concentrated with slaves, or at least the southren part of the state since it is a neighbor of Ohio which was a free state. I think though the reason it may not of followed a typical pattern was because it is on the border of free territory which may of influenced the state.

  9. Bob Mastronicola

    I chose Issaquena County in the state of Mississippi. The years I looked at was 1850 and 1860. In 1850 the slave population was 4105 and in 1860 it rose to 7244.
    In the early 1800′s the state of Mississppi was a new slave territory. As it tuned into a state, its population slave and white also increased. Generally as the country grew west so did the population. From the pages you ask us to refer to, for me the information given didn’t apply to this state.

  10. Joe Lauria

    The maps I chose to analyze were the state of Maryland. I looked at the years 1790 and 1820. I really did not see to much change for the most part it was the same population there were about 5 or 6 very densely populated slaves in both times. It really was very similar in both maps. While looking at the books in the map in just a short forty years the slave population doubled through out the U.S. Which tells me that even with the small increases of slaves in Virgina that in about ten to twenty years it might possibly double. The slaves will be more in need then ever and the population will rise dramatically.
    Some possible reasons for the increase of slaves could be because it is a very cheap way of getting work done. Also because it is inexpensive to them, if they pay them at all. The white men can get all of the work done for basically free. That is work most people just would not due especially what they are getting payed.

  11. Nick Schuur

    I examined the difference in county slave populations during 1790 and 1820 in Maryland online. In both these years Maryland had about the same total amount of slaves in the state but the populations in a few counties changed. I think the slave population stayed the same because not that may people were opening plantations in Maryland because it wasn’t ideal weather for crops. Most northern counties’ slave population was increased except for the northeastern most county, which its slave population decreased from 1790 to 1820. A few counties on the eastern boarder also had an increase while the rest of the counties’ slave population stayed the same. In the book it shows that also through these years there was slave population growth mainly on the northern and eastern coasts of Maryland.

  12. Amy Hull

    The state chosen for this exercise would be Alabama and my reason for choosing this state is because of the greater concentration of slave plantations in the southern states as opposed to the north.
    There is a distinct difference in the two years that I`ve chosen which are 1820 & 1860. As records show, there was a five fold increase in slave population within the 40 years between 1820 and 1860, indicating the rise of European immigrants flocking to America and bringing along slaves to build and maintain their plantations.

    The reason for the major increase in slavery is because throughout the years, it became easier for the masters to access the enormous slave populations. With the thoughts of always having an ample supply or use of these slave workers, all slaves were treated with and lived in a cruel, harsh environment, which did not phase the masters cause for concern into having “workers” available, because they were very easily replaced should they die or be bought out by neighboring masters.
    The over abundance of slaves caused a supply and demand controversy amongst masters across the region and while many of these slaves died during the harsh treatments, there were many readily available to “fill the needs” of the masters.
    As slavery became well known beginning around 1820, there were more and more slaves being brought in from overseas into the US, mainly in the south. At the time, it became quite common to see slave plantations throughout the area.

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