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?