The 1820 US Census

The 1820 US census was taken as of August 7, 1820.  As in the 1810 census, enumerators were to visit each and every household to collect the census information first-hand.

The population had increased to about 9.6 million people - a rise of about 33% over the 1810 US census population of 7.2 million.  As was the case in the prior three census documents, the 1820 US census did not include native Americans not subject to taxation.  Only heads of households were actually named.

What was happening in the US in particular, and in the world in general, during this decade?

People and Issues in the 1820s

During the 1820s, the following men were US Presidents.

James Monroe (1791 - 1872) was President from 1817 - 1825.  Before becoming President, he served as Secretary of State from 1811 - 1817.

John Quincy Adams (1767 - 1848) was the US President from 1825 - 1829.  Like his two immediate predecessors, he served as Secretary of State, from 1817 - 1825, before being elected to the top position.

President Adams was the first of a number of Americans who followed in their father's footsteps.  His father, John Adams, was the 2nd US President.

In July of 1821, the US purchased the Florida territory from Spain.

In October of 1823, the Erie Canal opened for business, linking Buffalo and New York City.  As a result, travel time to the Great Lakes through the US was cut by 1/3; costs were reduced by about 90%; and New York was established as a major Atlantic shipping centre.

In 1827, New York State passed a statute to end slavery in that state.

In July of 1828, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad begins operations.  It was the first passenger railroad in the US.

      George IV, circa 1817

In the United Kingdom, King George IV ascended the throne in 1820, upon the death of his father, George III.

Prime Ministers during this decade were Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (1812 - 1827), George Canning (1827), Lord Goderich (1827 - 1828), and the Duke of Wellington (1828 - 1830).

In France,  Napoléon Bonaparte died in exile, of stomach cancer, in 1821.

In 1824, Charles X succeeded Louis XVIII, his brother, as King of France.

What States were Included in the Census?

The following states and territories were included in this enumeration.  The West of the country was still in territories, rather than states, with little settlement.



District of Columbia











New Hampshire

New York

North Carolina



Rhode Island

South Carolina




What Questions were asked on the Census?

The 1820 US census asks much the same questions as were asked in the previous three US censuses, although it seeks yet more detail with respect to age categories of all individuals: it breaks them down by white male and female, free colored male and female, and male and female slaves, in different age categories.

Again, the head of the household is the only person named. It also asks how many foreign nationals are in the household, as well as the number of individuals working in agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing.

The following list gives the details:

  1. names of heads of families;
  2. number of free white males, in 6 age categories
    (under 10, 10-15, 16-18, 16-25, 26-44, and 45+);
  3. number of free white females, in the same 6 age categories
    (under 10, 10-15, 16-18, 16-25, 26-44, and 45+);
  4. number of foreigners not naturalized;
  5. number of persons engaged in agriculture;
  6. number of persons engaged in commerce;
  7. number of persons engaged in manufacturing;
  8. number of male slaves, in 4 age categories
    (under 14; 15-24,25-44, and 45+);
  9. number of female slaves, in the same 4 age categories
    (under 14; 15-24,25-44, and 45+);
  10. number of free colored males, in the same 4 age categories
    (under 14; 15-24,25-44, and 45+);
  11. number of free colored females, in the same 4 age categories
    (under 14; 15-24,25-44, and 45+); and
  12. number of all other persons, except Indians not taxed.

To see a blank sample of the 1820 US census, click here

Go from " 1820 US Census " to "US Census"

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

What's New?
is now on Facebook! For daily updates
and the latest
in genealogy news,
as well as reminders re upcoming webinars,

Join us on Facebook!

Looking for genealogy-themed t-shirts, mugs, iPad cases, and giftware? Click on the links in the widget for more information!

Upcoming Webinars

Click here for upcoming webinars, courtesy of Geneawebinars.

Heard the buzz about the new Flip-Pal scanner? See my review, here, or click on the ad, below, to go directly to their website.

Looking into DNA testing for genealogy purposes

Try 23andMe, or FTDNA (click the links below).