The 1840 US
census was taken as of June 1, 1840. It revealed that the population had grown to 17 million people, which included about 2.5 million slaves.
This was the last US census to name only heads of households. Other family members and slaves were counted and placed in various age categories.
What was happening in the US in particular, and in the world in general, during this decade?
The 1840s were a very busy time in the US, with no fewer than 5 men holding the office of US President.
Martin van Buren (1782 - 1862) was the US President from 1837 - 1841.
Prior to becoming President, he served as Vice-President under Andrew Jackson, from 1833 to 1837.
William Henry Harrison (1773 - 1841) was President from Mar 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841. He was the first President to die in office.
Prior to becoming President, he held various political positions. He rose to national prominence after leading American forces against Native Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
John Tyler (1790 - 1862) was President from April 4, 1841 to March 4, 1845. He died of cholera, only three months after his term in office ended.
Prior to this, he had been Vice President under President Harrison.
James Polk (1795 - 1849) served as President from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849.
Prior to becoming President, he was Governor of Tennessee (1839 - 1841).
Zachary Taylor (1784 - 1850) was President from March 4, 1849 - July 1, 1850. A career military man, Taylor became a national hero after his successes in the American-Mexican war.
Taylor died in 1850, the result of a stomach illness.
During the decade of the 1840 US census, among other important events, the following occurred:
Queen Victoria. Painting by Winterhalter, 1843. Public Domain.
In the UK, Queen Victoria became queen in 1837, and reigned until 1901.
Prime Ministers during the 1840s were:
In France, King Louis-Philippe was on the throne.
Various revolutions, known together as "The 1848 Revolution", occurred in European countries during this decade. There were mass waves of immigration to various countries as a result.
A cholera epidemic swept through Europe in the mid-1840s; in England, there was an outbreak in 1848, along with typhus and influenza. Thousands died from these diseases.
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
The 1840 US census asks the same questions as in 1830, with the same age divisions.
It adds questions regarding the number of persons who have military pensions, how many in the family are in various stages of schooling, and how many family members are employed in various types of industry.
It also asks how many whites and colored persons are deaf and dumb, blind, or insane. The “insane” category is subdivided into "insane" and "idiots", and asks for the number of each in public versus private care. (Presumably, the enumerators were given instruction in the difference between insane and idiotic!)
Here is the detail of the questions asked, in list form:
To see a blank sample of the 1840 US census, click here
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