QUERY VIII

 

        _The number of its inhabitants?_
 
 

        Population

        The following table shews the number of persons imported for

the establishment of our colony in its infant state, and the census

of inhabitants at different periods, extracted from our historians

and public records, as particularly as I have had opportunities and

leisure to examine them.  Successive lines in the same year shew

successive periods of time in that year.  I have stated the census in

two different columns, the whole inhabitants having been sometimes

numbered, and sometimes the _tythes_ only.  This term, with us,

includes the free males above 16 years of age, and slaves above that

age of both sexes.  A further examination of our records would render

this history of our population much more satisfactory and perfect, by

furnishing a greater number of intermediate terms.  Those however

which are here stated will enable us to calculate, with a

considerable degree of precision, the rate at which we have

increased.  During the infancy of the colony, while numbers were

small, wars, importations, and other accidental circumstances render

the progression fluctuating and irregular.  By the year 1654,

however, it becomes tolerably uniform, importations having in a great

measure ceased from the dissolution of the company, and the

inhabitants become too numerous to be sensibly affected by Indian

wars.  Beginning at that period, therefore, we find that from thence

to the year 1772, our tythes had increased from 7209 to 153,000.  The

whole term being of 118 years, yields a duplication once in every 27

1/4 years.  The intermediate enumerations taken in 1700, 1748, and

1759, furnish proofs of the uniformity of this progression.  Should

this rate of increase continue, we shall have between six and seven

millions of inhabitants within 95 years.  If we suppose our country

to be bounded, at some future day, by the meridian of the mouth of

the Great Kanhaway, (within which it has been before conjectured, are

64,491 square miles) there will then be 100 inhabitants for every

square mile, which is nearly the state of population in the British

islands.  Here I will beg leave to propose a doubt.  The present

desire of America is to produce rapid population by as great

importations of foreigners as possible.  But is this founded in good

policy?  The advantage proposed is the multiplication of numbers.

Now let us suppose (for example only) that, in this state, we could

double our numbers in one year by the importation of foreigners; and

this is a greater accession than the most sanguine advocate for

emigration has a right to expect.  Then I say, beginning with a

double stock, we shall attain any given degree of population only 27

years and 3 months sooner than if we proceed on our single stock.  If

we propose four millions and a half as a competent population for

this state, we should be 54 1/2 years attaining it, could we at once

double our numbers; and 81 3/4 years, if we rely on natural

propagation, as may be seen by the following table.
 
 

 

              Settlers        Census of       Census of

      Years   imported.       Inhabitants.    Tythes.

      1607     100

                                 40

               120

      1608                      130

                70

      1609                      490

                16

                                 60

      1610     150

                                200

      1611    3 ship loads

               300

      1612      80

      1617                      400

      1618     200

                40

                                600

      1619    1216

      1621    1300

      1622                     3800

                               2500

      1628                     3000

      1632                                      2000

      1644                                      4822

      1645                                      5000

      1652                                      7000

      1654                                      7209

      1700                                    22,000

      1748                                    82,100

      1759                                   105,000

      1772                                   153,000

      1782                  567,614
 
 

        In the first column are stated periods of 27 1/4 years; in the

second are our numbers, at each period, as they will be if we proceed

on our actual stock; and in the third are what they would be, at the

same periods, were we to set out from the double of our present

stock.
 
 

                      Proceeding on           Proceeding on

                      our present stock.      a double stock.

      1781              567,614               1,135,228

      1808 1/4        1,135,228               2,270,456

      1835 1/2        2,270,456               4,540,912

      1862 3/4        4,540,912

 

        I have taken the term of four millions and a half of

inhabitants for example's sake only.  Yet I am persuaded it is a

greater number than the country spoken of, considering how much

inarrable land it contains, can clothe and feed, without a material

change in the quality of their diet.  But are there no inconveniences

to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a

multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners?  It is

for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as

possible in matters which they must of necessity transact together.

Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its

administration must be conducted by common consent.  Every species of

government has its specific principles.  Ours perhaps are more

peculiar than those of any other in the universe.  It is a

composition of the freest principles of the English constitution,

with others derived from natural right and natural reason.  To these

nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies.

Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants.

They will bring with them the principles of the governments they

leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off,

it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as

is usual, from one extreme to another.  It would be a miracle were

they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty.  These

principles, with their language, they will transmit to their

children.  In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us

the legislation.  They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and

bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent,

distracted mass.  I may appeal to experience, during the present

contest, for a verification of these conjectures.  But, if they be

not certain in event, are they not possible, are they not probable?

Is it not safer to wait with patience 27 years and three months

longer, for the attainment of any degree of population desired, or

expected?  May not our government be more homogeneous, more

peaceable, more durable?  Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans

thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of

that kingdom?  If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less

strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of

foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect

here.  If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the

rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by

extraordinary encouragements.  I mean not that these doubts should be

extended to the importation of useful artificers.  The policy of that

measure depends on very different considerations.  Spare no expence

in obtaining them.  They will after a while go to the plough and the

hoe; but, in the mean time, they will teach us something we do not

know.  It is not so in agriculture.  The indifferent state of that

among us does not proceed from a want of knowledge merely; it is from

our having such quantities of land to waste as we please.  In Europe

the object is to make the most of their land, labour being abundant:

here it is to make the most of our labour, land being abundant.
 
 

        It will be proper to explain how the numbers for the year 1782

have been obtained; as it was not from a perfect census of the

inhabitants.  It will at the same time develope the proportion

between the free inhabitants and slaves.  The following return of

taxable articles for that year was given in.
 
 

         53,289 free males above 21 years of age.

        211,698 slaves of all ages and sexes.

         23,766 not distinguished in the returns, but said to be

                        titheable slaves.

        195,439 horses.

        609,734 cattle.

          5,126 wheels of riding-carriages.

            191 taverns.
 
 

        There were no returns from the 8 counties of Lincoln,

Jefferson, Fayette, Monongalia, Yohogania, Ohio, Northampton, and

York.  To find the number of slaves which should have been returned

instead of the 23,766 titheables, we must mention that some

observations on a former census had given reason to believe that the

numbers above and below 16 years of age were equal.  The double of

this number, therefore, to wit, 47,532 must be added to 211,698,

which will give us 259,230 slaves of all ages and sexes.  To find the

number of free inhabitants, we must repeat the observation, that

those above and below 16 are nearly equal.  But as the number 53,289

omits the males between 16 and 21, we must supply them from

conjecture.  On a former experiment it had appeared that about

one-third of our militia, that is, of the males between 16 and 50,

were unmarried.  Knowing how early marriage takes place here, we

shall not be far wrong in supposing that the unmarried part of our

militia are those between 16 and 21.  If there be young men who do

not marry till after 21, there are as many who marry before that age.

But as the men above 50 were not included in the militia, we will

suppose the unmarried, or those between 16 and 21, to be one-fourth

of the whole number above 16, then we have the following calculation:
 
 

       53,289 free males above 21 years of age.

       17,763 free males between 16 and 21.

       71,052 free males under 16.

      142,104 free females of all ages.

      -------

      284,208 free inhabitants of all ages.

      259,230 slaves of all ages.

      -------

      543,438 inhabitants, exclusive of the 8 counties from which e

no returns.  In these 8 counties in the years 1779 and 1780 were

3,161 militia.  Say then,

        3,161 free males above the age of 16.

        3,161 ditto under 16.

        6,322 free females.

       ------

       12,644 free inhabitants in these 8 counties.  To find the number of

slaves, say, as 284,208 to 259,230, so is 12,644 to 11,532.  Adding the third

of these numbers to the first, and the fourth to the second, we have,

      296,852 free inhabitants.

      270,762 slaves.

      -------

      567,614 inhabitants of every age, sex, and condition.  But

296,852, the number of free inhabitants, are to 270,762, the number

of slaves, nearly as 11 to 10.  Under the mild treatment our slaves

experience, and their wholesome, though coarse, food, this blot in

our country increases as fast, or faster, than the whites.  During

the regal government, we had at one time obtained a law, which

imposed such a duty on the importation of slaves, as amounted nearly

to a prohibition, when one inconsiderate assembly, placed under a

peculiarity of circumstance, repealed the law.  This repeal met a

joyful sanction from the then sovereign, and no devices, no

expedients, which could ever after be attempted by subsequent

assemblies, and they seldom met without attempting them, could

succeed in getting the royal assent to a renewal of the duty.  In the

very first session held under the republican government, the assembly

passed a law for the perpetual prohibition of the importation of

slaves.  This will in some measure stop the increase of this great

political and moral evil, while the minds of our citizens may be

ripening for a complete emancipation of human nature.