The United States Census of 1840 was the sixth census of the United States. Conducted by the Census Office on June 1, 1840, it determined the resident population of the United States to be 17,069,453 — an increase of 32.7 percent over the 12,866,020 persons enumerated during the 1830 Census. The total population included 2,487,355 slaves. In 1840, the center of population was about 260 miles (418 km) west of Washington, near Weston, West Virginia.
One notable effect of the published census results on the political debates of the time was that the percentage of "insane negroes" seemed to increase the further North one went, reaching catastrophic proportions in Massachusetts and Maine. Pro-slavery advocates pointed to this as evidence of the beneficial effects of slavery. These statistics were later revealed to be false, but no formal correction to the census results was ever published, partly due to John C. Calhoun being Secretary of State in 1844. The statistical problems were detailed in an 1844 publication of the American Statistical Association entitled Memorial of the American Statistical Association Praying the Adoption of Measures for the Correction of Errors in the Census Detailing Certain Errors in the Sixth Census, Including too many Mentally Ill African Americans. This report was presented to Congress by John Quincy Adams who notes that it demonstrates "a multitude of gross and important errors in the printed census of 1840."
The 1840 census asked these questions:
No microdata from the 1840 population census are available, but aggregate data for small areas, together with compatible cartographic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System.
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