Alexander Hamilton Papers

Enclosure: Proposed Arrangement of Recruiting Districts in Massachusetts, [5 March 1799]

Proposed Arrangement of Recruiting Districts in Massachusetts6

[Medford, Massachusetts, March 5, 1799]

In forming the districts & sub-districts for the recruiting service it will be necessary to have recourse to the census taken, by order of the government of the United States, in the year 1790.7 It will be found impossible to divide Massachusetts into four equal parts, without discarding many of the present boundaries of counties & towns, & substituting new & appropriate limits. Equality, however, in point of numbers, does not appear to be indicated by any circumstances connected with the recruiting service. Such a division of the state as shall nearly equalize the number of the people in the several districts—preserve as far as possible existing boundaries, & secure the greatest possible degree of compactness for each, will, it is conceived, fulfil the intentions of the Inspector General.

Upon these principles the following arrangement is suggested.

The first District to be formed of the counties of

Suffolk, containing 20877 inhabitants,
Essex 57913
& Middlesex  42737
amounting to 121527

The second District, to be formed of the counties of

Hampshire 59681 inhabitants
Berkshire 30291
& ⅔ of Worcester  37872
amounting to 127844

The third District, to be formed of the counties of

Plymouth 29535
Bristol 31709
Barnstable 17354
Dukes country
& Nantucket
Norfolk 23998
& ⅓ of Worcester  18935
amounting to 129416

The fourth District, to be formed of the district of Maine, consisting of the counties of

York 28821
Cumberland 25450
Lincoln 29962
Hancock 9549
Washington 2758
amounting to 96540

It will be observed that the three first districts are formed of the territory of old Massachusetts, & the fourth of the province (as it [is] commonly called) of Maine. A considerable disparity in point of numbers will likewise be observed between the fourth, & the other districts. This disparity, however, it is apprehended may be less in fact than in appearance. But were it real, the inconveniencies attending it would be of less moment, than those which would probably result from uniting in one district parcels of territory seperated from each other by the territory of another state.

It is to be remembered that the district of maine, compared with old Massachusetts, is a new settled country; & it is a well known fact that the population of that district for many years past has increased in a ratio far exceeding the rate of increment ascribed to Massachusetts. It is, therefore, presumable that maine contains at the present moment a sufficient number of inhabitants to raise that district to an average with the other three. It may be observed besides, (& the observation may be applied to the second district with still greater force) that a less pressing demand has been made of late for seamen from that district, than from the first & third, within which are most of our old commercial towns, in which the demand has been very great.

Notwithstanding a wish to preserve the existing boundaries of the counties, it is found requisite to divide the county of Worcester. But the geographical situation & relations of that county render a division of it practicable & convenient. As, however, no correct map of the country is at hand, the line of division is not suggested. For the same reason it is not attempted to form at this moment the twenty sub-districts. With the aid of a correct map of Massachusetts, such as Mr. Carlton’s8 is supposed to be, this may be done at any future moment, without any material retardation of the recruiting service.

6Copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress. This document was originally enclosed in Simon Elliot to H, March 6, 1799 (listed in the appendix to Volume XXII).

7The 1790 census was taken in accordance with the provisions of “An Act providing for the enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845); II (Boston, 1850). description ends 101–03 [March 1, 1790]. For the census of Massachusetts, see Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790, Massachusetts (Washington, D.C., 1908).

8An Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Exclusive of the District of Maine Compiled Pursuant to an Act of the General Court from Actual Surveys of the Several Towns &c. Taken by their Order … by Osgood Carleton (Boston: Published and Sold by O. Carleton and I. Norman; Sold also by W. Norman, No. 75 Newbury Street, 1795). For a listing of Carleton’s maps before 1800, see James C. Wheat and Christian F. Brun, Maps and Charts Published in America before 1800: A Bibliography (New Haven and London, 1969).

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