George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 27 October 1791

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States [Philadelphia] October 27th 1791.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives.

I lay before you a copy of a letter and of sundry documents which I have received from the Governor of Pennsylvania, respecting certain persons who are said to have fled from Justice out of the State of Pennsylvania into that of Virginia; together with a Report of the Attorney General of the United States upon the same subject.1

I have received from the Governor of North Carolina a copy of an Act of the General Assembly of that State, authorizing him to convey to the United States, the right and jurisdiction of the said State over one Acre of land in Occacock Island, and ten Acres on the Cape Island within the said State, for the purpose of erecting Light Houses thereon, together with the deed of the Governor in pursuance thereof, and the original conveyances made to the State by the individual proprietors, which original conveyances contain Conditions that the Light house on Occacock shall be built before the 1st day of January 1801, and that on the Cape Island before the 8th day of October 1800. And I have caused these several papers to be deposited in the Office of the Secretary of State.2

A statement of the Returns of the enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States, which have been received, will at this time be laid before you.3

Go: Washington

DS, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA: RG 233, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals.

1For the enclosed letter from the governor of Pennsylvania on a controversial request for the extradition of two fugitives from Virginia and Edmund Randolph’s opinion of 20 July on the matter, see Thomas Mifflin to GW, 18 July, and Randolph to GW, 23 July, n.1.

2For these documents and their transmittal to the State Department this day, see GW to U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 26 Oct., n.3, and GW to Martin, 14 Nov., n.1.

3The enclosed “Schedule of the whole Number of Persons within the several Districts of the United States, according to an Act providing for the Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States, passed March the 1st: 1790” was signed by Thomas Jefferson on 24 Oct., who noted that it was “Truly stated from the original Returns deposited in the Office of the Secretary of State” (DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages). It reads:

Districts Free white Males of sixteen years & upwards, including Heads of Families Free white Males under sixteen Years Free white Females including Heads of Families All other Free Persons Slaves Total
Vermont 22,435 22,328 40,505 252 16 85,536
New Hampshire 36,086 34,851 70,160 630 158 141,885
Maine 24,384 24,748 46,870 538 none 96,540
Massachusetts 95,453 87,289 190,582 5,463 none 378,787
Rhode Island 16,019 15,799 32,652 3,407 948 68,825
Connecticut 60,523 54,403 117,448 2,808 2,764 237,946
New York 83,700 78,122 152,320 4,654 21,324 340,120
New Jersey 45,251 41,416 83,287 2,762 11,453 184,139
Pennsylvania 110,788 106,948 206,363 6,537 3,737 434,373
Delaware 11,783 12,143 22,384 3,899 8,887 59,096
Maryland 55,915 51,339 101,395 8,043 103,036 319,728
Virginia 110,936 116,135 215,046 12,866 292,627 747,610
Kentucky 15,154 17,057 28,922 114 12,430 73,677
North Carolina 69,988 77,506 140,710 4,975 100,572 393,751
South Carolina
Georgia 13,103 14,044 25,739 398 29,264 82,548
Free white Males of 21 Years & upwards, including Heads of Families Free Males under twenty one Years of age Free white Females including Heads of Families All other persons Slaves Total
South West Territory 6,271 10,277 15,365 361 3,417 35,691
North West Territory
A note keyed to the entry for Vermont states: “The Return was not signed by the Marshal, but was inclosed and referred to in a letter written and signed by him” (DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages). For the blank line for South Carolina’s return, see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 1 November. For the population of the Northwest Territory, see the report of Winthrop Sargent, Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 18:217–18. For GW’s interest in the results of the first federal census, see GW to Gouverneur Morris, 28 July, n.3.

The “Act providing for the enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States” of 1 Mar. 1790 addressed Art. I, sec. 2 of the Federal Constitution, which reads in part: “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.” The act empowered the marshals of the districts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to divide their jurisdictions and appoint assistants for each division as they saw fit. Each assistant would be responsible for completing a schedule consisting of the names of heads of families and the numbers of free white males of sixteen years of age and older, free white males under sixteen, free white females, all other free persons, and slaves. The actual enumeration was to commence on 2 Aug. 1790 and close nine months later, and marshals were, by law, to file the returns with the clerks of their respective district courts and to transmit to the president on or before 1 Sept. 1791 “the aggregate amount of each description of persons within their respective districts.” The provisions of the law were extended to Rhode Island and Vermont by congressional acts of 5 July 1790 and 2 Mar. 1791 after those states joined the Union (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 101–3, 129, 197–98). Despite the admonition in the act of 1 Mar. 1790 that the district courts “carefully preserve” the original returns, those of the first census for Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, and the Southwest Territory were lost or destroyed, and therefore were not published by the federal government in 1907–8 with the returns of the other states.

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