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1850 Image Gallery

In March 1849, Congress enacted a bill establishing a census board whose membership consisted of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Postmaster General. This board was "to prepare and cause to be printed such forms and schedules as may be necessary for the full enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States; and also proper forms and schedules for collecting in statistical tables, under proper heads, such information as to mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, education, and other topics as will exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country."

The Congress also authorized the creation of the Department of the Interior in March 1849, and part of the enabling act provided that the Secretary of the Interior should "exercise all the supervisory and appellate powers now exercised by the Secretary of State in relation to all acts of marshals and others in taking and returning the census of the United States."

Joseph C. G. Kennedy supervised the enumeration and compilation of census data at the end of the 1850 Census. He served as "Secretary" of the Census Board from May 1,1849, to May 31, 1850, before being appointed Superintendent Clerk by the Secretary of the Interior. Kennedy was succeeded as Superintendent Clerk by James D. B. De Bow on March 18, 1853. Upon completing the compilation of census results, De Bow resigned the office on December 31, 1854, and the census office was disbanded.

At its conclusion, the 1850 census reported the U.S. resident population as 23,191,876, a 35.9 percent increase from the 1840 census.

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1850 Census Cartoon
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Census Taker
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DeBow Map
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J.D.B. DeBow
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1850 Population Growth
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1850 Population Density
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1850 Questionnaire

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: August 14, 2015