The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation. The census helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress.
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The third census, taken by the terms of an act of March 26, 1810, stipulated that the census was to be “an actual inquiry at every dwelling house, or of the head of every family within each district, and not otherwise” and commenced on the first Monday of August.
No additional details concerning the population were collected by the census; however, an act of May 1, 1810, required marshals, secretaries, and assistants to take (under the Secretary of the Treasury), “an account of the several manufacturing establishments and manufactures within their several districts, territories, and divisions.” The marshals collected and transmitted these data to the Secretary of the Treasury at the same time as the results of the population enumeration were transmitted to the Secretary of State. No schedule was prescribed for the collection of industrial data and the nature of the inquiries were at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury.
An act of May 16, 1812, provided for the publication of a digest of manufactures containing data on the kind, quality, and value of goods manufactured, the number of establishments, and the number of machines of various kinds used in certain classes of manufactures. The report, containing in complete returns covering these items for more than 200 kinds of goods and included several items that were principally agricultural, was published in 1813.