August 2, 1790 — The first U.S. census was conducted, indicating there were about 3.9 million people living in the country. While great measures were taken to find credible results, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson expressed skepticism over the final count.
Nonetheless, Congress realized the country’s capacity for growth, and raised the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 69 to 105.
The law required that every household be visited and each person accounted for. Categories included: free white males of 16 years and older (to assess the country’s industrial and military potential); free white males under 16 years; free white females; all other free persons; and slaves.
Words of Wisdom
From 1790 to 1840, the US census records provide the name of the head of household, and lists the number of people in the household and also number of slaves owned depending on the year of the census.