Description of the United States


Minerals abound in the Untied States in great variety and profusion.  It has all the useful, as well as all the precious metals. Iron is very generally diffused, and is very abundant.  Coal, both bituminous and anthracite, is found in great quantities, especial in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Tennessee.  Rich copper mines exist in Michigan and some other states, and lead mines in Missouri and Illinois.  The gold mines of California seem inexhaustible: quicksilver mines have also been profitably worked there, Granite, marble, and other building stones, are found in every section of the country.  Salt springs abound in many parts of the Union, and large quantities of salt are manufactured in New York, Western Pennsylvania, Western Virginia, Ohio and Illinois; it is also made from sea-water in some parts of New England.


The fisheries of the Untied States are extensive and valuable.  About 250 vessels and about 12,000 seamen and landsmen are employed in the whale-fishery.  The products of this fishery amount to from 400,000 to 500, 000 barrels of oil annually.  The cod-fishery is pursued off the coasts of New England, and as far north as Labrador, and about 100,000 tons of shipping are thus employed.  The mackerel fishery employs about 60,000 tons of shipping.


In the extent and prosperity of its commerce, the United States is second only to Great Britain.  There is no part of the globe to which American merchantmen do not find their way; and the coasting and inland trade is carried on to a far greater extent.  The foreign exports are confined principally to agricultural products, with naval stores, timber, and other productions of the forest.  The imports are European manufacturers, principally of the finer descriptions, and the productions of the tropics, as sugar, coffee, spices, wines &c.  The table of imports, exports, revenue from customs, public lands, &c, with the tonnage employed in foreign commerce, and the public debt of the United States, from 1791 to 1852, will be found on the succeeding page, exhibiting the rapid progress of the country.  See Import Chart


The manufactures of the United States are various, comprising almost every article known to commerce.  From the great variety of soil and climate, producing in abundance every species of raw materials, the cheap and inexhaustible supply of moving power furnished by innumerable running streams, combined with the improvements which are every day taking place in machinery, the Untied States is destined, eventually to distance all other countries in its progress in this branch of industry.  The entire capital invested in manufactures in the Unites States on the first day of June, 1850 was $530,000,000; amount paid for labor, year ending as above, $240,000,000; value of raw materials, $550,000,000; value of manufactured articles, $1,020,300,000; persons employed 1,050,000.  For cotton goods, there were 1,094 establishments, with $74, 501,031 capital invested, using 256,496,000 pounds of cotton, and 121,099 tons of coal; value of all raw materials, $34,835,056; number of persons employed 92,286, producing 763,678,407 yards of sheeting, &c valued at $61,869, 184.  For woolen goods, there were 1,559 establishments, with $28,118,650 capital invested, using 70,862,829 pounds of wool and 46,370 tons of coal; value of all raw materials $25,755,988; number of persons employed 39,252, producing 82,206,652 yards of cloth, valued at $43,207,555.  For the production and manufacture of iron, there were 1,190 establishments, with $49,258,006 capital invested, employing 57,294 persons, producing 564,755 tons of pig iron, and manufacturing 322,745 tons of castings and 278,044 tons of wrought iron, using 1,374,196 tons of mineral coal and 71,089,814 bushels of coke and charcoal; value of raw material, fuel &c used, $27,049,753: value of entire products, $54,604,006.  For the production of malt and spirituous liquors, there was $8,334,254 capital invested, employed 5,487 persons, consuming 17,582,240 bushels of grain &c, producing 1,177,294 barrels of ale &c, 42,133,955 gallons of whiskey and high wines, and 6,500,500 gallons of rum.


The first census was taken in 1790, since which period there have been six decennial enumerations.  Their results are as follows:

Census Year White Persons Free Colored Persons Slaves Total Population Ratio of Increase per cent
1790 3,172,464 59,466 697,897 3,929,827  
1800 4,304,489 108,395 893,041 5,305,925 35.01%
1810 5,862,004 186,446 1,191,364 7,239,814 36.45%
1820 7,872,711 238,197 1,543,688 9,654,596 33.12%
1830 10,537,178 319,599 2,009,043 12,866,020 33.48%
1840 14,189,70 386,295 2,187,355 17,063,355 32.67%
1850 19,467,537 426,762 3,204,089 23,263,488 36.25%

The following table contains some of the more important details of the population from the census of 1850, classified by states and territories: See Chart

The Annexed table is designed to show the comparative aggregate population of the state and territories according to the census of 1840 and 1850, with the value of the real and personal estate in each in 1850, and the state capitals: See Chart

Nativity of the Population

One of the most interesting results of the census of 1850, is the classification of inhabitants according to the countries of their birth.  The investigations under this head have resulted in showing that of the free inhabitants of the United States, 17,737,505 are natives of its soil, and that 2,210,828 were born in foreign countries; while the nativity of 39,014 could not be determined.  It is shown that 1,965,518 of the whole number of the whole number of foreign born inhabitants were residents of the free states and 245,310 of the slave states.  It is found that the persons of foreign birth form 11.06% of the whole free population.  The countries whence have been derived the largest portions of these additions to our population, and their relative proportions of each other, appear in the following statement:

1850 Numbers Percentages
Natives of Ireland 961,719 43.04%
Natives of Germany 573,225 25.09%
Natives of England 278,675 12.06%
Natives of British America 147,700 6.68%
Natives of Scotland 70,550 3.17%
Natives of France 54,069 2.44%
Natives of Wales 28,868 1.34%
All other countries 95,022 4.47%

Another interesting branch of this inquiry is that which concerns the inter-migration of our native citizens among the states.  The facts developed show how far one section has impressed its own characteristics and peculiar customs on others.  It is found that out of 17,736, 792 free inhabitants, 4,112,433 have migrated and settled beyond the states of their birth.  335, 000 natives of Virginia, equal to 26% of the whole, have found homes outside of her own borders.  South Carolina has sent forth 163,00, which is 36%, of all native citizens of that state living in the United States at the date of the census, and the very remarkable proportion of 59% of the number remaining in the state of their nativity.  North Carolina has lost 261,575 free inhabitants, equal to 31% by emigration.  Among the northern states, Vermont and Connecticut have contributed most largely to the settlement of other parts of the country.  Their proportion, about 25% of their native citizens, would exceed, perhaps that of either of the southern states already mentioned, were the number of slaves in the latter admitted as an element of the calculation.

Persons subject to Misfortune

There were in 1850, 5,027 white males, 4,058 females and 632 colored, deaf and dumb in the United States, being an average of one to each 2,151 persons among whites, and of one to each 3,005 of the free colored, and one to each 6,552 among slaves.  Of blind, there were 4,519 males, 7,459 females, and 1,705 colored, averaging one to each 2,445 among white population, one to 870 of the free colored, and one to 2645 of slaves.  Of insane, there were 7.697 males, 7,459 females and 612 colored, averaging one to each 1,290 among whites, one to 1,338 of free colored and one to 11,010 of slaves.  Of idiots, there were 8,276 males, 5,954 females and 1,476 colored, averaging among whites one in each 1.374, of free colored one in 985 and of slaves one in 3,080.


The whole number of persons who had received the benefit of the public funds of the different states for the benefit of indigent persons, for the year ending June 30, 1850, amounted to 134, 972.  Of this number there were 68,538 of foreign birth, and 66,434 Americans; while of the whole number receiving support on the first day of June, there were 36,916 natives and 13.437 foreigners, making a total of 50,353 persons. Of those termed Americans, many are free persons of color.  The entire cost of the support of these individuals during the year, amounted to $2,954,806


The whole number of persons convicted of crime in the United States, for the year ending the first day of June, 1850, was about 27,000: of these 13,000 were native and 14,000 foreign born.  The whole number in prison on the first day of June, was about 6,700, of whom, 4,300 were natives and 2,460 foreign.

Agricultural Products &c

The Agricultural products, live stock, &c of the United States, according to the census statistics, were, for the year ending Jun 1, 1850--See Chart

Railroads &c

About fourteen thousand miles of railroad are in successful operation in the various sections of the United States, and the same number in progress of construction.  They are nearly equal, in the aggregate, to the railroads of all the rest of the world; and if extended in one line, would reach more than halfway round the globe.  There are abut 5,000 miles of canals in the United States, forming valuable artificial means of navigation for transporting the heavy products of the country; but since the rapid increase of railroad communication, few canals have been commenced.  It is within ten years that the first line of telegraph was erected in the United States, and there are now more than 18,000 miles in operation, connecting the most important points of the country with each other, for the instantaneous transmission of intelligence.


There is great attention paid to education in most of the states.  Common and primary schools are widely distributed, and high school are numerous.  The common schools are supported either by a fund accumulated from various sources or by taxation; and in the new states and territories 640 acres of the public lands in every township is specially reserves for purposes of education.  There  are in the United States 130 colleges and universities, 50 theological seminaries, 16 law schools, and 40 medical schools.  Nearly 4,000,000 youth were receiving instruction in the various educational institutions of the country in 1850, distributed in about 100,000 schools and colleges and employing more than 115,000 teachers.  At the same period, there were 2,800 newspapers and periodicals published in the Union, with a circulation of 5,000,000 and an annual aggregate issue of 422,600,000 copies.


There is no established or national church in the United States, religion being left to the voluntary choice of the people.  No special privileges or immunities are granted to one denomination beyond another, it being an essential principle in the national and state governments, that legislation may of right interfere in the concerns of public worship, only so far as to protect every individual in the exercise, without molestation, of that of his choice. The following table gives the number of churches, their aggregate accommodation, average accommodation, and total value of church property of the several denominations in the United States in 1850

  number of churches Aggregate accommodations Average accommodations Value of Church property
Baptist 8,791 3,130,878 356 $10,931,382
Christian 812 296,050 365 845,810
Congregational 1,674 795,177 475 7,973,962
Dutch Reformed 324 181,986 561 4, 096,730
Episcopal 1,422 625,213 440 11,261,970
Free 361 108,605 300 141,255
Friends 714 282,823 396 1,709,867
German Reformed 327 156,932 479 965,880
Jewish 31 16,575 534 371,600
Lutheran 1,203 531,100 441 2,867,886
Mennonite 110 29,900 272 94,245
Methodist 12,467 4,209,333 337 14,636,671
Moravian 331 112,185 338 443,347
Presbyterian 4,584 2,040,316 445 14,369,889
Roman Catholic 1,112 620,950 558 8,973,383
Swedenborgian 15 5,070 228 108,100
Tunker 52 32,075 674 46,025
Union 619 213,552 345 690,065
Unitarian 243 137,367 565 3,268,122
Universalist 494 205,462 415 1,767,015
Minor Sects 325 115,347 354 741,980
Totals 36,011 13,849,896   $86,416,639