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Population of Washington County in 1800

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Population of Washington Co. in 1800.        
Being somewhat of an antiquarian, we occasionally find, in the pursuit of this natural bent of the mind, an item of information, among the musty records of the past, of sufficient interest to the present generation to warrant its reproduction. Accordingly, a few days ago, in perusing the faded and time-worn files of he “Washington Spy,” the first newspaper printed in Hagerstown, we discovered a Census of Washington County, taken in the year 1800, which is herewith subjoined;-
Free white Males under 10 years ~ 2975
Over10 and under 16 ~ 1272
Over 16 and under 26 ~ 1509
Over 26 and under 45 ~ 1681
46 and upwards ~1036
Total number of Free white Males ~ 8473
Free white Females under 10 years ~ 2848
Over 10 and under 16 ~ 1206
Over 16 and under 26 ~ 1361
Over 26 and under 45 ~ 767
Total number of Free white Females ~ 7635
All other Free persons ~ 342
Slaves ~2193
Total number of persons in W. Co.~18, 643
But very few of our readers are aware that the population of this county has only increased about twelve thousand in fifty years, yet such is the fact. The Census of 1850 fixes the number of White Males at 13,468, Females 13,462, Free Colored 1,828, Slaves 2,090, Total 30,848. In 1800 the population of the United States was Five Millions in round numbers, in 1850 Twenty-three Millions, so that while it has more than quadrupled itself in the country at large in the half century referred to, in Washington county it has not doubled itself. The fact suggests some reflections which are by no means gratifying to our vanity. With natural resources unbounded; a soil which is not excelled in exhaustless fertility and steady endurance anywhere upon the face of the Globe, water power in the greatest abundance, unrivalled beauty of scenery and healthfulness of climate, we have still sadly failed to keep pace with the onward progress of the nation. With such advantages, combined with that spirit of enterprise which animates most other communities, Washington county might have trebled its present population, wealth and business. But alas! we have not, even in this extraordinary age of improvement and facilities for travel and interchange of commodities, the public spirit and liberality to stretch forth our hands to build twenty miles of rail-road. Consequently, our business men with their families have been and are leaving us in large numbers, and casting their lot where capital and enterprise, liberality and industry, go hand in hand, and where town and cities are built and populated as if by magic. This exodus from the county having continued for many years, has served to arrest the augmentation of its population. Go where you may, to the Goal Diggings of California, or the mountains and plains of Oregon, and you will be sure to find natives of old Washington county; the Western States have derived a full share of their early settlers and present inhabitants from its sons and daughters, and many of them are still preparing to follow the “star of empire in its Westward course.” A little judicious expenditure of capital, a little of that enterprise which has scaled and tunneled mountains elsewhere, a little rail-road, a little manufacturing, &c., would years ago have checked the tide of emigration which has borne off in its sweep many of our best citizens, and have swelled its statistics into something like respectable proportions. But these elements of progress have always been suffered to be dormant in the very heart of our society, and will probably remain so for all time to come. The county was settled about one hundred years ago; the first fifty years its population increased eighteen thousand, the second fifty years twelve thousand, and the next fifty years, should we continue to advance, crabb-fashion, or in the same inverse ratio as we have done, it may increase six thousand. Seriously, is it not time that we should arouse from the lethargy which has crept upon us, and make some effort to retain our people and develop and extend the resources with which a kind Providence has provided us! We leave the querry with the reader.


Herald of Freedom and Torch Light

1857 Aug 5

Collection Location:
Washington County Free Library

Slaves and Free Blacks, Western Maryland

Western Maryland, 1800-1864

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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