The American colonies were based on social class and religion, not skin color, for their first 50 years (Adelman, 2003, p. 22).
1800 - 1810 - The second census was taken under the direction of the Secretary of State and included the states and territories northwest of the Ohio River and Mississippi Territory. The count included head of household, free white males, free white females, other free persons (except Indians) and slaves. The count was 5.3 million people and grew to 7.2 million in 1810.
1820 - The categories were expanded to include head of household, free white males and females by age group, foreigners not naturalized, free colored by age group, male and female slaves by age group, number of all other persons except Indians (not taxed). The total was 9.6 million people.
1830 - Blind persons, blind slaves and colored persons, deaf-mutes, deaf-mute slaves and colored persons, and white aliens were categorized, with a total of 12.9 million people. In 1828, Andrew Jackson had made removing all Indians east of the Mississippi central to his agenda, considering them inherently unable to be civilized (Adelman). According to Adelman, race is a concept that was invented to categorize the perceived biological, social and cultural differences between human groups (p. 20).
1840 - The census was expanded to include occupat...
e, sex, color; occupation of males over 15; value of real estate, place of birth, change of status within the year, whether person could read or write if over 20, whether deaf-mute, blind, insane, an idiot, a pauper or a convict. Slave schedules were also included. Total was 32.4 million people.
1870, 1880, 1890- The census was expanded to include Chinese, mulatto and Indian, in addition to white and black. The Chinese had come to America to build the railroads in the west. The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had ended slavery. The census was divided into citizens over 21 and whether their right to vote was denied. Total was 38.6 million people in 1870 and 63 million people by 1890. The industrial revolution was underway, increasing immigrant population, and a special census was taken in 1890 to count Civil War veterans and widows of veterans.
1900-1930 - The population grew from 92.2 million to 123.2 million and categories were divided into sub categories with the addition of employment status (during the Great Depression), whether occupant was a farmer or a homeowner, and citizenship was broken down into years in U.S., aliens applying for citizenship, naturalized citizens. Anyone with any black ancestry at all was counted as black (Wright, 1994).
1940-2000 - The current U.S. Federal Government's Racial and Ethnic Group Classification System is uniquely American and includes American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian; Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White (About.com: Current, 2008). The more that is done to divide the population of the United States into groups, the more confusing these categories become. The concept of biological race calls for one ethnic origin, and there is no