Map of the Last U.S. Slave Census 1860

The first image is zoomable. See the icons in the bottom right-hand corner.


The 1860 Census was the last time the federal government took a count of the South’s vast slave population.  The map uses what was then a new technique in statistical cartography: each county not only displays its slave population numerically, but is shaded (the darker the shading, the higher the number of slaves) to visualize the concentration of slavery across the region.

The cotton-belt counties along the Mississippi River and in coastal South Carolina are almost black, while Kentucky and the Appalachians are nearly white.  Beaufort County, South Carolina, has over 80% of the population enslaved.

Thank you to The New York Times

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9 comments to Map of the Last U.S. Slave Census 1860

  • David Ingle

    Georgetown County, SC — a place I know well — logs in at a staggering 85.7%.

  • Russell Tate

    Interesting that the map does not include slave populations in states that remained Union during the war. Yes, there were many.

  • George Smith

    Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri were all Union and slave states.

  • Jon Watson

    Fascinating map - some of the details on it answer Russell Tate’s point about the lack of detail of Northern slave-holding - nothing on the ‘border states’ that retained slavery and did not secede in 1861 with the rest of the South: The detail bottom left shows us this map was produced in September 1861 - 5 months after the civil war had started. The detail at the top notes ‘sold on behalf of the sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army’ - that’s the Union Army. So this map was produced and sold for a Northern audience as a fundraiser. Some, though of course not all of that Northern audience were abolitionists, morally opposed to slavery. The visualisation of the slave population would have been another spur for supporting the cause.

  • Edward Virtually

    Any chance of getting a link to the source image for the map vs. the interface?

  • Scott

    Where can I get a printed copy of this map? Chris, can you help me out with this also? I have a very good application for just such map. I live in what is called the “Black Belt” area of Alambama, and it is quite visible from this. I eagerly await your reply.

  • Chris

    Hi Scott - one way would be to go to the map on the Library of Congress site. Click on Rights and Reproductions.

  • Scott

    Chris, Thank you so much. I will see if I can purchase a printed copyfrom them.

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