The NYT has posted an interesting interactive map showing the results of the last slave Census taken in the U.S., in 1860, which I discovered via Jessica Brown and Jim Yocom. The map, which shows county-level data, illustrates how slave ownership varied throughout the South
The shading (a new technique at the time, according to the NYT article) indicates what percent of the entire county’s population was enslaved:
You can see the percentage for each county, which is listed on the map, more easily if you zoom in on the pdf version. The cotton-belt area along the Mississippi River clearly stands out, as does Beaufort County, South Carolina, all with over 80% of the population enslaved. The highest rate I could pick out (the map got a little blurry as I zoomed) is in Issaquena County, Mississippi, where slaves appear to have made up 92.5% of the population.
The map also included information on the overall population and % enslaved at the state level; in South Carolina and Mississippi, over half of the total state population was made up of slaves:
Also check out Lisa’s post on geology, the economy, and the concentration of slavery in the U.S.
As the NYT post points out, the map doesn’t show the dramatic increases in slavery in some areas. For instance, while Texas ranked fairly low in terms of the overall slave population, the number of slaves in the state had tripled between 1850 and 1860. The number had doubled in Mississippi between 1840 and 1860. Those growth rates make it rather hard to swallow the argument sometimes presented by those romanticizing the Confederacy that slavery was actually on the wane and would have soon been ended in the South anyway, without any need for federal interference, and wasn’t why the South seceded at all.
Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore discussed this effort to frame discourses about the Civil War to erase the issue of slavery on The Daily Show: