Saturday, March 22, 2008

Supporting "April's Hypothesis"?

A few weeks ago, I posted a research idea that Jim Gibb dubbed "April's Hypothesis". Since then we have obtained a wealth of information from the 1860, 1870, and 1880 census records, all compiled by one of our most dedicated volunteers.

I conducted a simple analysis of the the census data. The preliminary results show a changing population but raise some additional questions.

1860 population = 134 total, 11 Black, 11 Mulatto, 112 White
1870 population = 215 total, 45 Black, 50 Mulatto, 120 White
1880 population = 202 total, 36 Black, 49 Mulatto, 117 White

The most important question that we must ask is "Do these population changes reflect changes within a finite area or did the boundaries of the census change each year?". Another important question is "Does the increasing population of individuals identified as Black or Mulatto (mixed race) reflect migration or birth rate changes or are these individuals being identified and counted as a result of post-Civil War policy changes?". Interestingly, the average age of the population (24) does not change over the 30 years. This suggests that the birth and death rates remained stable and that migration or changes in census procedure are more likely.

It will take a lot more research to truly test my hypothesis but this census data suggests that "Whites" did not abandon Port Tobacco after the Civil War. Their population remains constant. However, the population does appear to shift from 84% White to 58% White, and with the politics of the 19th century this shift must be reflective of a social and economic shift in Port Tobacco itself.


1 comment:

Dancing Willow said...

You're right, it must. This was interesting.