Week 6- Data Mapping

Data Map: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4282329/

I greatly enjoyed this project because I have never made a data map before and I found the information that I uncovered to be very interesting. For my data map I wanted to explore the population of families holding enslaved African Americans versus families who do not hold any enslaved African Americans in the year 1790? I chose 1790 because by this time some states were beginning efforts to start the process of abolishing slavery. For example, Massachusetts released their new and improved state constitution in 1781 that exhibited the “loophole” allowing slaves to take legal action against their enslavers and sue for their freedom. So I thought it would be interesting to see how other state slave populations fluctuate by this year. 

To begin this discussion of my findings with this data map, it was quite shocking to see that there was a much larger population of Non-Slaveholding white families in contrast to Slaveholding white families. I choose to depict this information in my map because it would help give a better idea of where it was more common for slaves to be held in this time period, and why these areas were more common. The most populated area for families who had slaves was in the South Carolina area, and in New York. However 1790 was the first year that the federal census was completed by citizens. So we cannot rely on these numbers too heavily because there is not a possible way that the census had no flaws or unreported slaves. The least populated areas where families were slaveholders was oddly also in New York right by the area where the most slaveholding families were reported. Other areas with low populations of slaveholding families were states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Rhode Island. These results were definitely not what I was expecting, although this was a more progressive time rather than what it was in recent years before, there were much larger populations of Non-slaveholding families rather than Slaveholding families. One inference I made from this was that holding slaves was probably expensive and most families were not all in the wealthy percentile of the country. It is also possible that many people by this time simply did not agree or believe in the idea of slavery. This is what we would like to think of these families who did not hold slaves, but my educated guess would be that the family would have to have some kind of wealth or business of some sort to be holding slaves. I also found that slaveholding families were more common near ports. For example, near the Georgia and South Carolina border there is a port, and there are larger populations of slaveholding families in the counties surrounding the states rather than in any other counties near it. A county in the same state not near the port area has a population of 39 slaveholding families apart from 1218 slave holding families in a county right on the water. There are many inferences that can be made when looking at each verison of the map, and this can assist us in the better understanding of slavery during this time. In conclusion my findings from this data map allowed me to obtain prominent knowledge on slavery in 1790.

One thought on “Week 6- Data Mapping

  1. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed producing this data map! I really appreciate the amount of work you put into this map as well as your observations and interpretations. I agree that the numbers of 1790 give us a very unique snapshot of what is happing in the country at this moment. I agree that viewing this illustration through the lens of abolition is a strong approach that emphasize a narrative of abolition and resistance, rather than enslavement. At the same time, we know that between 1790 and the Civil War, there were increasing restrictions on the liberty of freed people of color, and often resulted in enslavement or re-enslavement. The duality of historical narratives make this moment and your representation through the data map very important!

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