U.S. ‘Slavery Map’ Revealed Each County’s Slave Holdings During Civil War

January 4, 2011

Geography and Map Division: Library of Congress

(ChattahBox U.S. News)—When American President Abraham Lincoln needed to determine the Union’s biggest opposition during the Civil War, he consulted the United States Coast Survey’s map of slave-holding states, which showed the concentration of slaves based on each U.S. county, the Daily Mail reports. Recently printed in the New York Times, the map shows darker shading in areas with higher concentrations of slaves.

The map, which was created in 1860, was popular at the time and was sold to raise money for injured and sick soldiers, the Mail reports. In addition, Lincoln consulted the map to determine the areas where slavery was most aggregated.

For instance, the Mail notes, the map shows that over 80 percent of people were enslaved in Beaufort County, SC, and conversely  illustrated the degree to which entire regions, like eastern Tennessee and western Virginia, were virtually devoid of slavery, and thus potential sources of resistance to secession. The map’s facts were based on information gathered during the Census of 1860, which accounted for slave ownership.  When the Emancipation Proclamation became law in January 1, 1863, President Lincoln used the map to follow Union troops as they liberated slaves and destabilized the rebellion.


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