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American Slave Population Density in 1840
American Slave Population Density in 1840

This map illustrates the density of slave populations in 1840, showing those counties most densely populated with slaves in dark brown. Note the heavy slave populations in central and tidewater Maryland and Virginia, where bondsmen were originally used to cultivate tobacco. Also note the concentration of slave populations in tidewater South Carolina, where planters used their labor to grow rice and indigo. Some tobacco farmers took slaves west with them and set up cultivation in central Kentucky's bluegrass region. But by 1840 many slaves had been sold out of the declining Virginia and Maryland tobacco regions and concentrated across central Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, where they contributed to the rise of a new cotton economy.

Image source: Northern Illinois University
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project