Indian Populations, 1830

Government Document

Background Notes

Population statistics gathered by the United States government of American Indians in 1830.

Transcription of Primary Source

The destiny of the Indians, who inhabit the cultivated portions of the territory of the United States, or who occupy positions immediately upon their borders, has long been a subject of deep solicitude to the American government and people…That the Indians have diminished, and are diminishing, is known to all who have directed their attention to the subject…The materials for any comparative estimate of Indian population at different periods, are scanty and unsatisfactory, collected without care, and combined without judgment. They are in fact but vague estimates, received and given in a spirit of exaggeration, and serving little more than to exhibit the probably relative strength of the various tribes.

But although precision be unattainable, and we may add, unimportant, yet the principal facts are indisputable. The Indians have gradually decreased since they became first known to the Europeans. The ratio of this diminution may have been greater or less, depending on the operation of causes we shall presently investigate; but there is no just reason to believe, that any of the tribes, within the whole extent of our boundary, has been increasing in numbers at any period since they have been known to us. This opinion is expressed by the Superintendents of Indian affairs, in the report submitted to Congress at its last session, by the war department; and from the favorable opportunities possessed by those officers, of acquiring correct information upon this subject, their opinion must carry with it considerable authority. (We are aware of the statements which have been made concerning the increase of population among the Cherokees, but we have seen no satisfactory evidence of it.) The whole amount of Indian population, within the United Sates, east of the Mississippi, is estimated in this report at 105,060, and is divided as follows.

Within the states of Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Virginia 2,573
The state of New York 4,820
Pennsylvania 300
North Carolina 3,100
South Carolina 300
Georgia 5,000
Tennessee 1,000
Ohio 1,877
Mississippi 23,400
Alabama 19,200
Indiana 4,050
Illinois 5,900
Territory of Michigan 29,060
Florida 4,000

It will be seen, that in the original states the primitive stock has been reduced to 16,093 individuals, and that three fourths of the number now surviving, in the whole of the vast country east of the river Mississippi, are found in the states of Alabama and Mississippi, and in the Territory of Michigan, where the pressure upon them is now beginning to be felt, and will bring with it the usual process of deduction.

In the same report, the number of Indians west of the Mississippi is thus estimated,

Between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains 108,070
Within the ranges of the Rocky Mountains 20,000
West of the Rocky Mountains 80,000

Making a general aggregate of 313,130, within the United States, extending over twenty−four degrees of latitude and fifty−eight degrees of longitude. And these are the remnants of the primitive people, who only two centuries ago, possessed this vast country; who found in the sea, the lakes, the rivers, and forests, means of subsistence sufficient for their wants.

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
“Removal of the Indians”
North American Review 30
Probable Date: 
January, 1830
Edited by Old Sturbridge Village.
Lewis Cass
Old Sturbridge Village