4. Territorial Census (1818)

Background: On April 18, 1818, President James Monroe signed into law legislation known as the Enabling Act, which laid out the requirements for Illinois to become a state. One of the requirements was that Illinois needed at least 40,000 inhabitants and so a census was required. Illinois' territorial delegate to Congress, Nathanial Pope, was able to strike out a provision in the act that would have had the census conducted under the direction of the federal government. The census completed by the territorial government showed Illinois had a population of 40,258, just enough to qualify for statehood. After statehood, the federal government issued a report that stated Illinois probably had a population of only 34,620 when it was admitted to the union.

The Document: The 1818 census is divided by county. Illinois had 15 counties at the time of the census. This document shows one page of the 1818 census returns for Pope County. The information contained on the census consisted of the name of a head of a household and then only listed the number of white males over 21, women and children, free people of color, servants or slaves living in the household. Because the census only named the person who was the head of household, women generally were not named in it, unless they were a widow, such as Widow Smook in the first column and Widow McCoy in the second column. Lewis Barker, who is listed in the first column with a misspelled first name, became the first state senator from Pope County. The 1818 census in the possession of the State Archives is missing most of the returns for Randolph County.

Note: In 1935, Margaret Cross Norton, first director of the Illinois State Archives, edited and published a transcription of the census, as well as transcriptions of the 1810 and 1820 federal censuses for Illinois. The 1818 census is available at the Illinois State Archives as part of Illinois Territory Record Series 100.008, "Territorial Censuses."