The Ninth Census and the Fourteenth Amendment

In prior posts I’ve outlined part of my argument that the laws regulating the apportionment of representatives among the states violate Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Before getting back to explaining that analysis and some of my research, I thought I’d discuss this fun find.

The first census conducted after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified was run in 1870 by the Department of the Interior. In the instructions given to the census takers, they were asked to count the number of men who were citizens and over the age of 21 who were unable to vote pursuant to the language of Section Two. Here was the explanation given in those instructions:

Many persons never try to vote, and therefore do not know whether their right to vote is not abridged. It is not only those whose votes have actually been challenged, and refused at the polls for some disability or want of qualification, who must be reported . . . but all who come within the scope of any State law denying or abridging suffrage to any class or individual on any other ground than participation in rebellion, or legal conviction of crime. Assistant Marshals, therefore, will be required carefully to study the laws or their own States in these respects, and to satisfy themselves, in the case of each male citizen of the United States above the age of twenty-one years, whether he does or does not come within one of these classes.

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2 Responses

  1. Mike Stern says:

    Was any such information reported to Congress?

  2. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Yes it was. Congress decided that no adjustment in representation was warranted, though that was far from clear given the census data.