The People and the Governments of the New Nation
THE NEW nation that was born into a world of empires stretched from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Mississippi River on the west, and from British Canada on the north to Spanish Florida on the south. In 1789 Jedidiah Morse, the "father of American geography," recorded that Thomas Hutchins, the first geographer of the United States, had measured the length, breadth, and extent of the new nation. There were a million square miles of it: 589,000,000 acres of land and 51,000,000 acres of water. Beyond the frontiers lay the Old Northwest, a vast public domain estimated at 220,000,000 acres. The states ceded it to the government of the United States. Thus, more than a third of the new nation was unoccupied, except by the Indians, and to it Americans could and did look for expansion, profit, and the payment of the national debt.1
The new nation had perhaps 3,000,000 people in 1775. Of these about a half million were Negroes, most of whom were slaves. Population increased astonishingly during and after the Revolution. The census of 1790 counted 3,699,525. This growth was the result of immigration and of natural increase, and was made up of "people of almost all nations, languages, characters, and religions." The greater part, however, was descended from English stock and "for the sake of distinction, are called Anglo-Americans."2 Of the total population in 1790 nearly a sixth were Negro slaves, most of them living in the states south of Pennsylvania.____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The New Nation:A History of the United States during the Confederation, 1781-1789. Contributors: Merrill Jensen - Author. Publisher: Vintage Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 111.
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