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On This Day: The first U.S. census began

Map showing the "center of population" at the close of each decade from the first census in...
Map showing the "center of population" at the close of each decade from the first census in 1790 through the eleventh.(Library of Congress)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 12:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On this day in history, Aug. 2, 1790, the first U.S. census began, fulfilling a mandate set by the U.S. Constitution.

It found that the young United States was made up of around 4 million people – though nearly 700,000 were enslaved.

New York City was the nation’s largest city with 33,000 people, closely followed by Philadelphia with 28,000.

Virginia’s 1790 census numbers remain unknown because the commonwealth’s records have never been found.

Many believe it was burned when the British torched Washington during the War of 1812, but another theory suggests the centuries-old document is laying around unidentified.

Take a deep dive into this mystery in this week’s episode of NBC12′s history podcast, How We Got Here:

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