Distribution of the slave population of the U.S. South.

In about 1861, the United States Coastal Survey issued a map showing the distribution of enslaved people throughout the South. As Susan Schulten noted in a 9 December 2010 piece called “Visualizing Slavery,” “[t]hough many Americans knew that dependence on slave labor varied throughout the South, these maps uniquely captured the complexity of the institution and struck a chord with a public hungry for information about the rebellion.”

Map Showing the Distribution of the Slave Population of the Southern States of the United States Compiled from the Census of 1860 — Sold for the Benefit of the Sick and Wounded Soldiers of the U. S. Army.

A close-up of eastern North Carolina shows that Wilson County, with a population 37% enslaved, lay at the western edge of the state’s heaviest band of slave-holding counties.

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