The 2020 Census is here, and here are some key things to understand

Not everyone was included in the original Census.

This year marks the 22nd decennial census in the United States. The 2020 Census officially began Jan. 21 with the “first enumeration” or first to be counted, in Toksook Bay, Alaska. But what is the Census? The Census is a constitutional mandate to count every person living in the United State of America as of April 1, 2020, according to the United States Census Bureau. The power to conduct a Census is in the Constitution of the United States Article I. Section 2., which states: 

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct….”

This section of the Constitution empowers Congress to carry out the census every 10 years.

The first census occurred in August 2, 1790. In 1790 the census occurred in the following areas: (Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000)

  • The Original 13 States
  • district of Kentucky
  • district of Maine
  • district of Vermont
  • Southwest Territory (Tennessee)

Those included in the Census were the head of the family, each person in the household who was a Free White Male of 16 years and older, free white males under 16 years, free White females, and all other free persons and slaves. However, Tribal Nations and their members or at the time where not included in the Census. Tribal Nations were and are Sovereign Nations, and thus were not citizens of the United States of America nor were they taxpayers. During the 1790’s Tribal Nations were engaging in government to government discussion, trying to negotiate treaties and agreements to retain their sovereignty, lands, and culture. Please stay tuned for the next MSU Extension article on The Census through the Decades.

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