The New York Times published a great story last week about a map of the South from 1860 census -- the last to tabulate slave populations -- that illustrates Missouri's slave population just before the Civil War.
University of Denver history professor Susan Schulten writes that the county-by-county map of 15 states, which was noteworthy for using the funky new concept of shading to show higher concentrations of slaves, validated Union politicians' theories that slavery was the dominant cause of the war.
[T]he map illustrated the degree to which entire
regions -- like eastern Tennessee and western Virginia -- were virtually
devoid of slavery, and thus potential sources of resistance to
secession. Such a map might have reinforced President Abraham Lincoln's
belief that secession was animated by a minority and could be reversed
if Southern Unionists were given sufficient time and support.
Missouri's place on the map is a microcosm of the rest of the South,
with higher slave populations in a band of agricultural counties in the
middle of the state, and very few in the northern regions. Cooper
County's population, for instance, was 40 percent slaves, but Harrison
County on the Iowa border was .2 percent slaves.
The map-turned-Lincoln-propaganda poster shows that Missouri, with
114,900 slaves (9.7 percent of the population), was relatively
unshaded compared to other states that Missourians were about to take up arms with. In South Carolina 57
percent of population were enslaved, Mississippi was at just over fifty
OK, history class is over. Go read what you came here for.