Cartographically-Driven Questions

Lincoln Mullen has developed an interactive map of the United States that allows you to explore the [spread of slavery][] from a little before 1790 to a little after 1860. Based on census figures, I am guessing, the map changes dynamically as counties are added and/or divided. Each county has information for the population of slaves, free African Americans, total free population, and total population, which is rendered either in percentages or in number of persons per square mile.

Working in south Louisiana, I was curious to explore a number of things, that I will perhaps write about one day, but as I looked at the larger map and played with the various views, I noticed something:


I expect to see increased percentages along waterways like the Mississippi, a trend that generally holds true in Louisiana with concentrations of slaves rising near bayous, but I cannot for the life of me immediately explain that crescent of greater enslavement that runs through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. I’m guessing it has to be a geological/geographical feature that I cannot immediately discern.

Check out Mullen’s project. This is good, compelling scholarship, the kind that provokes questions among its users.

[spread of slavery]:

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