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Joseph C. G. Kennedy

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Title: Joseph C. G. Kennedy  
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Subject: Demographic history of the United States
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Joseph C. G. Kennedy

Joseph Camp Griffith Kennedy

Joseph Camp Griffith Kennedy (April 1, 1813 – July 13, 1887) of Pennsylvania, was a 19th-century Whig politician, lawyer and journalist who supervised the United States Census for 1850 and 1860. Initially a prosperous farmer and journalist from a prominent Pennsylvania family, Kennedy was appointed to supervise the Census because of his political activism in the 1848 Pennsylvania election.[1]


Kennedy graduated from Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He received an M.A. in 1856, followed by an LL.D. in 1864.[2] Upon the appointment to supervise the Census, Kennedy and his family, his wife Catherine and children Joey, John, Sallie and Annie lived in Washington, D.C. from 1849 until at least 1868.

On July 13, 1887, Kennedy was stabbed and killed in Washington D.C.[1] by John Dailey who believed that Kennedy had cheated him in a business affair.

A small group of Kennedy's papers are held in the Walter Willcox Collection, Library of Congress.


Under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior and with contentious Congressional oversight, Kennedy was responsible for the redesign of census methodology and forms, for negotiations with Congressional leaders and committees and for the gathering of census data throughout the United States. He was also responsible for supervising the ultimate compilation of census data, tabulation of statistics, and publication of census summaries.

The Seventh Census of the United States (1850) was taken 1 June 1850. This was the first year in which the census bureau attempted to count every member of every household, including women, children and slaves. Accordingly, the first slave schedules were produced in 1850. Prior to 1850, census records had only recorded the name of the head of the household and broad statistical accounting of other household members, (three children under age five, one woman between the age of 35 and 40, etc.)..

The Eighth Census of the United States (1860) estimated the population of the United States at 31,400,000. This was the first census where American Indians were officially counted, but only those who had 'renounced tribal rules'. That figure for the nation was 40,000. Results of this census were tabulated by 184 clerks in the Bureau of the Census.

However, by the time the 1860 census returns were ready for tabulation, the United States was moving toward the American Civil War. As a result, Superintendent Kennedy and his staff produced only an abbreviated set of reports, which included no graphic or cartographic representations. As the war began, however, Kennedy and the Census staff used the new statistics to produce maps of Southern states for Union field commanders. These maps displayed militarily vital topics, including white population, slave population, predominant agricultural products (by county), and rail and post-road transportation routes.


  • Agriculture of the United States in 1860; Compiled from the Original Returns of the Eighth Census, Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior. Washington D. C., Government Printing Office, 1864.
  • Population of the United States in 1860; compiled from the original returns of the eighth census, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior. Washington D.C., Government printing office, 1864. complete text online, [1]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^

Further reading

  • Anderson, Margo J. The American Census: A Social History. Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-04709-6
  • Fitzpatrick, Paul J. Leading American Statisticians in the Nineteenth Century II", JASA 53 (September 1958) pp. 692–694.
  • McDonald, Lois H. "Annie Kennedy Bidwell: An Intimate History." Stansbury Publishing. 2004. ISBN 0-9708922-7-6

External links

  • Kennedy's 1879 letter to the NY Times regarding Laws governing the 1880 census.
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Augustus Weaver
Superintending Clerk of the United States Census
Succeeded by
James Dunwoody Brownson DeBow
Preceded by
James Dunwoody Brownson DeBow
Superintending Clerk of the United States Census
Succeeded by
Francis Amasa Walker
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