Distribution of Blacks in the U.S., 1880

We begin our exploration of race and voting with a preliminary examination of the distribution of the black population in the U.S. after the Civil War. The red areas represent counties in which blacks were a majority of the population in 1880. The distribution of blacks reflects the places where slavery had been most entrenched: eastern Virginia and N. Carolina, S. Carolina, the "black belt" running across Georgia and Alabama, and the Mississippi River. Watch these regions carefully in subsequent maps, for they tell the story of the rise of the black voter during Reconstruction, and the systematic disenfranchisement of blacks in the era known as "Redemption."

These maps were produced using The Great American History Machine (ePress Project, 1994), which enables the user to map census variables and election returns by county from the 19th century through 1984. The unnatural break points in the legend reflect the software's programming: each range (e.g., 0.53-18.17% for green) covers 1/5 of all counties in the U.S. (Western counties omitted in this presentation).