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Chapter 6:

The Old thirteen colonies.—Newcastle's administration.


in 1754 David Hume, whose penetrating mind
chap. VI.} 1754.
had discovered the hollowness of the prevailing systems of thought in Europe, yet without offering any better substitute in philosophy than a selfish ideal skepticism, or hoping for any other euthanasia to the British constitution than its absorption in monarchy, said of America in words which he never need have erased, and in a spirit which he never disavowed, ‘The seeds of many a noble state have been sown in climates, kept desolate by the wild manners of the ancient inhabitants, and an asylum is secured in that solitary world for liberty and science.’ The thirteen American colonies, of which the union was projected, contained, at that day, about one million one hundred and sixty-five thousand white inhabitants, and two hundred and sixty thousand negroes; in all, one million four hundred and twenty-five thousand souls. The Board of Trade1 sometimes reckoned a few thousands

1 The representation of the Board to the king, founded in part on muster-rolls and returns of taxables, included Nova Scotia, and according to the authority of Chalmers in the History of the Revolt, estimated the population of British Continental America, in 1754, at


Thomas Pownall, whose brother was secretary to the Board of Trade, adhering more closely to the lists as they were made out, states the amount, for the thirteen colonies, at 1,250,000. See A Memorial most humbly addressed to the sovereigns of Europe on the present state of affairs between the Old and the New World. The Report of the Board of Trade on the 29 August, 1755, constructed in part from conjecture, makes the whole number of white inhabitants, 1,062,000. Shirley, in a letter to Sir Thomas Robinson, 15 August, 1755, writes that ‘the inhabitants may be now set at 1,200,000 whites at least.’ The estimate in the text rests on the consideration of many details and opinions of that day, private journals and letters, reports to the Board of Trade, and official papers of the provincial governments. Nearly all are imperfect. The greatest discrepancy in judgments relates to Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. He who like H. C. Carey, in his Principles of Political Economy, part III. 25, will construct retrospectively general tables from the rule of increase in America, since 1790, will err very little. From many returns and computations I deduce the annexed table, as some approximation to exactness.

Population of the united States, from 1750 to 1790.


The estimates of the Board of Trade in 1714, on the accession of George the First, in 1727, on that of George the Second, and in 1754, were, according to Chalmers,


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