Free And Slave States Map – State, Territory, And City Populations

Which states were free and which states had slavery?

How many slaves were there? How many black people were free? Which states did they live in?

How were the states and cities populated when the Civil War began?

Sometimes when learning about the Civil War it’s good to know the geography of the free and slave states, and how the free and slave states were populated. Provided here for reference is a map that shows the free and slave states, listings of the free, slave, and border states, tables of state and territory populations, a table of the total populations of the states and territories, and a table of the 10 largest cities in the United States in 1860.

In the times before and during the Civil War much of the United States was made up of farmland, unsettled territories, and lightly populated areas. Most people lived on farms or in small towns, but in contrast, there were cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans which were bustling with people, business, factories, and activity. The South had fewer people than the North, and the North had more enterprise than the South. The South was more rural with farms and plantations, and while the North had its farmers and rural places too, it had more cities. The division of slavery, the “peculiar institution,” would split the union of the states and bring on a Civil War that would end the lives of hundreds of thousands. A Civil War that would forever change the lives of the people and the landscape of the North and the South.

General Map Of The United States Showing Free States, Slave States, And Territories

1857 United States Map

Click/right click on map for larger image.

General map of the United States showing free and slave states, and the territories of the Union.

General map of the United States showing free and slave states, and the territories of the Union.

Map Color Key

  • Free states and territories colored green.
  • Dark green shows the free states.
  • Light gree shows the territories.
  • Slave-holding states colored red.
  • Slave importing states colored dark red.
  • Slave exporting states colored light red.
  • Boundary of the seceding states colored light gray.


Free States

  • California
  • Connecticit
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin


Slave States

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia


Border States

These are salve states that remained in the Union.

  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Missouri


State Populations From 1860 Census

StateTotalWhiteFree BlacksSlavesIndians (a)
California379,994358,110 (b)4,086---17,798
New Hampshire326,073325,579494------
New Jersey672,035646,69925,31818 (c)---
New York3,880,7353,831,59049,005---140
North Carolina992,622629,94230,463331,0591,158
Rhode Island174,620170,6493,952---19
South Carolina703,708291,3009,914402,40688

(a) – does not include 294,500 Indians who kept their tribal character
(b) – 34,933 Asians included
(c) – Indentured servants
Data source: The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference


Territory Populations From 1860 Census

TerritoryTotalWhiteFree BlacksSlavesIndians (a)
New Mexico93,51682,92485---10,507
District of
Columbia (b)

(a) – does not include 294,500 Indians who kept their tribal character
(b) – Populations included: Georgetown (8,733), Washington City (61,122), rest of the District (5,225).
Data source: The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference


Population Totals States And Territories Combined

Total PopulationWhiteFree BlacksSlavesIndians (a)

(a) – does not include 294,500 Indians who kept their tribal character
Data source: The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference


The 10 Largest Cities Of The United States In 1860

New York, NY813,669
Philadelphia, PA565,529
Brooklyn, NY266,661
Baltimore, MA212,418
Boston, MA177,840
New Orleans, LA168,675
Cincinnati, OH161,044
St, Louis, MO160,773
Chicago, IL112,172
Buffalo, NY81,129

Data source: The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference


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Colonel Robert E. Lee Resigns

Will Robert E. Lee Be Loyal To The United States Or To Virginia?

Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at Stratford in Westmoreland County, Virginia and he spent his youth and adulthood in Northern Virginia. The Lee family roots run deep into the early history of the United States and Virginia. When the Civil War begins, Robert E. Lee will have to decide between giving his loyalty to the state of Virginia, or to the United States of America.

Winfield Scott Recommends Robert E. Lee For United States Army Command

Winfield Scott

General Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott’s long military career was a distinguished one. Scott served the United States in the War of 1812 and in the Mexican-American War, at the beginning of the Civil War, he was general-in-chief of the United States Army. By the time of the Civil War, General Winfield Scott was not the strong and healthy physical specimen he once was. He was now in his mid-seventies and he was unable to lift himself up onto a horse. Although his mind remained sharp, his physical condition meant Scott’s days of field command were behind him.

Winfield Scott knew the Civil War would be a long and difficult conflict that would require more time, men, and resources than was generally believed. General Scott understood it would take a time to raise and train an army before it could be effective in the field. He knew that a plan must be in place for the conduct of the war. Scott developed the Anaconda Plan which included blockading the coast, gaining control of the Mississippi River, take military power into the South. Scott’s plan was a good one and it is basically how the United States fought the Civil War. General Scott also knew the army would need a commander. After Abraham Lincoln’s election, secession fever was in the air as Southern states began steadily seceding from the Union. Scott made a recommendation to Lincoln in April 1861, that Colonel Robert E. Lee of Virginia be made field commander of the new and now forming Union Army outside of Washington. Southern states had seceded from the Union, but Virginia had not left the Union.

Ten States Had Seceded From The Union Through February, 1861

  • Alabama – January 11, 1861
  • Arkansas – May 6, 1861
  • Florida – January 10, 1861
  • Georgia – January 19, 1861
  • Louisiana – January 26, 1861
  • Mississippi – January 9, 1861
  • North Carolina – May 20, 1861
  • South Carolina – December 20, 1860
  • Tennessee – June 8, 1861
  • Texas – February 1, 1861

Virginia Secedes And Robert E. Lee Chooses Virginia Over The United States

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee was stationed in Texas when it seceded on February 1. Lee received orders from Lieutenant General Winfield Scott to report to him in Washington. On March 1, 1861, Lee arrived at his family home of Arlington, located just across the Potomac River from Washington.

Robert E. Lee served under Winfield Scott during the Mexican War and Scott held Lee in high regard. Scott once said of Lee, “the very finest soldier I’ve ever seen.” Winfield Scott was a Virginian, he wanted his fellow Virginian to stay loyal to the United States and to remain in the United States Army. On March 16, Robert E. Lee was promoted to Colonel of the First United States Cavalry. Although Lieutenant General Winfield Scott could not technically offer Lee the command of United States forces in Washington (that was up to Secretary of War Simon Cameron), discussions between Winfield Scott and Robert E. Lee began that early March. Scott was almost certainly urging Lee to remain loyal and to accept command of the United States Army.

Fort Sumter was lost for the Union when it was surrendered on April 13 and then evacuated on April 14. Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861 (See: Virginia Ordinance Of Secession). On April 18, Robert E. Lee was requested to meet separately with Winfield Scott and Francis Preston Blair. Blair was a journalist and newspaper editor with significant political influence. Blair later said the reason he met with Lee was, “In the beginning of the war Secretary Cameron asked me to sound General Robert E. Lee, to know whether his feelings would justify him in taking command of our army.” During Blair’s meeting with Lee (which was through President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Simon Cameron), Blair offered command of the Federal forces outside of Washington to Robert E. Lee with the goal of suppressing the rebellion.

The question challenging Robert E. Lee was whether he would remain loyal to the United States of America, or would he pledge his loyalty to the state of Virginia, with loyalty to the Confederate States of America to follow. It was not an easy question for Lee to answer.

Robert E. Lee’s roots in the United States of America and its army were deep. Lee was a West Point graduate, he’d ranked second in his West Point 1829 class, he was an officer in the United States Army holding the rank of lieutenant colonel, he’d been Superintendent of West Point, and his father was Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III who was a Revolutionary War officer, “Light Horse Harry” had given George Washington’s eulogy. But foremost, Robert E. Lee was a Virginian. Lee’s loyalty was to the slave state of Virginia.

Robert E. Lee declined the offer to become the commander of the Federal armies. Early on April 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned from the United States Army with a letter to Secretary of War Simon Cameron. Later the same day, he sent another resignation letter to General-in-Chief Winfield Scott.

Robert E. Lee’s Resignation Letter From The United States Army To Simon Cameron

Robert E. Lee resigns his Commission of Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Cavalry in the United States Army

Arlington, Washington City P.O.
20 April 1861

Honble Simon Cameron
Sect. of War


I have the honor to tender the resignation of my Commission of Colonel of the 1st Regt. of Cavalry.

Very respectfully your Ob’t servant

R. E. Lee
Col 1st. Cavalry


Robert E. Lee’s Resignation Letter From The United States Army To Winfield Scott

April 20, 1861

Arlington, Washington City P.O., April 20, 1861
Robert E. Lee


Since my interview with you on the 18th instant I have felt that I ought not longer to retain my commission in the Army. I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance.

It would have been presented at once, but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted all the best years of my life & all the ability I possessed.

During the whole of that time, more than 30 years, I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors, & the most cordial friendship from my companions. To no one Genl have I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness & consideration, & it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation.

I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration, & your name & fame will always be dear to me. Save in the defence of my native State, I never desire again to draw my sword.

Be pleased to accept my most earnest wishes for the continuance of your happiness & prosperity & believe me most truly yours

R. E. Lee


Robert E. Lee Takes Command Of The Virginia State Forces

On April 25, the War Department had processed Robert E. Lee’s resignation, making it official. Lee was then summoned to Richmond where he met with Virginia’s Governor John Letcher. Letcher offered Lee a major generalship to take command of the Virginia State Forces. Lee accepted this offer. Brigadier General Irvin McDowell gained the command of the United States troops in Washington.