Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/652

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
632
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tricts the average density of settlement, exclusive of the population of the cities and towns, varied in 1880 all the way from twenty-six to the square mile in Minnesota to nearly or quite sixty in New Jersey. The average density in the great Mississippi region of decrease was in 1880, 31 to the square mile, and in 1890, 29; in the Virginia group it was in 1880, 39, and in 1890, 37; in the Michigan group it was in 1880, 42, and in 1890, 39; and in the eastern group it was in 1880, 45, and in 1890, 42.

While probably every census has revealed more or less marked decreases in particular neighborhoods, at no previous census did so large a portion of the country show a loss of its rural population. Still, while the area over which the decrease extends is comparatively large, the tendency to a loss of rural population is by no means a new one. There are counties as far west as Illinois, which have been losing rural population for the last twenty years. As already stated, there are Massachusetts towns which have less population than they had at the close of the last great French War. There are Virginia counties which have fewer inhabitants than they had one hundred years ago. It is a curious circumstance that among these counties is Caroline, best known to persons who are not Virginians by its association with the name of the mover of the Resolutions of 1798. Colonel Taylor, who labored no less earnestly for the improvement of agriculture than for the maintenance of the strictest construction of the Constitution, seems by the result to have had even less success in the former than in the latter object of his desire. In the adjoining State of Maryland, the county of Charles, lying on the Potomac, a few miles below Mount Vernon, has to-day twenty-five per cent fewer inhabitants than it had when the proprietor of Mount Vernon was inaugurated first President of the United States.

While the country regions have been losing population or gaining it but slowly, the cities, towns, and villages have, as a rule, grown rapidly, except in Nevada. While individual cities have differed widely in their respective rates of increase, if the cities of the country be classified according to size, it will be found that large cities and small towns are alike growing rapidly, and that the difference in the rate of their growth is not very great. To this statement New England is an apparent though not a real exception. In the New England States the towns with between 1,000 and 2,000 inhabitants each in 1890, have actually lost population during the decade, while those with between 2,000 and 4,000 inhabitants have gained but little, and those with between 4,000 and 8,000 very much less than have places of a like grade in other portions of the country. The explanation, of course, is that, as before stated, these towns correspond to the townships and other local subdivisions in other States, and, as such, nearly all