From Horseback to the Internet
Last year, your family probably received a census form in the mail from the U.S. government that asked questions about who lives in your house and the town in which you live. It wasn't always that simple.
During the first U.S.
census in 1790, under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, federal marshals
traveled by horseback from town to town to count the U.S. population in
each state. The newly formed U.S. government used this data to pay back
the states for the expenses of the Revolutionary War. Also, they had to
comply with the mandate of the U.S. Constitution that a census is taken
every 10 years.
Census 2000 also introduced limited use of the Internet to gather census data. Yet even today some aspects of the census remain low-tech.: 860,000 census workers visited many households in person to collect census questionnaires.