October 2, 1866


Mentioning with pride how fast the city rebuilt after the city was nearly destroyed from a fire set as the Union Army seized the city. Offering statistics on the number of homes owned by white and colored


Richmond.--The energy displayed by our citizens in rebuilding the burnt district, considering the scarcity of capital, is a matter of surprise to everybody. The great fire of the 3d of April, 1865, destroyed some 1,100 houses, including many of the most valuable in the city. The recent numbering shows that the present number of houses is 5,039. The number occupied by white persons is estimated at 3,148, and by negroes 1,678 ; owned by whites, 4,671, and by negroes 368. It is stated on what we deem reliable authority that of the houses now owned by the latter class not one has been purchased since the Freedmen's Bureau took them under its guardianship. This is an interesting fact, since it proves that freedom has by no means improved the condition of the colored race; but that, on the contrary, they have ever since their emancipation been constantly "advancing backward." Richmond was made a city by act of incorporation in the month of May, 1782, and on the 3d of July following the first election of officers, under the provisions of the charter, was held, and the following named gentlemen were chosen: William Foushee, mayor William Hay, recorder; Jacqueline Ambler, John Beebley, Robert Mitchell, James Hunter, Jr., aldermen; Isaac Younghusband, Richard Adams, James Buchanan, Samnel Seberer, Robert Boyd, John McKeand, common councilmen. The population of the city at that time, according to a census taken by order of the Council, was as follow: Whites, 563; slaves, 425; free negroes, 43. Total, l,031. In 1800, it was 5,737; in 1810, 9,785. Richmond was made the capital of Virginia in the year 1779, and in 1789, ten years later, it contained about 360 houses. These facts will refresh the memories of our old citizens, while to the rising generation they will not prove uninteresting. Those who have watched the progress of the city during the last half century, and witnesssd her growth in population, trade, and manufactures, can appreciate the energy and enterprise which has made her what she is at present, not withstanding the calamities of war and fire. By the census of 1860 the population of Richmond was 37,910; or, whites 23,635, free negroes 2,576, slaves 11,699. We think it almost impossible that the city could have gained 24,072 in population in the brief space of six years. According to that census the population of the city and county combined was only 61,616, which is 366 less than the Directory now makes that of the city alone. We do not mention these facts to impair the usefulness of the work alluded to, becanse it contains much valuable information.
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“Richmond,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 30, 2023,