As set out in the Constitution, the Congress wrote the law directing that the census be taken, appointing officers to take the census, and specifying what information was to be gathered. (Census Act of 1800)
In 1800 the second census of the United States included the states and territories northwest of the Ohio River and Mississippi Territory (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia (eastern and western districts), North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, territory northwest of Ohio River, Indiana Territory, Mississippi Territory, Tennessee)
In 1801 the House of Representatives ordered the 74 page census report to be printed.
Thomas Jefferson, as President of the American Philosophical Society, sent a letter to Congress asking that the census be expanded for 1800. The Society asked that census takers gather information on:
The census schedules (the actual written records of information from each household) were, by legal mandate, posted in "two of the most public places within [each jurisdiction] there to remain for the inspection of all concerned..."
A complete set of the schedules, along with summary data for the counties, and, in some areas, for the towns, was filed with the State Department. In 1812, when the British burned the Capitol during the war, the schedules from many of the states were destroyed. Schedules for the following states survived: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont.
Remaining records are in the United States National Archives. To view microfilm of released census schedules (all schedules more than 72 years old) contact the regional NARA center at Laguna Niguel. Digitized versions can be accessed through Ancestry.com.