Life Expectancy During 1776
The average newly minted American citizen could expect to live to a ripe old age of 35 at the time of America’s establishment in 1776, giving them a few months to run for president before they passed away.
If you’ve ever wanted to know how long people lived during the American Revolution, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve covered life expectancy in Ancient Rome, Colonial America, West Virginia, and Hawaii. So read on to learn how long people lived during these eras and some other fascinating facts. Throughout this article, you’ll learn about Americans’ health conditions and life expectancy in 1776.
Life expectancy in Ancient Rome
Archaeologists have found evidence of longer life spans in the ancient world—the oldest known records of life span in the Ancient World date back to the 2nd century BC. Ancient Roman skeletons show average life spans of 30 years. However, it is unlikely that the ancient Romans lived as long as they did. According to the earliest written records of life expectancy, kings and nobles lived shorter lives than ordinary men and women. Even though the average age of death was thirty, the results show a significant difference between the ancients and the moderns.
The definition of life expectancy is based on the experience of the period, taking into account the age-specific mortality rates of that period. As such, period life expectancy figures must be corrected to account for temporal trends. In addition to these differences, life expectancy is also a measure of the current health status of a population. However, some factors can influence life expectancy.
For example, infant mortality was high, and the average age at death during the reign of Augustus was about six years. The city’s population was estimated to be around one million during the reign of Augustus. The emperors also had shorter lives than ordinary people. This reflected the fact that they were weaker than average, and they couldn’t cope with the conditions of their environment and circumstances.
However, the emperors did not live long, with a life expectancy of just over seventy years. The emperors of Rome had better odds than the ordinary people, but they were still mortal. Moreover, the emperors of this time were no strangers to violence. A gladiator’s assassination was reported to have been a common occurrence, and it is the name of the city that bears his name.
The era of the Roman empire had a dark side. The significant figures were forced to subordinate themselves to maintain their position. The emperors themselves were not immune to the threat of foreign invasion, and they feared for their lives as the fear of spies rose. Most public functions were privatized, and the emperors were prone to corruption. In addition, life expectancy was low, and death was expected.
Life expectancy in Colonial America
The study of life expectancy in Colonial America during the seventeenth century revealed that life expectancy at the age of 20 was considerably lower than it was today. According to Daniel S. Levy, the difference between the estimated life expectancy in 1776 and contemporary observations is five to ten years. Although genealogical estimates of life expectancy vary widely, these methods tended to overstate male life expectancy by five to ten years.
The average life span in the United States was 38 years, one year longer than the average life span in the ancient world of Aztecs. A colonist in Massachusetts, for instance, could expect to live to 75 years of age, although most likely, they would have lived a lot longer. While these figures were quite impressive, they do not tell the true life story of those times. A typical American was a five-foot-eight-inch man who ate meat thrice daily. Farm families consumed a half-pound of meat per day.
Infections during childbirth were also a significant cause of death, such as puerperal fever and syphilis. These were serious issues, but the mortality rates were relatively low compared to European outbreaks. Only one outbreak of the venereal disease was recorded in colonial America. Infections caused by mosquitoes were prevalent, but they were rarely fatal. There was no medical school in the colonies until the American Revolution. Most veterinarians were also town doctors, and physicians were often double-duty as veterinarians. In the absence of a professional healer, folk healers and midwives filled the gap, often beginning an epidemic in the first place.
While the mortality rates in the colonies were low compared to those of the British, southern states of the United States, saw higher death rates than their northern counterparts. This may be attributed to the climate and migration patterns that led to a high rate of disease exposure. The indigenous American Indian group suffered disproportionately in colonial America due to disease outbreaks. Smallpox, which caused most deaths among native people, had a fatality rate of 55 to ninety percent. The Pamlico tribe in South Carolina was virtually wiped out by disease in 1698-99.
Life expectancy in West Virginia
West Virginia’s population is nearly ninety percent white, making life expectancy at birth about 62 years old. While other states have much lower death rates, West Virginia has a disproportionate number of whites, making it a bellwether state for poor health. The state’s high suicide rate of drug overdoses is also alarming. In addition, despite the state’s relatively low life expectancy, West Virginia continues to see a disproportionate number of children in foster care.
While contemporary observers and demographers overstate adult male life expectancy, they are still higher than Haines’ and Pope’s estimates of male mortality. Kunze and Pope’s estimates are roughly two years higher than Haines’. Life expectancy estimates derived from two-census methods have similar discrepancies. These methods used census and genealogical data for adult male mortality and survival rates and are the best sources of historical data on early nineteenth-century life expectancies.
In the year 1776, West Virginians lived an average of seven4.5 years. This was below the national average. Smoking was a common cause of death; West Virginians smoked more than the average person. Smoking was the leading cause of death for men in 1776, with a life expectancy of 74.8 years in the state. The average adult in West Virginia smoked four packs a day and lived only a fraction of an hour longer than the national average.
In early American history, the enslaved population was more prone to disease and mortality than any other group. African-born enslaved people, for instance, often suffered from low birth weight and died at a young age. In addition, the marshy environment in these regions made it easier for diseases to survive. During this time, most white residents died before the age of forty, and very few lived past sixty.
In pre-modern societies, life expectancy at birth was lower than today. For example, in 1776, women and men were generally less likely to live to age forty than in today’s world. But with medical advances, life expectancy is rising again. And that’s good news for West Virginians. There is no reason for the United States to remain stuck in the lurch. It would be better to have a long life, especially in our country’s present economic conditions.
Life expectancy in Hawaii
Native Hawaiians have the shortest life span of any ethnic group in the United States, with a life expectancy six years shorter than the average for African Americans. However, cultural and racial differences in life expectancy deserve special attention. These differences include socioeconomic status, health behaviors, access to health care, and racism. Increasing our understanding of Native Hawaiian life expectancy requires expanded efforts to improve health for the Native Hawaiian population across the life span. In addition, we need to look at ethnic-specific studies to determine their unique health care needs.
The life tables presented here cover the five major ethnic groups of the island. Native Hawaiians, Caucasians, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino are among these groups. The life tables also include age groups for each of these groups, from one to four, to eighty-five years and older. This information is essential because of the many health disparities in Hawaii today. Unfortunately, life tables are not yet available for African and Asian Americans, but they will be helpful for researchers and educators.
The report includes data from the United States 50 states. Hawaiians have the longest life expectancy, an average of 80.9 years, while Mississippi residents have the shortest, at seven4.4 years. Several factors may contribute to Hawaii’s longevity, including favorable weather conditions, access to natural resources, and a near-universal health care system. Therefore, the study also considers factors influencing life expectancy in the state.
While modern health care and medicine have improved our lives, significant disparities remain. For example, if you live in Hawaii and are a new immigrant, you’ll likely be more likely to die there than in the Philippines. Many new immigrants in the state return home to their native countries to seek health care during their final days. As a result, the life expectancy of these older people in Hawaii is muddled.