American Colonization Society

American Colonization Society

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The American Colonization Society (in full, The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America), founded in 1816, was the primary vehicle to support the "return" of free African Americans to what was considered greater freedom in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. It helped to found the colony
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 of Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 in 1821–22 as a place for freedmen. Its founders were Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, John Randolph
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

, and Richard Bland Lee
Richard Bland Lee
Richard Bland Lee was a planter, jurist, and politician from Fairfax County, Virginia. He was the son of Henry Lee II of “Leesylvania” and Lucy Grymes , as well as a younger brother of both Maj. Gen...

.

Paul Cuffee, a wealthy mixed-race New England shipowner and activist, was an early advocate of settling freed blacks in Africa. He gained support from black leaders and members of the US Congress for an emigration plan. In 1811 and 1815-16, he financed and captained successful voyages to British-ruled Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

, where he helped African-American immigrants get established. Although Cuffee died in 1817, his efforts may have "set the tone" for the American Colonization Society (ACS) to initiate further settlements.

The ACS was a coalition made up mostly of Quakers who supported abolition
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

, and slaveholders who wanted to remove the perceived threat of free blacks to their society. They found common ground in support of so-called "repatriation". They believed blacks would face better chances for full lives in Africa than in the U.S. The slaveholders opposed abolition, but saw repatriation as a way to remove free blacks and avoid slave rebellions. From 1821, thousands of free black Americans moved to Liberia from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Over 20 years, the colony continued to grow and establish economic stability. In 1847, the legislature of Liberia declared the nation an independent state.

Critics have said the ACS was a racist society, while others point to its benevolent origins and later takeover by men with visions of an American empire in Africa. The Society closely controlled the development of Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 until its declaration of independence. By 1867, the ACS had assisted in the movement of more than 13,000 Americans to Liberia. From 1825-1919, it published a journal, the African Repository and Colonial Journal. After that, the society had essentially ended, but did not formally dissolve until 1964, when it transferred its papers to the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

.

Colonization as a solution to the "problem" of free blacks


Following the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, the "peculiar Institution" of slavery
History of slavery
The history of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved...

 and those bound within it grew, reaching four million slaves by the mid-19th century. At the same time, due in part to manumission
Manumission
Manumission is the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. In the United States before the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished most slavery, this often happened upon the death of the owner, under conditions in his will.-Motivations:The...

 efforts sparked by the war and the abolition of slavery in Northern states, there was an expansion of the ranks of free blacks
Free Negro
A free Negro or free black is the term used prior to the abolition of slavery in the United States to describe African Americans who were not slaves. Almost all African Americans came to the United States as slaves, but from the earliest days of American slavery, slaveholders set men and women free...

 with legislated limits. In the first two decades after the Revolutionary War, the percentage of free blacks rose in Virginia, for instance, from 1% to nearly 10% of the black population.

Some men decided to support emigration following an abortive slave rebellion headed by Gabriel Prosser
Gabriel Prosser
Gabriel , today commonly – if incorrectly – known as Gabriel Prosser, was a literate enslaved blacksmith who planned to lead a large slave rebellion in the Richmond area in the summer of 1800. However, information regarding the revolt was leaked prior to its execution, thus Gabriel's plans were...

 in 1800, and a rapid increase in the number of free African Americans in the United States, which was perceived by some to be alarming. Although the ratio of whites to blacks was 8:2 from 1790 to 1800, it was the increase in the number of free African Americans that disturbed some proponents of colonization. From 1790 to 1800, the number of free African Americans increased from 59,467 (1½ % of total U.S. population, 7½ % of U.S. black population) to 108,398 (2 % of U.S. population), a percentage increase of 82 percent; and from 1800 to 1810, the number increased from 108,398 to 186,446 (2½ % of U.S. pop.), an increase of 72 percent. The perception of change was highest in some major cities, but especially the Upper South, where the most slaves were freed in the two decades after the Revolution.

This steady increase did not go unnoticed by an anxious white community that was ever more aware of the free blacks in their midst. The arguments propounded against free blacks, especially in free states, may be divided into four main categories. One argument pointed toward the perceived moral laxity of blacks. Blacks, it was claimed, were licentious beings who would draw whites into their savage, unrestrained ways. The fears of an intermingling of the races were strong and underlay much of the outcry for removal.

Along these same lines, blacks were accused of a tendency toward criminality. Still others claimed that the supposed mental inferiority of African Americans made them unfit for the duties of citizenship and incapable of real improvement. Economic considerations were also put forth. Free blacks were said to threaten jobs of working class whites in the North.

Southerners had their special reservations about free blacks, fearing that the freedmen living in in slave areas caused unrest to slaves, and encouraged runaways and slave revolts. They had racist reservations about the ability of free blacks to function. The proposed solution was to have free blacks deported from the United States to colonize parts of Africa.

Paul Cuffe



Paul Cuffee (1759–1817) was a mixed-race, successful Quaker ship owner descended from Ashanti and Wampanoag parents. He advocated settling freed American slaves in Africa and gained support from the British government, free black leaders in the United States, and members of Congress to take emigrants to the British colony of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

. He had an economic interest, as he intended to bring back valuable cargoes. In 1816, Captain Cuffee took thirty-eight American blacks to Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

, Sierra Leone; other voyages were precluded by his death in 1817. By reaching a large audience with his pro-colonization arguments and practical example, Cuffee laid the groundwork for the American Colonization Society.

Origins


The ACS had its origins in 1816, when Charles Fenton Mercer
Charles F. Mercer
Charles Fenton Mercer was a nineteenth century politician, U.S. Congressman, and lawyer from Loudoun County, Virginia....

, a Federalist member of the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

, discovered accounts of earlier legislative debates on black colonization in the wake of Gabriel Prosser's
Gabriel Prosser
Gabriel , today commonly – if incorrectly – known as Gabriel Prosser, was a literate enslaved blacksmith who planned to lead a large slave rebellion in the Richmond area in the summer of 1800. However, information regarding the revolt was leaked prior to its execution, thus Gabriel's plans were...

 rebellion. Mercer pushed the state to support the idea, and one of his political contacts in Washington City, John Caldwell, in turn contacted the Reverend Robert Finley
Robert Finley
Robert Finley was briefly the president of the University of Georgia. Finley was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and graduated from College of New Jersey at the age of 15.-Early life:Finley was born to James Finley and Ann Angrest, James was born 1737 in Glasgow, Scotland where he...

, his brother-in-law, a Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

 minister, who endorsed the scheme.

The Society was officially established in Washington at the Davis Hotel on December 21, 1816. The founders were considered to be Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, John Randolph
John Randolph
John Randolph may refer to:* John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray , 3rd Earl of Moray, regent of Scotland.* Sir John Randolph , Virginia colonial politician, Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses...

 of Roanoke
Roanoke
Roanoke may refer to:*Roanoke , Carolina Algonquian-speaking tribe in eastern North Carolina*Roanoke , an American ship *Roanoke Colony, a former English colony that mysteriously disappeared...

, and Richard Bland Lee
Richard Bland Lee
Richard Bland Lee was a planter, jurist, and politician from Fairfax County, Virginia. He was the son of Henry Lee II of “Leesylvania” and Lucy Grymes , as well as a younger brother of both Maj. Gen...

. Mercer was unable to go to Washington for the meeting. Although the eccentric Randolph believed that the removal of free blacks would "materially tend to secure" slave property, the vast majority of early members were philanthropists, clergy and abolitionists
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 who wanted to free African slaves and their descendants and provide them with the opportunity to "return" to Africa. Few members were slave-owners; the Society never enjoyed much support among planters in the Lower South. This was the area that developed most rapidly in the nineteenth century with slave labor, and initially it had few free blacks, who lived mostly in the Upper South.

Motives


The colonization effort resulted from a mixture of motives. Free blacks, freedmen
Freedman
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

 and their descendants, encountered widespread discrimination in the United States of the early 19th century. They were generally perceived as a burden on society and a threat to white workers because they undercut wages. Some abolitionists believed that blacks could not achieve equality in the United States and would be better off in Africa. Many slaveholders were worried that the presence of free blacks would encourage slaves to rebel.

Despite being antislavery, Society members were openly racist and frequently argued that free blacks would be unable to assimilate into the white society of this country. John Randolph, one famous slave owner, called free blacks "promoters of mischief." At this time, about 2 million African Americans lived in America of which 200,000 were free persons of color (with legislated limits). Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, a congressman from Kentucky who was critical of the negative impact slavery had on the southern economy, saw the movement of blacks as being preferable to emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

 in America, believing that "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country. It was desirable, therefore, as it respected them, and the residue of the population of the country, to drain them off". Clay argued that because blacks could never be fully integrated into U.S. society due to "unconquerable prejudice" by white Americans, it would be better for them to emigrate to Africa.

Finley suggested at the inaugural meeting of an Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n Society that a colony be established in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 to take free people of color, most of whom had been born free, away from the United States. Rev. Finley meant to colonize "(with their consent) the free people of color residing in our country, in Africa, or such other place as Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 may deem most expedient."
The organization established branches throughout the United States. It was instrumental in the establishment of the colony of Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

.

Fundraising


During the next three years, the society raised money by selling membership. The Society's members relentlessly pressured Congress and the President for support. In 1819, they received $100,000 from Congress and in January 1820 the first ship, the Elizabeth, sailed from New York for West Africa with three white ACS agents and 88 emigrants aboard.

The ACS purchased the freedom of American slaves and paid their passage to Liberia. Emigration
Emigration
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

 was offered to already free black people. For many years the ACS tried to persuade the US Congress to appropriate funds to send colonists to Liberia. Although Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 led the campaign, it failed. The society did, however, succeed in its appeals to some state legislatures. In 1850, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 set aside $30,000 annually for five years to aid and support emigration. In its Thirty-Fourth Annual Report, the society acclaimed the news as "a great Moral demonstration of the propriety and necessity of state action!" During the 1850s, the society also received several thousand dollars from the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, and Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

s.

Preparation of colony


Jehudi Ashmun
Jehudi Ashmun
Jehudi Ashmun was a religious leader and social reformer who became involved in the American Colonization Society...

, an early leader of the ACS colony, envisioned an American empire
Empire
The term empire derives from the Latin imperium . Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a monarch or an oligarchy....

 in Africa. During 1825 and 1826, Ashmun took steps to lease, annex, or buy tribal lands along the coast and along major rivers leading inland. Like his predecessor Lt. Robert Stockton, who in 1821 established the site for Monrovia
Monrovia
Monrovia is the capital city of the West African nation of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, it lies geographically within Montserrado County, but is administered separately...

 by "persuading" a local chief referred to as "King Peter" to sell Cape Montserado (or Mesurado) by pointing a pistol
Pistol
When distinguished as a subset of handguns, a pistol is a handgun with a chamber that is integral with the barrel, as opposed to a revolver, wherein the chamber is separate from the barrel as a revolving cylinder. Typically, pistols have an effective range of about 100 feet.-History:The pistol...

 at his head, Ashmun was prepared to use force to extend the colony's territory. His aggressive actions quickly increased Liberia's power over its neighbors. In a treaty of May 1825, King Peter and other native kings agreed to sell land to Ashmun in return for 500 bars of tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

, three barrels of rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

, five casks of powder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

, five umbrella
Umbrella
An umbrella or parasol is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The term parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain...

s, ten iron posts, and ten pairs of shoes, among other items. (The treaty is included in papers of the ACS in the U.S. Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

.)

First colony


The ship pulled in first at Freetown, Sierra Leone, from where it sailed south to what is now the northern coast of Liberia. The emigrants started to establish a settlement. All three whites and 22 of the emigrants died within three weeks from yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

. The remainder returned to Sierra Leone and waited for another ship. The Nautilus sailed twice in 1821 and established a settlement at Mesurado Bay on an island they named Perseverance. It was difficult for the early settlers, made of mostly free-born blacks who had been denied the full rights of United States citizenship. In Liberia, the native Africans resisted the expansion of the colonists, resulting in many armed conflicts between them. Nevertheless, in the next decade 2,638 African Americans migrated to the area. Also, the colony entered an agreement with the U.S. Government to accept freed slaves who were taken from illegal slave ships.

Expansion and growth of the colony


During the next 20 years the colony continued to grow and establish economic stability. Since the establishment of the colony, the ACS employed white agents to govern the colony. In 1842, Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Joseph Jenkins Roberts was the first and seventh President of Liberia. Born free in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, Roberts emigrated to Liberia in 1829 as a young man. He opened a trading store in Monrovia, and later engaged in politics...

 became the first non-white governor of Liberia. In 1847, the legislature of Liberia declared itself an independent state, with J.J. Roberts elected as its first President.

The society in Liberia developed into three segments: The settlers with European-African lineage; freed slaves from slave ships and the West Indies; and indigenous native people. These groups would have a profound affect on the history of Liberia.

African Repository and Colonial Journal


In March 1825, the ACS began a quarterly, The African Repository and Colonial Journal, edited by Rev. Ralph Randolph Gurley
Ralph Randolph Gurley
Ralph Randolph Gurley was a clergyman, an advocate of the separation of the races and a major force in the American Colonization Society, which offered passage to their colony in west Africa , to free black Americans....

 (1797–1872), who headed the Society until 1844. Conceived as the Society's propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 organ, the Repository promoted both colonization and Liberia. Among the items printed were articles about Africa, letters of praise, official dispatches stressing the prosperity and steady growth of the colony, information about emigrants, and lists of donors.

Lincoln and the ACS


Since the 1840s Lincoln, an admirer of Clay, had been an advocate of the ACS program of colonizing blacks in Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

. In an 1854 speech in Illinois, he points out the immense difficulties of such a task are an obstacle to finding an easy way to quickly end slavery.

Early in his presidency, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 tried repeatedly to arrange resettlement of the kind the ACS supported, but each arrangement failed (See Abraham Lincoln on slavery
Abraham Lincoln on slavery
Abraham Lincolns position on slavery was one of the central issues in American history. Initially, Lincoln expected to bring about the eventual extinction of slavery by stopping its further expansion into any U.S. territory, and by offering compensated emancipation...

). By 1863, following the use of black troops, most scholars believe that Lincoln abandoned the idea. Biographer Stephen B. Oates
Stephen B. Oates
Stephen B. Oates is a former professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is an expert in 19th-century United States history....

 has observed that Lincoln thought it immoral to ask black soldiers to fight for the US and then to remove them to Africa after their military service. Others, such as the historian Michael Lind
Michael Lind
Michael Lind is an American writer. Currently Lind is Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., Editor of New American Contract and its blog Value Added, and a columnist for Salon magazine. Lind was a guest lecturer at Harvard Law School and...

, believe that as late 1864 or 1865, Lincoln continued to hold out hope for colonization, noting that he allegedly asked Attorney general Edward Bates if the Reverend James Mitchell
James Mitchell (American politician)
The Reverend James Mitchell was the United States Commissioner on negro colonization in the Abraham Lincoln administration, and a prominent religious leader in the Georgia Episcopal Methodist Conference after the American Civil War.Mitchell was born to Protestant parents in Derry in 1818, and...

 could stay on as "your assistant or aid in the matter of executing the several acts of Congress relating to the emigration or colonizing of the freed Blacks." Mitchell, a former state director of the ACS in Indiana, had been appointed by Lincoln in 1862 to oversee the government's colonization programs. In his second term as president, on April 11, 1865, Lincoln gave a speech supporting suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 for blacks.

Criticism and decline of the ACS


Lemuel Haynes
Lemuel Haynes
Lemuel Haynes was an influential African American religious leader who argued against slavery.-Early life and education:Little is known of his early life. He was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a reportedly Caucasian mother of some status and a man named Haynes, who was said to be "of some...

, a free black Presbyterian minister at the time of the Society's formation, argued passionately that God's providential plan would eventually defeat slavery and lead to the harmonious integration of the races as equals. Beginning in the 1830s
1830s
- Wars :* The First Opium War between the United Kingdom and the Qing Empire of China started in 1839. It would end three years later with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking on 29 August 1842.- Internal conflicts :* French Revolution of 1830...

, some abolitionists
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 increasingly attacked the ACS, criticizing colonization as a slaveholders' scheme and the ACS' works as palliative propaganda to soften the continuation of slavery in the United States. The presidents of the ACS tended to be Southerners
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. The first president of the ACS was Bushrod Washington
Bushrod Washington
Bushrod Washington was a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice and the nephew of George Washington.Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and was the son of John Augustine Washington, brother of the first president. Bushrod attended Delamere, an academy administered by the Rev....

, the nephew of U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and an Associate Justice
Associate Justice
Associate Justice or Associate Judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the Chief Justice in some jurisdictions. The title "Associate Justice" is used for members of the United States Supreme Court and some state supreme courts, and for some other courts in Commonwealth...

 of the United States Supreme Court. From 1836-1849 the statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

 Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 of Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, a planter and slaveholder, was ACS president.

Three of the reasons the movement never became very successful were the objections raised by free blacks and abolitionists, the scale and costs of moving many people (there were 4 million freedmen in the South after the Civil War), and the difficulty in finding locations willing to accept large numbers of black newcomers (no African tribe accepted newcomers, so the society relied on creating settlements at small colonial ports).

Library of Congress


In 1913 and again at its formal dissolution in 1964, the Society donated its records to the U.S. Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

. The material contains a wealth of information about the foundation of the society, its role in establishing Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, efforts to manage and defend the colony, fund-raising, recruitment of settlers, conditions for black citizens of the American South, and the way in which black settlers built and led the new nation.

See also


  • Atlantic slave trade
    Atlantic slave trade
    The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

  • Colonization Societies
    Colonization Societies
    A number of Colonization Societies which promoted the return of Negroes to Africa have existed in the history of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was a Founding Father who promoted the racial separation of American Indians and the colonization of Negroes to places far away from Virginia. ...

  • History of Liberia
    History of Liberia
    Liberia was set up by citizens of the United States as a colony for former African-American slaves. It is one of only two sovereign states in the world that were started by citizens of a political power as a colony for former slaves of the same political power: Sierra Leone was begun as a colony...

  • Lott Carey, of Richmond, Virginia
    Richmond, Virginia
    Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

    , the first American missionary
    Missionary
    A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

     to Liberia
    Liberia
    Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

  • Loring D. Dewey
    Loring D. Dewey
    Loring Daniel Dewey was an early 19th century Presbyterian minister, an agent of the American Colonization Society, an emigrationist, a printer, and a reformer....

    , agent of ACS who promoted free blacks' emigration to Haiti
    Haiti
    Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

     in the 1820s
  • Maryland State Colonization Society
    Maryland State Colonization Society
    The Maryland State Colonization Society was the Maryland branch of the American Colonization Society, an organization founded in 1816 with the purpose of returning free African Americans to what many Southerners considered greater freedom in Africa. The ACS helped to found the colony of Liberia in...

  • Slavery in the United States
  • Samuel Wilkeson
    Samuel Wilkeson
    Samuel Wilkeson was mayor of Buffalo, New York, serving 1836–1837. He was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on June 1, 1781, a child of immigrants from Northern Ireland. Around 1802 he married Jane Oram and moved to Mahoning County, Ohio where he built a farm and the first grist mill in the area. He...

    , in 1838, he became general agent of the Society

Sources

  • Allen, Richard, "Freedom's prophet", NYU Press, New York, 2008.
  • Barton, Seth, "Remarks on the colonization of the western coast of Africa", Cornell University Library, 1850.
  • Boley, G.E. Saigbe, "Liberia: The Rise and Fall of the First Republic", Macmillan Publishers, London, 1983.
  • Burin, Eric. Slavery and the Peculiar Solution: A History of the American Colonization Society. University Press of Florida, 2005.
  • Cassell, Dr. C. Abayomi, "Liberia: History of the First African Republic", Fountainhead Publishers Inc., New York, 1970.
  • Egerton, Douglas R. Charles Fenton Mercer and the Trial of National Conservatism. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.
  • Jenkins, David, "Black Zion: The Return of Afro-Americans and West Indians to Africa", Wildwood House, London, 1975.
  • Johnson, Charles S., "Bitter Canaan: The Story of the Negro Republic", Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ, 1987.
  • Liebenow, J. Gus, "Liberia: The Evolution of Privilege", Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1969.
  • Miller, Floyd J., "The Search for a Black Nationality: Black Emigration and Colonization, 1787–1863", University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, 1975.
  • Thomas, Lamont D. Paul Cuffe: Black Entrepreneur and Pan-Africanist (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988)
  • West, Richard, "Back to Africa", Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., New York, 1970.
  • Yarema, Allan E., "American Colonization Society: an avenue to freedom?", University Press of America, 2006.

External links