** American Colonization Society

American Colonization Society (1816)

Figure 1.--Photography had not yet been inventd when the ACS's colonization efforts began. Here we see a a seen in Liberia from the 1860s. We see rge decendentsd of the colonists at a Christian mission in Clay Ashland, a town ship near Monroivia. Except for their bare feet, they are wearing American and Europen fashons. Click on the imgage to see what the indigenous people looked like. In this case it was a 1908 photgrph, but the people living in the intrior at the time of these coloniosts would not have looked much different.

The colonization movement began (18th century). Different plans were discussed, but no comcrete action occurred. . After the the beginning of abolition of slavery in northern states, the principal project pursued by the American Aboloitionist Movement was the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States, usually referred to as the African Colonization Society. he key figure involved was Robert Finley, a Presbyterian minister. Also involved were some of the most notble men of ythe new Republic, including Francis Scott Key, Henry Clay, and Bushrod Washington (nephew of George Washington). Washington was ACS' first president. The ACS ortganized local and state branches. There was also domations from churches. The Federal government provided some early funding. The ACS membership was almost entirly white. There were many clergymen and abolitionists, but also perhaps surprisingly some slave owners, f of which offred their slaves. The min unifying thread was a belief that freed blacks would never be able sucssfully integrated into American society. The ACS only involved the North bcause it needed freed slaves. No significny number of salve owners were going to voluntarily turn over their slaves The idea was to collect money to purchase and free slaves. This from the bginnong limited their efforts. Slaves were very valuable. This meant that the ACS would never be blke to collect the funds toi free mire than z handful of slaves. The effort was controversial from the beginning among both whites and blacks. Some blacks dispairing of justice in America supported the back to Africa movemnent. Others thought that blacks should remain in America and press for abolition and legal rights. White supporters had varying opinions. Few Americans at thr time supported full cituizenship for Africans--even within the aboliytionidst movement. Some saw it as a way of removing what they saw as an inferior people. Others had more benign views, thinking that blcks would be happier and better off in Africa. Others thought that repatriated Africans could play an important role in Christianizing and civilizing largely pagan Africa. The American Colonization Society (ACS) was founded (1816) to send frees slaves back to Africa. This was an anti-slavery measure which was feasible at the time. Emancipation was mot possible in the South, but there were numbers of freed or just about to be freed slaves in the North. There was unsucssful attempt (1821). Following lengthy negotiations with local chiefs, ACS was able to pirchase the Cape Mesurado area hivh would become Monrovia. The first group of freed slaves reached Western Africa (1822). Elements in the abolitionist movement began criticing the ACS (1830s). They were accused of being a 'slaveholder's scheme'. The colony became the independent nation of Liberia (1847) and was the only African country to avoid European colonization, except Ethiopia in yhe 19th abd eraly-20tyh century. The ACS by the end of the Civil War had sent more than 13,000 blacks back to Africa. After the Civil War (April 1865) quite a number of freed slaves wanted to go to Liberia or elsewhere in Africa. As a result of Emancipation, however, the ACS found it more difficult to raise funds. After the War the focus of the ACS became educational and missionary efforts in Liberia rather than further emigration. The society donated its records to the Library of Congress (1913), but only formally disolved several decades later (1964).

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Created: 9:20 PM 11/22/2021
Last updated: 9:20 PM 11/22/2021