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An introduction to the american colonization society

Context[ edit ] Following the American Revolutionary Warthe institution of slavery and those bound within it grew, as slaves were naturally increasing; their total number reached four million slaves by the mid-19th century. Beginning in 1786, just after the American Revolution, a British organization, the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poorlaunched its efforts to establish the Sierra Leone Province of Freedom for London 's "black poor".

Some slave owners decided to support emigration following an abortive slave rebellion headed by Gabriel Prosser in 1800, and a rapid increase in the number of free African Americans in the United States in the first two decades after the Revolutionary War, which they perceived as threatening. Although the ratio of whites to blacks was 4: From 1790 to 1800, the number of free African Americans increased from 59,467 1.

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: African-Americans were morally lax. It was claimed they 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.

American Colonization Society

African-Americans had a tendency toward criminality. Economic arguments were also advanced, most notably by those who said that the presence of free blacks threatened the jobs of working-class whites in the North. Southerners had their special reservations about free blacks, fearing that those living in slave areas caused unrest among slaves and encouraged runaways and slave revolts. They also had racial reservations about the ability of free blacks to conform.

  1. They believed that slavery was morally wrong and contrary to the ideals of the new republic. By the late 1820s, the anti-slavery movement shifted from the south to the northern states.
  2. Some abolitionists believed that blacks could not achieve equality in the United States because of discrimination and would be better off in Africa where they could organize their own society. There is nothing in their platform directly on the subject.
  3. Many thought that slavery would eventually would wither away. Cotton, tobacco, sugar and other commodities were creating great wealth in New England.

The proposed solution was to have free blacks deported from the United States to colonize parts of Africa. Paul Cuffee 1759—1817 was a mixed-race, successful Quaker ship owner, and activist 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.

Cuffee was an early advocate of settling freed blacks in Africa and he gained support from black leaders and members of the U. Congress for an emigration plan. By reaching a large audience with his pro-colonization arguments and practical example, Cuffee laid the groundwork for the American Colonization Society.

Free-born blacks, freedmenand their descendants, encountered widespread discrimination in the US of the early 19th century.

Whites generally perceived them 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 because of discrimination and would be better off in Africa where they could organize their own society.

Many slaveholders worried that the presence of free blacks was a threat to the slave societies of the South, especially after some were involved directly in slave rebellions. The Society appeared to support contradictory goals: John Randolpha Virginia politician and major slaveholder, said that free blacks were "promoters of mischief". But in this period Kentucky had become a state that was selling slaves to the Deep South, where demand was booming because of the rise of cotton.

Clay thought that deportation of free blacks was preferable to trying to integrate them 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.

  • The movement always had two wellsprings;
  • It also offered pious assertions that the "degraded and miserable" Africans were ordained so by Providence and the laws of nature;
  • Yet the second colonization movement was as much a failure as the first had been.

Finley meant to colonize " with their consent the free people of color residing in our country, in Africa, or such other place as Congress may deem most expedient".

The organization established branches throughout the United States. It was instrumental in establishing the colony of Liberia. The oscillation in what has been the generally accepted interpretation of the ACS' motives and actions can be broken down chronologically with a good deal of precision.

A number of monographs were written on the society in the early to mid-nineteenth century portraying the ACS as both pro- and anti-slavery. For early studies that are critical of the ACS' motives, see: Negro Universities Press, 1968 [originally published in 1835 by John P.

Negro Universities Press, 1969 [originally published in 1853 by John P. Negro Universities Press, 1969 [originally published in 1846 by William S. Brown, Biography of the Rev.

  1. The fears of an intermingling of the races were strong and underlay much of the outcry for removal.
  2. Abolitionists were the conscience of the nation. The abolitionist movement was not popular, and was supported by few people in the north.
  3. Negro Universities Press, 1969 [originally published in 1853 by John P. S government, in the 1850s, the ACS was successful in receiving financial backing from some state legislatures, such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, plus more.
  4. They hired speakers to lecture on the topic, and hundreds of inspired individuals crisscrossed the country, spreading the message. Reviled by extremists on both sides of the slavery debate and suffering from a shortage of money, the society declined after 1840.
  5. Learn More in these related Britannica articles.

The early twentieth century saw increasing racial tensions in the wake of the dismantling of the South's enforced race-based class system and the sense among many white Americans that the wholesale emancipation of the 1860s had perhaps been a misguided decision. As a result, historiography of this period depicted the ACS as an antislavery organization, seeing merits in the values of racial separation through deportation that the Society espoused.

  • The fires of the volcano are not more inextinguishable than this prejudice, and we would therefore remove the black man from its influence, instead of encouraging him to break it down by an insolent bearing towards those who are in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, his intellectual superiors;
  • Southerners had their special reservations about free blacks, fearing that those living in slave areas caused unrest among slaves and encouraged runaways and slave revolts;
  • Whites and blacks alike, frustrated by the conflicts tearing the nation apart, reconsidered an exploded idea.

The prevalence of racism invited a revaluation of the Society's motives, prompting historians to examine the ACS in terms of racism more than its stance on slavery. Not only were they focussing on the racist rhetoric of the Society's members and publications, but some also depicted the Society as proslavery organization.

Mercer pushed the state to support the idea. One of his political contacts in Washington City, John Caldwell, in turn contacted the Reverend Robert Finleyhis brother-in-law and a Presbyterian minister, who endorsed the plan.

Mercer was unable to go to Washington for the meeting.

Although Randolph believed that the removal of free blacks would "materially tend to secure" slave property, the vast majority of early members were philanthropistsclergy, and abolitionists who wanted to free African slaves and their descendants and provide them with the opportunity to "return" to Africa. This was the area that developed most rapidly in the 19th century with slave labor, and initially it had few free blacks, who lived mostly in the Upper South. Fundraising[ edit ] During the next three years, the society raised money by selling memberships.

The Society's members pressured Congress and the President for support. Colonizing proved expensive and the ACS spent many years trying to an introduction to the american colonization society the U. Congress to allocate funds to support colonists emigration to Liberia. Henry Clay led this campaign, but the campaign failed to produce any money from the U. Despite their failure to receive funding from the U. S government, in the 1850s, the ACS was successful in receiving financial backing from some state legislatures, such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, plus more.

The society, in its Thirty-fourth annual report, acclaimed the news as "a great Moral demonstration of the propriety and necessity of state action! Pennsylvania, Maryland and Mississippi set up their own state societies and colonies on the coast next to Liberia. Colony of Liberia[ edit ] This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.