8 Fascinating Facts About How and Why America Created Liberia

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The Creation of the American Colonization Society

In 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was created by Rev. Robert Finley (a former president of the University of Georgia) to appease two groups on opposing sides of the issue of the enslavement of Black people. In the early 1800s, the British were in the early stages of abolishing slavery and exiting the Atlantic slave trade. Finley and many whites from the elite class in the United States feared that the nation would follow the British with similar political action. One group of people (which included some abolitionists) wanted to give newly freed Black people an opportunity to return to Africa. The other side, which included slaveholders, did not foresee an integrated society and joined the ACS out of racist ideology.

 

"Meeting of the American Colonization Society at Washington- Mr. Everett's address."  Undated illustration. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
“Meeting of the American Colonization Society at Washington- Mr. Everett’s address.” Undated illustration. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

The Controversial Members of the American Colonization Society

The American Colonization Society consisted of prominent American historical figures, including presidents James Monroe and James Madison. A nephew of George Washington, Bushrod Washington, was also involved. President Andrew Jackson was on the list as an organizer and politician Daniel Webster was involved as well. The irony here is that most of these men were part of the subjugation of Black people. Jackson was part of the slave-holding planter class, Webster was an enforcer and architect of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, and Washington actively sold enslaved Black people. Abolitionist James Forten saw this and warned free Blacks to not trust these men.

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