American Colonization Society

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American Colonization Society,

organized Dec., 1816–Jan., 1817, at Washington, D.C., to transport free blacks from the United States and settle them in Africa. The freeing of many slaves, principally by idealists, created a serious problem in that no sound provisions were made for establishing them in society on an equal basis with white Americans anywhere in the United States. Robert FinleyFinley, Robert
, 1772–1817, American clergyman, a founder of the American Colonization Society, b. Princeton, N.J. In 1787 he graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), where he later studied theology.
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, principal founder of the colonization society, found much support among prominent men, notably Henry ClayClay, Henry,
1777–1852, American statesman, b. Hanover co., Va. Early Career

His father died when he was four years old, and Clay's formal schooling was limited to three years.
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. Money was raised—with some indirect help from the federal government when (1819) Congress appropriated $100,000 for returning to Africa blacks illegally brought to the United States. In 1821 an agent, Eli Ayres, and Lt. R. F. Stockton of the U.S. Navy purchased land in Africa, where subsequently Jehudi AshmunAshmun, Jehudi,
1794–1828, U.S. agent to Liberia, b. Champlain, N.Y. After entering the Congregationalist ministry and spending a few years in teaching and editorial work, he was sent by the American Colonization Society to Liberia.
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 and Ralph R. Gurley laid the foundations of LiberiaLiberia
(New Lat.,=place of freedom), officially Republic of Liberia, republic (2005 est. pop. 3,482,000), 43,000 sq mi (111,370 sq km), W Africa. Liberia fronts on the Atlantic Ocean for some 350 mi (560 km) on the southwest and is bordered on the northwest by Sierra Leone, on
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. The colonization movement came under the bitter attack of the abolitionists, who charged that in the South it strengthened slavery by removing the free blacks. The blacks themselves were not enthusiastic about abandoning their native land for the African coast. The colonization society, with its associated state organizations, declined after 1840. More than 11,000 blacks were transported to Liberia before 1860. From 1865 until its dissolution in 1912, the society was a sort of trustee for Liberia.

Bibliography

See P. J. Staudenraus, The African Colonization Movement (1961); W. L. Garrison, Thoughts on African Colonization (1832, repr. 1968).

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