American Colonization Society| footer_background = | width = | image1 = John Wesley Jarvis - John Randolph - Google Art Project.jpg | width1 = 150 | caption1 = John Randolph | alt1 = | image2 = Henry Clay.JPG | width2 = 154 | caption2 = Henry Clay | alt2 = | image3 = Richard Bland Lee I.JPG | width3 = 150 | caption3 = Richard Bland Lee | alt3 = | image4 = BushrodWashington.jpg | width4 = 162 | caption4 = Bushrod Washington | alt4 = }}
The American Colonization Society (ACS) in full, ''The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America'', established in 1816 by Robert Finley of New Jersey, was founded by groups otherwise opposed to each other on the issue of slavery. The ACS intended to support the colonization of free African Americans because their presence served as "a perpetual excitement" to the enslaved blacks and threatened the slave societies of the South. All of the early organizers of the Society were slaveholders; according to annual reports of the Society, they hoped in this effort to strengthen the institution of slavery in the United States. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 on the coast of West Africa as a place for free-born American blacks. Among its supporters were Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, John Randolph, Richard Bland Lee and Bushrod Washington.
The ACS was a coalition made up mostly of evangelicals and Quakers who supported abolition, and Chesapeake slaveholders who understood that unfree labor did not constitute the economic future of the nation. They found common ground in support of so-called "repatriation". They believed blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States. The slaveholders opposed state or federally mandated abolition, but saw repatriation as a way to remove free blacks and avoid slave rebellions. From 1821, thousands of free blacks, who faced legislated limits in the U.S, moved to Liberia. Over twenty years, the colony continued to grow and establish economic stability. In 1847, the legislature of Liberia declared the nation an independent state.
The Society closely controlled the development of Liberia until its declaration of independence. By 1867, the ACS had assisted in the movement of more than 13,000 Americans to Liberia. From 1825 to 1919, it published the ''African Repository and Colonial Journal''. After 1919, the society had essentially ended, but it did not formally dissolve until 1964, when it transferred its papers to the Library of Congress. Provided by Wikipedia
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