American Colonization Society

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The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America, commonly known as the American Colonization Society (ACS), was a group established in 1816 by Robert Finley of New Jersey which supported the migration of free African Americans to the continent of Africa. It helped to found a colony on the Pepper Coast of West Africa (which became independent Liberia in 1848) in 1821–22 as a place for free-born or manumitted American blacks. The ACS met with immediate and continuing objections from African Americans like James Forten and David Walker, who wished to remain in the land of their birth, saw colonization as a racist strategy for protecting slavery and purging the U.S. of its black citizens, and preferred to fight for equal rights at home.

The ACS was founded by groups otherwise opposed to each other on the issue of slavery, being a coalition made up mostly of evangelicals and Quakers who supported abolition of slavery and believed blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States, and some slaveholders (in the Maryland branch and elsewhere) who saw repatriation as a way to remove free blacks from slave societies and avoid slave rebellions. The Society attracted numerous prominent supporters from the Virginia Piedmont region. The two opposed groups found common ground in support of so-called "repatriation".

Among the society's supporters were Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, John Randolph, Richard Bland Lee and Bushrod Washington. The Society was especially prominent among slaveowners in the Virginia Piedmont region in the 1820s and 1830s. American presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison were among its supporters. James Madison served as the Society's president in the early 1830s.

From 1821, thousands of free blacks, who faced legislated restrictions in much of 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 ACS had closely controlled the development of Liberia until its declaration of independence. By 1867, the ACS had assisted in the emigration of more than 13,000 Americans to Liberia.

From 1825 to 1919, it published the ''African Repository and Colonial Journal''. After 1919, the society 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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