|Tag(s):||African-Americans, Migration/Transportation, Race-Relations|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
In the early nineteenth century, the country was concerned with slavery in America and getting rid of it in a timely manner with as little consequences as possible. In order to help this concern, The American Colonization Society was founded in 1817. Border States such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia had the most chapters because of their locations and ideas about slavery. In Virginia, many prominent men were members of this society, including James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hartwell Cocke of Fluvanna Country. The Society was a national club and needed to keep its members bonded together on one common cause. One way that they accomplished this was to send out a newsletter called the Circular.
The 1819 Circular, informed John Cocke of a colony that was in the works of being established in Africa so that the Society could finally put its thoughts into action. Despite only being two years old at the time, the society already had strong ideas and a plan to bring about colonization. They worked out their plan in great detail to ensure that it would work and go over well; they knew minute details such as which port the slaves would leave from and where the former slaves were going. The colony that the Circular publicized was Liberia. In 1821, Liberia became the colony of African American colonization in Africa; the city of Monrovia was the major city of this colony, named for President James Monroe. This letter was an informational letter sent to all of the members to show progress in this endeavor; many other letters followed to keep the members posted on development in the project.
This Colony was formed out of fear that if slavery were abolished and the slaves were left in America as freedmen, they would revolt against their former owners. Virginia, Cocke's home state, was the first place in America to hold slaves and had already experienced turmoil from unhappy slaves. Virginians feared slave revolts like the Gabriel Revolt of 1800 and the Denmark Vessey Revolt in Haiti in 1822. They feared that since they had held slaves for so long that they slaves would have a strong vengeance against the slave owners. Colonization seemed like the perfect alternative; it would slowly ease the slave holders away from slavery and get the enslaved people away from the land of their former masters and back to their homeland.
Colonization was a dominate idea in the United States in the era before the Civil War. Some southerners favored colonization because they did not want to have their slaves turn on them after they were freed, and northerners did not want African Americans in their country because of racist feelings that were prevalent in the North in the early nineteenth century. Both regions could agree on this alternative to abolition, despite their obvious differences about slavery. The American Colonization Society combined these regional fears into a club with a common cause that all Americans could relate to and support.