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Posts Tagged ‘American Colonization Society

“It’s the end of the world as we know it / And I feel fine”*…

From the Department of Polarization…

While the percentage of Americans who are satisfied with the direction of the United States is only around 17 percent — up from 11 percent in the pits of the pandemic but still down from 41 percent two years ago — respondents are telling pollsters that nevertheless they’re personally doing just great. Fully 85 percent of respondents said they are satisfied with how things are going in their personal life, a little bit off the all-time highs of 90 percent but still definitely on the higher side of the historical range in responses to the question, which has been asked since 1979. While 51 percent of Americans are “very dissatisfied” with the direction of the country, 51 percent are also “very satisfied” with their own personal life.

@WaltHickey and his invaluable Numlock News (@NumlockAM) on Gallup‘s (@Gallup) January, 2022 “Mood of the Nation” poll.

* REM

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As we reconcile, we might recall that it was on this date in 1820 that the first 86 African American immigrants sponsored by the American Colonization Society departed New York to start a settlement in present-day Liberia.

The ACS had been founded in 1816 by Robert Finley to encourage and support the migration of free African Americans to the continent of Africa– in response to what he and his cohort saw as a growing social problem: what to do with free Blacks. Slave owners feared that these free Blacks might help their slaves to escape or rebel. At the same time, many white Americans saw African Americans as an inferior race. To these whites, “amalgamation,” or integration, of African Americans with mainstream American culture—giving them citizenship—was undesirable, if not altogether impossible. There was, the ACS argued, little prospect of changing these views. African Americans, therefore, should be relocated somewhere they could live in peace, free of prejudice, where they could be citizens.

The African-American community and abolitionist movement overwhelmingly opposed the project. Contrary to stated claims that emigration was voluntary, many African Americans were pressured into emigrating. Indeed, enslavers sometimes manumitted their slaves on condition that the freedmen leave the country immediately. William Lloyd Garrison, author of Thoughts on African Colonization (1832), proclaimed the Society a fraud. According to Garrison and his many followers, the Society was not a solution to the problem of American slavery—it actually was helping, and was intended to help, to preserve it.

According to historian Marc Leepson, “Colonization proved to be a giant failure, doing nothing to stem the forces that brought the nation to Civil War.” Between 1821 and 1847, only a few thousand African Americans, out of millions in the US, emigrated to what would become Liberia. Close to half of them died from tropical diseases.

Map of Liberia circa 1830 (source)
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