The New International Encyclopædia/Colonization Society, The National, of America
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Colonization Society, The National, of America
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COLONIZATION SOCIETY, The National, of America. An association organized in 1816, by Robert Finley (q.v.), “to promote a plan for colonizing (with their consent) the free people of color residing in our country, in Africa, or such other place as Congress may deem most expedient.” Branches were established throughout the country and an active propaganda was conducted in almost every State, the official agents of the society speaking frequently in public and soliciting the coöperation of the various State legislatures. The first colonists were sent out to Sherbro Island, Africa, in 1820; and two years later Liberia was founded. Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, James Madison, Henry Clay, and J. H. B. Latrobe served successively as presidents of the society, while such men as Bishop Hopkins, Rufus King, Dr. Channing, Benjamin Lundy, Gerrit Smith, and James G. Birney were at one time zealous members. After about 1831, however, when the movement for abolition may be said to have first attracted general attention, the inadequacy and impracticability of the society's aims became increasingly apparent, and many of its more influential members withdrew their support. Its persistent refusal to interfere in any way with slavery, moreover, and its apparent encouragement of the racial prejudices of the whites against the blacks alienated many others who, though strongly opposing the radicalism of Garrison, believed in a policy of gradual abolition, and had faith in the negro's capacity for improvement. The general idea of colonization seems to have originated with the Rev. Samuel Hopkins, of Newport, in 1770. Consult: Wilson, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, vol. i. (Boston, 1875); and Alexander, A History of Colonization on the Western Coast of Africa (Philadelphia, 1846).
The shortcomings of the society's aims, judged from an abolitionist standpoint, are admirably set forth in Garrison, Thoughts on Colonization (Boston, 1832); Birney, Letter on Colonization (New York, 1834); and Jay, An Inquiry into the Character and Tendency of the American Colonization and Anti-Slavery Societies (New York, 1834).