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American Colonization Society Collection

Selected images from the collection


Selling life memberships was a standard fund-raising practice of societies such as the American Colonization Society. This certificate (ca. 1840) bears a facsimile signature of Henry Clay, a founder of the ACS and its strong advocate in Congress. Clay succeeded former president James Madison as president of the society, serving from 1836 to 1849.
Manuscript Division.

[Life Membership Certificate for American Colonization Society]
[Act by State of Virginia]

For many years the ACS tried to persuade the United States Congress to appropriate funds to send colonists to Liberia. Although Henry Clay led the campaign, it failed. The society did, however, succeed in its appeals to some state legislatures. In 1850, Virginia set aside $30,000 annually for five years to aid and support emigration.
Manuscript Division.

During the 1830s, William Lloyd Garrison's violent condemnations of colonization as a slaveholder's plot to perpetuate slavery created deep hostility between abolitionists and colonizationists. Intended to encourage emigration and answer anti-colonization propaganda, the ACS pamphlet answers questions about household items needed in Liberia, climate, education, health conditions, and other concerns about the new country.
Manuscript Division.

[ACS pamphlet]
[Letter from President Joseph Jenkins Roberts of Liberia]

In this 1849 letter, President Joseph Jenkins Roberts of Liberia appeals to the government and people of the United States for aid in purchasing the territory of Gallinas, enabling Liberia to control the West-African coast from Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas. As incentive, Roberts boasts of the eradication of the slave trade in territories recently acquired by Liberia and points out that adding Gallinas would enable the republic to keep the whole coast "free from the demoralizing and wilting influence of the Slave trade."
Manuscript Division.

Congress made the importation of slaves into the United States illegal in 1808. In 1819, Congress passed an "Act in addition to the acts prohibiting the Slave Trade." This act authorized the president to send a naval squadron to African waters to apprehend illegal slave traders and appropriated $100,000 to resettle recaptured slaves in Africa. At various times, the ACS entered into agreements with the U.S. government to settle these rescued victims of the slave trade in Liberia.
Manuscript Division.

[Act in addition to the acts prohibiting the Slave Trade]
[Joseph Jenkins Roberts, head-and-shoulders portrait, slightly to right]
[51K JPEG]

Joseph Jenkins Roberts, President of Liberia. Augustus McCarty, photographer. Sixth plate daguerreotype made between 1840 and 1860.
Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction number: LC-USZ6-1945 (b&w film copy neg. post-1992)

"Day's Mission, Liberia." Photographer Unknown. Photographic print made ca. 1900.
Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction number: LC-USZ62-91964 (b&w film copy neg.)

[Day's Mission, Liberia]
[60K JPEG]

For additional images, see the online exhibit, The African-American Mosaic A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture section on Colonization.


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  October 22, 2010
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