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Collection Daguerreotypes

American Colonization Society

Augustus Washington. [Unidentified woman, probably a member of the Urias McGill family, three-quarters length portrait, facing front, holding daguerreotype case] sixth plate daguerreotype, between 1854 and 1860.

The American Colonization Society, a private philanthropic organization, was organized in Washington, D.C., in 1817 for the purpose of relocating freeborn and emancipated blacks to Africa. The Society's supporters espoused a wide range of viewpoints on slavery and the treatment of blacks, ranging from advocacy of the abolition of slavery to the removal of the Negro race from the United States.

Rufus Anson.[Joseph Jenkins Roberts, three-quarters length portrait, full face] sixth plate daguerreotype, between 1851 and 1860.

Joseph Jenkins Roberts was the first president of Liberia. Roberts was born in Virginia, and emigrated to Liberia when he was twenty years old. He served as lieutenant-governor of Liberia for three years. When Thomas H. Buchanan, the white governor appointed by the American Colonization Society, died, Roberts assumed his position. Roberts served as Liberia's president from 1848-1856 and from 1872-1876.

Rufus Anson. [Jane Roberts, three-quarters length portrait of a woman, full face] sixth plate daguerreotype, between 1851 and 1860.

Jane Waring Roberts emigrated to Liberia from Virginia in 1824. In 1836, she married Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who became Liberia's first president. In 1887 she started a project to build a hospital at Monrovia, Liberia's capital.

Photographer unidentified. [Edward J. Roye, three-quarters length portrait, standing, with hand raised] sixth plate daguerreotype, between 1856 and 1860.

Edward Roye was born into a prosperous family in Newark, Ohio. He emigrated to Liberia in 1846 and set up business as a merchant. In 1849, Roye became active in Liberian politics, rising to the position of President of the Republic in 1870. Roye took office in the midst of a fiscal crisis and was ultimately ousted by his opponents in 1871.

Augustus Washington. [Urias A. McGill, half-length portrait, facing front] sixth plate daguerreotype, between 1854 and 1860.

Urias was one of four McGill brothers who ran a very successful business in Liberia. The brothers owned several trans-Atlantic vessels for exporting Liberian products such as palm oil and camwood. The firm also operated a store in Monrovia. McGill's portrait was taken by the African-American photographer Augustus Washington, who emigrated to Liberia in 1853.