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An African Republic

Black and White Virginians in the Making of Liberia

Marie Tyler-McGraw

Publication Year: 2007

The nineteenth-century American Colonization Society (ACS) project of persuading all American free blacks to emigrate to the ACS colony of Liberia could never be accomplished. Few free blacks volunteered, and greater numbers would have overwhelmed the meager resources of the ACS. Given that reality, who supported African colonization and why? No state was more involved with the project than Virginia, where white Virginians provided much of the political and organizational leadership and black Virginians provided a majority of the emigrants. In ###An African Republic#, Marie Tyler-McGraw traces the parallel but seldom intersecting tracks of black and white Virginians' interests in African colonization, from revolutionary-era efforts at emancipation legislation to African American churches' concern for African missions. In Virginia, African colonization attracted aging revolutionaries, republican mothers and their daughters, bondpersons schooled and emancipated for Liberia, evangelical planters and merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. ###An African Republic# follows the experiences of the emigrants from Virginia to Liberia, where some became the leadership class, consciously seeking to demonstrate black abilities, while others found greater hardship and early death. Tyler-McGraw carefully examines the tensions between racial identities, domestic visions, and republican citizenship in Virginia and Liberia. In the 19th century, the American Colonization Society sought to rid the U.S. of free blacks (and perhaps all blacks) through a highly controversial program to relocate African Americans to the African nation of Liberia. No state was more involved in this project than Virginia, which provided the initial political organization and sent the most emigrants to the ACS colony. Tyler-McGraw examines the concept of African colonization and the various groups that were attracted to it--for equally various reasons: aging Revolutionaries, republican mothers & their daughters, evangelical planters, Whiggish merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, promoters of Virginia’s historic status in the nation, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. Tyler-McGraw examines the tensions and contradictions among white colonizationists and the negotiations for autonomy between ACS agents and emancipators and the black emigrants. The book follows the experience of those who went to Liberia--some of whom became the leadership class of the country, some of whom found greater misery and hardship than they had experienced in Virginia. Tyler-McGraw’s analysis reveals who supported colonization and why, as well asthe extent to which these events kept alive, in Virginia, the debate over the future and meaning of slavery. The 19th-century American Colonization Society (ACS) project of persuading all American free blacks to emigrate to the ACS colony of Liberia could never be accomplished. Who supported African colonization and why? No state was more involved with the project than Virginia. Tyler-McGraw traces the parallel but seldom intersecting tracks of black and white Virginians' interests in African colonization. African colonization attracted aging revolutionaries, republican mothers and their daughters, bondpersons schooled and emancipated for Liberia, evangelical planters and merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. Tyler-McGraw follows the experiences of the emigrants from Virginia to Liberia, where some became the leadership class, consciously seeking to demonstrate black abilities, while others found greater hardship and early death. The nineteenth-century American Colonization Society (ACS) project of persuading all American free blacks to emigrate to the ACS colony of Liberia could never be accomplished. Few free blacks volunteered, and greater numbers would have overwhelmed the meager resources of the ACS. Given that reality, who supported African colonization and why? No state was more involved with the project than Virginia, where white Virginians provided much of the political and organizational leadership and black Virginians provided a majority of the emigrants. In ###An African Republic#, Marie Tyler-McGraw traces the parallel but seldom intersecting tracks of black and white Virginians' interests in African colonization, from revolutionary-era efforts at emancipation legislation to African American churches' concern for African missions. In Virginia, African colonization attracted aging revolutionaries, republican mothers and their daughters, bondpersons schooled and emancipated for Liberia, evangelical planters and merchants, urban free blacks, opportunistic politicians, Quakers, and gentlemen novelists. ###An African Republic# follows the experiences of the emigrants from Virginia to Liberia, where some became the leadership class, consciously seeking to demonstrate black abilities, while others found greater hardship and early death. Tyler-McGraw carefully examines the tensions between racial identities, domestic visions, and republican citizenship in Virginia and Liberia.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Any attempt to acknowledge all the specific and general assistance I have received in writing this book would turn the Acknowledgments into the Personals. I have had perceptive and energetic colleagues, and they have done what they could to encourage me and supply me with both arcane data and grand theories. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

The American Caolonization Scociety (ACS) has frequently been seen as a sideshow in nineteenth-century American history and one in which some of the nation’s more bizarre and racist concepts were on display. But the ACS, though seldom in the spotlight, occupied part of the center ring of the American experience in that century. ...

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One: A Small Frisson of Fear, Soon Soothed

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pp. 9-22

The younger men usually stayed out until well past dark on summer Sundays, but some came back from the fish feast early, complaining that the women had “eat up all the fish.” Just about the only thing worth telling about was those big talkers from the Prosser place and their claims about how many guns and swords they got and what they intended doing with them. ...

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Two: The Alchemy of Colonization

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pp. 23-38

Near the end of the eighteenth century there appeared in Virginia a Doctor Perkins who was traveling through the counties and cities of the United States on a self-described mission of mercy. He carried with him “Perkins’ Metallic Tractors,” two-forked metal instruments about four inches long, flat on one side and rounded on the other, ...

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Three: Auxiliary Arms

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pp. 39-62

In the fall of 1819, the venerable Ludwell Lee and his son, Richard Henry Lee, with a Presbyterian minister, John Mines, put out a call for a meeting in Loudoun County to discuss African colonization. Some seventy local men attended the meeting held in the county seat of Leesburg and organized the Loudoun County Auxiliary to the American Colonization Society (ACS). ...

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Four: Ho, All Ye That Are by the Pale-Faces’ Laws Oppressed: Out of Virginia

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pp. 63-82

In the early winter of 1821, a small group of Richmond free blacks gathered in the parlor of William Crane, a white shoe merchant and Baptist, to organize themselves as the Providence Baptist Church. The families of Lott Cary, Colin Teage, and the elderly Joseph Langford were about to embark for Liberia on the Nautilus, ...

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Five: My Old Mistress Promise Me

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pp. 83-104

In the winter of 1817, a young woman living near Annapolis wrote a chatty letter, full of gossip from the national capital, to her brother in Liverpool. “There is a glorious scheme in contemplation and indeed going into execution to make a colony of the free blacks in Africa. ...

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Six: Revising the Future in Virginia

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pp. 105-126

In 1827, jesse burton harrison declaimed, “Nothing is more frequent than to hear . . . lamentations over the departing greatness of our commonwealth. . . . But the most pointed complaint is of the disappearance of the old Virginia character. The mistake appears to me to consist in regretting it. ...

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Seven: Virginians in Liberia

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pp. 127-150

In the palm grove cemetery in Monrovia, Liberia, there were and perhaps still are gravestones erected by the children and grandchildren of early settlers. One marker is inscribed: “In Memory of Charles Cooper, born in Smithfield, Virginia, U.S.A. in March, 1799. Died in Monrovia on March 24, 1881. ...

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Eight: Liberians in Africa and America

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pp. 151-170

A visitor to Monrovia in 1860 professed surprise at the “degree of refinement and taste” that he found among its residents and concluded that “an aristocracy of means and education is already set up.” “the Virginians,” he added, “are said to be the leaders of the aristocracy.” ...

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Nine: Civil War to White City

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pp. 171-182

In paris, in the late 1850s, two men who knew a great deal about Liberia may have passed each other in the environs of the Luxembourg Gardens, near their residences. Theophile Conneau, restored to his birth name and protected by his brother, who was court physician to Napoleon III, had recently retired from a modest and brief position as collector of the port of Noumea in New Caledonia. ...

Notes

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pp. 183-226

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Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 227-232

Except for addresses given at reunions of abolition or benevolent societies, or perhaps the postbellum annual meetings of the American Colonization Society (ACS) itself, the ACS received scant attention from the historically inclined for fifty years after the Civil War ended. The only significant publication was a participant’s account of the Maryland Colonization Society by J. H. B. Latrobe, written in 1885. ...

Index

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pp. 233-249


E-ISBN-13: 9781469604718
E-ISBN-10: 146960471X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807831670
Print-ISBN-10: 0807831670

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 17 illus.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture