The American Colonization Society

What is it and what does it do?

American Society for Colonizing the free people of Color of the United States.

The American Colonization Society is short for American Society for Colonizing the free people of Color of the United States. It was an American organization dedicated to transporting freeborn blacks and emancipated slaves to Africa. It was founded in 1816 by Robert Finley, a Presbyterian principle.

The membership of the ACS was mostly white and they all generally agreed that free blacks could not be integrated into white America.

In other words, the society’s idea was to purchase and free slaves, pay their passage to the west coast of Africa, and assisting them after their arrival there.

There were many different opinions on the ACS, some were pro it and some opposed it. For example, some saw colonization as humanitarian effort and a means of ending slavery. While others, like the antislavery advocates,opposed the society. They believed that its true intention was to drain off the best of the free black population and preserve the institution of slavery.


Other Important Information of the American Colonization Society.

The ACS was a coalition made up mostly of evangelicals, Quakers who supported the abolition, and Chesapeake slaveholders who agreed that unfree labor did not constitute the economic future of the nation. They found common ground in support of so-called "repatriation".

The ACS also believed that blacks would face better chances for a good and full life in Africa than in the United States.

Critics have said and believed that the ACS was a racist society, but at the same time others said it had benevolent origins and later takeover by men with visions of an American empire in Africa.

In addition, the Society closely controlled the development of Liberia until its declaration of independence. So in 1867, the ACS had assisted in the movement of more than 13,000 Americans to Liberia. From 1825 to 1919, it published the African Repository and Colonial Journal.


The ACS Primary Source (the quote itself)

“The state of the free colored population of the United States, is one of extreme and remediless degradation, of gross irreligion, of revolting profligacy, and, of course, deplorable wretchedness. Who can doubt ... the blacks among us are peculiarly addicted to habits of low vice and shameless profligacy? They are found in vast numbers in the haunts of riot and dissipation and intemperance where they squander in sin the scanty earnings of their toil, contract habits of grosser iniquity and are prepared for acts of daring outrage and of enormous guilt. ... Squalid poverty, loathsome and painful disease, fell and torturing passions, and diversified and pitiable forms of misery are to be found (there).”

Primary Source Quote Explanation

John Hough (a professor of languages at Middlebury college)

preached this in a sermon about the Colonization Society.

It was preached in Montpelier on October 18, 1826. At the time, Society was more racist in the states where less blacks lived, for example in Vermont, with not so many blacks, had one of the most active in New England.

I can tell that Dr. John Hough was very racist for what the meaning of ‘racist’ is today. Maybe a while ago in the American Colonization

Society this wasn’t considered being very racist but now a days it is.

He talks about blacks as if they are inferior and different to him and the whites.

This speech was written for college students so the audience was different and more flexible than talking to adults.

Between the rhetoric of the Northern colonizationist and that of the Southern slavery-apologist, there is often little to choose. They saw the same scene, and differed only in the proposed solution: long termed enslavement and paternalism, or short-term riddance back to Africa.

This sermon is trying to get the point across that blacks are inferior and not worthy of living at the same life standards of the whites. It says that the blacks are “grosser” and not equal to him and his white population.

This sermon and primary source is important because it shows some colonizationist

mentality at the time. It shows how whites thought they had more power and were superior.

Multiple Choice Question

The ACS believed that

a: The act of slavery was ok but the slaves should be freed after a certain point.

b: Blacks would have a better life in Africa than in America.

c: Blacks deserved to have whites as slaves.

d: Being racist was completely okay in the human nature.