Anti-Slavery Movement/American Colonization Society


Carlos Alvarez

The American Colonization Society (ACS) was founded in 1817 by Charles Fenton Mercer, William H. Fitzhugh, Francis Scott Key, John Marshall, and James Monroe. All of the founders of the ACS were extremely rich men. No one really knows the exact reason why the society was started. Most people believe that racism was the main reason. In fact the purpose of the American Colonization Society and its 218 auxiliary societies was not to end slavery but to get free blacks out of the country. It would also be wrong to say that all members thought the same. Some members thought more on the line of abolitionist, they hoped that the society would eventually led to complete abolition of slavery.

The idea behind colonization was simple. They just wanted to get all of the blacks out of the country. The ACS established Liberia in 1822. Liberia (pop up colonization number one) was formed as colony, but in 1847 became an independent nation. Liberia was located on the West Coast of Africa. By 1867, the society had sent more than 13,000 emigrants.

Many people in the ACS including Jefferson believed that a biracial American society was untenable. They all agreed that slavery was wrong. The ACS had very prominent national leaders, such as Henry Clay, and John Randolph. Both Henry Clay and John Randolph were from the upper south. Even though five Slave States endorsed the ACS, not all southerners liked the idea.

 One man that was deeply disturbed with the ideas of the ACS was John C. Calhoun. He fought hard against colonization. In fact free blacks opposed colonization themselves. They did not like the idea of being sent across the ocean to a place they have never been. By this time most blacks living in America were native to America. The ACS was also strongly attacked by Abolitionists. It was the belief of most young radical abolitionists that slavery would just fade away after the revolution against Britain. This wasn't so; the freedom of blacks was coming at a very slow pace. They called for immediate emancipation

Even if the idea behind the ACS was well intended it was impractical. In 14 years only 1,420 slaves were sent to Africa. With 500,000 slaves being born it was impossible to get all the blacks out of the country(pop up colonization number two). With the prices of slaves increasing from $400 to $1,500 per slaves, it meant that even with some financial support from the national government, and there own fund raiser, they did not have the funds to free all of the slaves (pop up colonization number four). In the end colonization did not succeed in freeing all the slaves but it helped pave the way to the emancipation proclamation.