History Detectives traces one freed man's dream to return to Africa. By the early 19th century, the United States was home to increasing numbers of free blacks. In some places, much of the white establishment considered their status with growing alarm. In the south, where the slave system was most entrenched, free blacks were considered a threat to the status quo. Hostility and even violence against free blacks were common.
This tension gave birth to the Back to Africa movement. Over the next century, some 16,000 black Americans sailed to West Africa to establish the Republic of Liberia. It was one of the largest organized out-migrations in US history.
Vernetia Jenkins of Lynchburg, South Carolina has long been mystified by some old family letters, and their connection to Africa. One letter in particular, from 1877, has caught Vernetia's attention; it is from her grandmother's brother, Harvey McLeod, and it suggests that he was heading to Liberia, but did Harvey make it to Liberia?
- Related Investigation Civil War Bridge Has a new discovery rewritten Civil War history?
- Also in Industrialization: 1870-1900 Cemetery Alarm Was this explosive device used to stop a morbid black market trade?
- Related Investigation Vicksburg Map Could this mysterious map have been at the front lines of one of the most explosive battles of the Civil War?
- Also in Season 7 WWII Diary Does this diary hold the key to understanding the fate of a missing bomber pilot from World War II?
- Also in Season 7 Shipwreck Cannons Are these the last remains of a navy schooner that fought in a border dispute with the mighty British Empire?
- Also in Season 7 Amelia Earhart Plane Was this piece of metal ripped from one of the most famous missing planes in history?
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