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This Far by Faith

Journeys

Timeline

People

About the Series
Discussions

1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA
1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR
Next Journey
The Emigrationist Movement: A New Home or a Forced Exodus 1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW



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Timeline: 1776-1865 View Detailed Timeline
1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues



1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR
The Emigrationist Movement: A New Home or a Forced Exodus



"What nobler plan could the great Baptist denomination fall upon, than just this providential movement to effect that which is dear to their hearts, and to the hearts of all Christians -- the redemption of Africa! And what a living thing would not their work be, if perchance, they could plant some half dozen compact, intelligent, enterprising villagers of such Christian people, amid the heathen populations of West Africa!" --Alexander Crummell, "The Regeneration of Africa"



Alexander Crummell

Alexander Crummell


Although the idea of Africa as a homeland waned as more and more enslaved and free blacks were born in the United States, the idea of Africa as that which makes blacks distinctive remained. During the beginning of the nineteenth century, blacks and whites debated the merits of wholesale emigration to and colonization of the motherland.


Member certificate for the American Colonization Society.

Member certificate for the American Colonization Society.


In 1816, Robert Finley, a white Presbyterian abolitionist who nevertheless held blacks in low esteem, proposed shipping all freed blacks back to Africa. Congress joined the debate when Speaker of the House Henry Clay urged Finley to stop undermining the colonization proposal, which was seen as the answer to the problem of insurrections caused by free blacks, by calling it an abolitionist cause.

"Can there be a nobler cause," Clay said, "than that which, whilst it proposes to rid our country of a useless and pernicious, if not dangerous portion of its population, contemplates the spreading of the arts of civilized life, and the possible redemption from ignorance and barbarism of a benighted quarter of the globe?"

The AME Church, under Richard Allen, organized protests against the plan and what they feared would be forced emigration of those most committed to the complete abolition of slavery. Nonetheless, Daniel Coker, an AME minister from Baltimore, packed his bags and set off for what would become Liberia, establishing a beachhead for missionary activity there. By 1847, Liberia was an independent country, and would become prominent in the thinking of two towering figures in the history of black Americans who were also men of faith: Alexander Crummell and Edward Blyden.

Crummell, a freeborn New Yorker and an Episcopalian minister, had been a prominent critic of colonization. But after enduring a series of indignities from his fellow Episcopalians, he embarked for Liberia in 1853. By then more than 8,000 African-Americans had settled in Liberia. Using their control of political and educational affairs and their American cultural orientation, they drew lines of caste between themselves and the indigenous people. Crummell, too, held notions of African "crudeness" but also championed "African nationality." He maintained that Africa had been the true cradle of civilization.


Edward Blyden

Edward Blyden


Edward Blyden, born in the Dutch West Indies, came to America in 1850 to study for the ministry. Denied the opportunity, he left for Liberia, where he became a Presbyterian missionary agent. Blyden came to discern in blacks a distinctive racial genius that deserved to be preserved and cultivated. Blending his own historical research with the work of other black intellectuals, he argued that slavery had been ordained by Providence to prepare African-Americans for the task of redeeming their ancestral continent.


Martin Delany

Martin Delany



Martin Delany was to become antebellum America's most famous emigrationist. Born in western Virginia of a free mother and a slave father, Delany grew up in Pennsylvania, where he converted to the AME church. In the late 1840s he joined Frederick Douglass' publication, The North Star. Initially, he opposed colonization, but his faith in his homeland dissipated after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. He then advocated emigration to Central and South America. In 1859, he left the United States and set out to find a place where African-Americans could fully develop their faculties and exercise self-government.




People of Faith


 Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth

 Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass


Did You Know?



White religious denominations contributed to colonization.
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