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 Lincoln Letter Does this cryptic letter reveal Abraham Lincoln's secret strategy for winning political power?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Lindbergh-Sikorsky Fabric How do the signatures on this patch of fabric connect Charles Lindbergh to another first in flight?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Transatlantic Cable How did this twisted fragment of metal spark a communications revolution?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Seadrome Did floating airports dot the Atlantic before modern air travel?
- Related Investigation Natchez House How did a free man of color come to own this house twelve years before emancipation?
- Also in Season 7 Hindenburg Artifact Was this device snatched from the burning wreckage of the ill-fated zeppelin?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.