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 Rogue Book Who did this book of rogue characters belong to?
- Related Investigation Monroe Letter Does this letter link America's President to the high seas piracy of U.S. merchant ships in the early 1800s?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi The Disappearance of Glenn Miller In 1944, bandleader Glenn Miller boarded a plane for Paris and was never seen again. What happened?
- Also in Industrialization: 1870-1900 Cemetery Alarm Was this explosive device used to stop a morbid black market trade?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Fillmore Pardon Did President Fillmore pardon a Native American convicted of murder?
- Also in Season 7 Stalag 17 Portrait What happened to the artist of this portrait made in a German POW camp?
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