Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back to the Land of the Free

On February 6 in Black History...

In 1820, the first organized group of emigrating freed slaves departed on on February 6, The Elizabeth from New York to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in West Africa. The enterprise was organized by the American Colonization Society, founded in 1816 by educator Robert Finley (1772-1817) with the mission of returning freed American slaves to Africa. Finley had taught in Charleston, S.C., a slave-importing port. In 1819, Congress had authorized the return of freed black slaves. The lawmakers appropriated $100,000, a large sum at the time, to be used in returning displaced Africans who had been brought to the United States illegally after the abolishment of the slave trade in 1808. With congressional approval, the American Colonization Society in 1821 founded the colony of Liberia, which means Land of the Free, located south of Sierra Leone, as a permanent homeland for freed U.S. slaves.

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