The first organized immigration of freed slaves to Africa from the United States leaves New York Harbor for a trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa. Immigration was largely the work of the American Colonization Society, an American organization founded in 1816 by Robert Finley to return formerly enslaved Africans to Africa. However, the expedition was also partially funded by the United States Congress, which in 1819 had earmarked $ 100,000 for the return of displaced Africans brought illegally to the United States after the abolition of the slave trade in 1808, in Africa.
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The program was modeled on the British efforts to resettle formerly enslaved people in Africa after the abolition of the slave trade by England in 1772. In 1787, the British government installed 300 former slaves and 70 white prostitutes on the Sierra Leone peninsula in West Africa. In less than two years, most of the members of this colony had died of disease or of war with the inhabitants of Temne. However, in 1792 a second attempt was made when 1,100 once enslaved people, mostly people who had supported Britain during the American Revolution and who were not happy with their post-war resettlement in Canada, founded Freetown. under the direction of British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson.
Over the following decades, thousands of formerly enslaved people came from Canada, the West Indies and other parts of West Africa to the colony of Sierra Leone, and in 1820 the first former slaves of the States -United have arrived in Sierra Leone. In 1821, the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia south of Sierra Leone as the homeland for American slaves freed outside British jurisdiction.
Most Americans of African descent were not enthusiastic about abandoning their homes in the United States for the West African coast. The American Colonization Society was also attacked by American abolitionists, who accused the United States’ withdrawal of former slaves of strengthening the institution of slavery. However, between 1822 and the American Civil War, some 15,000 African Americans settled in Liberia, which gained independence from the United States in 1847 under pressure from Great Britain. Liberia obtained official diplomatic recognition from the United States in 1862. It was the first independent democratic republic in African history.
READ MORE: How a movement to send once enslaved people to Africa created Liberia