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Lincoln: 1863 plan to relocate blacks to Caribbean #399957
02/10/11 09:38 AM
02/10/11 09:38 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,279
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

VIENNA, Va, February 8, 2011 — Recent historical discoveries in England indicate that shortly after issuing his Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln spent most of a year working out a plan to relocate freed blacks to the Caribbean.

“Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement” by Dr. Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page (University Missouri Press)

“Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement” by Dr. Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page (University Missouri Press)

The story was obviously kept under wraps, due to a little known agreement with Great Britain, while freedmen’s settlements in the colonies of Belize and Guyana, both being colonial possessions of the British Empire, could be worked out.It brings a different ray of light to the President best known for abolishing slavery in the Southern states where they were held.

It seems that while the U.S. government did investigate the sites in the Caribbean and even went so far as to plan for the first shipload of “settlers,” it never came to fruition due to political squabbling inside Lincoln’s own cabinet.

Thanks to the intrepid research of historian researchers, Dr. Phillip W. Magness of George Mason University’s Institute for Humane Studies here in Fairfax, VA and Sebastian N. Page, a junior research fellow at Oxford, the little known story has been found and will be published as “Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement" (University of Missouri Press: ISBN0826219098) due out next week (02/14/11.)

Talking with Dr. Magness tonight, he mentioned his overriding interest in the whole emancipation subject, and the discovery of a note regarding a meeting between Lincoln and former Union Gen. Benjamin “Beast” Butler at the White House on April 11, 1865 to discuss reviving the subject of colonization.

His interest whetted, he began the long research task, both at the U. S. National Archives and at the British National Archives outside London.

“Lincoln personally pitched the scheme to the British ambassador only three weeks after the Emancipation Proclamation,” Magness told me, however “It was a matter of diplomatic secrecy, so it left a very sparse paper trail.”

There was a cryptic paper from 1863, Magness said, from a John Hodge from British Honduras, who was a prominent shipping company operator in Belize; Hodge had been trying to recruit freed blacks to go to Belize, offering them citizenship and plots of company land in return for settling.

Dr. Phillip W. Magness

Dr. Phillip W. Magness

Hodge was a major landowner, well connected all the way up to the Prime Minster in London, and he had the papers necessary to meet with Lincoln.

Going back to 1850, according to Dr. Magness’ research, Lincoln had worked with the American Colonization Society with James Mitchell, who was the point man for contacts in the colony of Belize.

The whole idea had its critics – many thought it was just another form of slavery, and that the freed blacks would fare little better there than they had before emancipation in America.

Making scouting trips to Belize in late 1862 were two African Americans, one being John Willis Menard, the first black elected to Congress. He, too, was interested in the subject of colonization and had debated it with Frederick Douglass. Other concerns included whether the men resettled would have voting rights and property ownership rights.

Among some of the papers found at the English archives is an 1863 order signed by Lincoln granting a British agent permission to recruit volunteers among the freed slaves, with the idea of transporting them to Belize. There seems little doubt that Lincoln was personally invested in the overall concept.

Jamaica was another potential colony site under consideration at the time, and it was Menard who went there to check it out. About that time, the bloody Morant Bay revolution took place in Jamaica. This was a political uprising in late 1865, when the Governor of Jamaica violently repressed it, murdering several people involved. 

Lincoln's 1863 order authorizing John Hodge to recruit ex-slaves for Belize

Lincoln's 1863 order authorizing John Hodge to recruit ex-slaves for Belize

Maynard was caught up in the revolution and went no further with the idea. 

The overall colonization project was sufficiently viable to the point that James Mitchell was appointed head of a new government Immigration Office.

More political differences arose, and it was defunded in 1864 without any further actions being taken. When that happened and Mitchell had no further position, all of the American papers simply disappeared.

The majority of the documents that Magness and Page had to work with were found among the British holdings, and “we essentially had to reconstruct what happened from the letters between them and the transcribed copies that had gone back and forth across the Atlantic,” he said.

Four days before the birthday of the 16th President on February 12, the research of the two historians adds a new chapter to the storied life of Abraham Lincoln.


Follow the blog on FaceBook at MarthaBoltz; email is [email protected] . Read more of Martha’s columns on The Civil War at the Communities at the Washington Times.

Re: Lincoln: 1863 plan to relocate blacks to Caribbean [Re: Marty] #399958
02/10/11 09:42 AM
02/10/11 09:42 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,279
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Book: Lincoln sought to deport freed slaves [Linked Image]

The Great Emancipator was almost the Great Colonizer: Newly released documents show that to a greater degree than historians had previously known, President Lincoln laid the groundwork to ship freed slaves overseas to help prevent racial strife in the U.S.

Just after he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Lincoln authorized plans to pursue a freedmen’s settlement in present-day Belize and another in Guyana, both colonial possessions of Great Britain at the time, said Phillip W. Magness, one of the researchers who uncovered the new documents.

Historians have debated how seriously Lincoln took colonization efforts, but Mr. Magness said the story he uncovered, to be published next week in a book, “Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement,” shows the president didn’t just flirt with the idea, as historians had previously known, but that he personally pursued it for some time.

“The way that Lincoln historians have grappled with colonization has always been troublesome. It doesn’t mesh with the whole ‘emancipator,’ ” Mr. Magness said. “The revelation of this story changes the picture on that because a lot of historians have tended to downplay colonization. … What we know now is he did continue the effort for at least a year after the proclamation was signed.”

Mr. Magness said the key documents he and his co-author, Sebastian N. Page, a junior research fellow at Oxford, found were in British archives, and included an order authorizing a British colonial agent to begin recruiting freed slaves to be sent to the Caribbean in June 1863.

By early 1864, the scheme had fallen apart, with British officials fretting over the legality of the Emancipation Proclamation and the risk that the South could still win the war, and with the U.S. Congress questioning how the money was being spent.

Roughly a year later, Lincoln was assassinated.

The Belize and Guyana efforts followed other aborted colonization attempts in present-day Panama and on an island off the coast of Haiti, which actually received several hundred freed slaves in 1862, but failed the next year.

Michael Burlingame, chair of Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said there are two ways to view Lincoln’s public support for colonization.

One side holds that it shows Lincoln could not envision a biracial democracy, while the other stance — which Mr. Burlingame subscribes to — says Lincoln’s public actions were “the way to sugarcoat the emancipation pill” for Northerners.

“So many people in the North said we will not accept emancipation unless it is accompanied by colonization,” said Mr. Burlingame, adding that Lincoln himself had always made clear colonization would be voluntary and nobody would be forced out of the United States.

The newly released documents underscore just how hot a topic colonization was in the 1800s, when prominent statesmen debated whether blacks and whites could ever live together in a functioning society.

Earlier in the century, the American Colonization Society already had organized efforts to ship thousands of black Americans to Africa to the colony of Liberia, and the debate over colonization raged even within the black community.

Frederick Douglass, one of the country’s most prominent free blacks, generally opposed colonization, though Mr. Burlingame said on a couple of occasions he showed signs he might embrace it — including appearing open to a venture in Haiti during the Civil War.

Still, Douglass also rejected the argument that blacks and whites couldn’t live together, and he pointed to places in the North as examples of where it already was happening.

Mr. Burlingame said some abolitionists viewed colonization as a plot to preserve slavery by getting rid of free blacks in the North, while others saw it as a way to undermine slavery by fundamentally questioning the principles slavery was based on.

Mr. Magness, a researcher at the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, said he first got wind of Lincoln’s efforts while researching a meeting between the 16th president and Union Gen. Benjamin Butler in the waning days of the war, at which colonization had been discussed.

Most of the U.S. documents about the Belize and Guyana deals have gone missing, but Mr. Magness and his co-author tracked down what he called an “almost untapped treasure cache of Civil War-era records” from the British side that showed Lincoln’s deep involvement in the planning and authorization.

With 4 million blacks in the U.S. at the time of the war, colonization would have been a tricky and pricey move.

The Belize project’s first shipment of laborers would have only been 500, and even if the project had been seen through to fruition, it would have accommodated just 50,000.

Washington Times

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