Date of Award

Summer 6-20-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Hugh Hudson

Second Advisor

Mohammed H. Ali

Third Advisor

Mary Rolinson

Abstract

This dissertation is a narrative history about nearly 800 newly freed black Georgians who sought freedom beyond the borders of the Unites States by emigrating to Liberia during the years of 1866 and 1868. This work fulfills three overarching goals. First, I demonstrate that during the wake of Reconstruction, newly freed persons’ interest in returning to Africa did not die with the Civil War. Second, I identify and analyze the motivations of blacks seeking autonomy in Africa. Third, I tell the stories and challenges of those black Georgians who chose emigration as the means to civil and political freedom in the face of white opposition. In understanding the motives of black Georgians who emigrated to Liberia, I analyze correspondence from black and white Georgians and the white leaders of the American Colonization Society and letters from Liberia settlers to black friends and families in the Unites States. These letters can be found within the American Colonization Society Papers correspondence files and some letters reprinted in the ACS’s monthly periodical, the African Repository.

To date, no single work has been published on the historical significance of black Georgians who emigrated to Liberia during Reconstruction. What my research uncovers is that that 31 percent of the 3,184 passengers transported to West Africa by the American Colonization Society from 1865 to 1877 were Georgians, thereby making Georgia, the leading states to produce the highest numbers of blacks to resettle in Liberia and the logical focal point for the African-American emigration movement during Reconstruction.

Included in

History Commons

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