ACS Women of the Liberian Movenment

A Liberian Lady

Women abolitionists and wives of members of the ACS were also prominent figures of the Liberian movement. They educated free blacks in reading, sewing, farming, etc. in preparation for their move to Africa. Some women spearheaded the movement after slave rebellions, such as the Nat Turner Rebellion, threatened to dismantle their white American family existence.

Some Evangelical women took it upon themselves to become leaders of local colonization societies in the United States. They took free blacks into their home to show them how to cook, clean, sow, and read. All these lessons were meant to prepare African Americans for life in Liberia to help them prosper by themselves without the need for white leadership. To these Evangelical women, the work they were performing was missionary work for God rather than a political matter about slavery. Their work was also rooted in the preservation of their families. During this time, slave rebellions like Nat Turner Rebellion frightened whites who believed that slaves would create an uprising and kill them aimlessly. Nat Turner and other black men killed nearly 60 whites, mostly women, and children. Virginia legislators convened a meeting a panic to encourage more efforts to remove free blacks to prevent future rebellions instead of efforts for emancipation. Women like Anne Rice sent a family of slaves she owned to Liberia and aided their fundraising for their trip. She also helped cover the transportation costs of 4 other African American families move to Liberia. Louisa Cocke also did lessons for African Americans preparing to journey to Liberia at her home in Fluvanna County. It is important to also mention the proximity Fluvanna County is to Thomas Jefferson and his Monticello Estate. The early negotiations made by Jefferson paved the way for these small-scale emigration efforts to “fix” the African American problem. Lucy Minor, co-founder of the Fredericksburg branch of the Colonization Society, stated that women and members of Colonization Society were not immediate abolitionists but desired a “practical abolition of negro slavery.”[1] This attributes to the motives of most women in the movement because these women never wanted free blacks to acclimate to American society. Most thought that idea was impractical considering how long African Americans had been enslaved in the United States. While these women aided the transport of free blacks to Liberia, they did not amend negative perceptions surrounding African Americans nor did they aide their reallocation into American society.

[1] Whitman, T. Stephen. Challenging slavery in the Chesapeake: Black and White resistance to human bondage, 1775-1865. Pg 121. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 2007.

 

ACS Women of the Liberian Movenment