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Mapping The Freed American Slave Efforts -- Republic of Liberia

Scarce map of the Republic of Liberia, which illustrated an article by Sir Harry Johnston on Liberia, which was read at the Royal Geographical Society on March 27, 1905 and appeared in the Annual Report Of The Board Of Regents Of The Smithsonian Institution 1905.

The map offers a meticulous accounting of the settlements and villages created by the formation of Liberia through the resettlement of American Freed Slaves among the local populations during the period from the early 1820s to the middle of the Century. 

The color coding for the map references:

  • Principal Americo-Liberian settlements (red)
  • Densely Forested Country (green)


The larger American Colonization Society was founded in 1816.  It supported the settlement of thousands of free African Americans to their colony based in Monrovia in West Africa, along the coast.  

In 1822 the American Colonization Society began sending black volunteers to the Pepper Coast, the closest point of Africa and therefore the least expensive to reach, to establish a colony for freed blacks.  

The ACS, supported by prominent American politicians such as Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, and James Monroe, believed repatriation of free African Americans was preferable to widespread emancipation of slaves. Similar state-based organizations established colonies in Mississippi-in-Africa, Kentucky in Africa, and the Republic of Maryland, which Liberia later annexed. However, Lincoln in 1862 described Liberia as only "in a certain sense...a success", and proposed instead that free blacks be assisted to emigrate to Chiriquí, today part of Panama.