Mapping The Freed American Slave Efforts -- Republic of Liberia
Rare map of the Republic of Liberia, drawn by Commander William Francis Lynch for the United States Navy.
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. It also provides a comprehensive look at the various regions and "counties" which over the years were assembled to create the Republic of Liberia, including:
- Kittam / Cassa Country (Purchased May 1852)
- Mesurado County
- Bassaco County (acquired in sections between 1836 and 1849)
- Sinou Country (acquired in sections between 1836 and 1846)
- Grand Sesters Territory (Ceded to Liberia in June 1949)
The map notes that it was "Drawn under the superintendence of Com. Lynch, U.S.N., at Wm. Sides Office, Balt."
The insets show:
- Monrovia and Cape Mesurado
- Junk River and Marshall
- Edina and Grand Bassa
- Sangwin River
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.