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Library of Congress, Manuscript Division [American Colonization Society Papers]

ACS Membership Certificate

In order to raise money, the American Colonization Society sold life memberships to white Americans. African Americans were suspicious of the motives of their white compatriots in promoting the colonization or—as they saw it—deportation of free blacks. As Peter Williams, a black New Yorker, stated at St. Philip's Church in Lower Manhattan in 1830: "How inconsistent are those who say that Africa will be benefited by the removal of the free people of colour of the United States there, while they say they are the most vile and degraded people in the world. If we are as vile and degraded as they represent us, and they wish Africans to be rendered a virtuous, enlightened and happy people, they should not think of sending us among them, lest we make them worse instead of better." Carter G. Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations (Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc., 1925)

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