Colonization and Emigration
Overview
The Reasons for Emigration and Colonization
The Colonization of Sierra Leone
The Colonization of Liberia
Migration to Haiti
Migrations to Other Lands
The Debate over Emigration and Colonization
Marcus Garvey's Back-to-Africa Movement
Consequences of Colonization and Emigration
References
Links

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< The Colonization of LiberiaMigrations to Other Lands >

Because of its association with the ACS, many African Americans opposed Liberian emigration. Other sites were proposed - Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Niger Valley, Canada, and Haiti. For a short while, Haiti proved the most popular of these alternatives.

The first black republic and the second country to gain independence, under the leadership of François Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, Haiti had served as a place of asylum for runaways and free men and women over the years. This fact, plus its proximity to the United States and its history of self-liberation and Christianity, made the island attractive to black proponents of emigration. They stressed that since it was so close, emigrants would not be abandoning their enslaved brothers and sisters. White advocates saw Haiti as another site to which undesirable free blacks could be deported.

Correspondence Relative to the Emigration to Hayti, of the Free People of Colour in the United States. Together with the Instructions to the Agent Sent Out by President Boyer.Correspondence Relative to the Emigration to Hayti, of the Free People of Colour in the United States. Together with the... by Loring Daniel Dewey

In 1824, the New York Colonization Society received a commitment from Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer to pay the passage of U.S. emigrants. Boyer also promised to support them for their first four months and to grant them land. The same year, African-American leaders, including wealthy Philadelphia businessman James Forten and Bishop Richard Allen, formed the Haytian Emigration Society of Coloured People. They arranged for the transportation of several hundred people, not only to Haiti but also to Santo Domingo, the Spanish-speaking western part of the island of Hispaniola that had been conquered by Haiti in 1822.

Report from HaytiAfrican Repository and Colonial Journal, Vol. 5 (April 1829)Report from Hayti from African Repository and Colonial Journal, Vol. 5 (April 1829)
Marriage License and Naturalization Documents of American Migrants to HaitiWilliamson PapersMarriage License and Naturalization Documents of American Migrants to Haiti from Williamson Papers
A Merging of Two Cultures: The Afro-Hispanic Immigrants of Samana, Dominican RepublicAfro-Hispanic Review, vol. 8, nos. 1 & 2 (January and May 1989)A Merging of Two Cultures: The Afro-Hispanic Immigrants of Samana, Dominican Republic from Afro-Hispanic Review, vol. 8, nos. 1 & 2 (January and May 1989) by E. Valerie Smith

New efforts to settle African Americans in Haiti were launched in the mid-nineteenth century. Emperor Faustin Soulouque and James Theodore Holly entered into discussions in 1855 on the settling of African Americans in the island state. After Soulouque was deposed, the new President, Nicolas Fabre Geffrard, appointed his own representative, James Redpath, a white American reporter, as General Agent. His mission was to attract immigrants to the island.

A Guide to HaytiA Guide to Hayti

One of Redpath's agents was Holly, who emerged as the leading advocate of Haitian emigration. He believed that African Americans could profoundly influence the development of the Haitian Republic:

Our brethren of Hayti, who stand in the vanguard of the race, have already made a name, and a fame for us, that is as imperishable as the world's history. . . .It becomes then an important question for the negro race in America . . .to contribute to the continued advancement of this negro nationality of the New World until its glory and renown shall overspread the whole earth, and redeem and regenerate by its influence in the future, the benighted Fatherland of the race in Africa.

Thoughts on HaytiThe Anglo-African Magazine, vol.1, no.10 (October 1859) and vol.1, no.11 (November 1859)Thoughts on Hayti from The Anglo-African Magazine, vol.1, no.10 (October 1859) and vol.1, no.11 (November 1859) by Holly, Theodore

In the early 1860s, partly as a result of Holly's relentless proselytizing, African American interest in colonization increased. Haiti's president, Fabre Geffrard, hoping to ease the island's labor shortage, promoted policies that encouraged immigration but were not as generous as those offered in the 1820s.

In March 1861, Holly sailed to Haiti with 111 migrants from Connecticut and Canada. During the course of the year, several other journeys brought 800 more to the island. Most were unprepared for life in a different environment. Many complained about the climate and the language barrier, and expressed contempt for Vodou and Catholicism. Haitians were often suspicious of the immigrants, whom they described as lazy and uncooperative. Most immigrants, who came from American cities, did not want to work on farms and sold the land they had received for free in order to settle in the urban centers, where they could not find work. In addition, the government's subsidy policy depleted the country's already minimal treasury by funding emigrants who often left after their four months were over. The majority of the Americans returned home, but others kept on arriving.


President Abraham Lincoln had for some years advocated the removal of freed slaves as a partial solution to the nation's "race problem." In 1863, he supported the transportation of 453 men and women - most were former bondspeople from Virginia - to L'Ile-à-Vache, an island off the Haitian coast. The experiment failed due to inadequate planning and poor leadership. In less than a year, the survivors were returned to the United States.


Many Americans, black and white, were opposed to Haitian immigration. Their attacks were not as strong as those against Liberia, mainly because it was a movement initiated, for the most part, by African Americans. In fact, the 1854 National Emigration Convention actually endorsed Haitian immigration. But the opponents of Haiti were numerous. Frederick Douglass, who was opposed to emigration but had finally encouraged the Haitian movement, later abandoned the cause.

Widespread migration to Haiti never materialized. Estimates of the number of African Americans who made the trip range from eight thousand to thirteen thousand, but most returned to the United States. Unlike the situation in Liberia, the island's fairly large but mostly transient African-American community left no lasting evidence of its presence.

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