Other Caribbean islands were also proposed as possible destinations, and
small numbers of African Americans did immigrate to various colonies.
In the aftermath of the 1812 war between the United States and Great
Britain, several hundred African-American soldiers who had sided with England
were sent to the southern part of Trinidad. They received sixteen acres of land
and quickly became assimilated into Trinidadian society. Between 1839 and 1847,
another 1,301 Americans migrated to the island.
Several hundred people moved to Mexico in 1894 as part of a development
scheme established by W. H. Ellis, an African-American businessman from Texas.
Ellis later went to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), hoping to arrange for black
migration to that country, but nothing appears to have come of it.
Canada's first critical mass of African-American immigrants comprised five thousand
free and enslaved Loyalists. Most had fought alongside the British during the
American War for Independence, while a third had been brought by their British
After the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain, about two
thousand African Americans crossed the border. Long a safe haven for American
runaways, Canada became a land of immigration for free African-Americans after the
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 put them at risk of being fraudulently sold into
slavery. Canadian migration was advocated by Theodore Holly, Henry Bibb - a
runaway who founded the newspaper The Voice of the Fugitive
- and Mary Ann Shadd, editor of the Provincial Freeman.
By the mid-nineteenth century, the country had about forty black
settlements, but it is estimated that thirty thousand black Canadians left
during and after the Civil War to fight with the Union Army and be reunited
with their families.
Immigration to Canada was revived in the twentieth century when over a
thousand African Americans settled in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta
between 1905 and 1912.
Some arrived from Kansas and Texas, but most came from Oklahoma. The
latter left behind a state where racial violence and segregation were on the
rise, and where their right to vote had been largely taken away in 1910. Many
had moved there from the Deep South to escape racism and discrimination, and
once again, they were ready to pack up and leave in search of freedom.
Henry Sneed, an African American from Texas who had migrated to
Oklahoma, organized the first group of 194 Canadian settlers. They left with
nine railroad carloads of farm implements and livestock. But the movement north
stopped in 1912 because of growing opposition from Canada's government and
citizens, as well as anti-emigration black advocates.