Colonization Society of Wayne County, Ohio

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In the United States, before the Civil War, the idea of freeing slaves held captive in the United States created debates and conflict, even in Wayne County, Ohio. While some groups of people wanted the immediate emancipation of all slaves, others thought that freeing the slaves should be done in a slower step-by-step process. One group that felt this way was The American Colonization Society, which formed in 1817. They favored freeing slaves gradually and resettling them in Africa.

In 1822, the American Colonization Society purchased land established a colony on the West Coast of Africa that eventually became the nation of Liberia. Each year the Society sent a group of settlers from the United States to the colony. The last group of settlers sent to Liberia by the American Colonization Society was in 1904. After which the American Colonization Society functioned as a Liberian Aid Society until it finally dissolved in 1964.

On January 25, 1839, an auxiliary to the American Colonization Society was formed in Wayne County, Ohio. The first meeting was led by Gen. Reasin Beall, with Rev. J. H. Hoffman appointed Vice-President, and John P. Coulter, acting as Secretary. John H. Harris, Constant Lake, and Levi Cox were appointed to draft a constitution for the new organization. Reportedly, upwards of 125 people became members and appointed Levi Cox, President; James Jacobs, Vice President; John P. Coulter, Secretary; and Joseph Stibbs Treasurer.

However, as the abolitionist movement grew in the early 1830s, abolitionists' criticism of the Colonization Society began to erode its support. Unlike the people in the American Colonization Society who believed that slavery should gradually end, abolitionists called for an immediate end to slavery. In addition, many abolitionists considered it inhumane to deport black-americans to Liberia, where they struggled to survive in a new environment with new diseases.

While no record of exactly when the American Colonization Society in Wayne County, Ohio ended it is theorized that support for it dissolved during the 1840s as local people gravitated toward the anti-slavery abolitionist movement and helping people along the underground railroad network across Ohio.

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