Maryland State Colonization Society


Map of the West Coast of Africa from Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas, including the colony of Liberia / compiled chiefly from the surveys and observations of the late Rev. J. Ashmun ; J.H. Young, sc."The Maryland Colonization Society was incorporated at the session 1831-32 of the Legislature. At the same session the state embarked nobly in the great cause, and made its munificent donation of two hundred thousand dollars, for the transportation and reception of emigrants in Africa.

It was early foreseen that a difficulty would arise in the limited capacity of the original settlements at Liberia to receive emigrants from Maryland to the extent that, hereafter, might be desirable. The parent society, acting for the entire Union, was bound to apportion the number of emigrants that Liberia was capable of accommodating, among the applicants from the different states; when, if the quota of Maryland should not be equal to her demand, a check might be given to emigration, at times when it might be most prejudicial. With a view therefore to this anticipated emergency, the society determined to form a new colony, which increasing in its capacity to receive in the same proportion that the spirit of emigration increased at home, would be the means of placing the state beyond the reach of any circumstances over which it, or the state society, could have no control.

There were reasons, besides that above mentioned, which particularly moved the state society to undertake, by itself, the establishment of a new settlement, under its own auspices. It so happened that the original colony of Liberia had assumed a rather commercial character in the course of its brief, but valuable exertions.... It was the desire of the Maryland State Society to see agriculture made the object of primary importance, -- not only as placing the means of their own sustenance in the hands of the colonists, and rendering them independent of remote places or the native inhabitants for food; but because nine-tenths, if not a far greater proportion, of the emigrants from this country would make better farmers than traders....

There was another object, which the Board of Managers thought of much importance.... This was the establishment of the temperance principle, as a fundamental one -- prohibiting any person from leaving Maryland for Africa, who would not first agree to forbear the use of ardent spirit, except in case of sickness and holding any person ineligible to office in the colonial government, who either used or trafficked in it....

The next question that presented itself was the selection of a site for a new colony; and, after the most full and careful deliberation, the Board of Managers selected Cape Palmas, or its immediate vicinity.... The position of Cape Palmas alone, is therefore, sufficient to make it one day, a most important commercial depot. All the vessels, destined for the Niger, must pass by it on their way from Europe or America; and the delay and uncertainty of a voyage to the east of it will, no doubt, in many cases, make it the place of deposits or exchange for European or American manufactures, the further transportation of which will either be by land towards the interior by the coasting trade of the colony to the great river of Central Africa.

On the 28th of November, 1833, the brig Ann, Captain Landgon, sailed from Baltimore, with a full cargo of goods and provisions, and eighteen emigrants, for Cape Palmas. The expedition was under the charge of Dr. James Hall, a gentleman whose experience in Africa admirably qualified him for his situation.... On the 25th of January, the Ann reached Monrovia, and remained there ten days, taking on board thirty old settlers, nineteen of whom were adult males well acclimated. On the fifth of February, the brig reached Bassa, and receiving five more recruits, sailed on the sixth for the point of her ultimate destination.... 

As soon as the purchase [of land] was completed, Dr. Hall ... commenced discharging the brig, clearing the land on the Cape where he proposed to lay out his town, and erecting shelters for his people. As soon as practicable, the vessel was sent back to Monrovia and Bassa, for the families of the recruits.... The Board had sent out the frame and materials of an agency house, which was now erected, and in less than a month after the first landing, the settlement began to wear the appearance of a compact and comfortable village...."

SOURCE: "Historical Sketch compiled for the Maryland Colonization Journal." Maryland Colonization Journal, May 1835.

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)

STANDARD 2: How the industrial revolution, increasing immigration, the rapid expansion of slavery, and the westward movement changed the lives of Americans and led toward regional tensions 

Standard 2D: The student understands the rapid growth of "the peculiar institution" after 1800 and the varied experiences of African Americans under slavery.

5-12: Identify the various ways in which African Americans resisted the conditions of their enslavement and analyze the consequences of violent uprisings. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

7-12: Evaluate how enslaved African Americans used religion and family to create a viable culture and ameliorate the effects of slavery. [Obtain historical data]

STANDARD 4: The sources and character of cultural, religious, and social reform movements in the antebellum period 

Standard 4A: The student understands the abolitionist movement. 

7-12: Analyze changing ideas about race and assess the reception of proslavery and antislavery ideologies in the North and South. [Examine the influence of ideas] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION:  Chapter 314, Laws of 1831: An Act to Incorporation the Maryland State Colonization Society
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Passed Mar.14,1832
    SOURCE:  Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  2. DESCRIPTION: Report of the Committee on the Coloured Population to which was referred the Report of the Managers of the Colonization Society
    SOURCE: Public Documents - December 30, 1833 - March 15, 1834 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  3. DESCRIPTION:  Historical Sketch compiled for the Maryland Colonization Journal
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: May 16, 1835 in the Maryland Colonization Journal
    SOURCE:  Maryland Colonization Journal Collection
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION: Third Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Maryland State Colonization Society to the Members and the Public
    Public Documents - December 29, 1834 - March 29, 1835 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  5. DESCRIPTION: Letter, Eliza Jane Wilson to her father
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 2, 1836
    NOTES: "Copy of a letter written by Eliza Jane Wilson, wife of David Wilson, who went to the Maryland Colony in the brig Fortune, last fall. It is addressed to her father who still resides in Queen Anne's county. This letter contained three pieces of calico sent out as a token to her friends in this country."
    SOURCE: Published in the Maryland Colonization Journal, December 1, 1836.
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  6. DESCRIPTION: Extract of letter from Mr. Thomas Brown, one of the colonists at Cape Palmas, to J. H. B. Latrobe, Esq.
    NOTES: Page also includes a list of the individuals who sailed for Cape Palmas aboard the brig Niobe on October 31, 1836
    SOURCE: Published in the Maryland Colonization Journal
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  7. DESCRIPTION: Sketches of Liberia -- Colonial Settlements
    SOURCE: Published in the Maryland Colonization Journal
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  8. DESCRIPTION:  Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the State Colonization Society to the Governor of Maryland
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: December 20, 1837
    SOURCE:  Public Documents December 26, 1836 - March 22, 1837 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  9. DESCRIPTION: Emigrants sent from Baltimore by the Maryland Colonization Society
    SOURCE: Published in the Maryland Colonization Journal, April 1, 1840
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  10. DESCRIPTION:  Report of the Committee on Colored Population
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: February 26, 1840
    SOURCE: Public Documents - December 30, 1839 - March 21, 1840 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  11. DESCRIPTION:  Report of the Committee on the Coloured Population of Answers of the President of the Colonization Society of Maryland....
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: January 14, 1841
    SOURCE: Public Documents - December 28, 1840 - March 10, 1841 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  12. DESCRIPTION:  Report from the Select Committee to whom was referred the subject of the removal of the free colored population from Charles County
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: January 25, 1844
    NOTES: "The committee to who was referred the subject of the removal of the free colored population from Charles county, beg leave to report; that they have examined into the subject, as accurately as possible. They have procured information from every accessable source to show the necessity of their removal. They are of the firm conviction that the moral, political and fiscal interests of the State are materially affected by their condition among us; and although the immediate object of consideration is their removal from Charles County, yet the subject is of such interest as to induce them to extend the examination to the entire State...." 
    SOURCE:  House Documents, Document M in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  13. DESCRIPTION: Report of the Select Committee, consisting of the Delegates of Charles Co., Relative to the Removal of Free People of Color of Charles County
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: January 28, 1846
    SOURCE: Public Documents - December 29, 1845 - March 10, 1846 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  14. DESCRIPTION: Report of the Committee on Colored Population to the House of Delegates
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 19, 1852
    SOURCE:  Public Documents - January 7, 1852 - May 31, 1852 Session in Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  15. DESCRIPTION:  An address to the free people of color of the state of Maryland / by James Hall, general agent of the Maryland State Colonization Society
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Baltimore : Printed by John D. Toy, 1859.
    SOURCE:  From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  16. DESCRIPTION:  Maryland in Liberia / drawn under the superintendence of Com. Lynch, U.S.N., at Wm. Sides Office, Balt.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: [Washington, D.C. : U.S. Senate, 1853]
    SOURCE:  Map Collections: 1500-2003
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division

  17. DESCRIPTION:  Map of Liberia / compiled from data on file in the office of the American Colonization Society, under the direction of the Revd. W. McLain, secy., by R. Coyle.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Baltimore [Md.] : Lith. by E. Weber & Co., 1845.
    SOURCE:  Map Collections: 1500-2003
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division

  18. DESCRIPTION:  Mission at Cape Palmas
    SOURCE:  "Protestant Episcopal Mission, Cape Palmas, West Africa," 
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

See also: 

NOTE:  The Maryland State Colonization Society Papers, 1827-1871 are available at the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.

Additional Media Resources

History Of Liberia: A Time Line. From American Memory.

American Colonization Society Collection. Maps of Liberia 1830-1870. From American Memory.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection 1822-1909. From American Memory.

Additional Instructional Resources

Examining the Past Two Centuries in Liberia to Understand Its Current Civil War

Secondary Resources

Abingbade, Harrison Ola. "The Settler-African Conflicts: The Case of Maryland Colonists and the Grebo 1840-1900." The Journal of Negro History (Summer 1981): 93-109.

Campbell, Penelope. Maryland in Africa: The Maryland State Colonization Society 1831 - 1857. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1971.

Cassell, C. Abayomi, Liberia: The History of the First African Republic. New York: Fountainhead Publishers', Inc, 1970.

Delaney, M. R. and Robert Campbell. Search for a Place: Black Separatism and Africa, 1860. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1969.

Earp, Charles W. "The Role of Education in the Maryland Colonization Movement." The Journal of Negro History (Jul. 1941):  365-388.

Finnie, Gordon E. "The Antislavery Movement in the Upper South Before 1840." The Journal of Southern History (Aug. 1969): 319-342.

Fox, Early Lee. American Colonization Society, 1817 - 1840. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1919. 

Hoyt, William D., Jr. "John McDonogh and the Maryland Colonization in Liberia, 1834-35." The Journal of Negro History (Oct. 1939): 440-453.

Hutton, Frankie. "Economic Considerations in the American Colonization Society's Early Effort to Emigrate Free Blacks to Liberia, 1816-36." The Journal of Negro History (Autumn 1983): 376-389.

Laughon, Samuel W. "Administrative Problems in Maryland in Liberia - 1836-1851." The Journal of Negro History (Jul. 1941): 325-364.

Smith, James Wesley. Sojourners in Search of Freedom: The Settlement of Liberia by Black Americans. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987.

Syfert, Dwight N. "The Liberian Coasting Trade, 1822-1900." The Journal of African History (1977): 217-235.

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Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.


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