AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 for the express purpose of returning free American blacks to their "ancestral homeland" in Africa. This private "repatriation" organization was granted a charter by the government of the United States,' which not only supported the scheme but also helped the Society in negotiating with native African chiefs for land along the coast of what is now Liberia. Members of the Society included such prominent Americans as Bushrod Washington, Henry Clay and John Randolph.
The colony of Liberia itself was formally established in 1822, with its capital, Monrovia, named after President James Monroe. The first group of "repatriated" blacks arrived shortly thereafter. Although nearly one-third of this initial group succumbed to disease within a short time, the colony continued to grow. By 1830 the American Colonization Society could boast of having settled over 1,400 blacks in Liberia. The majority of these had been "free Negroes," but after 1827 an increasing number of American slaves were being manumitted expressly for the purpose of "repatriation." By the end of the 1850's approximately 12,000 American blacks had been resettled in Liberia.