Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military

Back to the Table of Contents

The Early Colony

Although its project benefited from the active support of influential public figures, the ACS never received direct financial aid iron the United States government. Nevertheless, the government officially designated the ACS as the custodian for the recaptives under its protection. Against the advice of his attorney general, President Tames Monroe chose to interpret the 1819 act of Congress as implying that a transit camp like. that in Sierra Leone must be established in Africa to accommodate recaptives before any attempt was made to return them to their own communities. The American president therefore directed that the funds appropriated by Congress be used to construct such a facility.

Early in 1820 a party of 88 free American blacks that included individuals listed as artisans and their families sailed from New York aboard the brig Elizabeth, bound for the Grain Coast. They were accompanied by agents of both the United States government and the Sierra Leone. Many of the passengers of a second emigrant ship, the Nautilus, which reached the coast of Sierra Leone later in the year, were likewise felled by disease.

A year passed before another ship, the Augusta, carrying a new group of American settlers, arrived in Sierra Leone to re= trieve those remaining from the previous expeditions. Escorted by a naval vessel, the U. S. S. Alligator, the Augusta proceeded down the coast to a site at Cape Mesurado, recommended for settlement by the ACS agents who had reconnoitered the area several years earlier. In the absence of Eli Ayres, the society's representative on the expedition who had remained in Sierra Leone, negotiations for the purchase of land were conducted with the six Bassa "kings" in the area by Robert Stockton, captain of the Alligator. Under the so?called Duker Contract, concluded in December 1821, the ACS acquired a strip of land stretching 60 miles along the coast between the Mesurado and junk rivers in exchange for trade goods valued at US$300. Stockton also received a pledge from the Bassa chiefs that they would live in peace with the settlers in return for his promise that the newcomers would not interfere with established Bassa trade, including their Sierra Leone. Many of the passengers of a second emigrant ship, the Nautilus, which reached the coast of Sierra Leone later in the year, were likewise felled by disease.

A year passed before another ship, the Augusta, carrying a new group of American settlers, arrived in Sierra Leone to re= trieve those remaining from the previous expeditions. Escorted by a naval vessel, the U. S. S. Alligator, the Augusta proceeded down the coast to a site at Cape Mesurado, recommended for settlement by the ACS agents who had reconnoitered the area several years earlier. In the absence of Eli Ayres, the society's representative on the expedition who had remained in Sierra Leone, negotiations for the purchase of land were conducted with the six Bassa "kings" in the area by Robert Stockton, captain of the Alligator. Under the so?called Duker Contract, concluded in December 1821, the ACS acquired a strip of land stretching 60 miles along the coast between the Mesurado and junk rivers in exchange for trade goods valued at US$300. Stockton also received a pledge from the Bassa chiefs that they would live in peace with the settlers in return for his promise that the newcomers would not interfere with established Bassa trade, including their dealing in slaves. The next month a small party from the Augusta took possession of Providence Island in the mouth of the Mesurado, and in April 1822 the first permanent settlement was established on the mainland near the site of present?day Monrovia (see fig. 2).

Under its charter, the ACS could acquire property but could not legally exercise governmental authority over it. The settlers, as a sovereign entity, however, delegated power to the society to act as the organ of government in the colony. Operating under the Elizabeth Compact, executive authority was vested in the agent of the ACS, who also presided over a monthly court of general sessions. The vice agent was nominated by the settlers from their own number and with two other elected settlers composed a consultative legislature, the Colonial Council. Several additional officials?among them a sheriff, a secretary, and a treasurer?were approved by the agent after having been popularly elected. The incumbent ACS agent simultaneously but separately held a commission as United States agent for recaptured Africans under which he was responsible to the secretary of the navy.

When Ayres returned to the United States shortly after the settlement had been established on the mainland, he delegated Johnson acting agent until his replacement arrived. When the colony was attacked by the Kru, Johnson refused protection offered 1>y the British in Sierra Leone, insisting that the black settlers must be responsible for their own defense. He also reasoned that, once accepted, British protection would very likely become permanent.

Back to the Table of Contents



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list


Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'