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Lincoln and Colonization

Lincoln and Colonization: “History has long acknowledged that President Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, had considered other approaches to rectifying the problem of slavery during his administration. Prior to Emancipation, Lincoln was a proponent of colonization: the idea of sending African American slaves to another land to live as free people. Lincoln supported resettlement schemes in Panama and Haiti early in his presidency and openly advocated the idea through the fall of 1862. But the bigoted, flawed concept of colonization never became a permanent fixture of U.S. policy, and by the time Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the word “colonization” had disappeared from his public lexicon. As such, history remembers Lincoln as having abandoned his support of colonization when he signed the proclamation. Documents exist, however, that tell another story.

Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement explores the previously unknown truth about Lincoln’s attitude toward colonization. Scholars Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page combed through extensive archival materials, finding evidence, particularly within British Colonial and Foreign Office documents, which exposes what history has neglected to reveal—that Lincoln continued to pursue colonization for close to a year after emancipation. Their research even shows that Lincoln may have been attempting to revive this policy at the time of his assassination.” –from the publisher of Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, by Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page

Historian Phillip Magness recently sat down with the editor of The Imaginative Conservative, Steve Klugewicz, to discuss his pioneering research into the history of Abraham Lincoln’s involvement in the colonization movement. Dr. Magness specializes in the mid- and late-nineteenth century United States, with a dual emphasis upon slavery and abolitionism and the history of capitalism. His writings on these subjects have appeared in multiple scholarly and popular venues. Dr. Magness is also an Academic Program Director at the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

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