Title page for ETD etd-11132007-120220

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McDaniel, Matthew F
URN etd-11132007-120220
Title Emigration to Liberia from the Chattahoochee Valley of Georgia and Alabama, 1853-1903
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Foster, Gaines M. Committee Chair
Culbert, David H. Committee Member
Paskoff, Paul F. Committee Member
  • Bexley
  • Edina
  • Buchanan
  • Grand Bassa
Date of Defense 2007-11-09
Availability unrestricted
Between 1853 and 1903, approximately five hundred African-Americans left the Chattahoochee Valley of Georgia and Alabama to start new lives in the West African republic of Liberia. Most of the emigrants came from Columbus, Georgia, and Eufaula, Alabama, and departed for Liberia during the uncertainty of the post-Civil War years of 1867 and 1868. Most sought safety and escape from a still intact white supremacist society. The ready availability of land in Liberia also promised greater opportunities for prosperity there than in the South. Black nationalism and evangelical zeal motivated others. Liberia would be their “own” country and afford an opportunity to spread Christianity throughout Africa.

The emigrant group was largely made up of families and included many children; consequently, the group was of a young average age. Most were farmers, but a significant number of tradesmen and clergymen also emigrated. All faced many hardships in Liberia, and some returned to the United States. However, most stayed, and a small number prospered. Thus, although the Chattahoochee Valley emigration to Liberia was a disappointment to many, some resourceful few found what they had sought: escape and safety from a white supremacist society, and their own land in their own country.

Although historical sources on this regional migration are limited, the American Colonization Society (ACS), the primary sponsor of the Liberian emigration movement, recorded demographic data on the Chattahoochee Valley emigrants. Some emigrant correspondence was preserved in the journal of the ACS and in local newspapers of the period. From these sources, the history of this movement, the motivations and characteristics of the emigrant group, and the experience of the emigrants in Liberia can be developed.

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