On February 6, 1820, the first group of formerly enslaved people in the United States to resettle in Africa departed from New York. An organization called the American Colonization Society, with funding from Congress, had been established to return them to the U.S. colony of Liberia, in West Africa. Kidnapping and enslaving people from Africa had been abolished in the United States in 1808, though the practice of keeping people and their children enslaved was still legal in many states.
 
People believed that African Americans would experience greater freedom and opportunity “back” in Africa. However, there were problems. Though of African descent, many of these Americans had spent most or all of their lives in the United States. They were used to their American lifestyles, which had little in common with Liberian communities. Of those born in Africa, few had memories of its various peoples and land they were taken from. Even so, Liberia was probably not their ancestral home. 
 
To the thinking of the American Colonization Society, Africans simply came from Africa, so any land would do. However, Africa is a large continent, with thousands of ethnic groups spread across many different environments. Though most American enslaved people had come from West Africa, few were prepared to live in the tropics, or able to integrate with local peoples. Despite this, over the next few decades, thousands of formerly enslaved people were sent to Liberia. In 1847, it became the first African colony to gain independene as a nation.
 
abolish
Verb

to wipe out or get rid of.

assimilate
Verb

to adopt the cultural traits of another group or community.

colony
Noun

people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

Noun

legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Noun

one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

enslaved person
Noun

person who is owned by another person or group of people.

environment
Noun

conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

fund
Verb

to give money to a program or project.

integrate
Verb

to combine, unite, or bring together.

tribe
Noun

community made of one or several family groups sharing a common culture.

Plural Noun

region generally located between the Tropic of Cancer (23 1/2 degrees north of the Equator) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23 1/2 degrees south of the Equator).

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