Manumission & Freedom • 2 Records • Uploaded November 1, 2021 • Data Website: www.virginiamemory.com
As early as 1691, the Virginia General Assembly began passing laws that forced free Black Virginias to leave the Commonwealth. Fears around insurrection and the desire to control Black bodies gave rise to institutions that raised money and support for the removal of formerly enslaved people to Liberia. This collection includes records from two of those agencies.
An act was passed in 1833 "making appropriations for the removal of free persons of color" to the western coast of Africa and established a board of commissioners charged with carrying out the provisions of the act. “The Board of Commissioners for the Removal of Free Persons of Color records, 1833-1856,” contain correspondence, lists, minutes, oaths, and resolutions. Included are lists of free Black individuals who emigrated to Liberia (including the name of the ship), lists of free Black individuals willing to emigrate, and resolutions to send money to the American Colonization Society and to those who transported the free Black people to Liberia. Also included is a report of the Board of Commissioners, 1835, containing a list of free Black people transported to Liberia and including their names, ages, and where they had lived in Virginia.
The General Assembly passed an act on April 6, 1853 to create the Colonization Board of Virginia, (chap. 55, p. 58). This act also created appropriations to fund the voluntary transportation and removal of free Black individuals to Liberia or elsewhere in West Africa through the efforts of the Virginia branch of the American Colonization Society. Statutory members of the board included the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Auditor of Public Accounts, the Second Auditor of Public Accounts, and four other competent members appointed by the Governor. An annual tax was levied on free Black men between the ages of 21 to 55 to help finance the operations of the board. The first meeting of the board was held May 2, 1853. The Colonization Board was authorized to reimburse the agents of the Virginia Colonization Society for transportation costs only after receiving satisfactory proof that the formerly enslaved individuals had been transported out of the state. The Virginia Colonization Society arranged for the actual passage of free Black individuals, and at each meeting the board received affidavits for particular free people who had already been transported, along with evidence that the individuals were free or born of free parents, that they were residents of Virginia and that they had already been transported to Africa or that they had embarked to another state for transportation. The Board was required to keep a journal of its proceedings, showing all actions taken and monies disbursed, and was also required to submit a biennial report to the General Assembly showing the name, age, sex, and locality of each person removed. The board held its last meeting on August 14, 1858, after the preceding session of the General Assembly failed to extend its existence. The Virginia Board of Colonization journal of proceedings includes lists of the names and ages of free Black individuals transported from the Commonwealth to Africa, as well as the county, city, or borough from which they were transported, and in some instances also includes the name of the ship and names of former enslavers.
This source (and description) was extracted from data provided under Creative Commons from the Library of Virginia’s VIRGINIA UNTOLD: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN NARRATIVE project. The Library’s African American Narrative project aims to provide greater accessibility to pre-1865 African American history and genealogy found in the rich primary sources in its holdings.
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