Liberia, A case study of Informal American Colonialism, 1818-1833
Thesis DT 3.5 1977 H314
v, 190 leaves; 28 cm.
During the 1950's, two historians of British imperialism, Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher, coined the term "informal colonialism". The expression was used to describe a patter of British informal expansion in portions of Afrika (and the world) during the mid-nineteenth century. In this thesis, the term is explored further noting the similarities and disparities between the Robinson and Gallagher model of British informal colonialism and United States informal expansion into Afrika. Particular attention is given to roles of colonizationist-emigrationist ideology in the white and black communities. The cooperation between federal officials and members of the American Colonization Society also receives attention highlighting the unique role of the voluntary association in colonizing black people in Liberia.
Papers of the Colonization Society, United States' presidents, and prominent members of the Society were useful sources of information for this study. The Annals of Congress, special congressional reports, other state and federal documents, and naval correspondence provided a wealth of material regarding congressional response to United States informal penetration into Liberia. Edited volumes by historians of Afro-American history were most useful in assessing the views of the free black community concerning colonization. The works of such people as Robinson and Gallagher, D.K. Fieldhouse, and D.C.M. Platt provided criticism and insight on the model of informal colonialism. Finally, biographical directories and encyclopedias offered cursory, but useful data on particular individuals and definition of terms (such as colonialism, imperialism, voluntarism).
In Chapter 1 of the thesis, the origins of colonization are traced. The formation of the Colonization Society in 1816 and attempts of its members to secure government funding from the Monroe administration are treated in depth. The setting shifts from the United States to West Afrika in Chapter II as American agents representing the federal government and the Society search for a colonial foothold overseas. Relations and conflicts between the agents and the colonists are discussed. Reactions of indigenous Afrikans to the American presence in West Afrika also receives consideration.
Chapter III explores the continuing relationship between federal officials, the Adams administration in particular, Congress, the Colonization Society, and the free black community. Developments in Liberia 1825 to 1828 are also treated in this chapter. In Chapter IV, the response of the Jackson administration (1828 to 1833) to informal colonialism is analyzed. During this period, the rupture between the parent Colonization Society and the state auxiliaries became apparent. Federal Subsidies to the Liberian colony decreased as the Jackson administration manifested a decided coolness toward Liberian colonization. With the rise of white abolitionism and the national black convention movement, attacks against the Society and colonization intensified during this time.
The theme of informal colonialism is elaborated upon in the concluding chapter of this study. British informal penetration into Sierra Leone (1787 to 1808) and Zanzibar (1819 to 1830's) is contrasted and compared to American informal advances into West Afrika which led to the creation of Liberia. It is a major contention of this thesis that United States involvement in Liberia resembled the basic pattern of British informal colonialism during themed-nineteenth century.