Monday, May 27, 2013

Kentucky Colonization in the Civil War

The above notice ran for several months in the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth after first appearing in the July 29, 1863 edition. I have no idea how I would find out, but I would be very interested to know how many free people of color in Kentucky took up the offer.

It seems that this, like other earlier colonization attempts that had been popular among some of Kentucky's citizens, was an attempt to remove or at least mitigate what they likely saw as an unsolvable issue. White Kentuckians, as well as many other Americans, could not fathom living together in communities with large numbers of African Americans without them remaining enslaved and thus subservient. 

Although the Emancipation Proclamation excluded Kentucky, it was not difficult for the Bluegrass state to see the handwriting on the wall as far a slavery was concerned. They were not blind to the large number of runaway slaves that had made their escape from and through the state since the war began. Many Kentuckians, including their governor, Thomas E. Bramlette, were concerned that Kentucky's geographical position would result in a vast refugee camp for runaways from the deeper Southern states. If freed by the war, he, and other Kentuckians felt that they would be a drain and threat to the state's treasury and society. To some, the colonization attempt, although expensive and seemingly negligible in success, was a step toward solving the "Negro problem." It is as if removing the issue was much preferable to dealing with it.    

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