Monday, March 7, 2011

Colonization After Emancipation

Seems the authors of this new book are hoping to generate some buzz, as I don't think there is anything particularly controversial about Lincoln's views on colonization.  Most historians have covered this.  Yet, Magness and Page seem to think they have presented startling new revelation,

Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement explores the previously unknown truth about Lincoln’s attitude toward colonization. Scholars Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page combed through extensive archival materials, finding evidence, particularly within British Colonial and Foreign Office documents, which exposes what history has neglected to reveal—that Lincoln continued to pursue colonization for close to a year after emancipation. Their research even shows that Lincoln may have been attempting to revive this policy at the time of his assassination.

Looks like they even used the same image from Team of Rivals for their cover.  Magness appears to be a very young historian, judging by his profile.  I hope he has at least read Goodwin.


  1. BTW, Spielberg is set to make Team of Rivals with Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln,

  2. Not so sure this thesis is entirely correct. It is clear from our readings that Lincoln knew black soldiers would be needed if the war was to be won. I see nothing in the historical record that he planned on imposing a massive exile campaign on those who helped liberate the country after the war.

  3. He did favor colonization, but from what I read reshaped his views after the 54th Regiment and other black regiments showed the valor in battle. William Lee Miller covers the colonization issue in his book, and I think Goodwin discusses it in Team of Rivals. Hardly new territory.

  4. Plus didn't he see it as a "positive solution" to "what to do with black people" after the war? I feel like I have to put all of these words in quotes -- they are so loaded.

    It's my understanding that Lincoln didn't see the possibility of an integrated society the way we do (or at least some of us do).

  5. I'm not bothering to read this book, but I hope it is pointed out that colonization was the preferred choice by most American politicians, not just Lincoln. Few saw White Americans living peacefully side by side with Black Americans, especially in the South. Lincoln was forced to balance many interests during his tenure.

    Seems to me that this book is a classic case of marketing over history, as the authors try to use Internet buzz to promote their "controversial" thesis, knowing that most Americans have a rather limited understanding of emancipation, and have read few history books on the subject.