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The Colonization of Freed African Americans in Suriname

Archival Sources relating to the U.S.-Dutch Negotiations, 1860-1866

300 pages
Amsterdam University Press
During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln's administration engaged in protracted negotiations with representatives of the Netherlands to aid in the voluntarily colonization of free African Americans to Suriname. Scores of diplomatic letters in Dutch, English, and French, dating to the period 1862 to 1866 attest to the very real possibility that such migration stream could have become a reality. They also indicate reasons why this scheme failed: it was bogged down by differences of opinion, mail delays, and ultimately a reluctance of any African Americans to migrate. Previously unpublished and unknown, these letters have been transcribed and translated here for the first time. The sources provide a rare look inside the minds of liberal government officials during the age of emancipation in the Atlantic World. They demonstrate the officials' humanitarian concerns, their racial prejudices, respect for legal order and process, and faith in governments to solve international problems.
Author Bio
Michael J. Douma is an Assistant Research Professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, where he is also affiliate faculty in the history department. He has published widely on the history of the Dutch in the United States, and is working on a history of Dutch-speaking slavery in New York and New Jersey.