Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): More from the Civil War

My lengthy piece last Sunday about the War Between the States led to me uncover something that I put together for later use about a year ago, the initial sources of which have been regrettably lost:

President Lincoln once proposed emigration for freed slaves to Central America, seeing it as a more convenient destination than Liberia.  One of the first attempts was on a small island off the coast of Haiti called Île à Vache, which at the time was owned by a developer named Bernard Kock.

Kock claimed he had approved a Black American colony with the Haitian government.  No one ever substantiated this claim, and following a smallpox outbreak on the boat ride down, hundreds of Black colonizers were abandoned on the island with no housing prepared for them, as Kock had promised.  Additionally the soil on the island was too poor to produce any serious vegetation.  Thus in January 1864, the U.S. Navy rescued the remaining survivors as the tide of the War began to turn and the use of Black soldiers in the Union army became more common.  Once Île à Vache fell through, Lincoln never spoke of colonization again.

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