Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to Africa: Benjamin Coates and the Colonization Movement in America, 1848-1880

by Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner and Margaret Hope Bacon (editors)

From the publisher:
Benjamin Coates was one of the best-known white supporters of African colonization in nineteenth-century America. A Quaker businessman from Philadelphia, and a sometime officer of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, he was committed to helping Black Americans relocate to West Africa. This put him at the center of a discourse with abolitionists, at home and abroad, that included such leading thinkers as Joseph Jenkins Roberts, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Henry Highland Garnet, Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, George L. Stearns, and William Coppinger."

At the heart of this volume is a collection of over 150 recently recovered letters, either written by Coates or addressed to him between 1848 and 1880, the years when Coates was most active in racial reform.

Lapansky-Werner and Bacon have provided a far-reaching essay that places them in the context of nineteenth-century African American colonization ideas, and the editors have led a team of young scholars who annotated the letters. Taken together, the letters provide insight into the alliances and divisions within America's antislavery movement, making Back to Africa essential reading for every student of black studies, abolitionism, Quaker history, and nineteenth-century reform in general.