Numbers of American Colonization Society Life Members, as of 1849

Posted on July 29, 2015 by


While I’ve got a good deal of work ahead of me in creating meaningful lists and tables, the list below provides the numbers of life members of the American Colonization Society as of 1849.

Regretfully, I think, as it stands alone, this list is of limited value… though I think it gives us a little to ponder.

For starters, the list provides raw numbers regarding life members (life membership was based on contributions of $30 or upwards). The places listed after the number indicates where these life members resided, and, I think, to which branch societies the life members belonged. Keep in mind that the list of places is not provided in a particularly meaningful order (places aren’t listed from highest membership to lowest, or vice versa). It’s strictly the way the information was listed in the annual report of the ACS in 1849. I do realize that several branch societies are not represented in this list. For example, I know of more branch societies in the Shenandoah Valley that what I found represented in this list. I chose not to list the individuals by name at this time, but I did reorganize the list… highest to lowest numbers… by state.

I do find it interesting that Virginia and Maryland top the list, followed next by Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. Of equal interest is the incredibly small amount of interest in the ACS shown in the deep South. Readers will notice that there is nothing shown for Texas (1845), Arkansas (1836), Missouri (1821), or Florida (1845). This isn’t to say (yet) that these states didn’t have branch societies. As I indicated above, I know of other branch societies in the Shenandoah Valley (if memory serves… in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington, and a couple others) which are not represented in the list. It might simply be that the individual branch societies did not have any life members.

I also find it interesting where the concentration of Virginia’s life members resided… and where they did not.

For your consideration, then…

Virginia – 87 (Montpelier, Fluvanna, Hanover County, Brunswick County, Lovington, Berkeley County, Leesburg, Sussex County, Fauquier County, Albemarle County, Fairfax County, Roanoke, Mount Vernon, Essex County, Shepherdstown, New Canton, Loudoun County, Fredericksburg, Guyandot, Norfolk, Romney, Augusta County, Louisa County, Richmond, Charles Town, Mount Laurel, Frederick County, Powhatan County, Petersburg)

Maryland – 53 (West River, Annapolis, Frederick Town, Williamsport, Hagerstown, Baltimore)

Massachusetts – 49 (Cambridge, Middlefield, Newport, Grafton, New Bedford, Nantucket, Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Mendon, Dedham, Canton, Danvers, Millsburg, Marblehead, Williamstown, Worcester, Salem, Northampton, Brighton, Boston)

New York – 89 (Newburg, Albany, Penn Yan, Catskill, Peterboro, Schenectady, Rochester, Bloomfield, Cambridge, Brooklyn, New York City, Geneva, Fishkill, West Point, Utica, Salem, Troy)

Pennsylvania – 27 (Reading, Danville, Delaware County, Philadelphia, Danville, Abington, Pittsburg)

Maine – 25 (Bath, Bangor, Brunswick, Hallowell, Kennebunk Port, Kennebunk, Portland, Gorham)

District of Columbia – 23 – (Washington, Georgetown)

Connecticut – 16 (Plainfield, New Haven, Middletown, Ellington, Simsbury, New London, Hartford)

South Carolina – 16 (Charleston, Edgefield)

Georgia – 9 (Milledgeville, Savannah, Augusta)

Rhode Island – 8 (Bristol, Providence)

Louisiana – 8 (New Orleans)

New Hampshire – 7 (Dover, Portsmouth)

New Jersey – 7 (Rahway, Morristown, Newark, Trenton, Princeton)

Kentucky – 6 (Russellville, Fayette County, Newport, Maysville, Danville)

Vermont – 5 (Woodstock, Middlebury, Windsor, Burlington, Benson)

Ohio – 5 (Cincinnati, Cadiz)

North Carolina – 3 (Chapel Hill, Edenton, Hillsboro)

Tennessee – 2 (Nashville)

Mississippi – 2 (Natchez)

Alabama – 1 (Huntsville)

Illinois – 1 (Edwardsville)

England – 73
Ireland – 3

***Plus about 200 miscellaneous life members throughout the US, listed (apparently) as independent members (not belonging to a particular branch society of the ACS).

I realize this is raw data, but does this begin to suggest something about sentiments as they might exist, at least in Virginia, eleven years beyond 1849? A problem I see is… when did these folks become life members, and had the trend in high dollar contributions slacked-off since the 1820s/30s? I think there’s more legwork to be done.

While I’ll be posting about topics other than the ACS, please stay tuned… I’m still going to continue the string of posts about information that I extract from the history of the ACS.