A placemarker in my considerations of the American Colonization Society

Posted on August 12, 2015 by


For those who have continued to follow my ramblings through old annual reports of the American Colonization Society, I’ve got a little more to follow. I’ve skipped around a bit between the 1820s and the 1850s, and looking at a few other resources at my disposal, I found something worthwhile from the 1850s regarding the various levels at which a few key Episcopal clergy members (Bishops Charles P. McIlvaine, William Meade and Leonidas Polk) were at on the issue of slavery at one point, and how they differed in views as time progressed (and why). I’m pretty sure in one of my posts I posed the question that it seemed odd that so many people (the membership) would change their position in the course of thirty years. The language used in that small booklet from the auxiliary of Frederick County, Virginia was rather strong (bordering on abolitionist), and for people to sign on to what it suggested and then shift in opinion… sure, some could (and may have), but for the most part, I’m just not convinced (of those who were still alive into the 1850s) that everyone did. Of course, later versions of colonization societies (with more interests in slavery than manumission and colonization) muddy the earlier rhetoric behind the colonization effort. Anyway, it’s not that I see it as impossible (breaking from a line of thinking over the course of 30 years), as I’ve already discussed how Charles James Faulkner shifted in opinion. More importantly, I think the various levels at which we can see people shift… people who were once more aligned to one another… shows how Southerners (McIlvaine was not a Southerner, but he did once hold values that were closely aligned with those of Meade) were not all shaking their heads in agreement over the issue of slavery by 1860. To suggest this monolithic idea of Southerners is equally as foolish as suggesting that everyone in the South was nodding their heads in agreement over a Southern Confederacy.

In the meantime, consider this a placemarker while I get the comparison of the three bishops outlined.