Loring D. Dewey

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Loring Daniel Dewey (1791–1867) [1] was an early 19th-century Presbyterian minister, an agent of the American Colonization Society (ACS), an emigrationist, a printer, and a reformer.

The American Colonization Society was established in 1817 by a variety of national leaders, both from the North and South, to relocated free blacks from the United States to other countries, preferably Africa. In a pamphlet issued to promote its efforts, Dewey stated that colonization was the "only possible means of gradually ridding the United States of a mighty evil, and of obliterating the foulest stain upon our nation’s honor", referring to the presence of free blacks, reminders of the flourishing institution of slavery.[2] Dewey believed that free blacks were a threat to the security and well-being of the United States, as he thought they could not be assimilated in the larger society. His confidence in the ACS plan was demonstrated in a speech in which he predicted that within 40 years, "all but the aged free blacks" would have immigrated to countries elsewhere in the world.[2]

Some time in the early months of 1824, after failing to recruit enough potential emigrants for the west coast of Africa and lagging behind raising funds, Dewey dared to come up with another relocation plan. Dewey later confessed that Blacks had told him that they would prefer to move to Haiti, and even Whites said that they would be more willing to financially support relocation efforts on the island than on West Africa. So, without even consulting his superiors in the American Colonization Society, he approached the government of President Jean-Pierre Boyer of Haiti, who had hoped to encourage immigrants and establish ties with the US. In his letter, Dewey gave the impression to Boyer that he was indeed the "General Agent" of the American Colonization Society. Boyer, who knew well the political weight of the organization, was elated by Dewey's interest on Haiti. The President immediately sent judge and diplomat Jonathas Granville to the United States with fifty thousand pounds of coffee to begin the emigration project.

In letters to President Boyer, Dewey appeared to promote human rights. He wrote to President Boyer in a manner that depicted concern, stating that any agreement between them would benefit all parties involved. He asked the President to describe what living and working conditions the potential immigrants would have. Dewey wanted to ensure African-American rights, and asked if they would be allowed to practice their own religion. He also suggested the ACS's purchasing land from the Haitian government to establish a colony run by American law. Dewey ended his letter with:

These benevolent men, therefore, are looking for an asylum for these injured sons of Africa in [] country, and they believe, that should the island of Hayti, be able to unite with them, very much for the welfare of the descendants of Africans, and the ultimate benefit of Hayti, might be effected.[3]

After Granville arrived in Philadelphia in May 1824, he was welcome by Bishop Richard Allen and an entire cadre of abolitionists who helped organize the movement, which resulted in more than 6,000 free-Blacks emigrating to Haiti in a period of two years.[4] In September 1824, three ships, each carrying a few hundred free Blacks, departed from New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia with the first emigrants for Haiti.

The American Colonization Society fired Dewey when they learned that he had written to Boyer without their permission. They opposed this project from the beginning because it went against their goal to promote Black colonization in West Africa. Despite the ACS opposition, the emigration was a success since for more than two years hundred of Blacks left for Haiti. Granville's personal correspondence reveals that Dewey wanted to replace him as the Haitian emissary in the United States, but Boyer opposed that idea. Dewey was left to simply support the project, which wane down after Haiti lost interest in the emigrants. in 1825 Boyer had entered in negotiations with France for recognition, and had agreed to pay a huge indemnity to former planters. This treaty left Haiti without much resources to support the emigration from the U.S. And yet, Blacks continue arriving on the island.

In the 1830s Dewey became an active member of the American Peace Society and Temperance Society. His printing press was busy publishing pamphlets promoting social reform.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Loring Daniel Dewey", Genforum
  2. ^ a b David M. Streiffor, "The American Colonization Society: an Application of Republican Ideology to Early Antebellum Reform", The Journal of Southern History, 45 (1979), p. 210.
  3. ^ Dewey, Loring D: Correspondence Relative to the Emigration to Hayti, of the Free People of Colour, in the United States, Together with the Instructions to the Agent Sent Out by President Boyer, pp. 5-6, 1824.
  4. ^ Hidalgo, Dennis (2001). From North America to Hispaniola: first free black emigration and settlements in Hispaniola. Central Michigan University. pp. 32–33. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 

Further reading[edit]

1. Dewey, Loring D. 15 June 1824. Correspondence Relative to the Emigration to Hayti, of the Free People of Colour, in the United States, Together with the Instructions to the Agent Sent Out by President Boyer, Vol. 72. New York: Mahlon Day, 1824. 2-32.

2. Dewey, Loring D. 1833. "The Temperance almanac for the year of our Lord 1834." Published and sold by L. D. Dewey, New-York, and by the N.Y. State Temperance Society, Albany

3. Jonathas Henri Théodore Granville, Biographie deJonathas Granville, par son fils (Paris: E. Brière, 1873)