Settlements of the American Colonization Society, Liberia, 1840s-1850s.

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This record was last updated on 23 May 2017

Image Reference

Drawings of Western Africa (University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, MSS 14357, no. 29).

Ink and watercolor. Three of the settlements of the American Colonization Society as approached from the sea, showing rectangular houses of the American colonists and the circular ones with conical thatched roofs of the indigenous Africans. From top to bottom: 1) Bassa, the settlement of Bassa Cove (established in 1832). A (two-story?) rectangular house in the center is labeled “Rambo’s.” Jacob Rambo, a Protestant Episcopal Church missionary, was head of the Bassa Cove mission starting in 1855.. He arrived in Liberia from Pennsylvania in 1849 and initially spent some time at Cape Palmas. Mary Louise Rambo, his first wife, died at Bassa Cove in November 1855. 2) Sinou, probably the settlement of Greenville not far from the mouth of the Sinou (Sino/Sinoe) river. 3) Cape Palmas (Maryland in Liberia colony), established in 1834, showing the town of Harper with its various churches. Several denominations were represented at Harper in the 1830s and 1840s. On the right a flagpole with a flag (probably of the Maryland in Liberia colony) adjacent to a lighthouse; the latter is probably the stone lighthouse constructed in 1834 or 1835 “not long after the settlement of the cape” (Latrobe, p. 65). The round houses probably depict the quarter or section inhabited by the Grebo/Glebo, the indigenous inhabitants of the area. “Dead Man’s Isle” is in the right hand corner. Before the arrival of American colonists, the Glebo buried their dead on “Dead Island,” near Cape Palmas. In 1840, about 300 American colonists lived at Cape Palmas whose settlement was, in the words of an American visitor, “situated on a small promontory or a high bluff” (Brooks, p. 166). Sources: African Repository, June 1851, pp. 163-171; Anon. Traditional History and Folklore of the Glebo Tribe (Bureau of Folkways/Folklore, Liberia, 1965), p. 123; Horatio Bridge, Journal of an African Cruiser (New York, 1845), p. 117; George Brooks, A Salem Merchant at Cape Palmas, Liberia, in 1840 (Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. 98 [1962], pp. 166, 169; Samuel D. Ferguson, An Historical Sketch of the African Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. (New York, 1884), passim; Maryland Colonization Journal, vol. 9 (1857), passim; John Latrobe, Maryland in Liberia (Baltimore, 1885), p. 65; John L. Wilson, Western Africa (New York, 1865), p. 402; Robert Nassau, Crowned in Palm-Land (Philadelphia, 1874), p 73; Anna Scott, Day Dawn in Africa (New York, 1858), passim. See other image references “UVA” on this site.