|Former Governor Mitt Romney|
This Republican position advocated by Romney is amazing similar to that favored by Abraham Lincoln. One of President Lincoln's policies during his administration was the voluntary colonization of African American Freedmen. There remains considerable debate about whether Lincoln's racial views included that African Americans could not live in the same society as white Americans. Benjamin Butler stated that Lincoln in 1865 firmly denied that "racial harmony" would be possible in the United States. One view is that Lincoln adopted colonization for Freedmen in order to make his Emancipation Proclamation politically acceptable. This view has been challenged since President Lincoln's administration attempted to colonize freedmen in British Honduras after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863.
|President Abraham Lincoln|
My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, -- to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially, our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not.
Lincoln mentioned colonization favorably in his first Emancipation Proclamation, and continued to support efforts at colonization throughout his presidency.
Lincoln also created an agency to direct his colonization projects. In 1862 he appointed the Rev. James Mitchell of Indiana to oversee colonization, and established a Bureau of Emigration under his head at the Department of the Interior.
In a July 12, 1862 speech to senators and representatives from slave-holding border states, Lincoln said:
Room in South America for colonization, can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.According to the authors of Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement "the concept of colonization never became a permanent fixture of US policy, and by the time Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the word “colonization” had disappeared from his public lexicon. As such, history remembers Lincoln as having abandoned his support of colonization when he signed the proclamation."