On February 6, 1820 the Mayflower of Liberia set sail. This was the first organized Black emigration back to Africa. It began when 86 free Blacks left New York Harbor aboard the ship the Elizabeth, which was called the Mayflower of Liberia. They were bound for the British colony of Sierra Leone, a country that welcomed free Blacks from America as well as fugitive slaves. It arrived on March 9th of that year. This proved to be the first of many organizing efforts for a return to Africa by free Blacks. Paul Cuffee was the person who spearheaded “the first, black initiated ‘back to Africa’ effort in U.S. history,” according to the historian Donald R. Wright. He was also the first free African-American to visit the White House and have an audience with a sitting president. He was a sea-captain and an entrepreneur who was perhaps the wealthiest black American of his time. Although his dream of a black lead emigration movement lost footing with his death, the cause would be taken up by various black leaders most notably Marcus Garvey.
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