The American Colonization Society Hall, built for the organization in 1860-61, was the home of the American Colonization Society. The society was founded in late 1816-early 1817 to return free people of African descent to Africa. The society's mission was a subject of great controversy during the 19th century. White members were divided in their aims. Some supported the society as a way to send free blacks to Africa in order to avoid having them live in the United States. Some whites (and some African Americans) thought colonization was better for African Americans than life in a white-controlled United States, where they would never achieve the full legal rights of citizenship. Some thought African American colonists would help bring Christianity to Africa. In 1822 the society established a colony on the west coast of Africa. This colony became the independent nation of Liberia in 1847. It is estimated that by 1867 the society had sent more than 13,000 African Americans to live in Liberia.

The four-story headquarters building was designed by white architect I. Cranford Nielson and was constructed of sandstone from Aquia, Virginia. It served as the society's headquarters until 1912, when the offices were moved to the Colorado Building, 1341 G Street, NW. The original headquarters building was sold to the federal government in 1930 in anticipation of the construction of the Federal Triangle and was demolished shortly thereafter. The society ceased operations in 1964.


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