Proposed American Negro Colony in New Granada
In 1861 President Lincoln, an admirer of the late Kentuckian Henry Clay, asked that Congress approve a plan for the colonization of all Negroes. A warm climate or tropical location was preferred, e.g., Texas, Florida, Mexico, Haiti, Liberia, or the lands [coal fields] in New Granada* claimed by the Chiriqui Improvement Company [in present day countries within Central and South America].
In preparation for the emigration, slaves were to be gradually emancipated, beginning with the Border States [including Kentucky]. That idea was dropped, however, because it did not appeal to the members of Congress from the Border States. Still, the Chiriqui lands in New Granada were seen as the ideal locations for a loyal and U. S.-controlled colony of Negroes.
In 1862, a group of freemen, the first ever to be invited to the White House, arrived to hear Lincoln’s request for their help in promoting the colony idea among other freemen. There was great opposition to the colony idea from Central American governments, especially in Costa Rica. However, the Bogotá [Colombia] government, led by Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, was in favor of the colony. The official Bogotá representative, Pedro A. Herrán, son-in-law of Mosquera, was in Washington. In Colombia, the U.S. Minister was Garrard County, KY native Allan A. Burton. Several of the prior ministers had also been from Kentucky, beginning with former Congressman Richard Clough Anderson, Jr. from Louisville, who served in Colombia from 1823 until his death in 1826.
Though the idea of a Negro Colony was welcomed by the Bogotá government, it was not a viable plan and therefore suspended in 1862. The colonization fund was abolished in 1864. Haiti was no longer an option after the failure of the Ile à Vache Colony experiment in 1863. Liberia was eliminated when Lincoln issued the final Proclamation of Emancipation on January 1, 1863.
For more see P. J. Scheips, “Lincoln and the Chiriqui Colonization Project,” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 37, issue 4 (Oct., 1952), pp. 418-453; M. Vorenberg, “Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Black Colonization,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, vol. 14, issue 2 (Summer 1993); Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States: during its first century, by C. Lanman, p. 593; and W. D. Boyd, “James Redpath and American Negro Colonization in Haiti, 1860-1862,” The Americas, vol. 12, issue 2 (Oct., 1955), pp. 169-182. See also Central and South American Immigration Association and Equal Rights League of the Western Continent. For information on the earlier Haitian colony, see Freeman Community on Samana Bay (Dominican Republic.
*New Granada included present day Colombia, Ecaudor, Panama, and Venezuela.