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Atlantic PassagesRace, Mobility, and Liberian Colonization$
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Robert Murray

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066752

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066752.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 21 May 2022

“Nearly All Have Natives as Helps in Their Families, and This Is as It Should Be”

“Nearly All Have Natives as Helps in Their Families, and This Is as It Should Be”

The “Civilizing” Mission of Unfree Labor

Chapter:
(p.113) 3 “Nearly All Have Natives as Helps in Their Families, and This Is as It Should Be”
Source:
Atlantic Passages
Author(s):

Robert Murray

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813066752.003.0004

Chapter 3 focuses on Liberia’s labor regime. The colonists made expansive use of a spectrum of coerced, unfree, or debased African labor. The command of black workers undergirded the whiteness of the Americo-Liberians and was the focus of two broad charges leveled at the colony. Critics charged that the Liberian settlers preferred trading with natives rather than engaging in agriculture and that they utilized Africans as a slave labor force. Ideologically and rhetorically, Liberia was complicated as its booster claimed it could uplift two separate populations: indigenous Africans and African American settlers. Working for the settlers within various states of unfreedom would bestow “civilization” upon native Africans; settlers would find uplift through their command of indigenous labor. This framework presented a significant problem: native Africans laboring in Liberia both had to assimilate and remain separate and subordinate.

Keywords:   labor, black workers, Africans, Whiteness, settlers, Liberia, Americo-Liberians

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