This book is about the migration of black North Carolinians, both free born and liberated, to the West African colony—and later independent nation—of Liberia. Having been around since the colonial era, colonization—that is, the idea of sending black Americans to Africa as a remedy for both slavery and the whole race question—attracted the attention of Quakers, antislavery activists, slaveholders, and even several presidents, including Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. For almost a century, Liberian emigration connected African Americans to the broader cultures, commerce, communication networks, disease patterns, and historical evolution of the Atlantic world. Their relocation to Liberia challenged conventional notions of race, citizenship, nationality, and, above all, the very meaning of freedom. Ultimately, in the process of forging the world’s second black-ruled republic, the immigrants constructed a settler society marred by many of the same exclusionary, oppressive characteristics common to modern colonial regimes.
Praise for The Price of Liberty
-"This is a brilliant and fascinating account that has filled in many gaps.... The narrative has a deep human quality, depicting the real predicament that the option of colonization posed for black people. This book will definitely illuminate the Liberia story and enliven an important period of American history.... There is a lot that Liberians can learn from this work that should provide a context for reconciliation and reconstruction."
Amos Sawyer, Interim President of Liberia (1990-1994) and author of The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia
-"This book by Claude A. Clegg III is a welcome addition to the literature on the colonization movement, for it is the most comprehensive and scholarly study that has yet been undertaken on the subject.... As the first book to examine the colonization movement, in all its ramifications, in a slave state, and then follow the colonists to Africa, this study is essential reading for everyone interested in the colonization movement or Liberian history."
American Historical Review
-"...Clegg's study is conceptually and tangibly authoritative. It plainly illustrates the significant roles blacks, especially black North Carolinians, played in making Liberia part of the greater Atlantic community."
Journal of American History
-"A model of considered and transparent historiography, Clegg's work makes careful use of both quantitative evidence and case history to weave a compelling account.... Truly transnational in scope, this work not only traces the shifting social and political currents in very specific localities on both sides of the Atlantic but convincingly explores their mutual influence on one another."
Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies
-"The Price of Liberty is a captivating narrative of black North Carolinians and their postmigration experience in Liberia. It is presented within the context of enlightening local, national, and international debates on slavery and colonization during the nineteenth century.... In lyrical prose, Clegg moves the reader from one milieu to the next, scrupulously explaining pertinent political, social, and economic issues of the time, the players, and the interactions between these diverse settings.... The reader learns of lives that form the intersection of United States and West African history, making this work an important contribution to both fields of study."
African Studies Review
-"Indeed, this book is the first in-depth regional study into the life of an important proportion of the 'free Negroes' who migrated to Liberia in the nineteenth century. Thoroughly researched and coherently written, the author reconstructs the unique socioeconomic experiences of an American population that resided on both sides of the Atlantic."
International Journal of African Historical Studies
-"Claude Clegg's The Price of Liberty is an important addition to the literature in African American, African, and diaspora history. It not only provides an engaging model of how to write diasporic history but also sheds new light on Liberian colonization through a careful excavation of its origins, motives, and outcomes."
North Carolina Historical Review