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Lot # 1199 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1835 James Madison Signed "American Colonization Society" Certificate

Starting Bid - $400.00, Sold For - $928.00

One-page certificate bestowing membership in the American Colonization Society signed by James Madison (1751-1836), fourth President of the United States. The preprinted document, which provides a space for the addition of a handwritten name which has never been filled in, features a circular engraved vignette picturing a ship en route to the shores of Africa. Soaring above the ship is an eagle bearing a banner labeled "Liberia." James Madison has signed the certificate, as President of the organization, along the bottom in black ink, with the signature grading a virtually flawless "9." The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 by Robert Finley, a Presbyterian minister from New Jersey. Its aim was to repatriate free blacks to Africa. Interestingly, the Society was originally met by support from both abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates. The abolitionists felt it offered free blacks the opportunity to escape the overt racism of the time, while slave owners viewed a growing free black population as a threat to their livelihood. Northern supporters also feared that free blacks would work for less money than white citizens, thus lowering overall wages. While early attempts at resettlement met with some difficulty, the Society eventually helped establish the colony of Liberia along the West Coast of Africa. In 1847 Liberia became a free and independent state, with its constitution founded upon the American model. Due to a lack of funding and a near impossible task (there were over four million free blacks in the US following the Civil War) the Society eventually concentrated on providing missionary and educational services in Liberia. The organization officially disbanded in 1913. James Madison was President of the Society from 1833 until his death in 1836. Madison (who was a slave owner his entire life) obviously strongly supported the goals of the Society, for not only did he assume the duties of president, but upon his death he also bequeathed $2,000 to the organization. The certificate (9 x 6-1/2 inches) remains in very good condition overall, with minor tears along the horizontal and vertical fold lines, tack holes in the upper left and right corners, slight toning and tiny corner chips in the lower left and right. Framed to total dimensions of 15.25 x 13 inches. This is a fascinating and very rare signed Madison document, directly relating to issues of race and slavery in America, dating from Madison's final years. LOA from Steve Grad & John Reznikoff/PSA DNA. Reserve $400. Estimate $800/$1,200. SOLD FOR $928.00

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