In the early 19th century, the American Colonization Society was formed with the sole intent of creating a colony for free blacks and former slaves. Both blacks and whites took passionate stands either for or against this proposal. Despite the controversy, the first group of settlers landed on the west coast of Africa in 1822. They faced numerous problems arising from the unfamiliar climate, hostile encounters with the indigenous people, and the failure of other nations to recognize their independence, but they managed to build a nation, naming it Liberia, for liberty. Today, partly because of these difficult beginnings, Liberia is a country plagued by unrest.In this accessible and well-written book, award-winning author Catherine Reef presents a significant but as of yet relatively unexplored chapter in African American history. Her account is filled with excerpts from diaries and letters of the settlers and richly illustrated with period photographs and prints, many of which have never been published before. Photo gallery, endnotes, bibliography, index.