The American Colonization Society emerged at a time when some Americans believed that a "moderate" solution to the problem of slavery could be achieved by removing free blacks to Africa. Upon announcing its formation in 1816, the society received a public rejoinder: the Counter Memorial against African Colonization. This essay explores multiple interpretations of the Counter Memorial to demonstrate the instability of colonizationists moderate rhetorical position. More specifically, this essay argues that the Counter Memorial suspends colonization within the uneasy and unresolved tensions manifested by competing depictions of blackness, or black personae, in American public discourse at the time.

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