How Boquete Almost Was Named Lincolnia

Prior to the abolition of slavery, both slaveholders and abolitionists favored sending freed slaves back to Africa, but for different reasons. The abolitionists thought freed slaves would be eager to return home to Africa, and slaveholders felt having freed slaves around promoted the abolition cause and might encourage their own salves to revolt. One of the results was the creation in 1821 of Liberia whose capital was Monrovia, a name derived from the name of the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe. Lincoln supported these ideas and thought that returning former slaves to Africa would secure jobs for “free white laborers.”

In 1862 President Lincoln asked his Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan to start an African-American colony in Panama. Lincoln, like many U. S. Americans since, viewed Chiriqui as an ideal destination, telling a group of prominent African-Americans that Chiriqui had “evidence of very rich coal mines and among the finest harbors in the world.” Although his guests were unimpressed the plan was pushed forward. The colony of Linconia would be settled by 100 freed black former slaves. Permission was secrured from the government of the Republic of New Granada of which Panama was then a part. Lincoln pushed his plan forward until strong opposition of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras forced abandonment of the idea, even although they had 500 “pioneers” who were ready to go … without any advance glossy brochures, unending emails, investment conferences or relocation tours.

 

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