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The American Colonization Society (ACS) was an organization that advocated for the establishment of a colony in West Africa where black Americans could emigrate. Bushrod Washington served as its first president, from 1816 to 1829. The society was controversial from the beginning, as it appealed both to racist slaveholders who wanted to remove free black people from the United States, and abolitionists, black and white, who thought repatriation to Africa was the best strategy for emancipation. Washington's presidency helped lend the organization political credibility, but his status as a slaveholder harmed the organization's reputation with abolitionists. In 1821, under President James Monroe, the U.S. began the displacement of the indigenous Dey people to create a colony in Cape Mesurado, in what would eventually become Liberia. Sickness and revolt plagued the colony throughout the 1820s, and the Liberia remained politically unstable. By the 1830s, many former supporters had turned against the ACS, and dwindling membership made its future unclear. Once Liberia declared its independence in 1847, the ACS experienced a surge in membership, as more black Americans were willing to consider moving to an independent nation under black leadership. Interest in Black Nationalism and the Back to Africa movement kept the ACS in existence, in a greatly reduced form, until 1963, when it ceased operations.