On This Day
1820 – The first 86 African American immigrants sponsored by the American Colonization Society depart New York to start a settlement in present-day Liberia.
The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America, commonly known as the American Colonization Society (ACS), was a group established in 1816 by Robert Finley of New Jersey which supported the migration of free African Americans to the continent of Africa. The society in 1821–1822 helped to found a colony on the Pepper Coast of West Africa, as a place for free-born or manumitted American blacks. The ACS met with immediate and continuing objections from such African-Americans as James Forten and David Walker, who wished to remain in the land of their birth, saw colonization as a racist strategy for protecting slavery and purging the U.S. of its black citizens, and preferred to fight for equal rights at home. Colonizers were also met with resistance and attacks from those already living in and around the areas being colonized. There was some religious support and missionary efforts were part of the colonization. Disease was a major problem, with Liberian immigrants suffering the highest mortality rates in accurately recorded human history. Of the 4,571 emigrants who arrived in Liberia from 1820 to 1843, only 1,819 survived until 1843.
The ACS was founded by groups otherwise opposed to each other on the issue of slavery, being a coalition made up mostly of evangelicals and Quakers who supported abolition of slavery and believed blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States, and some slaveholders (in the Maryland branch and elsewhere) who saw repatriation as a way to remove free blacks from slave societies and avoid slave rebellions. The two opposed groups found common ground in support of so-called “repatriation”.
Among the society’s supporters were Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, John Randolph, Richard Bland Lee and Bushrod Washington. The Society was especially prominent among slaveowners in the Virginia Piedmont region in the 1820s and 1830s. American presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison were among its supporters. James Madison served as the Society’s president in the early 1830s.
From 1821, thousands of free blacks, who faced legislated restrictions in much of the US, moved to Liberia. Over twenty years, the colony continued to grow and establish economic stability. In 1847, the legislature of Liberia declared the nation an independent state. The ACS had closely controlled the development of Liberia until its declaration of independence. By 1867, the ACS had assisted in the immigration of more than 13,000 Americans to Liberia.
From 1825 to 1919, it published the African Repository and Colonial Journal. After 1919, the society essentially ended, but it did not formally dissolve until 1964, when it transferred its papers to the Library of Congress.
Born On This Day
1465 – Scipione del Ferro, Italian mathematician and theorist (d. 1526)
Scipione del Ferro (6 February 1465 – 5 November 1526) was an Italian mathematician who first discovered a method to solve the depressed cubic equation.
Scipione del Ferro was born in Bologna, in northern Italy, to Floriano and Filippa Ferro. His father, Floriano, worked in the paper industry, which owed its existence to the invention of the press in the 1450s and which probably allowed Scipione to access various works during early stages of his life. He married and had a daughter, who was named Filippa after his mother.
He likely studied at the University of Bologna, where he was appointed a lecturer in Arithmetic and Geometry in 1496. During his last years, he also undertook commercial work.
Diffusion of his work
There are no surviving scripts from del Ferro. This is in large part due to his resistance to communicating his works. Instead of publishing his ideas, he would only show them to a small, select group of friends and students.
It is suspected that this is due to the practice of mathematicians at the time of publicly challenging one another. When a mathematician accepted another’s challenge, each mathematician needed to solve the other’s problems. The loser in a challenge often lost funding or his university position. Del Ferro was fearful of being challenged and likely kept his greatest work secret so that he could use it to defend himself in the event of a challenge.
Despite this secrecy, he had a notebook where he recorded all his important discoveries. After his death in 1526, this notebook was inherited by his son-in-law Annibale della Nave, who was married to del Ferro’s daughter, Filippa. Nave was also a mathematician and a former student of del Ferro’s, and he replaced del Ferro at the University of Bologna after his death.
In 1543, Gerolamo Cardano and Ludovico Ferrari (one of Cardano’s students) travelled to Bologna to meet Nave and learn about his late father-in-law’s notebook, where the solution to the depressed cubic equation appeared.
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