Ralph Randolph Gurley

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Ralph Randolph Gurley

Birthdate: (75)
Death: 1872 (75)
Immediate Family:

Son of Mary Porter
Brother of ??? Gurley; ??? Gurley; ??? Gurley; ??? Gurley; ??? Gurley and 2 others

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Immediate Family

About Ralph Randolph Gurley


Ralph Randolph Gurley (May 26, 1797 – July 30, 1872) was a clergyman, an advocate of the separation of the races and a major force in the American Colonization Society, which offered passage to their colony in west Africa (now Liberia), to free black Americans.

He was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale College, B.A. in 1818. He moved to Washington, D.C. and was licensed to preach as a Presbyterian, but was never ordained. Nevertheless, he served as Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives for the 21st and 22nd Congresses and again for the 30th and 31st, opening each day's proceedings with a prayer. From 1822 till 1872 he acted as the agent and secretary of the American Colonization Society. In the will of ex-President James Madison, $2000 was bequeathed through Gurley to the Society. Gurley visited Africa three times in the Society's interests, and was one of the founders of Liberia, which he named. He also went to England to solicit aid in the work of colonization, always expressing the highest motives:

How should Virginians universally rejoice in the great evidences of Civilization growing & expanding on the west coast of Africa, through civilized Africans sent forth from their homes! (letter, November 4, 1857) 

During the first ten years of his agency the annual income of the society increased from $778 to $40,000. He travelled widely to deliver addresses in its behalf, edited its public-relations organ The African Repository and Colonial Journal and wrote a Life of Jehudi Ashmun (1835), a secretary of the Society, reported his Mission to England for the American Colonization Society (1841) and an encomium, the Life and Eloquence of Reverend Sylvester Larned (1844).

In his biography of Ashmun (1835), Gurley wrote

The friends of African Colonization have thought, that the consent of the South was indispensable for the safe abolition of slavery; that the work should be done with caution and preparation; that circumstances and consequences should be regarded; that a separation of races so distinct as the coloured and white in complexion, habits and condition is desirable for the happiness of both.
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Ralph Randolph Gurley's Timeline

Age 75