Tracing Our Roots Part I
How the history of Liberia started
In order to recognise where you're heading you have to know where you come from. Many people have no idea how the history of Liberia started, who started, or why it was started. It's barely taught in American history books even though America played such a huge role in the history of Liberia. Many miles away surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and the Mesurado River, is present-day Liberia. Located in West Africa, Liberia is 43,000 square miles which is somewhat more bigger than Tennessee. You'll learn about how Liberia started and who played a part in; The American cultural impact and how it affects present day Liberia.
"In 1816, a group of white Americans in Washington DC launched the American Colonization Society (ACS) to deal with what they considered a problem"
The establishment of Liberia was in the early 1800's motivated by politics, slavery and race in the United States. In 1816, a group of white Americans in Washington DC launched the American Colonization Society (ACS) to deal with what they considered a problem. With the growing number of free blacks in the United States the ACS came up with a plan to resettle them in Africa. The resulting state of Liberia would become the second (after Haiti) black republic in the world at that time. Prominent Americans such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Randolph, former President Thomas Jefferson all publicly supported the organization's goals. With President James Madison who arranged public funding for the society; With so many motives as to why people joined this society were vast, just as the range of people who joined it from abolitionists to even slaveholders. Many abolitionists white and black who opposed such an idea of moving free blacks to Africa, the organization ACS was still powerful and the movement gained momentum for its “Colonization Project”. Before sailing ship ACS signed a constitution requiring that an agent of the Society administer the settlement under U.S laws.
"Many died from malaria, and yellow fever which is common in the area's coastal plains and mangrove swamps. Some died from attacks by the native population."
In 1818 the ACS sent two representatives to West Africa to find a good location for the colony. In the 1820s the first 86-98 free black settlers and three society members. First finding shelter on Scherbo Island off the West Coast of Africa. Many died from malaria, and yellow fever which is common in the area's coastal plains and mangrove swamps. Some died from attacks by the native populations who were, at various times, unhappy with the expansion of the settlements along the coast; with the settlers' efforts to put an end to the lucrative slave trading in which some ethnic groups were engaged; and at the settlers' attempts to Christianize their communities. The following year a U.S Navy vessel resumed the search for a place for a permanent settlement. Many local leaders resisted American attempts to purchase land. Lieutenant Robert Stockton, coerced a local ruler to sell a strip of land to society. The Scherbo Island grouped moved to a new location while other blacks from America joined them.
Influenced of American Culture
In 1824 settlers built a fortifications for protection from local tribes attacking them. Within that same year, settlement was named Liberia meaning “Land of the free.” Name it's capital Monrovia, in honor of the president James Monroe. With the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Africans removed from slave ships by the U.S Navy were also brought to Liberia. Up to 20,000 people combined into one organization. Settlers who came to Liberia brought the culture they learned in America and for the most part did not integrate with the native societies. The American culture influenced Liberia in many ways such as the common language is English. Also will explain why you'll meet some Liberians with American origin names. The settlers recreated American society, building churches and homes that resembled Southern plantations. Another example of American culturally influenced is the Liberian flag having such a striking resemblances to the American flag. Today about 5 percent of the population of Liberia are descendants from these settlers.
The final straw came in 1930 when an accusation by the Leauge of Nations, "forced labor...hardly distinguishable from slavery"
July 26, 1847 Liberia gained their independence from America. To bring in more revenue , Liberian leased large areas of land to American companies such as Firestone, which operated a massive rubber plantation in the African nation. The terms of the leases were strongly in favor of the private companies. The final straw came in 1930 when an accusation by the League of Nations, "forced labor ... hardly distinguishable from slavery," turned out to be true. The government collapsed, and the new president, Edwin Barclay, dealt with the mounting discontent among his people by introducing increasingly repressive laws. In 1847 Liberia got their independence from America. Then a constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution was approved, and in 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected Liberia's first president.
Liberia all started with a group called American Colonization Society (ACS) that got a lot public and private funding towards their “Colonization Project.” The reasoning behind this project was racially motivated. Having near 98 free black slaves moved across the Atlantic Ocean to die due to diseases from the climate. Finally being able to start fresh mixing in a lot of American culture into their new lives. To bring in revenue Liberia leased large parts of their land to American companies. Turning forced labor into the new slavery. Finally getting their independence July 26, 1847. Liberia has gone through so much, to think a whole country started because of a group of people who simply didn't like the idea of free blacks. This is just part I of The History of Liberia. Next we'll discuss what happened to Liberia once this “Freedom” country got its independence. Every new medium transforms the nature of human thought. In the long run, history is the story of information becoming aware of itself.