A Social History of the American Negro
Benjamin Brawley

Part 4 out of 9

a song which bore the cumbersome title, "The Colored Man's Opinion of
Colonization," and which was sung to the tune of "Home, Sweet Home." The
first stanza was as follows:

[Footnote 1: _Freedom's Journal_, November 2, 1827, quoted by Walker.]

Great God, if the humble and weak are as dear
To thy love as the proud, to thy children give ear!
Our brethren would drive us in deserts to roam;
Forgive them, O Father, and keep us at home.
Home, sweet home!
We have no other; this, this is our home.[1]

[Footnote 1: _Anti-Slavery Picknick_, 105-107.]

To this sentiment formal expression was given in the measures adopted at
various Negro meetings in the North. In 1817 the greatest excitement
was occasioned by a report that through the efforts of the newly-formed
Colonization Society all free Negroes were forcibly to be deported from
the country. Resolutions of protest were adopted, and these were widely
circulated.[1] Of special importance was the meeting in Philadelphia in
January, presided over by James Forten. Of this the full report is as

[Footnote 1: They are fully recorded in _Garrison's Thoughts on African

At a numerous meeting of the people of color, convened at Bethel Church,
to take into consideration the propriety of remonstrating against the
contemplated measure that is to exile us from the land of our nativity,
James Forten was called to the chair, and Russell Parrott appointed
secretary. The intent of the meeting having been stated by the chairman,
the following resolutions were adopted without one dissenting voice:

WHEREAS, Our ancestors (not of choice) were the first successful
cultivators of the wilds of America, we their descendants feel
ourselves entitled to participate in the blessings of her luxuriant
soil, which their blood and sweat manured; and that any measure or
system of measures, having a tendency to banish us from her bosom,
would not only be cruel, but in direct violation of those principles
which have been the boast of this republic,

_Resolved_, That we view with deep abhorrence the unmerited stigma
attempted to be cast upon the reputation of the free people of
color, by the promoters of this measure, "that they are a
dangerous and useless part of the community," when in the state of
disfranchisement in which they live, in the hour of danger they
ceased to remember their wrongs, and rallied around the standard of
their country.

_Resolved_, That we never will separate ourselves voluntarily from
the slave population of this country; they are our brethren by the
ties of consanguinity, of suffering, and of wrong; and we feel that
there is more virtue in suffering privations with them, than fancied
advantages for a season.

_Resolved_, That without arts, without science, without a proper
knowledge of government to cast upon the savage wilds of Africa the
free people of color, seems to us the circuitous route through which
they must return to perpetual bondage.

_Resolved_, That having the strongest confidence in the justice of
God, and philanthropy of the free states, we cheerfully submit our
destinies to the guidance of Him who suffers not a sparrow to fall
without his special providence.

_Resolved_, That a committee of eleven persons be appointed to open
a correspondence with the honorable Joseph Hopkinson, member
of Congress from this city, and likewise to inform him of the
sentiments of this meeting, and that the following named persons
constitute the committee, and that they have power to call a general
meeting, when they, in their judgment, may deem it proper: Rev.
Absalom Jones, Rev. Richard Allen, James Forten, Robert Douglass,
Francis Perkins, Rev. John Gloucester, Robert Gorden, James Johnson,
Quamoney Clarkson, John Summersett, Randall Shepherd.



In 1827, in New York, was begun the publication of _Freedom's Journal_,
the first Negro newspaper in the United States. The editors were John
B. Russwurm and Samuel E. Cornish. Russwurm was a recent graduate of
Bowdoin College and was later to become better known as the governor of
Maryland in Africa. By 1830 feeling was acute throughout the country,
especially in Ohio and Kentucky, and on the part of Negro men
had developed the conviction that the time had come for national
organization and protest.

In the spring of 1830 Hezekiah Grice of Baltimore, who had become
personally acquainted with the work of Lundy and Garrison, sent a letter
to prominent Negroes in the free states bringing in question the general
policy of emigration.[1] received no immediate response, but in August
he received from Richard Allen an urgent request to come at once to
Philadelphia. Arriving there he found in session a meeting discussing
the wisdom of emigration to Canada, and Allen "showed him a printed
circular signed by Peter Williams, rector of St. Philip's Church,
New York, Peter Vogelsang and Thomas L. Jennings of the same place,
approving the plan of convention."[2] The Philadelphians now issued a
call for a convention of the Negroes of the United States to be held in
their city September 15, 1830.

[Footnote 1: John W. Cromwell: _The Early Negro Convention Movement_.]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid_., 5.]

This September meeting was held in Bethel A.M.E. Church. Bishop Richard
Allen was chosen president, Dr. Belfast Burton of Philadelphia and
Austin Steward of Rochester vice-presidents, Junius C. Morell of
Pennsylvania secretary, and Robert Cowley of Maryland assistant
secretary. There were accredited delegates from seven states. While this
meeting might really be considered the first national convention of
Negroes in the United States (aside of course from the gathering of
denominational bodies), it seems to have been regarded merely as
preliminary to a still more formal assembling, for the minutes of the
next year were printed as the "Minutes and Proceedings of the First
Annual Convention of the People of Color, held by adjournments in the
city of Philadelphia, from the sixth to the eleventh of June, inclusive,
1831. Philadelphia, 1831." The meetings of this convention were held in
the Wesleyan Church on Lombard Street. Richard Allen had died earlier in
the year and Grice was not present; not long afterwards he emigrated
to Hayti, where he became prominent as a contractor. Rev. James W.C.
Pennington of New York, however, now for the first time appeared on the
larger horizon of race affairs; and John Bowers of Philadelphia served
as president, Abraham D. Shadd of Delaware and William Duncan of
Virginia as vice-presidents, William Whipper of Philadelphia as
secretary, and Thomas L. Jennings of New York as assistant secretary.
Delegates from five states were present. The gathering was not large,
but it brought together some able men; moreover, the meeting had some
distinguished visitors, among them Benjamin Lundy, William Lloyd
Garrison, Rev. S.S. Jocelyn of New Haven, and Arthur Tappan of New York.

The very first motion of the convention resolved "That a committee be
appointed to institute an inquiry into the condition of the free people
of color throughout the United States, and report their views upon the
subject at a subsequent meeting." As a result of its work this committee
recommended that the work of organizations interested in settlement in
Canada be continued; that the free people of color be annually called to
assemble by delegation; and it submitted "the necessity of deliberate
reflection on the dissolute, intemperate, and ignorant condition of a
large portion of the colored population of the United States." "And,
lastly, your Committee view with unfeigned regret, and respectfully
submit to the wisdom of this Convention, the operations and
misrepresentations of the American Colonization Society in these United
States.... We feel sorrowful to see such an immense and wanton waste
of lives and property, not doubting the benevolent feelings of some
individuals engaged in that cause. But we can not for a moment doubt
but that the cause of many of our unconstitutional, unchristian, and
unheard-of sufferings emanate from that unhallowed source; and we would
call on Christians of every denomination firmly to resist it." The
report was unanimously received and adopted.

Jocelyn, Tappan, and Garrison addressed the convention with reference to
a proposed industrial college in New Haven, toward the $20,000 expense
of which one individual (Tappan himself) had subscribed $1000 with the
understanding that the remaining $19,000 be raised within a year; and
the convention approved the project, _provided_ the Negroes had a
majority of at least one on the board of trustees. An illuminating
address to the public called attention to the progress of emancipation
abroad, to the fact that it was American persecution that led to the
calling of the convention, and that it was this also that first induced
some members of the race to seek an asylum in Canada, where already
there were two hundred log houses, and five hundred acres under

In 1832 eight states were represented by a total of thirty delegates. By
this time we learn that a total of eight hundred acres had been secured
in Canada, that two thousand Negroes had gone thither, but that
considerable hostility had been manifested on the part of the Canadians.
Hesitant, the convention appointed an agent to investigate the
situation. It expressed itself as strongly opposed to any national aid
to the American Colonization Society and urged the abolition of slavery
in the District of Columbia--all of which activity, it is well to
remember, was a year before the American Anti-Slavery Society was

In 1833 there were fifty-eight delegates, and Abraham Shadd, now of
Washington, was chosen president. The convention again gave prominence
to the questions of Canada and colonization, and expressed itself with
reference to the new law in Connecticut prohibiting Negroes from other
states from attending schools within the state. The 1834 meeting was
held in New York. Prudence Crandall[1] was commended for her stand in
behalf of the race, and July 4 was set apart as a day for prayer and
addresses on the condition of the Negro throughout the country. By
this time we hear much of societies for temperance and moral reform,
especially of the so-called Phoenix Societies "for improvement in
general culture--literature, mechanic arts, and morals." Of these
organizations Rev. Christopher Rush, of the A.M.E. Zion Church, was
general president, and among the directors were Rev. Peter Williams,
Boston Crummell, the father of Alexander Crummell, and Rev. William Paul
Quinn, afterwards a well-known bishop of the A.M.E. Church. The 1835
and 1836 meetings were held in Philadelphia, and especially were the
students of Lane Seminary in Cincinnati commended for their zeal in
the cause of abolition. A committee was appointed to look into the
dissatisfaction of some emigrants to Liberia and generally to review the
work of the Colonization Society.

[Footnote 1: See Chapter X, Section 3.]

In the decade 1837-1847 Frederick Douglass was outstanding as a leader,
and other men who were now prominent were Dr. James McCune Smith, Rev.
James W.C. Pennington, Alexander Crummell, William C. Nell, and Martin
R. Delany. These are important names in the history of the period. These
were the men who bore the brunt of the contest in the furious days of
Texas annexation and the Compromise of 1850. About 1853 and 1854 there
was renewed interest in the idea of an industrial college; steps were
taken for the registry of Negro mechanics and artisans who were in
search of employment, and of the names of persons who were willing to
give them work; and there was also a committee on historical records and
statistics that was not only to compile studies in Negro biography but
also to reply to any assaults of note.[1]

[Footnote 1: We can not too much emphasize the fact that the leaders
of this period were by no means impractical theorists but men who were
scientifically approaching the social problem of their people. They not
only anticipated such ideas as those of industrial education and of the
National Urban League of the present day, but they also endeavored to
lay firmly the foundations of racial self-respect.]

Immediately after the last of the conventions just mentioned, those who
were interested in emigration and had not been able to get a hearing
in the regular convention issued a call for a National Emigration
Convention of Colored Men to take place in Cleveland, Ohio, August
24-26, 1854. The preliminary announcement said: "No person will be
admitted to a seat in the Convention who would introduce the subject
of emigration to the Eastern Hemisphere--either to Asia, Africa, or
Europe--as our object and determination are to consider our claims
to the West Indies, Central and South America, and the Canadas. This
restriction has no reference to personal preference, or individual
enterprise, but to the great question of national claims to come before
the Convention."[1] Douglass pronounced the call "uncalled for, unwise,
unfortunate and premature," and his position led him into a wordy
discussion in the press with James M. Whitfield, of Buffalo, prominent
at the time as a writer. Delany explained the call as follows: "It was
a mere policy on the part of the authors of these documents, to confine
their scheme to America (including the West Indies), whilst they
were the leading advocates of the regeneration of Africa, lest they
compromised themselves and their people to the avowed enemies of their
race."[2] At the secret sessions, he informs us, Africa was the topic of
greatest interest. In order to account for this position it is important
to take note of the changes that had taken place between 1817 and 1854.
When James Forten and others in Philadelphia in 1817 protested
against the American Colonization Society as the plan of a "gang of
slaveholders" to drive free people from their homes, they had abundant
ground for the feeling. By 1839, however, not only had the personnel
of the organization changed, but, largely through the influence of
Garrison, the purpose and aim had also changed, and not Virginia and
Maryland, but New York and Pennsylvania were now dominant in influence.
Colonization had at first been regarded as a possible solution of the
race problem; money was now given, however, "rather as an aid to the
establishment of a model Negro republic in Africa, whose effort would
be to discourage the slave-trade, and encourage energy and thrift among
those free Negroes from the United States who chose to emigrate, and
to give native Africans a demonstration of the advantages of
civilization."[3] In view of the changed conditions, Delany and others
who disagreed with Douglass felt that for the good of the race in the
United States the whole matter of emigration might receive further
consideration; at the same time, remembering old discussions, they
did not wish to be put in the light of betrayers of their people. The
Pittsburgh _Daily Morning Post_ of October 18, 1854, sneered at the new
plan as follows: "If Dr. Delany drafted this report it certainly does
him much credit for learning and ability; and can not fail to establish
for him a reputation for vigor and brilliancy of imagination never yet
surpassed. It is a vast conception of impossible birth. The Committee
seem to have entirely overlooked the strength of the 'powers on earth'
that would oppose the Africanization of more than half the Western
Hemisphere. We have no motive in noticing this gorgeous dream of 'the
Committee' except to show its fallacy--its impracticability, in fact,
its absurdity. No sensible man, whatever his color, should be for a
moment deceived by such impracticable theories." However, in spite of
all opposition, the Emigration Convention met. Upon Delany fell the real
brunt of the work of the organization. In 1855 Bishop James Theodore
Holly was commissioned to Faustin Soulouque, Emperor of Hayti; and he
received in his visit of a month much official attention with some
inducement to emigrate. Delany himself planned to go to Africa as the
head of a "Niger Valley Exploring Party." Of the misrepresentation and
difficulties that he encountered he himself has best told. He did get to
Africa, however, and he had some interesting and satisfactory interviews
with representative chiefs. The Civil War put an end to his project, he
himself accepting a major's commission from President Lincoln. Through
the influence of Holly about two thousand persons went to Hayti, but not
more than a third of these remained. A plan fostered by Whitfield for a
colony in Central America came to naught when this leading spirit died
in San Francisco on his way thither.[4]

[Footnote 1: Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party, by
M.R. Delany, Chief Commissioner to Africa, New York, 1861.]

[Footnote 2: Delany, 8.]

[Footnote 3: Fox: _The American Colonisation Society_, 177; also note
pp. 12, 120-2.]

[Footnote 4: For the progress of all the plans offered to the convention
note important letter written by Holly and given by Cromwell, 20-21.]

3. _Sojourner Truth and Woman Suffrage_

With its challenge to the moral consciousness it was but natural that
anti-slavery should soon become allied with temperance, woman suffrage,
and other reform movements that were beginning to appeal to the heart
of America. Especially were representative women quick to see that the
arguments used for their cause were very largely identical with those
used for the Negro. When the woman suffrage movement was launched at
Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and
their co-workers issued a Declaration of Sentiments which like
many similar documents copied the phrasing of the Declaration of
Independence. This said in part: "The history of mankind is a history
of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man towards woman,
having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over
her.... He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to
the elective franchise.... He has made her, if married, in the eye of
the law civilly dead.... He has denied her the facilities for obtaining
a thorough education, all colleges being closed to her." It mattered
not at the time that male suffrage was by no means universal, or that
amelioration of the condition of woman had already begun; the movement
stated its case clearly and strongly in order that it might fully be
brought to the attention of the American people. In 1850 the first
formal National Woman's Rights Convention assembled in Worcester, Mass.
To this meeting came a young Quaker woman who was already listed in the
cause of temperance. In fact, wherever she went Susan B. Anthony entered
into "causes." She possessed great virtues and abilities, and at the
same time was capable of very great devotion. "She not only sympathized
with the Negro; when an opportunity offered she drank tea with him, to
her own 'unspeakable satisfaction.'"[1] Lucy Stone, an Oberlin graduate,
was representative of those who came into the agitation by the
anti-slavery path. Beginning in 1848 to speak as an agent of the
Anti-Slavery Society, almost from the first she began to introduce the
matter of woman's rights in her speeches.

[Footnote 1: Ida M. Tarbell: "The American Woman: Her First Declaration
of Independence," _American Magazine_, February, 1910.]

To the second National Woman's Suffrage Convention, held in Akron, Ohio,
in 1852, and presided over by Mrs. Frances D. Gage, came Sojourner

The "Libyan Sibyl" was then in the fullness of her powers. She had been
born of slave parents about 1798 in Ulster County, New York. In her
later years she remembered vividly the cold, damp cellar-room in which
slept the slaves of the family to which she belonged, and where she was
taught by her mother to repeat the Lord's Prayer and to trust in God.
When in the course of gradual emancipation she became legally free in
1827, her master refused to comply with the law and kept her in bondage.
She left, but was pursued and found. Rather than have her go back, a
friend paid for her services for the rest of the year. Then came an
evening when, searching for one of her children who had been stolen and
sold, she found herself a homeless wanderer. A Quaker family gave her
lodging for the night. Subsequently she went to New York City, joined
a Methodist church, and worked hard to improve her condition. Later,
having decided to leave New York for a lecture tour through the East,
she made a small bundle of her belongings and informed a friend that
her name was no longer _Isabella_ but _Sojourner_. She went on her
way, speaking to people wherever she found them assembled and being
entertained in many aristocratic homes. She was entirely untaught in the
schools, but was witty, original, and always suggestive. By her tact and
her gift of song she kept down ridicule, and by her fervor and faith she
won many friends for the anti-slavery cause. As to her name she said:
"And the Lord gave me _Sojourner_ because I was to travel up an' down
the land showin' the people their sins an' bein' a sign unto them.
Afterwards I told the Lord I wanted another name, 'cause everybody else
had two names, an' the Lord gave me _Truth_, because I was to declare
the truth to the people."

On the second day of the convention in Akron, in a corner, crouched
against the wall, sat this woman of care, her elbows resting on her
knees, and her chin resting upon her broad, hard palms.[1] In the
intermission she was employed in selling "The Life of Sojourner Truth."
From time to time came to the presiding officer the request, "Don't let
her speak; it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have
our cause mixed with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly
denounced." Gradually, however, the meeting waxed warm. Baptist,
Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Universalist preachers had
come to hear and discuss the resolutions presented. One argued the
superiority of the male intellect, another the sin of Eve, and the
women, most of whom did not "speak in meeting," were becoming filled
with dismay. Then slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner
Truth, who till now had scarcely lifted her head. Slowly and solemnly
to the front she moved, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned
her great, speaking eyes upon the chair. Mrs. Gage, quite equal to the
occasion, stepped forward and announced "Sojourner Truth," and begged
the audience to be silent a few minutes. "The tumult subsided at once,
and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly
six feet high, head erect, and eye piercing the upper air, like one in a
dream." At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep
tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and even
the throng at the doors and windows. To one man who had ridiculed the
general helplessness of woman, her needing to be assisted into carriages
and to be given the best place everywhere, she said, "Nobody eber helped
me into carriages, or ober mud puddles, or gibs me any best place"; and
raising herself to her full height, with a voice pitched like rolling
thunder, she asked, "And a'n't I a woman? Look at me. Look at my arm."
And she bared her right arm to the shoulder, showing her tremendous
muscular power. "I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns,
and no man could head me--and a'n't I a woman? I could work as much and
eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear de lash as well--and
a'n't I a woman? I have borne five chilern and seen 'em mos' all sold
off into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother's grief, none but
Jesus heard--and a'n't I a woman?... Dey talks 'bout dis ting in de
head--what dis dey call it?" "Intellect," said some one near. "Dat's it,
honey. What's dat got to do with women's rights or niggers' rights? If
my cup won't hold but a pint and yourn holds a quart, wouldn't ye be
mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?" And she pointed
her significant finger and sent a keen glance at the minister who had
made the argument. The cheering was long and loud. "Den dat little man
in black dar, he say women can't have as much rights as man, 'cause
Christ wa'n't a woman. But whar did Christ come from?" Rolling thunder
could not have stilled that crowd as did those deep, wonderful tones as
the woman stood there with her outstretched arms and her eyes of fire.
Raising her voice she repeated, "Whar did Christ come from? From God and
a woman. Man had nothing to do with Him." Turning to another objector,
she took up the defense of Eve. She was pointed and witty, solemn and
serious at will, and at almost every sentence awoke deafening applause;
and she ended by asserting, "If de fust woman God made was strong enough
to turn the world upside down, all alone, dese togedder,"--and she
glanced over the audience--"ought to be able to turn it back and get it
right side up again, and now dey is askin' to do it, de men better let

[Footnote 1: Reminiscences of the president, Mrs. Frances D. Gage, cited
by Tarbell.]

"Amid roars of applause," wrote Mrs. Gage, "she returned to her corner,
leaving more than one of us with streaming eyes and hearts beating with
gratitude." Thus, as so frequently happened, Sojourner Truth turned a
difficult situation into splendid victory. She not only made an eloquent
plea for the slave, but placing herself upon the broadest principles of
humanity, she saved the day for woman suffrage as well.



In a former chapter we have traced the early development of the American
Colonization Society, whose efforts culminated in the founding of the
colony of Liberia. The recent world war, with Africa as its prize, fixed
attention anew upon the little republic. This comparatively small tract
of land, just slightly more than one-three hundredth part of the surface
of Africa, is now of interest and strategic importance not only because
(if we except Abyssinia, which claims slightly different race origin,
and Hayti, which is now really under the government of the United
States) it represents the one distinctively Negro government in the
world, but also because it is the only tract of land on the great West
Coast of the continent that has survived, even through the war, the
aggression of great European powers. It is just at the bend of the
shoulder of Africa, and its history is as romantic as its situation is

Liberia has frequently been referred to as an outstanding example of
the incapacity of the Negro for self-government. Such a judgment is not
necessarily correct. It is indeed an open question if, in view of the
nature of its beginning, the history of the country proves anything one
way or the other with reference to the capacity of the race. The early
settlers were frequently only recently out of bondage, but upon them
were thrust all the problems of maintenance and government, and they
brought with them, moreover, the false ideas of life and work that
obtained in the Old South. Sometimes they suffered from neglect,
sometimes from excessive solicitude; never were they really left alone.
In spite of all, however, more than a score of native tribes have been
subdued by only a few thousand civilized men, the republic has preserved
its integrity, and there has been handed down through the years a
tradition of constitutional government.

1. _The Place and the People_

The resources of Liberia are as yet imperfectly known. There is no
question, however, about the fertility of the interior, or of its
capacity when properly developed. There are no rivers of the first rank,
but the longest streams are about three hundred miles in length, and at
convenient distances apart flow down to a coastline somewhat more than
three hundred miles long. Here in a tract of land only slightly larger
than our own state of Ohio are a civilized population between 30,000 and
100,000 in number, and a native population estimated at 2,000,000. Of
the civilized population the smaller figure, 30,000, is the more nearly
correct if we consider only those persons who are fully civilized, and
this number would be about evenly divided between Americo-Liberians and
natives. Especially in the towns along the coast, however, there are
many people who have received only some degree of civilization, and
most of the households in the larger towns have several native children
living in them. If all such elements are considered, the total might
approach 100,000. The natives in their different tribes fall into three
or four large divisions. In general they follow their native customs,
and the foremost tribes exhibit remarkable intelligence and skill in
industry. Outstanding are the dignified Mandingo, with a Mohammedan
tradition, and the Vai, distinguished for skill in the arts and with a
culture similar to that of the Mandingo. Also easily recognized are
the Kpwessi, skillful in weaving and ironwork; the Kru, intelligent,
sea-faring, and eager for learning; the Grebo, ambitious and aggressive,
and in language connection close to the Kru; the Bassa, with
characteristics somewhat similar to those of the Kru, but in general
not quite so ambitious; the Buzi, wild and highly tattooed; and the
cannibalistic Mano. By reason of numbers if nothing else, Liberia's
chief asset for the future consists in her native population.

2. _History_

(a) _Colonization and Settlement_

In pursuance of its plans for the founding of a permanent colony on the
coast of Africa, the American Colonization Society in November, 1817,
sent out two men, Samuel J. Mills and Ebenezer Burgess, who were
authorized to find a suitable place for a settlement. Going by way
of England, these men were cordially received by the officers of the
African Institution and given letters to responsible persons in Sierra
Leone. Arriving at the latter place in March, 1818, they met John
Kizell, a native and a man of influence, who had received some training
in America and had returned to his people, built a house of worship, and
become a preacher. Kizell undertook to accompany them on their journey
down the coast and led the way to Sherbro Island, a place long in
disputed territory but since included within the limits of Sierra Leone.
Here the agents were hospitably received; they fixed upon the island as
a permanent site, and in May turned their faces homeward. Mills died on
the voyage in June and was buried at sea; but Burgess made a favorable
report, though the island was afterwards to prove by no means healthy.
The Society was impressed, but efforts might have languished at this
important stage if Monroe, now President, had not found it possible to
bring the resources of the United States Government to assist in
the project. Smuggling, with the accompanying evil of the sale of
"recaptured Africans," had by 1818 become a national disgrace, and on
March 3, 1819, a bill designed to do away with the practice became a
law. This said in part: "The President of the United States is hereby
authorized to make such regulations and arrangements as he may deem
expedient for the safe-keeping, support, and removal beyond the limits
of the United States, of all such Negroes, mulattoes, or persons of
color as may be so delivered and brought within their jurisdiction; and
to appoint a proper person or persons residing upon the coast of Africa
as agent or agents for receiving the Negroes, mulattoes, or persons of
color, delivered from on board vessels seized in the prosecution of the
slave-trade by commanders of the United States armed vessels." For the
carrying out of the purpose of this act $100,000 was appropriated, and
Monroe was disposed to construe as broadly as necessary the powers given
him under it. In his message of December 20, he informed Congress
that he had appointed Rev. Samuel Bacon, of the American Colonization
Society, with John Bankson as assistant, to charter a vessel and take
the first group of emigrants to Africa, the understanding being that
he was to go to the place fixed upon by Mills and Burgess. Thus the
National Government and the Colonization Society, while technically
separate, began to work in practical cooeperation. The ship _Elizabeth_
was made ready for the voyage; the Government informed the Society that
it would "receive on board such free blacks recommended by the Society
as might be required for the purpose of the agency"; $33,000 was placed
in the hands of Mr. Bacon; Rev. Samuel A. Crozer was appointed as the
Society's official representative; 88 emigrants were brought together
(33 men and 18 women, the rest being children); and on February 5, 1820,
convoyed by the war-sloop _Cyane_, the expedition set forth.

An interesting record of the voyage--important for the sidelights it
gives--was left by Daniel Coker, the respected minister of a large
Methodist congregation in Baltimore who was persuaded to accompany the
expedition for the sake of the moral influence that he might be able to
exert.[1] There was much bad weather at the start, and it was the icy
sea that on February 4 made it impossible to get under way until the
next day. On board, moreover, there was much distrust of the agents in
charge, with much questioning of their motives; nor were matters made
better by a fight between one of the emigrants and the captain of the
vessel. It was a restless company, uncertain as to the future, and
dissatisfied and peevish from day to day. Kizell afterwards remarked
that "some would not be governed by white men, and some would not be
governed by black men, and some would not be governed by mulattoes; but
the truth was they did not want to be governed by anybody." On March 3,
however, the ship sighted the Cape Verde Islands and six days afterwards
was anchored at Sierra Leone; and Coker rejoiced that at last he had
seen Africa. Kizell, however, whom the agents had counted on seeing,
was found to be away at Sherbro; accordingly, six days after their
arrival[2] they too were making efforts to go on to Sherbro, for they
were allowed at anchor only fifteen days and time was passing rapidly.
Meanwhile Bankson went to find Kizell. Captain Sebor was at first
decidedly unwilling to go further; but his reluctance was at length
overcome; Bacon purchased for $3,000 a British schooner that had
formerly been engaged in the slave-trade; and on March 17 both ship and
schooner got under way for Sherbro. The next day they met Bankson, who
informed them that he had seen Kizell. This man, although he had not
heard from America since the departure of Mills and Burgess, had already
erected some temporary houses against the rainy season. He permitted the
newcomers to stay in his little town until land could be obtained; sent
them twelve fowls and a bushel of rice; but he also, with both dignity
and pathos, warned Bankson that if he and his companions came with
Christ in their hearts, it was well that they had come; if not, it would
have been better if they had stayed in America.

[Footnote 1: "Journal of Daniel Coker, a descendant of Africa, from the
time of leaving New York, in the ship _Elizabeth_, Capt. Sebor, on a
voyage for Sherbro, in Africa. Baltimore, 1820."]

[Footnote 2: March 15. The narrative, page 26, says February 15, but
this is obviously a typographical error.]

Now followed much fruitless bargaining with the native chiefs, in all of
which Coker regretted that the slave-traders had so ruined the people
that it seemed impossible to make any progress in a "palaver" without
the offering of rum. Meanwhile a report was circulated through the
country that a number of Americans had come and turned Kizell out of his
own town and put some of his people in the hold of their ship. Disaster
followed disaster. The marsh, the bad water, and the malaria played
havoc with the colonists, and all three of the responsible agents died.
The few persons who remained alive made their way back to Sierra Leone.

Thus the first expedition failed. One year later, in March, 1821, a new
company of twenty-one emigrants, in charge of J.B. Winn and Ephraim
Bacon, arrived at Freetown in the brig _Nautilus_. It had been the
understanding that in return for their passage the members of the first
expedition would clear the way for others; but when the agents of the
new company saw the plight of those who remained alive, they brought all
of the colonists together at Fourah Bay, and Bacon went farther down the
coast to seek a more favorable site. A few persons who did not wish to
go to Fourah Bay remained in Sierra Leone and became British subjects.
Bacon found a promising tract about two hundred and fifty miles down the
coast at Cape Montserado; but the natives were not especially eager to
sell, as they did not wish to break up the slave traffic. Meanwhile Winn
and several more of the colonists died; and Bacon now returned to the
United States. The second expedition had thus proved to be little more
successful than the first; but the future site of Monrovia had at least
been suggested.

In November came Dr. Eli Ayres as agent of the Society, and in December
Captain Robert F. Stockton of the _Alligator_ with instructions to
cooeperate. These two men explored the coast and on December 11 arrived
at Mesurado Bay. Through the jungle they made their way to a village and
engaged in a palaver with King Peter and five of his associates. The
negotiations were conducted in the presence of an excited crowd and with
imminent danger; but Stockton had great tact and at length, for the
equivalent of $300, he and Ayres purchased the mouth of the Mesurado
River, Cape Montserado, and the land for some distance in the interior.
There was also an understanding (for half a dozen gallons of rum and
some trade-cloth and tobacco) with King George, who "resided on the Cape
and claimed a sort of jurisdiction over the northern district of the
peninsula of Montserado, by virtue of which the settlers were permitted
to pass across the river and commence the laborious task of clearing
away the heavy forest which covered the site of their intended town."[1]
Then the agent returned to effect the removal of the colonists from
Fourah Bay, leaving a very small company as a sort of guard on
Perseverance (or Providence) Island at the mouth of the river. Some
of the colonists refused to leave, remained, and thus became British
subjects. For those who had remained on the island there was trouble at
once. A small vessel, the prize of an English cruiser, bound to Sierra
Leone with thirty liberated Africans, put into the roads for water, and
had the misfortune to part her cable and come ashore. "The natives claim
to a prescriptive right, which interest never fails to enforce to its
fullest extent, to seize and appropriate the wrecks and cargoes of
vessels stranded, under whatever circumstances, on their coast."[2] The
vessel in question drifted to the mainland one mile from the cape, a
small distance below George's town, and the natives proceeded to act in
accordance with tradition. They were fired on by the prize master and
forced to desist, and the captain appealed to the few colonists on the
island for assistance. They brought into play a brass field piece, and
two of the natives were killed and several more wounded. The English
officer, his crew, and the captured Africans escaped, though the small
vessel was lost; but the next day the Deys (the natives), feeling
outraged, made another attack, in the course of which some of them
and one of the colonists were killed. In the course of the operations
moreover, through the carelessness of some of the settlers themselves,
fire was communicated to the storehouse and $3000 worth of property
destroyed, though the powder and some of the provisions were saved. Thus
at the very beginning, by accident though it happened, the shadow of
England fell across the young colony, involving it in difficulties with
the natives. When then Ayres returned with the main crowd of settlers on
January 7, 1822--which arrival was the first real landing of settlers on
what is now Liberian soil--he found that the Deys wished to annul the
agreement previously made and to give back the articles paid. He himself
was seized in the course of a palaver, and he was able to arrive at no
better understanding than that the colonists might remain only until
they could make a new purchase elsewhere. Now appeared on the scene
Boatswain, a prominent chief from the interior who sometimes exercised
jurisdiction over the coast tribes and who, hearing that there was
trouble in the bay, had come hither, bringing with him a sufficient
following to enforce his decrees. Through this man shone something of
the high moral principle so often to be observed in responsible African
chiefs, and to him Ayres appealed. Hearing the story he decided in
favor of the colonists, saying to Peter, "Having sold your country and
accepted payment, you must take the consequences. Let the Americans
have their land immediately." To the agent he said, "I promise you
protection. If these people give you further disturbance, send for me;
and I swear, if they oblige me to come again to quiet them, I will do
it to purpose, by taking their heads from their shoulders, as I did old
king George's on my last visit to the coast to settle disputes." Thus on
the word of a native chief was the foundation of Liberia assured.

[Footnote 1: Ashmun: _History of the American Colony in Liberia, from
1821 to 1823_, 8.]

[Footnote 2: Ashmun, 9.]

By the end of April all of the colonists who were willing to move had
been brought from Sierra Leone to their new home. It was now decided
to remove from the low and unhealthy island to the higher land of
Cape Montserado only a few hundred feet away; on April 28 there was a
ceremony of possession and the American flag was raised. The advantages
of the new position were obvious, to the natives as well as the
colonists, and the removal was attended with great excitement. By July
the island was completely abandoned. Meanwhile, however, things had not
been going well. The Deys had been rendered very hostile, and from them
there was constant danger of attack. The rainy season moreover had set
in, shelter was inadequate, supplies were low, and the fever continually
claimed its victims. Ayres at length became discouraged. He proposed
that the enterprise be abandoned and that the settlers return to Sierra
Leone, and on June 4 he did actually leave with a few of them. It was
at this juncture that Elijah Johnson, one of the most heroic of the
colonists, stepped forth to fame.

The early life of the man is a blank. In 1789 he was taken to New
Jersey. He received some instruction and studied for the Methodist
ministry, took part in the War of 1812, and eagerly embraced the
opportunity to be among the first to come to the new colony. To the
suggestion that the enterprise be abandoned he replied, "Two years long
have I sought a home; here I have found it; here I remain." To him the
great heart of the colonists responded. Among the natives he was known
and respected as a valiant fighter. He lived until March 23, 1849.

Closely associated with Johnson, his colleague in many an effort and
the pioneer in mission work, was the Baptist minister, Lott Cary,
from Richmond, Va., who also had become one of the first permanent
settlers.[1] He was a man of most unusual versatility and force of
character. He died November 8, 1828, as the result of a powder explosion
that occurred while he was acting in defense of the colony against the

[Footnote 1: See Chapter III, Section 5.]

July (1822) was a hard month for the settlers. Not only were their
supplies almost exhausted, but they were on a rocky cape and the natives
would not permit any food to be brought to them. On August 8, however,
arrived Jehudi Ashmun, a young man from Vermont who had worked as a
teacher and as the editor of a religious publication for some years
before coming on this mission. He brought with him a company of
liberated Africans and emigrants to the number of fifty-five, and as he
did not intend to remain permanently he had yielded to the entreaty of
his wife and permitted her to accompany him on the voyage. He held no
formal commission from the American Colonization Society, but seeing the
situation he felt that it was his duty to do what he could to relieve
the distress; and he faced difficulties from the very first. On the day
after his arrival his own brig, the _Strong_, was in danger of being
lost; the vessel parted its cable, and on the following morning broke it
again and drifted until it was landlocked between Cape Montserado and
Cape Mount. A small anchor was found, however, and the brig was again
moored, but five miles from the settlement. The rainy season was now on
in full force; there was no proper place for the storing of provisions;
and even with the newcomers it soon developed that there were in the
colony only thirty-five men capable of bearing arms, so great had been
the number of deaths from the fever. Sometimes almost all of these
were sick; on September 10 only two were in condition for any kind of
service. Ashmun tried to make terms with the native chiefs, but their
malignity was only partially concealed. His wife languished before
his eyes and died September 15, just five weeks after her arrival. He
himself was incapacitated for several months, nor at the height of his
illness was he made better by the ministrations of a French charlatan.
He never really recovered from the great inroads made upon his strength
at this time.

As a protection from sudden attack a clearing around the settlement was
made. Defenses had to be erected without tools, and so great was the
anxiety that throughout the months of September and October a nightly
watch of twenty men was kept. On Sunday, November 10, the report was
circulated that the Deys were crossing the Mesurado River, and at night
it became known that seven or eight hundred were on the peninsula only
half a mile to the west. The attack came at early dawn on the 11th and
the colonists might have been annihilated if they had not brought
a field-piece into play. When this was turned against the natives
advancing in compact array, it literally tore through masses of living
flesh until scores of men were killed. Even so the Deys might have won
the engagement if they had not stopped too soon to gather plunder. As
it was, they were forced to retreat. Of the settlers three men and one
woman were killed, two men and two women injured, and several children
taken captive, though these were afterwards returned. At this time
the colonists suffered greatly from the lack of any supplies for the
treatment of wounds. Only medicines for the fever were on hand, and in
the hot climate those whose flesh had been torn by bullets suffered
terribly. In this first encounter, as often in these early years, the
real burden of conflict fell upon Cary and Johnson. After the battle
these men found that they had on hand ammunition sufficient for only one
hour's defense. All were placed on a special allowance of provisions and
November 23 was observed as a day of prayer. A passing vessel furnished
additional supplies and happily delayed for some days the inevitable
attack. This came from two sides very early in the morning of December
2. There was a desperate battle. Three bullets passed through Ashmun's
clothes, one of the gunners was killed, and repeated attacks were
resisted only with the most dogged determination. An accident, or, as
the colonists regarded it, a miracle, saved them from destruction. A
guard, hearing a noise, discharged a large gun and several muskets.
The schooner _Prince Regent_ was passing, with Major Laing, Midshipman
Gordon, and eleven specially trained men on board. The officers, hearing
the sound of guns, came ashore to see what was the trouble. Major Laing
offered assistance if ground was given for the erection of a British
flag, and generally attempted to bring about an adjustment of
difficulties on the basis of submitting these to the governor of Sierra
Leone. To these propositions Elijah Johnson replied, "We want no
flagstaff put up here that it will cost more to get down than it will
to whip the natives." However, Gordon and the men under him were left
behind for the protection of the colony until further help could arrive.
Within one month he and seven of the eleven were dead. He himself had
found a ready place in the hearts of the settlers, and to him and his
men Liberia owes much. They came in a needy hour and gave their lives
for the cause of freedom.

An American steamer passing in December, 1822, gave some temporary
relief. On March 31, 1823, the _Cyane_, with Capt. R.T. Spence in
charge, arrived from America with supplies. As many members of his crew
became ill after only a few days, Spence soon deemed it advisable to
leave. His chief clerk, however, Richard Seaton, heroically volunteered
to help with the work, remained behind, and died after only three
months. On May 24 came the _Oswego_ with sixty-one new colonists and
Dr. Ayres, who, already the Society's agent, now returned with the
additional authority of Government agent and surgeon. He made a survey
and attempted a new allotment of land, only to find that the colony was
soon in ferment, because some of those who possessed the best holdings
or who had already made the beginnings of homes, were now required to
give these up. There was so much rebellion that in December Ayres
again deemed it advisable to leave. The year 1823 was in fact chiefly
noteworthy for the misunderstandings that arose between the colonists
and Ashmun. This man had been placed in a most embarrassing situation by
the arrival of Dr. Ayres.[1] He not only found himself superseded in the
government, but had the additional misfortune to learn that his drafts
had been dishonored and that no provision had been made to remunerate
him for his past services or provide for his present needs. Finding his
services undervalued, and even the confidence of the Society withheld,
he was naturally indignant, though his attachment to the cause remained
steadfast. Seeing the authorized agent leaving the colony, and the
settlers themselves in a state of insubordination, with no formal
authority behind him he yet resolved to forget his own wrongs and to do
what he could to save from destruction that for which he had already
suffered so much. He was young and perhaps not always as tactful as he
might have been. On the other hand, the colonists had not yet learned
fully to appreciate the real greatness of the man with whom they were
dealing. As for the Society at home, not even so much can be said. The
real reason for the withholding of confidence from Ashmun was that many
of the members objected to his persistent attacks on the slave-trade.

[Footnote 1: Stockwell, 73.]

By the regulations that governed the colony at the time, each man who
received rations was required to contribute to the general welfare
two days of labor a week. Early in December twelve men cast off all
restraint, and on the 13th Ashmun published a notice in which he said:
"There are in the colony more than a dozen healthy persons who will
receive no more provisions out of the public store until they earn
them." On the 19th, in accordance with this notice, the provisions of
the recalcitrants were stopped. The next morning, however, the men went
to the storehouse, and while provisions were being issued, each seized
a portion and went to his home. Ashmun now issued a circular, reminding
the colonists of all of their struggles together and generally pointing
out to them how such a breach of discipline struck at the very heart of
the settlement. The colonists rallied to his support and the twelve men
returned to duty. The trouble, however, was not yet over. On March 19,
1824, Ashmun found it necessary to order a cut in provisions. He had
previously declared to the Board that in his opinion the evil was
"incurable by any of the remedies which fall within the existing
provisions"; and counter remonstrances had been sent by the colonists,
who charged him with oppression, neglect of duty, and the seizure of
public property. He now, seeing that his latest order was especially
unpopular, prepared new despatches, on March 22 reviewed the whole
course of his conduct in a strong and lengthy address, and by the last
of the month had left the colony.

Meanwhile the Society, having learned that things were not going well
with the colony, had appointed its secretary, Rev. R.R. Gurley, to
investigate conditions. Gurley met Ashmun at the Cape Verde Islands and
urgently requested that he return to Monrovia.[1] This Ashmun was not
unwilling to do, as he desired the fullest possible investigation into
his conduct. Gurley was in Liberia from August 13 to August 22, 1824,
only; but from the time of his visit conditions improved. Ashmun was
fully vindicated and remained for four years more until his strength
was all but spent. There was adopted what was known as the Gurley
Constitution. According to this the agent in charge was to have supreme
charge and preside at all public meetings. He was to be assisted,
however, by eleven officers annually chosen, the most important of whom
he was to appoint on nomination by the colonists. Among these were
a vice-agent, two councilors, two justices of the peace, and two
constables. There was to be a guard of twelve privates, two corporals,
and one sergeant.

[Footnote 1: This name, in honor of President Monroe, had recently been
adopted by the Society at the suggestion of Robert Goodloe Harper, of
Maryland, who also suggested the name _Liberia_ for the country. Harper
himself was afterwards honored by having the chief town in Maryland in
Africa named after him.]

For a long time it was the custom of the American Colonization Society
to send out two main shipments of settlers a year, one in the spring
and one in the fall. On February 13, 1824, arrived a little more than
a hundred emigrants, mainly from Petersburg, Va. These people were
unusually intelligent and industrious and received a hearty welcome.
Within a month practically all of them were sick with the fever. On
this occasion, as on many others, Lott Cary served as physician, and so
successful was he that only three of the sufferers died. Another company
of unusual interest was that which arrived early in 1826. It brought
along a printer, a press with the necessary supplies, and books sent by
friends in Boston. Unfortunately the printer was soon disabled by the

Sickness, however, and wars with the natives were not the only handicaps
that engaged the attention of the colony in these years. "At this period
the slave-trade was carried on extensively within sight of Monrovia.
Fifteen vessels were engaged in it at the same time, almost under the
guns of the settlement; and in July of this year a contract was existing
for eight hundred slaves to be furnished, in the short space of four
months, within eight miles of the cape. Four hundred of these were to be
purchased for two American traders."[1] Ashmun attacked the Spaniards
engaged in the traffic, and labored generally to break up slave
factories. On one occasion he received as many as one hundred and
sixteen slaves into the colony as freemen. He also adopted an attitude
of justice toward the native Krus. Of special importance was the attack
on Trade Town, a stronghold of French and Spanish traders about one
hundred miles below Monrovia. Here there were not less than three large
factories. On the day of the battle, April 10, there were three hundred
and fifty natives on shore under the direction of the traders, but the
colonists had the assistance of some American vessels, and a Liberian
officer, Captain Barbour, was of outstanding courage and ability. The
town was fired after eighty slaves had been surrendered. The flames
reached the ammunition of the enemy and over two hundred and fifty casks
of gunpowder exploded. By July, however, the traders had built a battery
at Trade Town and were prepared to give more trouble. All the same a
severe blow had been dealt to their work.

[Footnote 1: Stockwell, 79.]

In his report rendered at the close of 1825 Ashmun showed that the
settlers were living in neatness and comfort; two chapels had been
built, and the militia was well organized, equipped, and disciplined.
The need of some place for the temporary housing of immigrants having
more and more impressed itself upon the colony, before the end of 1826
a "receptacle" capable of holding one hundred and fifty persons was
erected. Ashmun himself served on until 1828, by which time his strength
was completely spent. He sailed for America early in the summer and
succeeded in reaching New Haven, only to die after a few weeks. No man
had given more for the founding of Liberia. The principal street in
Monrovia is named after him.

Aside from wars with the natives, the most noteworthy being the Dey-Gola
war of 1832, the most important feature of Liberian history in
the decade 1828-1838 was the development along the coast of other
settlements than Monrovia. These were largely the outgrowth of the
activity of local branch organizations of the American Colonization
Society, and they were originally supposed to have the oversight of the
central organization and of the colony of Monrovia. The circumstances
under which they were founded, however, gave them something of a feeling
of independence which did much to influence their history. Thus arose,
about seventy-five miles farther down the coast, under the auspices
especially of the New York and Pennsylvania societies, the Grand Bassa
settlements at the mouth of the St. John's River, the town Edina being
outstanding. Nearly a hundred miles farther south, at the mouth of
the Sino River, another colony developed as its most important town
Greenville; and as most of the settlers in this vicinity came from
Mississippi, their province became known as Mississippi in Africa. A
hundred miles farther, on Cape Palmas, just about twenty miles from the
Cavalla River marking the boundary of the French possessions, developed
the town of Harper in what became known as Maryland in Africa. This
colony was even more aloof than others from the parent settlement of
the American Colonization Society. When the first colonists arrived at
Monrovia in 1831, they were not very cordially received, there being
trouble about the allotment of land. They waited for some months for
reenforcements and then sailed down the coast to the vicinity of the
Cavalla River, where they secured land for their future home and where
their distance from the other colonists from America made it all the
more easy for them to cultivate their tradition of independence.[1]
These four ports are now popularly known as Monrovia, Grand Bassa, Sino,
and Cape Palmas; and to them for general prominence might now be added
Cape Mount, about fifty miles from Monrovia higher up the coast and just
a few miles from the Mano River, which now marks the boundary between
Sierra Leone and Liberia. In 1838, on a constitution drawn up by
Professor Greenleaf, of Harvard College, was organized the "Commonwealth
of Liberia," the government of which was vested in a Board of Directors
composed of delegates from the state societies, and which included all
the settlements except Maryland. This remote colony, whose seaport is
Cape Palmas, did not join with the others until 1857, ten years after
Liberia had become an independent republic. When a special company
of settlers arrived from Baltimore and formally occupied Cape Palmas
(1834), Dr. James Hall was governor and he served in this capacity
until 1836, when failing health forced him to return to America. He was
succeeded by John B. Russwurm, a young Negro who had come to Liberia
in 1829 for the purpose of superintending the system of education. The
country, however, was not yet ready for the kind of work he wanted
to do, and in course of time he went into politics. He served very
efficiently as Governor of Maryland from 1836 to 1851, especially
exerting himself to standardize the currency and to stabilize the
revenues. Five years after his death Maryland suffered greatly from an
attack by the Greboes, twenty-six colonists being killed. An appeal to
Monrovia for help led to the sending of a company of men and later to
the incorporation of the colony in the Republic.

[Footnote 1: McPherson is especially valuable for his study of the
Maryland colony.]

Of the events of the period special interest attaches to the murder of
I.F.C. Finley, Governor of Mississippi in Africa, to whose father, Rev.
Robert Finley, the organization of the American Colonization Society
had been very largely due. In September, 1838, Governor Finley left his
colony to go to Monrovia on business, and making a landing at Bassa
Cove, he was robbed and killed by the Krus. This unfortunate murder
led to a bitter conflict between the settlers in the vicinity and the
natives. This is sometimes known as the Fish War (from being waged
around Fishpoint) and did not really cease for a year.

(b) The Commonwealth of Liberia

The first governor of the newly formed Commonwealth was Thomas H.
Buchanan, a man of singular energy who represented the New York and
Pennsylvania societies and who had come in 1836 especially to take
charge of the Grand Bassa settlements. Becoming governor in 1838, he
found it necessary to proceed vigorously against the slave dealers at
Trade Town. He was also victorious in 1840 in a contest with the Gola
tribe led by Chief Gatumba. The Golas had defeated the Dey tribe so
severely that a mere remnant of the latter had taken refuge with the
colonists at Millsburg, a station a few miles up the St. Paul's River.
Thus, as happened more than once, a tribal war in time involved the very
existence of the new American colonies. Governor Buchanan's victory
greatly increased his prestige and made it possible for him to negotiate
more and more favorable treaties with the natives. A contest of
different sort was that with a Methodist missionary, John Seyes, who
held that all goods used by missionaries, including those sold to the
natives, should be admitted free of duty. The governor contended that
such privilege should be extended only to goods intended for the
personal use of missionaries; and the Colonization Society stood behind
him in this opinion. As early as 1840 moreover some shadow of future
events was cast by trouble made by English traders on the Mano River,
the Sierra Leone boundary. Buchanan sent an agent to England to
represent him in an inquiry into the matter; but in the midst of his
vigorous work he died in 1841. He was the last white man formally under
any auspices at the head of Liberian affairs. Happily his period of
service had given opportunity and training to an efficient helper, upon
whom now the burden fell and of whom it is hardly too much to say that
he is the foremost figure in Liberian history.

Joseph Jenkin Roberts was a mulatto born in Virginia in 1809. At the
age of twenty, with his widowed mother and younger brothers, he went to
Liberia and engaged in trade. In course of time he proved to be a man of
unusual tact and graciousness of manner, moving with ease among people
of widely different rank. His abilities soon demanded recognition, and
he was at the head of the force that defeated Gatumba. As governor he
realized the need of cultivating more far-reaching diplomacy than the
Commonwealth had yet known. He had the cooeperation of the Maryland
governor, Russwurm, in such a matter as that of uniform customs duties;
and he visited the United States, where he made a very good impression.
He soon understood that he had to reckon primarily with the English and
the French. England had indeed assumed an attitude of opposition to
the slave-trade; but her traders did not scruple to sell rum to slave
dealers, and especially were they interested in the palm oil of Liberia.
When the Commonwealth sought to impose customs duties, England took the
position that as Liberia was not an independent government, she had no
right to do so; and the English attitude had some show of strength
from the fact that the American Colonization Society, an outside
organization, had a veto power over whatever Liberia might do. When in
1845 the Liberian Government seized the _Little Ben_, an English trading
vessel whose captain acted in defiance of the revenue laws, the British
in turn seized the _John Seyes_, belonging to a Liberian named Benson,
and sold the vessel for L8000. Liberia appealed to the United States;
but the Oregon boundary question as well as slavery had given the
American Government problems enough at home; and the Secretary of State,
Edward Everett, finally replied to Lord Aberdeen (1845) that America
was not "presuming to settle differences arising between Liberian and
British subjects, the Liberians being responsible for their own acts."
The Colonization Society, powerless to act except through its own
government, in January, 1846, resolved that "the time had arrived when
it was expedient for the people of the Commonwealth of Liberia to take
into their own hands the whole work of self-government including the
management of all their foreign relations." Forced to act for herself
Liberia called a constitutional convention and on July 26, 1847, issued
a Declaration of Independence and adopted the Constitution of the
Liberian Republic. In October, Joseph Jenkin Roberts, Governor of the
Commonwealth, was elected the first President of the Republic.

It may well be questioned if by 1847 Liberia had developed sufficiently
internally to be able to assume the duties and responsibilities of an
independent power. There were at the time not more than 4,500 civilized
people of American origin in the country; these were largely illiterate
and scattered along a coastline more than three hundred miles in length.
It is not to be supposed, however, that this consummation had been
attained without much yearning and heart-beat and high spiritual fervor.
There was something pathetic in the effort of this small company, most
of whose members had never seen Africa but for the sake of their race
had made their way back to the fatherland. The new seal of the Republic
bore the motto: THE LOVE OF LIBERTY BROUGHT US HERE. The flag, modeled
on that of the United States, had six red and five white stripes for
the eleven signers of the Declaration of Independence, and in the upper
corner next to the staff a lone white star in a field of blue. The
Declaration itself said in part:

We, the people of the Republic of Liberia, were originally
inhabitants of the United States of North America.

In some parts of that country we were debarred by law from all the
rights and privileges of men; in other parts public sentiment, more
powerful than law, frowned us down.

We were everywhere shut out from all civil office.

We were excluded from all participation in the government.

We were taxed without our consent.

We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which
gave us no protection.

We were made a separate and distinct class, and against us every
avenue of improvement was effectually closed. Strangers from all
lands of a color different from ours were preferred before us.

We uttered our complaints, but they were unattended to, or met only
by alleging the peculiar institution of the country.

All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly
extinguished in our bosom, and we looked with anxiety abroad for
some asylum from the deep degradation.

The Western coast of Africa was the place selected by American
benevolence and philanthropy for our future home. Removed beyond
those influences which depressed us in our native land, it was
hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges, and
exercise and improve those faculties, which the God of nature had
given us in common with the rest of mankind.

(c) _The Republic of Liberia_

With the adoption of its constitution the Republic of Liberia formally
asked to be considered in the family of nations; and since 1847
the history of the country has naturally been very largely that of
international relations. In fact, preoccupation with the questions
raised by powerful neighbors has been at least one strong reason for the
comparatively slow internal development of the country. The Republic
was officially recognized by England in 1848, by France in 1852, but on
account of slavery not by the United States until 1862. Continuously
there has been an observance of the forms of order, and only one
president has been deposed. For a long time the presidential term was
two years in length; but by an act of 1907 it was lengthened to four
years. From time to time there have been two political parties, but not
always has such a division been emphasized.

It is well to pause and note exactly what was the task set before the
little country. A company of American Negroes suddenly found themselves
placed on an unhealthy and uncultivated coast which was thenceforth to
be their home. If we compare them with the Pilgrim Fathers, we find that
as the Pilgrims had to subdue the Indians, so they had to hold their own
against a score of aggressive tribes. The Pilgrims had the advantage of
a thousand years of culture and experience in government; the Negroes,
only recently out of bondage, had been deprived of any opportunity for
improvement whatsoever. Not only, however, did they have to contend
against native tribes and labor to improve their own shortcomings; on
every hand they had to meet the designs of nations supposedly more
enlightened and Christian. On the coast Spanish traders defied
international law; on one side the English, and on the other the French,
from the beginning showed a tendency toward arrogance and encroachment.
To crown the difficulty, the American Government, under whose auspices
the colony had largely been founded, became more and more halfhearted
in its efforts for protection and at length abandoned the enterprise
altogether. It did not cease, however, to regard the colony as the
dumping-ground of its own troubles, and whenever a vessel with slaves
from the Congo was captured on the high seas, it did not hesitate to
take these people to the Liberian coast and leave them there, nearly
dead though they might be from exposure or cramping. It is well for
one to remember such facts as these before he is quick to belittle or
criticize. To the credit of the "Congo men" be it said that from the
first they labored to make themselves a quiet and industrious element in
the body politic.

The early administrations of President Roberts (four terms, 1848-1855)
were mainly devoted to the quelling of the native tribes that continued
to give trouble and to the cultivating of friendly relations with
foreign powers. Soon after his inauguration Roberts made a visit to
England, the power from which there was most to fear; and on this
occasion as on several others England varied her arrogance with a rather
excessive friendliness toward the little republic. She presented to
Roberts the _Lark_, a ship with four guns, and sent the President home
on a war-vessel. Some years afteryards, when the _Lark_ was out of
repair, England sent instead a schooner, the _Quail_. Roberts made a
second visit to England in 1852 to adjust disputes with traders on the
western boundary. He also visited France, and Louis Napoleon, not to be
outdone by England, presented to him a vessel, the _Hirondelle_, and
also guns and uniforms for his soldiers. In general the administrations
of Roberts (we might better say his first series of administrations, for
he was later to be called again to office) made a period of constructive
statesmanship and solid development, and not a little of the respect
that the young republic won was due to the personal influence of its
first president. Roberts, however, happened to be very fair, and
generally successful though his administrations were, the desire on the
part of the people that the highest office in the country be held by a
black man seems to have been a determining factor in the choice of his
successor. There was an interesting campaign toward the close of his
last term. "There were about this time two political parties in the
country--the old Republicans and the 'True Liberians,' a party which had
been formed in opposition to Roberts's foreign policies. But during the
canvass the platform of this new party lost ground; the result was in
favor of the Republican candidate."[1]

[Footnote 1: Karnga, 28.]

Stephen Allen Benson (four terms, 1856-1863) was forced to meet in one
way or another almost all of the difficulties that have since played a
part in the life of the Liberian people. He had come to the country in
1822 at the age of six and had developed into a practical and efficient
merchant. To his high office he brought the same principles of sobriety
and good sense that had characterized him in business. On February 28,
1857, the independent colony of Maryland formally became a part of the
republic. This action followed immediately upon the struggle with the
Greboes in the vicinity of Cape Palmas in which assistance was rendered
by the Liberians under Ex-President Roberts. In 1858 an incident that
threatened complications with France but that was soon happily closed
arose from the fact that a French vessel which sought to carry away some
Kru laborers to the West Indies was attacked by these men when they had
reason to fear that they might be sold into slavery and not have to work
simply along the coast, as they at first supposed. The ship was seized
and all but one of the crew, the physician, were killed. Trouble
meanwhile continued with British smugglers in the West, and to this
whole matter we shall have to give further and special attention. In
1858 and a year or two thereafter the numerous arrivals from America,
especially of Congo men captured on the high seas, were such as to
present a serious social problem. Flagrant violation by the South of the
laws against the slave-trade led to the seizure by the United States
Government of many Africans. Hundreds of these people were detained at a
time at such a port as Key West. The Government then adopted the policy
of ordering commanders who seized slave-ships at sea to land the
Africans directly upon the coast of Liberia without first bringing them
to America, and appropriated $250,000 for the removal and care of those
at Key West. The suffering of many of these people is one of the most
tragic stories in the history of slavery. To Liberia came at one time
619, at another 867, and within two months as many as 4000. There was
very naturally consternation on the part of the people at this sudden
immigration, especially as many of the Africans arrived cramped or
paralyzed or otherwise ill from the conditions under which they had been
forced to travel. President Benson stated the problem to the American
Government; the United States sent some money to Liberia, the people of
the Republic helped in every way they could, and the whole situation was
finally adjusted without any permanently bad effects, though it is well
for students to remember just what Liberia had to face at this time.
Important toward the close of Benson's terms was the completion of the
building of the Liberia College, of which Joseph Jenkin Roberts became
the first president.

The administrations of Daniel Bashiel Warner (two terms, 1864-1867) and
the earlier one of James Spriggs Payne (1868-1869) were comparatively
uneventful. Both of these men were Republicans, but Warner represented
something of the shifting of political parties at the time. At first
a Republican, he went over to the Whig party devoted to the policy of
preserving Liberia from white invasion. Moved to distrust of English
merchants, who delighted in defrauding the little republic, he
established an important Ports-of-Entry Law in 1865, which it is hardly
necessary to say was very unpopular with the foreigners. Commerce was
restricted to six ports and a circle six miles in diameter around each
port. On account of the Civil War and the hopes that emancipation held
out to the Negroes in the United States, immigration from America ceased
rapidly; but a company of 346 came from Barbadoes at this time. The
Liberian Government assisted these people with $4000, set apart for each
man an allotment of twenty-five rather than the customary ten acres; the
Colonization Society appropriated $10,000, and after a pleasant voyage
of thirty-three days they arrived without the loss of a single life. In
the company was a little boy, Arthur Barclay, who was later to be known
as the President of the Republic. At the semi-centennial of the American
Colonization Society held in Washington in January, 1867, it was shown
that the Society and its auxiliaries had been directly responsible for
the sending of more than 12,000 persons to Africa. Of these 4541
had been born free, 344 had purchased their freedom, 5957 had been
emancipated to go to Africa, and 1227 had been settled by the Maryland
Society. In addition, 5722 captured Africans had been sent to Liberia.
The need of adequate study of the interior having more and more
impressed itself, Benjamin Anderson, an adventurous explorer, assisted
with funds by a citizen of New York, in 1869 studied the country for two
hundred miles from the coast. He found the land constantly rising, and
made his way to Musardu, the chief city of the western Mandingoes. He
summed up his work in his _Narrative of a Journey to Musardo_ and made
another journey of exploration in 1874.

Edward James Roye (1870-October 26, 1871), a Whig whose party was formed
out of the elements of the old True Liberian party, attracts attention
by reason of a notorious British loan to which further reference must
be made. Of the whole amount of L100,000 sums were wasted or
misappropriated until it has been estimated that the country really
reaped the benefit of little more than a quarter of the whole amount.
President Roye added to other difficulties by his seizure of a bank
building belonging to an Industrial Society of the St. Paul's River
settlements, and by attempting by proclamation to lengthen his term
of office. Twice a constitutional amendment for lengthening the
presidential term from two years to four had been considered and voted
down. Roye contested the last vote, insisted that his term ran to
January, 1874, and issued a proclamation forbidding the coming biennial
election. He was deposed, his house sacked, some of his cabinet officers
tried before a court of impeachment,[1] and he himself was drowned as he
was pursued while attempting to escape to a British ship in the harbor.
A committee of three was appointed to govern the country until a new
election could be held; and in this hour of storm and stress the people
turned once more to the guidance of their old leader, Joseph J. Roberts
(two terms, 1872-1875). His efforts were mainly devoted to restoring
order and confidence, though there was a new war with the Greboes to be
waged.[2] He was succeeded by another trusted leader, James S. Payne
(1876-1877), whose second administration was as devoid as the first of
striking incident. In fact, the whole generation succeeding the loan
of 1871 was a period of depression. The country not only suffered
financially, but faith in it was shaken both at home and abroad. Coffee
grown in Liberia fell as that produced at Brazil grew in favor, the
farmer witnessing a drop in value from 24 to 4 cents a pound. Farms were
abandoned, immigration from the United States ceased, and the country
entered upon a period of stagnation from which it has not yet fully

[Footnote 1: But not Hilary R.W. Johnson, the efficient Secretary of
State, later President.]

[Footnote 2: President Roberts died February 21, 1876, barely two months
after giving up office. He was caught in the rain while attending a
funeral, took a severe chill, and was not able to recover.]

Within just a few years after 1871, however, conditions in the United
States led to an interesting revival of the whole idea of colonization,
and to noteworthy effort on the part of the Negroes themselves to better
their condition. The withdrawal of Federal troops from the South,
and all the evils of the aftermath of reconstruction, led to such a
terrorizing of the Negroes and such a denial of civil rights that there
set in the movement that culminated in the great exodus from the South
in 1879. The movement extended all the way from North Carolina to
Louisiana and Arkansas. Insofar as it led to migration to Kansas and
other states in the West, it belongs to American history. However, there
was also interest in going to Africa. Applications by the thousands
poured in upon the American Colonization Society, and one organization
in Arkansas sent hundreds of its members to seek the help of the New
York State Colonization Society. In all such endeavor Negro Baptists
and Methodists joined hands, and especially prominent was Bishop H.M.
Turner, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. By 1877 there was
organized in South Carolina the Liberian Exodus and Joint Stock Company;
in North Carolina there was the Freedmen's Emigration Aid Society; and
there were similar organizations in other states. The South Carolina
organization had the threefold purpose of emigration, missionary
activity, and commercial enterprise, and to these ends it purchased a
vessel, the _Azor_, at a cost of $7000. The white people of Charleston
unfortunately embarrassed the enterprise in every possible way, among
other things insisting when the _Azor_ was ready to sail that it was not
seaworthy and needed a new copper bottom (to cost $2000). The vessel at
length made one or two trips, however, on one voyage carrying as many as
274 emigrants. It was then stolen and sold in Liverpool, and one gets an
interesting sidelight on Southern conditions in the period when he knows
that even the United States Circuit Court in South Carolina refused to
entertain the suit brought by the Negroes.

In the administration of Anthony W. Gardiner (three terms, 1878-1883)
difficulties with England and Germany reached a crisis. Territory in
the northwest was seized; the British made a formal show of force at
Monrovia; and the looting of a German vessel along the Kru Coast and
personal indignities inflicted by the natives upon the shipwrecked
Germans, led to the bombardment of Nana Kru by a German warship and the
presentation at Monrovia of a claim for damages, payment of which was
forced by the threat of the bombardment of the capital. To the Liberian
people the outlook was seldom darker than in this period of calamities.
President Gardiner, very ill, resigned office in January of his last
year of service, being succeeded by the vice-president, Alfred F.
Russell. More and more was pressure brought to bear upon Liberian
officials for the granting of monopolies and concessions, especially to
Englishmen; and in his message of 1883 President Russell said, "Recent
events admonish us as to the serious responsibility of claims held
against us by foreigners, and we cannot tell what complications may
arise." In the midst of all this, however, Russell did not forget the
natives and the need of guarding them against liquor and exploitation.

Hilary Richard Wright Johnson (four terms, 1884-1891), the next
president, was a son of the distinguished Elijah Johnson and the first
man born in Liberia who had risen to the highest place in the republic.
Whigs and Republicans united in his election. Much of his time had
necessarily to be given to complications arising from the loan of 1871;
but the western boundary was adjusted (with great loss) with Great
Britain at the Mano River, though new difficulties arose with the
French, who were pressing their claim to territory as far as the Cavalla
River. In the course of the last term of President Johnson there was an
interesting grant (by act approved January 21, 1890) to F.F. Whittekin,
of Pennsylvania, of the right to "construct, maintain, and operate a
system of railroads, telegraph and telephone lines." Whittekin bought up
in England stock to the value of half a million dollars, but died on the
way to Liberia to fulfil his contract. His nephew, F.F. Whittekin, asked
for an extension of time, which was granted, but after a while the whole
project languished.[1]

[Footnote 1: See _Liberia_, Bulletin No. 5, November, 1894.]

Joseph James Cheeseman (1892-November 15, 1896) was a Whig. He conducted
what was known as the third Grebo War and labored especially for a sound
currency. He was a man of unusual ability and his devotion to his task
undoubtedly contributed toward his death in office near the middle
of his third term. As up to this time there had been no internal
improvement and little agricultural or industrial development in the
country, O.F. Cook, the agent of the New York State Colonization
Society, in 1894 signified to the legislature a desire to establish
a station where experiments could be made as to the best means of
introducing, receiving, and propagating beasts of burden, commercial
plants, etc. His request was approved and one thousand acres of land
granted for the purpose by act of January 20, 1894. Results, however,
were neither permanent nor far-reaching. In fact, by the close of the
century immigration had practically ceased and the activities of the
American Colonization Society had also ceased, many of the state
organizations having gone out of existence. In 1893 Julius C. Stevens,
of Goldsboro, N.C., went to Liberia and served for a nominal salary as
agent of the American Colonization Society, becoming also a teacher in
the Liberia College and in time Commissioner of Education, in connection
with which post he edited his _Liberian School Reader_; but he died in

[Footnote 1: Interest in Liberia by no means completely died.
Contributions for education were sometimes made by the representative
organizations, and individual students came to America from time
to time. When, however, the important commission representing the
Government came to America in 1908, the public was slightly startled as
having heard from something half-forgotten.]

William D. Coleman as vice-president finished the incomplete term of
President Cheeseman (to the end of 1897) and later was elected for
two terms in his own right. In the course of his last administration,
however, his interior policy became very unpopular, as he was thought to
be harsh in his dealing with the natives, and he resigned in December,
1900. As there was at the time no vice-president, he was succeeded
by the Secretary of State, Garretson W. Gibson, a man of scholarly
attainments, who was afterwards elected for a whole term (1902-1903).
The feature of this term was the discussion that arose over the proposal
to grant a concession to an English concern known as the West African
Gold Concessions, Ltd. This offered to the legislators a bonus of L1500,
and for this bribe it asked for the sole right to prospect for and
obtain gold, precious stones, and all other minerals over more than half
of Liberia. Specifically it asked for the right to acquire freehold
land and to take up leases for eighty years, in blocks of from ten to
a thousand acres; to import all mining machinery and all other things
necessary free of duty; to establish banks in connection with the mining
enterprises, these to have the power to issue notes; to construct
telegraphs and telephones; to organize auxiliary syndicates; and to
establish its own police. It would seem that English impudence could
hardly go further, though time was to prove that there were still other
things to be borne. The proposal was indignantly rejected.

Arthur Barclay (1904-1911) had already served in three cabinet positions
before coming to the presidency; he had also been a professor in the
Liberia College and for some years had been known as the leader of the
bar in Monrovia. It was near the close of his second term that the
president's term of office was lengthened from two to four years, and
he was the first incumbent to serve for the longer period. In his first
inaugural address President Barclay emphasized the need of developing
the resources of the hinterland and of attaching the native tribes to
the interests of the state. In his foreign policy he was generally
enlightened and broad-minded, but he had to deal with the arrogance of
England. In 1906 a new British loan was negotiated. This also was for
L100,000, more than two-thirds of which amount was to be turned over to
the Liberian Development Company, an English scheme for the development
of the interior. The Company was to work in cooeperation with the
Liberian Government, and as security for the loan British officials were
to have charge of the customs revenue, the chief inspector acting as
financial adviser to the Republic. It afterwards developed that the
Company never had any resources except those it had raised on the credit
of the Republic, and the country was forced to realize that it had been
cheated a second time. Meanwhile the English officials who, on various
pretexts of reform, had taken charge of the barracks and the customs
in Monrovia, were carrying things with a high hand. The Liberian force
appeared with English insignia on the uniforms, and in various other
ways the commander sought to overawe the populace. At the climax of the
difficulties, on February 13, 1909, a British warship _happened_ to
appear in the waters of Monrovia, and a calamity was averted only by the
skillful diplomacy of the Liberians. Already, however, in 1908, Liberia
had sent a special commission to ask the aid of the United States.
This consisted of Garretson W. Gibson, former president; J.J. Dossen,
vice-president at the time, and Charles B. Dunbar. The commission was
received by President Roosevelt and by Secretary Taft just before the
latter was nominated for the presidency. On May 8, 1909, a return
commission consisting of Roland P. Falkner, George Sale, and Emmett J.
Scott, arrived in Monrovia. The work of this commission must receive
further and special attention.

President Barclay was succeeded by Daniel Edward Howard (two long
terms, 1912-1919), who at his inauguration began the policy of giving
prominence to the native chiefs. The feature of President Howard's
administrations was of course Liberia's connection with the Great War
in Europe. War against Germany having been declared, on the morning
of April 10, 1918, a submarine came to Monrovia and demanded that the
French wireless station be torn down. The request being refused, the
town was bombarded. The excitement of the day was such as has never been
duplicated in the history of Liberia. In one house two young girls were
instantly killed and an elderly woman and a little boy fatally wounded;
but except in this one home the actual damage was comparatively slight,
though there might have been more if a passing British steamer had not
put the submarine to flight. Suffering of another and more far-reaching
sort was that due to the economic situation. The comparative scarcity of
food in the world and the profiteering of foreign merchants in Liberia
by the summer of 1919 brought about a condition that threatened
starvation; nor was the situation better early in 1920, when butter
retailed at $1.25 a pound, sugar at 72 cents a pound, and oil at $1.00 a

President Howard was succeeded by Charles Dunbar Burgess King, who as
president-elect had visited Europe and America, and who was inaugurated
January 5, 1920. His address on this occasion was a comprehensive
presentation of the needs of Liberia, especially along the lines of
agriculture and education. He made a plea also for an enlightened native
policy. Said he: "We cannot afford to destroy the native institutions of
the country. Our true mission lies not in the building here in Africa
of a Negro state based solely on Western ideas, but rather a Negro
nationality indigenous to the soil, having its foundation rooted in the
institutions of Africa and purified by Western thought and development."

3. _International Relations_

Our study of the history of Liberia has suggested two or three matters
that call for special attention. Of prime importance is the country's
connection with world politics. Any consideration of Liberia's
international relations falls into three divisions: first, that of
titles to land; second, that of foreign loans; and third, that of
so-called internal reform.

In the very early years of the colony the raids of slave-traders gave
some excuse for the first aggression on the part of a European power.
"Driven from the Pongo Regions northwest of Sierra Leone, Pedro Blanco
settled in the Gallinhas territory northwest of the Liberian frontier,
and established elaborate headquarters for his mammoth slave-trading
operations in West Africa, with slave-trading sub-stations at Cape
Mount, St. Paul River, Bassa, and at other points of the Liberian coast,
employing numerous police, watchers, spies, and servants. To obtain
jurisdiction the colony of Liberia began to purchase from the lords of
the soil as early as 1824 the lands of the St. Paul Basin and the Grain
Coast from the Mafa River on the west to the Grand Sesters River on the
east; so that by 1845, twenty-four years after the establishment of the
colony, Liberia with the aid of Great Britain had destroyed throughout
these regions the baneful traffic in slaves and the slave barracoons,
and had driven the slave-trading leaders from the Liberian coast."[1]
The trade continued to flourish, however, in the Gallinhas territory,
and in course of time, as we have seen, the colony had also to reckon
with British merchants in this section, the Declaration of Independence
in 1847 being very largely a result of the defiance of Liberian
revenue-laws by Englishmen. While President Roberts was in England
not long after his inauguration, Lord Ashley, moved by motives of
philanthropy, undertook to raise L2000 with which he (Roberts) might
purchase the Gallinhas territory; and by 1856 Roberts had secured the
title and deeds to all of this territory from the Mafa River to Sherbro
Island. The whole transaction was thoroughly honorable, Roberts informed
England of his acquisition, and his right to the territory was not then
called in question. Trouble, however, developed out of the attitude of
John M. Harris, a British merchant, and in 1862, while President Benson
was in England, he was officially informed that the right of Liberia was
recognized _only_ to the land "east of Turner's Peninsula to the River
San Pedro." Harris now worked up a native war against the Vais; the
Liberians defended themselves; and in the end the British Government
demanded L8878.9.3 as damages for losses sustained by Harris, and
arbitrarily extended its territory from Sherbro Island to Cape Mount. In
the course of the discussion claims mounted up to L18,000. Great Britain
promised to submit this boundary question to the arbitration of the
United States, but when the time arrived at the meeting of one of the
commissions in Sierra Leone she firmly declined to do so. After this,
whenever she was ready to take more land she made a plausible pretext
and was ready to back up her demands with force. On March 20, 1882, four
British men-of-war came to Monrovia and Sir A.E. Havelock, Governor of
Sierra Leone, came ashore; and President Gardiner was forced to submit
to an agreement by which, in exchange for L4750 and the abandonment of
all further claims, the Liberian Government gave up all right to
the Gallinhas territory from Sherbro Island to the Mafa River. This
agreement was repudiated by the Liberian Senate, but when Havelock was
so informed he replied, "Her Majesty's Government can not in any case
recognize any rights on the part of Liberia to any portions of the
territories in dispute." Liberia now issued a protest to other great
powers; but this was without avail, even the United States counseling
acquiescence, though through the offices of America the agreement was
slightly modified and the boundary fixed at the Mano River. Trouble next
arose on the east. In 1846 the Maryland Colonization Society purchased
the lands of the Ivory Coast east of Cape Palmas as far as the San Pedro
River. These lands were formally transferred to Liberia in 1857, and
remained in the undisputed possession of the Republic for forty years.
France now, not to be outdone by England, on the pretext of title deeds
obtained by French naval commanders who visited the coast in 1890, in
1891 put forth a claim not only to the Ivory Coast, but to land as far
away as Grand Bassa and Cape Mount. The next year, under threat of
force, she compelled Liberia to accept a treaty which, for 25,000 francs
and the relinquishment of all other claims, permitted her to take all
the territory east of the Cavalla River. In 1904 Great Britain asked
permission to advance her troops into Liberian territory to suppress a
native war threatening her interests. She occupied at this time what
is known as the Kaure-Lahun section, which is very fertile and of easy
access to the Sierra Leone railway. This land she never gave up; instead
she offered Liberia L6000 or some poorer land for it. France after 1892
made no endeavor to delimit her boundary, and, roused by the action
of Great Britain, she made great advances in the hinterland, claiming
tracts of Maryland and Sino; and now France and England each threatened
to take more land if the other was not stopped. President Barclay
visited both countries; but by a treaty of 1907 his commission was
forced to permit France to occupy all the territory seized by force; and
as soon as this agreement was reached France began to move on to other
land in the basin of the St. Paul's and St. John's rivers. This is all
then simply one more story of the oppression of the weak by the strong.
For eighty years England has not ceased to intermeddle in Liberian
affairs, cajoling or browbeating as at the moment seemed advisable; and
France has been only less bad. Certainly no country on earth now has
better reason than Liberia to know that "they should get who have the
power, and they should keep who can."

[Footnote 1: Ellis in _Journal of Race Development_, January, 1911.]

The international loans and the attempts at reform must be considered
together. In 1871, at the rate of 7 per cent, there was authorized a
British loan of L100,000. _For their services_ the British negotiators
retained L30,000, and L20,000 more was deducted as the interest for
three years. President Roye ordered Mr. Chinery, a British subject and
the Liberian consul general in London, to supply the Liberian Secretary
of Treasury with goods and merchandise to the value of L10,000; and
other sums were misappropriated until the country itself actually
received the benefit of not more than L27,000, if so much. This whole
unfortunate matter was an embarrassment to Liberia for years; but in
1899 the Republic assumed responsibility for L80,000, the interest being
made a first charge on the customs revenue. In 1906, not yet having
learned the lesson of "Cavete Graecos dona ferentes," and moved by the
representations of Sir Harry H. Johnston, the country negotiated a
new loan of L100,000. L30,000 of this amount was to satisfy pressing
obligations; but the greater portion was to be turned over to the
Liberian Development Company, a great scheme by which the Government
and the company were to work hand in hand for the development of the
country. As security for the loan, British officials were to have charge
of the customs revenue, the chief inspector acting as financial adviser
to the Republic. When the Company had made a road of fifteen miles
in one district and made one or two other slight improvements, it
represented to the Liberian Government that its funds were exhausted.
When President Barclay asked for an accounting the managing director
expressed surprise that such a demand should be made upon him. The
Liberian people were chagrined, and at length they realized that they
had been cheated a second time, with all the bitter experiences of the
past to guide them. Meanwhile the English representatives in the country
were demanding that the judiciary be reformed, that the frontier force
be under British officers, and that Inspector Lamont as financial
adviser have a seat in the Liberian cabinet and a veto power over all
expenditures; and the independence of the country was threatened if
these demands were not complied with. Meanwhile also the construction
of barracks went forward under Major Cadell, a British officer, and the
organization of the frontier force was begun. Not less than a third of
this force was brought from Sierra Leone, and the whole Cadell fitted
out with suits and caps stamped with the emblems of His Britannic
Majesty's service. He also persuaded the Monrovia city government to let
him act without compensation as chief of police, and he likewise became
street commissioner, tax collector, and city treasurer. The Liberian
people naturally objected to the usurping of all these prerogatives, but
Cadell refused to resign and presented a large bill for his services. He
also threatened violence to the President if his demands were not met
within twenty-four hours. Then it was that the British warship, the
_Mutiny_, suddenly appeared at Monrovia (February 12, 1909). Happily
the Liberians rose to the emergency. They requested that any British
soldiers at the barracks be withdrawn in order that they might be free
to deal with the insurrectionary movement said to be there on the
part of Liberian soldiers; and thus tactfully they brought about the
withdrawal of Major Cadell.

By this time, however, the Liberian commission to the United States
had done its work, and just three months after Cadell's retirement the
return American commission came. After studying the situation it made
the following recommendations: That the United States extend its aid to
Liberia in the prompt settlement of pending boundary disputes; that
the United States enable Liberia to refund its debt by assuming as a
guarantee for the payment of obligations under such arrangement the
control and collection of the Liberian customs; that the United States
lend its assistance to the Liberian Government in the reform of its
internal finances; that the United States lend its aid to Liberia in
organizing and drilling an adequate constabulary or frontier police
force; that the United States establish and maintain a research
station at Liberia; and that the United States reopen the question of
establishing a coaling-station in Liberia. Under the fourth of these
recommendations Major (now Colonel) Charles Young went to Liberia,
where from time to time since he has rendered most efficient service.
Arrangements were also made for a new loan, one of $1,700,000, which was
to be floated by banking institutions in the United States, Germany,
France, and England; and in 1912 an American General Receiver of Customs
and Financial Adviser to the Republic of Liberia (with an assistant
from each of the other three countries mentioned) opened his office
in Monrovia. It will be observed that a complicated and expensive
receivership was imposed on the Liberian people when an arrangement
much more simple would have served. The loan of $1,700,000 soon proving
inadequate for any large development of the country, negotiations were
begun in 1918 for a new loan, one of $5,000,000. Among the things
proposed were improvements on the harbor of Monrovia, some good roads
through the country, a hospital, and the broadening of the work of
education. About the loan two facts were outstanding: first, any money
to be spent would be spent wholly under American and not under Liberian
auspices; and, second, to the Liberians acceptance of the terms
suggested meant practically a surrender of their sovereignty, as
American appointees were to be in most of the important positions in the
country, at the same time that upon themselves would fall the ultimate
burden of the interest of the loan. By the spring of 1920 (in Liberia,
the commencement of the rainy season) it was interesting to note that
although the necessary measures of approval had not yet been passed by
the Liberian Congress, perhaps as many as fifteen American officials had
come out to the country to begin work in education, engineering, and
sanitation. Just a little later in the year President King called an
extra session of the legislature to consider amendments. While it was in
session a cablegram from the United States was received saying that no
amendments to the plan would be accepted and that it must be accepted as
submitted, "or the friendly interest which has heretofore existed would
become lessened." The Liberians were not frightened, however, and stood
firm. Meanwhile a new presidential election took place in the United
States; there was to be a radical change in the government; and the
Liberians were disposed to try further to see if some changes could not
be made in the proposed arrangements. Most watchfully from month to
month, let it be remembered, England and France were waiting; and in
any case it could easily be seen that as the Republic approached its
centennial it was face to face with political problems of the very first

[Footnote 1: Early in 1921 President King headed a new commission to the
United States to take up the whole matter of Liberia with the incoming
Republican administration.]

4. _Economic and Social Conditions_

From what has been said, it is evident that there is still much to be
done in Liberia along economic lines. There has been some beginning
in cooeperative effort; thus the Bassa Trading Association is an
organization for mutual betterment of perhaps as many as fifty
responsible merchants and farmers. The country has as yet (1921),
however, no railroads, no street cars, no public schools, and no genuine
newspapers; nor are there any manufacturing or other enterprises for
the employment of young men on a large scale. The most promising youth
accordingly look too largely to an outlet in politics; some come to
America to be educated and not always do they return. A few become
clerks in the stores, and a very few assistants in the customs offices.
There is some excellent agriculture in the interior, but as yet no means
of getting produce to market on a large scale. In 1919 the total customs
revenue at Monrovia, the largest port, amounted to $196,913.21. For the
whole country the figure has recently been just about half a million
dollars a year. Much of this amount goes to the maintenance of the
frontier force. Within the last few years also the annual income for
the city of Monrovia--for the payment of the mayor, the police, and all
other city officers--has averaged $6000.

In any consideration of social conditions the first question of all of
course is that of the character of the people themselves. Unfortunately
Liberia was begun with faulty ideals of life and work. The early
settlers, frequently only recently out of bondage, too often felt that
in a state of freedom they did not have to work, and accordingly they
imitated the habits of the old master class of the South. The real
burden of life then fell upon the native. There is still considerable
feeling between the native and the Americo-Liberian; but more and more
the wisest men of the country realize that the good of one is the good
of all, and they are endeavoring to make the native chiefs work for the
common welfare. From time to time the people of Liberia have given to
visitors an impression of arrogance, and perhaps no one thing had led to
more unfriendly criticism of this country than this. The fact is that
the Liberians, knowing that their country has various shortcomings
according to Western standards, are quick to assume the defensive, and
one method of protecting themselves is by erecting a barrier of dignity
and reserve. One has only to go beyond this, however, to find the real
heartbeat of the people. The comparative isolation of the Republic
moreover, and the general stress of living conditions have together
given to the everyday life an undue seriousness of tone, with a rather
excessive emphasis on the church, on politics, and on secret societies.
In such an atmosphere boys and girls too soon became mature, and for
them especially one might wish to see a little more wholesome outdoor
amusement. In school or college catalogues one still sees much of
jurisprudence and moral philosophy, but little of physics or biology.
Interestingly enough, this whole system of education and life has not
been without some elements of very genuine culture. Literature has been
mainly in the diction of Shakespeare and Milton; but Shakespeare and
Milton, though not of the twentieth century, are still good models,
and because the officials have had to compose many state documents and
deliver many formal addresses, there has been developed in the country
a tradition of good English speech. A service in any one of the
representative churches is dignified and impressive.

The churches and schools of Liberia have been most largely in the hands
of the Methodists and the Episcopalians, though the Baptists, the
Presbyterians, and the Lutherans are well represented. The Lutherans
have penetrated to a point in the interior beyond that attained by any
other denomination. The Episcopalians have excelled others, even the
Methodists, by having more constant and efficient oversight of their
work. The Episcopalians have in Liberia a little more than 40 schools,
nearly half of these being boarding-schools, with a total attendance
of 2000. The Methodists have slightly more than 30 schools, with 2500
pupils. The Lutherans in their five mission stations have 20 American
workers and 300 pupils. While it seems from these figures that the
number of those reached is small in proportion to the outlay, it must be
remembered that a mission school becomes a center from which influence
radiates in all directions.

While the enterprise of the denominational institutions can not be
doubted, it may well be asked if, in so largely relieving the people
of the burden of the education of their children, they are not unduly
cultivating a spirit of dependence rather than of self-help. Something
of this point of view was emphasized by the Secretary of Public
Instruction, Mr. Walter F. Walker, in an address, "Liberia and Her
Educational Problems," delivered in Chicago in 1916. Said he of the day
schools maintained by the churches: "These day schools did invaluable
service in the days of the Colony and Commonwealth, and, indeed, in the
early days of the Republic; but to their continuation must undoubtedly
be ascribed the tardy recognition of the government and people of the
fact that no agency for the education of the masses is as effective as
the public school.... There is not one public school building owned by
the government or by any city or township."

It might further be said that just now in Liberia there is no
institution that is primarily doing college work. Two schools in
Monrovia, however, call for special remark. The College of West Africa,
formerly Monrovia Seminary, was founded by the Methodist Church in 1839.
The institution does elementary and lower high school work, though some
years ago it placed a little more emphasis on college work than it has
been able to do within recent years. It was of this college that the
late Bishop A.P. Camphor served so ably as president for twelve years.
Within recent years it has recognized the importance of industrial work
and has had in all departments an average annual enrollment of 300. Not
quite so prominent within the last few years, but with more tradition
and theoretically at the head of the educational system of the Republic
is the Liberia College. In 1848 Simon Greenleaf of Boston, received from
John Payne, a missionary at Cape Palmas, a request for his assistance in
building a theological school. Out of this suggestion grew the Board
of Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia incorporated in
Massachusetts in March, 1850. The next year the Liberia legislature
incorporated the Liberia College, it being understood that the
institution would emphasize academic as well as theological subjects. In
1857 Ex-President J.J. Roberts was elected president; he superintended
the erection of a large building; and in 1862 the college was opened
for work. Since then it has had a very uneven existence, sometimes
enrolling, aside from its preparatory department, twenty or thirty
college students, then again having no college students at all. Within
the last few years, as the old building was completely out of repair,
the school has had to seek temporary quarters. It is too vital to the
country to be allowed to languish, however, and it is to be hoped that
it may soon be well started upon a new career of usefulness. In the
course of its history the Liberia College has had connected with it some
very distinguished men. Famous as teacher and lecturer, and president
from 1881 to 1885, was Edward Wilmot Blyden, generally regarded as the
foremost scholar that Western Africa has given to the world. Closely
associated with him in the early years, and well known in America as in
Africa, was Alexander Crummell, who brought to his teaching the richness
of English university training. A trustee for a number of years was
Samuel David Ferguson, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, who served
with great dignity and resource as missionary bishop of the country
from 1884 until his death in 1916. A new president of the college, Rev.
Nathaniel H.B. Cassell, was elected in 1918, and it is expected that
under his efficient direction the school will go forward to still
greater years of service.

Important in connection with the study of the social conditions in
Liberia is that of health and living conditions. One who lives in
America and knows that Africa is a land of unbounded riches can hardly
understand the extent to which the West Coast has been exploited, or
the suffering that is there just now. The distress is most acute in the
English colonies, and as Liberia is so close to Sierra Leone and the
Gold Coast, much of the same situation prevails there. In Monrovia the
only bank is the branch of the Bank of British West Africa. In the
branches of this great institution all along the coast, as a result of
the war, gold disappeared, silver became very scarce, and the common
form of currency became paper notes, issued in denominations as low as
one and two shillings. These the natives have refused to accept. They go
even further: rather than bring their produce to the towns and receive
paper for it they will not come at all. In Monrovia an effort was made
to introduce the British West African paper currency, and while this
failed, more and more the merchants insisted on being paid in silver,
nor in an ordinary purchase would silver be given in change on an
English ten-shilling note. Prices accordingly became exorbitant;
children were not properly nourished and the infant mortality grew to
astonishing proportions. Nor were conditions made better by the lack of
sanitation and by the prevalence of disease. Happily relief for these
conditions--for some of them at least--seems to be in sight, and it is
expected that before very long a hospital will be erected in Monrovia.

One or two reflections suggest themselves. It has been said that the
circumstances under which Liberia was founded led to a despising of
industrial effort. The country is now quite awake, however, to the
advantages of industrial and agricultural enterprise. A matter of
supreme importance is that of the relation of the Americo-Liberian to
the native; this will work itself out, for the native is the country's
chief asset for the future. In general the Republic needs a few visible
evidences of twentieth century standards of progress; two or three high
schools and hospitals built on the American plan would work wonders.
Finally let it not be forgotten that upon the American Negro rests the
obligation to do whatever he can to help to develop the country. If he
will but firmly clasp hands with his brother across the sea, a new day
will dawn for American Negro and Liberian alike.



1. _Current Tendencies_

It is evident from what has been said already that the idea of the Negro
current about 1830 in the United States was not very exalted. It was
seriously questioned if he was really a human being, and doctors of
divinity learnedly expounded the "Cursed be Canaan" passage as applying
to him. A prominent physician of Mobile[1] gave it as his opinion that
"the brain of the Negro, when compared with the Caucasian, is smaller by
a tenth ... and the intellect is wanting in the same proportion," and
finally asserted that Negroes could not live in the North because "a
cold climate so freezes their brains as to make them insane." About
mulattoes, like many others, he stretched his imagination marvelously.
They were incapable of undergoing fatigue; the women were very delicate
and subject to all sorts of diseases, and they did not beget children
as readily as either black women or white women. In fact, said Nott,
between the ages of twenty-five and forty mulattoes died ten times as
fast as either white or black people; between forty and fifty-five fifty
times as fast, and between fifty-five and seventy one hundred times as

[Footnote 1: See "Two Lectures on the Natural History of the Caucasian
and Negro Races. By Josiah C. Nott, M.D., Mobile, 1844."]

To such opinions was now added one of the greatest misfortunes that have
befallen the Negro race in its entire history in America--burlesque on
the stage. When in 1696 Thomas Southerne adapted _Oroonoko_ from the
novel of Mrs. Aphra Behn and presented in London the story of the
African prince who was stolen from his native Angola, no one saw any
reason why the Negro should not be a subject for serious treatment on
the stage, and the play was a great success, lasting for decades. In
1768, however, was presented at Drury Lane a comic opera, _The Padlock_,
and a very prominent character was Mungo, the slave of a West Indian
planter, who got drunk in the second act and was profane throughout the
performance. In the course of the evening Mungo entertained the audience
with such lines as the following:

Dear heart, what a terrible life I am led!
A dog has a better, that's sheltered and fed.
Night and day 'tis the same;
My pain is deir game:
Me wish to de Lord me was dead!
Whate'er's to be done,
Poor black must run.
Mungo here, Mungo dere,
Mungo everywhere:
Above and below,
Sirrah, come; sirrah, go;
Do so, and do so,
Oh! oh!
Me wish to de Lord me was dead!

The depreciation of the race that Mungo started continued, and when in
1781 _Robinson Crusoe_ was given as a pantomime at Drury Lane, Friday
was represented as a Negro. The exact origins of Negro minstrelsy
are not altogether clear; there have been many claimants, and it is
interesting to note in passing that there was an "African Company"
playing in New York in the early twenties, though this was probably
nothing more than a small group of amateurs. Whatever may have been
the beginning, it was Thomas D. Rice who brought the form to genuine
popularity. In Louisville in the summer of 1828, looking from one of the
back windows of a theater, he was attracted by an old and decrepit slave
who did odd jobs about a livery stable. The slave's master was named
Crow and he called himself Jim Crow. His right shoulder was drawn up
high and his left leg was stiff at the knee, but he took his deformity
lightly, singing as he worked. He had one favorite tune to which he
had fitted words of his own, and at the end of each verse he made a
ludicrous step which in time came to be known as "rocking the heel." His
refrain consisted of the words:

Wheel about, turn about,
Do jis so,
An' ebery time I wheel about
I jump Jim Crow.

Rice, who was a clever and versatile performer, caught the air, made up
like the Negro, and in the course of the next season introduced Jim Crow
and his step to the stage, and so successful was he in his performance
that on his first night in the part he was encored twenty times.[1] Rice
had many imitators among the white comedians of the country, some of
whom indeed claimed priority in opening up the new field, and along with
their burlesque these men actually touched upon the possibilities of
plaintive Negro melodies, which they of course capitalized. In New York
late in 1842 four men--"Dan" Emmett, Frank Brower, "Billy" Whitlock, and
"Dick" Pelham--practiced together with fiddle and banjo, "bones"
and tambourine, and thus was born the first company, the "Virginia
Minstrels," which made its formal debut in New York February 17, 1843.
Its members produced in connection with their work all sorts of popular
songs, one of Emmett's being "Dixie," which, introduced by Mrs. John
Wood in a burlesque in New Orleans at the outbreak of the Civil War,
leaped into popularity and became the war-song of the Confederacy.
Companies multipled apace. "Christy's Minstrels" claimed priority to the
company already mentioned, but did not actually enter upon its New York
career until 1846. "Bryant's Minstrels" and Buckley's "New Orleans
Serenaders" were only two others of the most popular aggregations
featuring and burlesquing the Negro. In a social history of the Negro in
America, however, it is important to observe in passing that already,
even in burlesque, the Negro element was beginning to enthrall the
popular mind. About the same time as minstrelsy also developed the habit
of belittling the race by making the name of some prominent and worthy
Negro a term of contempt; thus "cuffy" (corrupted from Paul Cuffe) now
came into widespread use.

[Footnote 1: See Laurence Hutton: "The Negro on the Stage," in _Harper's
Magazine_, 79:137 (June, 1889), referring to article by Edmon S. Conner
in _New York Times_, June 5, 1881.]

This was not all. It was now that the sinister crime of lynching raised
its head in defiance of all law. At first used as a form of punishment
for outlaws and gamblers, it soon came to be applied especially to
Negroes. One was burned alive near Greenville, S.C., in 1825; in May,
1835, two were burned near Mobile for the murder of two children; and
for the years between 1823 and 1860 not less than fifty-six cases of the
lynching of Negroes have been ascertained, though no one will ever know
how many lost their lives without leaving any record. Certainly more men
were executed illegally than legally; thus of forty-six recorded murders
by Negroes of owners or overseers between 1850 and 1860 twenty resulted
in legal execution and twenty-six in lynching. Violent crimes against
white women were not relatively any more numerous than now; but those
that occurred or were attempted received swift punishment; thus of
seventeen cases of rape in the ten years last mentioned Negroes were
legally executed in five and lynched in twelve.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Hart: _Slavery and Abolition_, 11 and 117, citing
Cutler: _Lynch Law_, 98-100 and 126-128.]

Extraordinary attention was attracted by the burning in St. Louis in
1835 of a man named McIntosh, who had killed an officer who was trying
to arrest him.[1] This event came in the midst of a period of great


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