History of Liberia
J.H.T. McPherson

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Joris Van Dael and PG Distributed



History is past Politics and Politics present History--_Freeman_





_Fellow in History, Johns Hopkins University, 1889; Instructor in
History, University of Michigan, 1890; Professor of History and
Politics, University of Georgia, 1891._

* * * * *



1. As a Southern Movement toward Emancipation
2. As a Check to the Slave Trade
3. As a Step toward the Civilization of Africa
4. As a Missionary Effort
5. As a Refuge to the Negro from the Pressure of Increasing
Competition in America


This paper claims to be scarcely more than a brief sketch. It is an
abridgment of a History of Liberia in much greater detail, presented as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Johns
Hopkins University. I have devoted the leisure hours of several years to
the accumulation of materials, which I hope will prove the basis of a
larger work in the future.

J.H.T. McP.





There are but few more interesting spots in Africa than the little
corner of the west coast occupied by the Republic of Liberia. It has
been the scene of a series of experiments absolutely unique in
history--experiments from which we are to derive the knowledge upon
which we must rely in the solution of the weighty problems connected
with the development of a dark continent, and with the civilization of
hundreds of millions of the human race. Many questions have arisen which
have not been settled to our complete satisfaction. Is the Negro capable
of receiving and maintaining a superimposed civilization? Froude
declares that "the worst enemies of the blacks are those who persist in
pressing upon them an equality which nature has denied them. They may
attain it in time if they are fairly treated, but they can attain it
only on condition of going through the discipline and experience of
hundreds of years, through which the white race had to pass before it
was fit for political rights. If they are raised to a position for which
they are unqualified, they can only fall back into a state of
savagery."[1] Upon the truth or error of this view how much depends! It
is shared by many; some even believe that the condition of Liberia tends
to confirm it, thinking they discern signs of incipient decay. But the
great preponderance of opinion is on the other side. The weight of
evidence shows the colonists have at the lowest estimate retained the
civilization they took with them. Many maintain that there has been a
sensible advance. A recent traveller describes them as "in mancher
Hinsicht schon hypercultivirt."

What might be called a third position is taken by one of the most
prominent writers of the race, E.W. Blyden, the widely-known President
of Liberia College. The radical difference in race and circumstance
must, he thinks, make African civilization essentially different from
European: not inferior, but different. The culture which the blacks have
acquired, or may attain in further contact with foreign influence, will
be used as a point of departure in future intelligent development along
lines following the characteristics of the race. This tendency to
differentiate he regards as natural and inevitable; it ought to be
recognized and encouraged in every way, that the time may be hastened
when a great negro civilization, unlike anything we have yet seen, shall
prevail in Africa and play its part in the world's history.

If we make allowance for the errors and mistakes of an untrained and
inexperienced people, the history of Liberia may be regarded as a
demonstration of the capacity of the race for self-government. Upon the
capability of individuals is reflected the highest credit. The
opportunities for a rounded-out and fully developed culture afforded by
the peculiar conditions of life in the Republic produced a number of men
who deserve unqualified admiration. From the earliest days of the
colony, when Elijah Johnson upheld the courage of the little band in the
midst of hostile swarms of savages, to the steadfast statesmanship of
Russwurm and the stately diplomacy of Roberts, there have stood forth
individuals of a quality and calibre that fill with surprise those who
hold the ordinary opinion of the possibilities of the Negro. The trials
of the Republic have afforded a crucial test in which many a character
has shown true metal. It is not too much to assert that the very highest
type of the race has been the product of Liberia.

There are other aspects in which our tropical offspring has for us a
vital interest. Perhaps the most important is the connection it will
have in the future with what is called the Negro Problem in our own
country. There have been and are thoughtful men who see in colonization
the only solution of its difficulties. Others ridicule the very
suggestion. It is a question into which we do not propose to go. But
there is scarcely any doubt that when the development of Liberia is a
little more advanced, and when communication with her ports becomes less
difficult, and when the population of the United States grows more dense
and presses more upon the limits of production, there will be a large
voluntary migration of negroes to Africa. And no one will deny that the
existence of a flourishing Republic of the black race just across the
Atlantic will react powerfully upon all questions relating to our own
colored population.

But let us not venture too deeply into this theme. Another claim of
Liberia upon the sympathetic interest of the entire people, is that it
represents our sole attempt at colonial enterprise. It is true the
movement was largely individual, but the effort came from a widespread
area of the country; moreover, the part played by the National
Government was not only important, but essential. Without its friendly
intervention, the plan could never have been carried out. The action
carries with it some responsibility. The United States might well
exercise some protective care, might now and then extend a helping hand,
and let the aggressive Powers of Europe see that Liberia is not
friendless, and that encroachment upon her territory will not be

A few words upon the topography of the country and upon the aborigines
may not be out of place. Liberia is by no means the dreary waste of sand
and swamp that some imagine it. The view from the sea has been
described as one of unspeakable beauty and grandeur. From the low-lying
coast the land rises in a terraced slope--a succession of hills and
plateaux as far as the eye can reach, all covered with the dense
perennial verdure of the primeval forest. Perhaps the best authority on
the natural features of the country is the zooelogist of the Royal Museum
of Leyden, J. Buettikofer, who has made Liberia several visits and spent
several years in its scientific exploration. The account of his
investigations is most interesting. Small as is the area of the country
all kinds of soil are represented, and corresponding to this variety is
a remarkably rich and varied flora. Amidst this luxuriance is found an
unusually large number of products of commercial value. Cotton, indigo,
coffee, pepper, the pineapple, gum tree, oil palm, and many others grow
wild in abundance, while a little cultivation produces ample crops of
rice, corn, potatoes, yams, arrowroot, ginger, and especially sugar,
tobacco, and a very superior grade of coffee. The fertility of the soil
renders possible the production of almost any crop.

The fauna of the land is scarcely less remarkable in variety and
abundance. The larger animals, including domestic cattle and horses, do
not thrive on the coast, but are plentiful farther inland. On the
Mandingo Plateau, elephants are not uncommon. Buffaloes, leopards,
tigers, antelopes, porcupines, the great ant-eater, divers species of
monkeys, and numerous other animals are found, besides many varieties of

The native Africans inhabiting this territory are probably more than a
million in number, and belong to several different stocks of somewhat
varying characteristics. The most common type is of medium size, well
formed, coal-black in color and rather good-looking. They are
intelligent and easily taught, but are extremely indolent. Their
paganism takes the form of gross superstition, as seen in their constant
use of gree-gree charms and in their sassa-wood ordeal. Like all the
races of Africa, they are polygamists; and as the women manage the farms
and do nearly all the work, a man's wealth and importance are often
estimated by the number of his wives. Domestic slavery is universal
among them, the great majority of slaves being obtained by capture in
war. These inter-tribal wars were once almost constant, and their
prevention requires the utmost vigilance of the Liberian authorities.

The natives harvest rice and cassada; supply the coasting trader's
demand for palm-oil; raise tobacco; procure salt by evaporating
sea-water; engage in hunting and fishing. They carry on a number of rude
industries such as the manufacture of basket-work, hats, mats,
fish-nets; a crude sort of spinning and weaving. Iron ore exists in
abundance, and the natives have long known how to smelt it and obtain
the metal, from which they manufacture rude weapons, spurs, bits,
stirrups and kitchen utensils. The cheapness of imported iron ware has
driven out this interesting art on the coast; but in the interior it is
still practised by the Mandingoes, who are also fine goldsmiths, and
manufacture highly ornamented rings. There are also silversmiths among
the Veys, who do good work. The leather industry, too, has been carried
to some perfection.

With all their disadvantages the natives seem to extract a good deal of
enjoyment out of existence. They are very fond of singing and dancing to
the rude strains of a drum and harp, and usually prolong their revelries
far into the night.

Taken as a whole, the native character has many fine traits; and from
the civilization and development of this part of her population, Liberia
has much to hope.



It is always a most interesting part of historic inquiry to search out
the very earliest sources, the first feeble germ of the idea whose
development we are investigating. It is difficult to decide from what
one origin can be traced the continuous development of the idea which
resulted in the birth of Liberia; but toward the close of the last
century there arose a number of projects, widely differing in object and
detail, which bore more or less directly upon it, each of which may be
said to have contributed some special feature to the fully rounded and
developed plan.

The earliest of these sprang from the once notorious hot-bed of
slavery--Newport, R.I. As early as 1773 the Rev. Samuel Hopkins, then
widely known as a theological writer, and responsible for the system
termed Hopkinsianism, conceived the idea of a missionary effort in
Africa, undertaken by natives properly trained in the United States.[2]
This at first did not include the conception of a permanent settlement;
but on consultation with the Rev. Ezra Styles, afterward President of
Yale, it developed into a definite plan for a colony. The scheme proved
popular; it was widely advertised by sermons and circulars both in this
and the mother country; and by 1776 funds had been collected, Negro
students placed under suitable instruction at Princeton, and success
seemed almost assured. The outbreak of the Revolution, however, swept
away all the thought of carrying Hopkins' cherished enterprise into
execution, and after peace was restored his most strenuous efforts
failed to arouse the old interest. Later thinkers, however, found
suggestion and encouragement in his labors.

The colony founded at Sierra Leone by English philanthropists drew in
part its inspiration from Hopkins' idea, and in turn suggested later
American plans. After the celebrated decision of Lord Mansfield in the
Somerset case (1772), many slaves escaped to England, where they
congregated in the dens of London in helpless poverty and misery. James
Ramsay's essay on Slavery soon turned public attention to the Negro, and
Dr. Smeathman's letters suggested quite a scheme of colonization. A
movement in behalf of the oppressed race asserted itself at the
University of Cambridge, in which Clarkson, Wilberforce, Granville Sharp
and others took part. As a result of these efforts some four hundred
Negroes and sixty whites were landed at Sierra Leone in May, 1787.
Disease and disorder were rife, and by 1791 a mere handful survived. The
Sierra Leone Company was then incorporated; some 1,200 colonists from
the Bahamas and Nova Scotia were taken over, and the settlement in spite
of discouraging results was kept up by frequent reinforcements until
1807, when it was made a Government colony and naval station. Its growth
in population and commerce has since steadily increased, and it now
numbers some 60,000 persons chiefly concentrated in the city of
Freetown, and all blacks save one or two hundred.

It may be as well to mention here two other sporadic attempts to lead
colored colonists to Africa. In 1787 the gifted and erratic Dr. Wm.
Thornton proposed himself to become the leader of a body of Rhode Island
and Massachusetts colonists to Western Africa; he appears to have been
in communication with Hopkins on the subject a year later, but the
effort fell through for want of funds. The other is much later. Paul
Cuffee, the son of a well-to-do Massachusetts freedman, had become by
his talents and industry a prosperous merchant and ship-owner.
Stimulated by the colony at Sierra Leone, and longing to secure liberty
to his oppressed race, he determined to transport in his own vessels,
and at his own expense, as many as he could of his colored brethren.
Accordingly, in 1815, he sailed from Boston with about forty, whom he
landed safely at Sierra Leone. He was about to take over on a second
voyage a much larger number, when his benevolent designs were
interrupted by death.

It will be observed that the colonization plans hitherto unfolded had
all been proposed for some missionary or similar benevolent object, and
were to be carried out on a small scale and by private means. It is now
time to consider one proposed from a widely different standpoint. As a
political measure, as a possible remedy for the serious evils arising
from slavery and the contact of races, it is not surprising to find
Thomas Jefferson suggesting a plan of colonization. The evils of slavery
none ever saw more clearly. "The whole commerce between master and
slave," he quaintly says, "is a perpetual exercise of the most
boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and
degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this and learn to
imitate it." And again, "With what execration should the statesman be
loaded, who, permitting one-half the citizens thus to trample on the
rights of the other, transforms these into despots and those into
enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patriae of
the other.... I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is
just."[3] Yet his equally clear perception of the evils sure to result
from emancipation immediate and unqualified, makes him look to
colonization as the only remedy. "Why not retain and incorporate the
blacks into the state?" he asks, "Deep rooted prejudices entertained by
the whites, ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the injuries
they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which
nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into
parties and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the
extermination of the one or the other race." After the lapse of a
century how prophetic these words sound! Jefferson believed then that by
colonization slavery was to be abolished. All slaves born after a
certain date were to be free; these should remain with their parents
till a given age, after which they should be taught at public expense
agriculture and the useful arts. When full-grown they were to be
"colonized to such a place as the circumstances of the time should
render most proper, sending them out with arms, implements of the
household and handicraft arts, pairs of the useful domestic animals,
etc.; to declare them a free and independent people, and extend to them
our alliance and protection till they have acquired strength."

Such in outline was Jefferson's contribution to the colonization idea.
Its influence was unquestionably great: the "Notes on Virginia,"
privately circulated after 1781, and at length published in 1787, went
through eight editions before 1800, and must have been familiar to
nearly all of those concerned in the formation of the Colonization

Clearer still must the details of Jefferson's project have been in the
minds of the members of the Virginia Legislature in 1800, when, after
the outbreak of a dangerous slave conspiracy in Richmond, they met in
secret session to consult the common security. The resolution which they
reached shows unmistakably Jefferson's influence. With the delicate if
somewhat obscure periphrasis in which legislation concerning the Negro
was traditionally couched, they enacted: "That the Governor be requested
to correspond with the President of the United States on the subject of
purchasing lands without the limits of this State whither persons
obnoxious to the laws or dangerous to the peace of society may be
removed."[4] An interesting correspondence ensued between Monroe, who
was then Governor, and Jefferson. Both regarded the idea as something
far more important than a mere penal colony. Monroe, too, saw in it a
possible remedy for the evils of slavery, and refers to the matter as
"one of great delicacy and importance, involving in a peculiar degree
the future peace, tranquillity, and happiness" of the country. After
much discussion Africa was selected as the only appropriate site, and
approved by another Act of the Legislature. Jefferson lost no time in
attempting to secure land for the colony, but his efforts met with no
success. After a discouraging repulse from Sierra Leone, and the failure
of several half-hearted attempts to obtain a footing elsewhere, the
whole matter was allowed to sink into abeyance. For years a pall of
secrecy concealed the scheme from public knowledge.

In the meantime a new private movement toward colonization was started
at the North. Samuel J. Mills organized at Williams College, in 1808,
for missionary work, an undergraduate society, which was soon
transferred to Andover, and resulted in the establishment of the
American Bible Society and Board of Foreign Missions. But the topic
which engrossed Mills' most enthusiastic attention was the Negro. The
desire was to better his condition by founding a colony between the Ohio
and the Lakes; or later, when this was seen to be unwise, in Africa. On
going to New Jersey to continue his theological studies, Mills succeeded
in interesting the Presbyterian clergy of that State in his project. Of
this body one of the most prominent members was Dr. Robert Finley. Dr.
Finley succeeded in assembling at Princeton the first meeting ever
called to consider the project of sending Negro colonists to Africa.
Although supported by few save members of the seminary, Dr. Finley felt
encouraged to set out for Washington in December, 1816, to attempt the
formation of a colonization society.

Earlier in this same year there had been a sudden awakening of Southern
interest in colonization. Toward the end of February, Gen. Charles
Fenton Mercer accidentally had his attention called to the Secret
Journals of the Legislature for the years 1801-5.[5] He had been for six
years a member of the House of Delegates, in total ignorance of their
existence. He at once investigated and was rewarded with a full
knowledge of the Resolutions and ensuing correspondence between Monroe
and Jefferson. Mercer's enthusiasm was at once aroused, and he
determined to revive the Resolutions at the next meeting of the
Legislature. In the meantime, imputing their previous failure to the
secrecy which had screened them from public view, he brought the whole
project conspicuously into notice. At the next session of the
Legislature, in December, resolutions embodying the substance of the
secret enactments were passed almost unanimously in both houses. Public
attention had been in this way already brought to bear upon the
advantages of Colonization when Finley set on foot the formation of a
society in Washington. The interest already awakened and the
indefatigable efforts of Finley and his friend Col. Charles Marsh, at
length succeeded in convening the assembly to which the Colonization
Society owes its existence. It was a notable gathering. Henry Clay, in
the absence of Bushrod Washington, presided, setting forth in glowing
terms the object and aspirations of the meeting. Finley's
brother-in-law, Elias B. Caldwell was Secretary, and supplied the
leading argument, an elaborate plea, setting forth the expediency of the
project and its practicability in regard to territory, expense, and the
abundance of willing colonists. The wide benevolent objects to be
attained were emphasized. John Randolph of Roanoke, and Robert Wright of
Maryland, dwelt upon the desirability of removing the turbulent
free-negro element and enhancing the value of property in slaves.[6]
Resolutions organizing the Society passed, and committees appointed to
draft a Constitution and present a memorial to Congress. At an adjourned
meeting a week later the constitution was adopted, and on January 1,
1817, officers were elected.



With commendable energy the newly organized Society set about the
accomplishment of the task before it. Plans were discussed during the
summer, and in November two agents, Samuel J. Mills and Ebenezer
Burgess, sailed for Africa to explore the western coast and select a
suitable spot. They were cordially received in England by the officers
of the African Institution, and by Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for
the Colonies, who provided them with letters to Sierra Leone. Here they
arrived in March, 1818, and were hospitably received, every facility
being afforded them to prosecute their inquiries, though marked
unwillingness to have a foreign colony established in the vicinity was
not concealed. Their inspection was carried as far south as Sherbro
Island, where they obtained promises from the natives to sell land to
the colonists on their arrival with goods to pay for it. In May they
embarked on the return voyage. Mills died before reaching home. His
colleague made a most favorable report of the locality selected, though,
as the event proved, it was a most unfortunate one.

After defraying the expenses of this exploration the Society's treasury
was practically empty. It would have been most difficult to raise the
large sum necessary to equip and send out a body of emigrants; and the
whole enterprise would have languished and perhaps died but for a new
impelling force. Monroe, who ever since his correspondence with
Jefferson in 1800, had pondered over "the vast and interesting objects"
which colonization might accomplish, was now by an interesting chain of
circumstances enabled to render essential aid.

Though the importation of slaves had been strictly prohibited by the Act
of Congress of March 2, 1807, no provision had been made for the care of
the unfortunates smuggled in in defiance of the Statute. They became
subject to the laws of the State in which they were landed; and these
laws were in some cases so devised that it was profitable for the dealer
to land his cargo and incur the penalty. The advertisements of the sale
of such a cargo of "recaptured Africans" by the State of Georgia drew
the attention of the Society and of Gen. Mercer in particular to this
inconsistent and abnormal state of affairs. His profound indignation
shows forth in the Second Annual Report of the Society, in which the
attention of the public is earnestly drawn to the question; nor did he
rest until a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives
designed to do away with the evil. This bill became a law on March 3,

Provision was made for a more stringent suppression of the slave trade:
new cruisers were ordered and bounties awarded for captures; but the
clause which proved so important to the embryo colony was that dealing
with the captured cargoes:

"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." The sum of $100,000 was
appropriated for carrying out the provisions of the Act. President
Monroe determined to construe it as broadly as possible in aid of the
project of colonization. After giving Congress, in his message,
December 20, 1818, fair notice of his intention, no objection being
made, he proceeded to appoint two agents, the Rev. Samuel Bacon, already
in the service of the Colonization Society, and John P. Bankson as
assistant, and to charter the ship Elizabeth. The agents were instructed
to settle on the coast of Africa, with a tacit understanding that the
place should be that selected by the Colonization Society; they were to
provide accommodations sufficient for three hundred, supplying
provisions, clothing, tools, and implements. It is important to note the
essential part taken by the Government in the establishment of the
colony, for this is often said to be purely the result of private
enterprise; the inference tending to free the United States from any
responsibility for the protection of its feeble offspring. It is true
according to the letter, that the Government agency was separate from
the colony: the agents were instructed "to exercise no power founded on
the principle of colonization, or other principle than that of
performing benevolent offices;" and again, "you are not to connect your
agency with the views or plans of the Colonization Society, with which,
under the law, the Government of the United States has no concern," Yet
as a matter of fact the agency and colony were practically identical;
and for years the resources of the Government were employed "to colonize
recaptured Africans, to build homes for them, to furnish them with
farming utensils, to pay instructors to teach them, to purchase ships
for their convenience, to build forts for their protection, to supply
them with arms and munitions of war, to enlist troops to guard them, and
to employ the army and navy in their defence,"[7] These words of one
unfriendly to the colony forcibly show the extent to which our national
government was responsible for the experiment.

When the Elizabeth was chartered the Society was notified that the
Government agency was prepared to transport their first colonists; or
more literally "agreed to receive on board such free blacks recommended
by the Society as might be required for the purpose of the agency." For
the expenses of the expedition $33,000 was placed in the hands of Mr.
Bacon. Dr. Samuel A. Crozier was appointed by the Society as its agent
and representative; and eighty-six negroes from various
states--thirty-three men, eighteen women, and the rest children, were
embarked. On the 6th of February, 1820, the Mayflower of Liberia weighed
anchor in New York harbor, and, convoyed by the U.S. sloop-of-war Cyane,
steered her course toward the shores of Africa. The pilgrims were kindly
treated by the authorities at Sierra Leone, where they arrived on the
ninth of March; but on proceeding to Sherbro Island they found the
natives had reconsidered their promise, and refused to sell them land.
While delayed by negotiations the injudicious nature of the site
selected was disastrously shown. The low marshy ground and the bad water
quickly bred the African fever, which soon carried off all the agents
and nearly a fourth of the emigrants. The rest, weakened and
disheartened were soon obliged to seek refuge at Sierra Leone.

In March, 1821, a body of twenty-eight new emigrants under charge of
J.B. Winn and Ephraim Bacon, reached Freetown in the brig Nautilus. Winn
collected as many as he could of the first company, also the stores sent
out with them, and settled the people in temporary quarters at Fourah
Bay, while Bacon set out to explore the coast anew and secure suitable
territory. An elevated fertile and desirable tract was at length
discovered between 250 and 300 miles S.E. of Sierra Leone. This was the
region of Cape Montserado. It seemed exactly suited to the purposes of
the colonists, but the natives refused to sell their land for fear of
breaking up the traffic in slaves; and the agent returned discouraged.
Winn soon died, and Bacon returned to the United States. In November,
Dr. Eli Ayres was sent over as agent, and the U.S. schooner Alligator,
commanded by Lieutenant Stockton, was ordered to the coast to assist in
obtaining a foothold for the colony. Cape Montserado was again visited;
and the address and firmness of Lieutenant Stockton accomplished the
purchase of a valuable tract of land.

The cape upon which the settlers proposed to build their first
habitations consists of a narrow peninsula or tongue of land formed by
the Montserado River, which separates it from the mainland. Just within
the mouth of the river lie two small islands, containing together less
than three acres. To these, the Plymouth of Liberia, the colonists and
their goods were soon transported. But again the fickle natives repented
the bargain, and the settlers were long confined to "Perseverance
Island," as the spot was aptly named. Space forbids entering on the
interesting details of the difficulties they successfully encountered.
After a number of thrilling experiences the emigrants, on April 25,
1822, formally took possession of the cape, where they had erected rude
houses for themselves; and from this moment we may date the existence of
the colony. Their supplies were by this time sadly reduced; the natives
were hostile and treacherous; fever had played havoc with the colonists
in acclimating; and the incessant downpour of the rainy season had set
in. Dr. Ayres became thoroughly discouraged, and proposed to lead them
back to Sierra Leone. Then it was that Elijah Johnson, an emigrant from
New York, made himself forever famous in Liberian history by declaring
that he would never desert the home he had found after two years' weary
quest! His firmness decided the wavering colonists; the agents with a
few faint-hearted ones sailed off to America; but the majority remained
with their heroic Negro leader. The little band, deserted by their
appointed protectors, were soon reduced to the most dire distress, and
must have perished miserably but for the arrival of unexpected relief.
The United States Government had at last gotten hold of some ten
liberated Africans, and had a chance to make use of the agency
established for them at so great an expense. They were accordingly sent
out in the brig Strong under the care of the Rev. Jehudi Ashmun. A
quantity of stores and some thirty-seven emigrants sent by the
Colonization Society completed the cargo. Ashmun had received no
commission as agent for the colony, and expected to return on the
Strong; under this impression his wife had accompanied him. But when he
found the colonists in so desperate a situation he nobly determined to
remain with them at any sacrifice. He visited the native chiefs and
found them, under cover of friendly promises, preparing for a deadly
assault on the little colony. There was no recourse but to prepare for a
vigorous defense. Twenty-seven men were capable of bearing arms; and one
brass and five iron fieldpieces, all dismantled and rusty, formed his
main hope. Ashmun at once set to work, and with daily drills and
unremitting labor in clearing away the forest and throwing up
earthworks, succeeded at last in putting the settlement in a reasonable
state of defense. It was no easy task. The fatiguing labor, incessant
rains, and scanty food predisposed them to the dreaded fever. Ashmun
himself was prostrated; his wife sank and died before his eyes; and soon
there was but one man in the colony who was not on the sick-list. At
length the long-expected assault was made. Just before daybreak on the
11th of November the settlement was approached by a body of over eight
hundred African warriors. Stealthily following the pickets as they
returned a little too early from their watch, the savages burst upon the
colony and with a rush captured the outworks. A desperate conflict
ensued, the issue of which hung doubtful until the colonists succeeded
in manning their brass field-piece, which was mounted upon a raised
platform, and turning it upon the dense ranks of the assailants. The
effect at such short range was terrible. "Every shot literally spent its
force in a solid mass of living human flesh. Their fire suddenly
terminated. A savage yell was raised, ... and the whole host
disappeared."[8] The victory had been gained at a cost of four killed
and as many seriously wounded. Ammunition was exhausted; food had given
out. Another attack, for which the natives were known to be preparing,
could scarcely fail to succeed. Before it was made, however, an English
captain touched at the cape and generously replenished their stores. On
the very next evening, November 30, the savages were seen gathering in
large numbers on the cape, and toward morning a desperate attack was
made on two sides at once. The lines had been contracted, however, and
all the guns manned, and the well-directed fire of the artillery again
proved too much for native valor. The savages were repulsed with great
loss. The unusual sound of a midnight cannonade attracted the Prince
Regent, an English colonial schooner laden with military stores and
having on board the celebrated traveller Captain Laing, through whose
mediation the natives were brought to agree to a peace most advantageous
to the colonists. When the Prince Regent sailed, Midshipman Gordon, with
eleven British sailors volunteered to remain, to assist the exhausted
colonists and guarantee the truce. His generosity met an ill requital;
within a month he had fallen victim to the climate with eight of the
brave seamen. Supplies were again running low, when March brought the
welcome arrival of the U.S. ship Cyane. Captain R.T. Spence at once
turned his whole force to improving the condition of the colonists.
Buildings were erected, the dismantled colonial schooner was raised and
made sea-worthy, and many invaluable services were rendered, until at
length a severe outbreak of the fever among the crew compelled the
vessel's withdrawal. It was too late, however, to prevent the loss of
forty lives, including the lieutenant, Richard Dashiell, and the
surgeon, Dr. Dix.

On the 24th of May, 1823, the brig Oswego arrived with sixty-one new
emigrants and a liberal supply of stores and tools, in charge of Dr.
Ayres, who, already the representative of the Society, had now been
appointed Government Agent and Surgeon. One of the first measures of the
new agent was to have the town surveyed and lots distributed among the
whole body of colonists. Many of the older settlers found themselves
dispossessed of the holdings improved by their labor, and the colony was
soon in a ferment of excitement and insurrection. Dr. Ayres, finding his
health failing, judiciously betook himself to the United States.

The arrival of the agent had placed Mr. Ashmun in a false position of
the most mortifying character. It will be remembered that in sympathy
for the distress of the colony he had assumed the position of agent
without authority. In the dire necessity of subsequent events he had
been compelled to purchase supplies and ammunition in the Society's
name. He now found, himself superseded in authority, his services and
self-sacrifice unappreciated, his drafts[9] dishonored, his motives
distrusted. Nothing could show more strongly his devotion and
self-abnegation than his action in the present crisis. Seeing the colony
again deserted by the agent and in a state of discontent and confusion,
he forgot his wrongs and remained at the helm. Order was soon restored
but the seeds of insubordination remained. The arrival of 103 emigrants
from Virginia on the Cyrus, in February 1824, added to the difficulty,
as the stock of food was so low that the whole colony had to be put on
half rations. This necessary measure was regarded by the disaffected as
an act of tyranny on Ashmun's part; and when shortly after the complete
prostration of his health compelled him to withdraw to the Cape De Verde
Islands, the malcontents sent home letters charging him with all sorts
of abuse of power, and finally with desertion of his post! The Society
in consternation applied to Government for an expedition of
investigation, and the Rev. R.R. Gurley, Secretary of the Society, and
an enthusiastic advocate of colonization was despatched in June on the
U.S. schooner Porpoise. The result of course revealed the probity,
integrity and good judgment of Mr. Ashman; and Gurley became
thenceforth his warmest admirer. As a preventive of future discontent a
Constitution was adopted at Mr. Gurley's suggestion, giving for the
first time a definite share in the control of affairs to the colonists
themselves. Gurley brought with him the name of the colony--Liberia, and
of its settlement on the Cape--Monrovia, which had been adopted by the
Society on the suggestion of Mr. Robert Goodloe Harper of Maryland. He
returned from his successful mission in August leaving the most cordial
relations established throughout the colony.

Gurley's visit seemed to mark the turning of the tide, and a period of
great prosperity now began. Relay after relay of industrious emigrants
arrived; new land was taken up; successful agriculture removed all
danger of future failure of food supply; and a flourishing trade was
built up at Monrovia. Friendly relations were formed with the natives,
and their children taken for instruction into colonial families and
schools. New settlements were formed; churches and schools appeared; an
efficient militia was organized; printing presses set up and hospitals
erected. On every side rapid progress was made. After years of
illustrious service Ashmun retired to his home in New Haven, where he
died a few days later, on August 25, 1828. Under Dr. Richard Randall and
Dr. Mechlin, who successively filled his post, the prosperity of the
colony continued undiminished.

The decade after 1832 is marked by the independent action of different
State colonization societies. At first generally organized as tributary
to the main body, the State societies now began to form distinct
settlements at other points on the coast. The Maryland Society first
started an important settlement at Cape Palmas, of which we shall make a
special study. Bassa Cove was settled by the joint action of the New
York and Pennsylvania Societies; Greenville, on the Sinou river, by
emigrants from Mississippi; and the Louisiana Society engaged in a
similar enterprise. The separate interests of the different settlements
at length began in many cases to engender animosity and bad feeling; the
need of general laws and supervision was everywhere apparent; and a
movement toward a federal union of the colonies was set on foot. A plan
was at length agreed upon by all except Maryland, by which the colonies
were united into the "Commonwealth of Liberia," whose government was
controlled by a Board of Directors composed of Delegates from the State
societies. This board at its first meeting drew up a plan of government,
and Thomas Buchanan was appointed first Governor of the Commonwealth,
1837. The advantages of the union were soon apparent. The more
aggressive native tribes with whom not a little trouble had been
experienced, were made to feel the strength of the union; and many of
the smaller head-men voluntarily put themselves under the protection of
the Government, agreeing to become citizens, with all their subjects,
and submit to its laws. The traffic in slaves all along the coast was
checked, inter-tribal warfare prevented, and trial by the sassa-wood
ordeal abolished wherever colonial influence extended. Mr. Buchanan was
the last white man who exercised authority in Liberia. On his death the
Lieutenant-Governor, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, succeeded him. Roberts, who
afterward became Liberia's most distinguished citizen, was a Virginia
Negro, having been born at Norfolk in 1809, and brought up near
Petersburg. He obtained a rudimentary education while running a
flat-boat on the James and Appomattox Rivers. In 1829 he went with his
widowed mother and younger brothers to Liberia, where he rapidly rose to
wealth and distinction. As Governor he evinced an efficient
statesmanship that promised well for his future career.

Roberts had not long been governor when trouble arose with the British
coast-wise traders that gave rise to a most interesting crisis. The
Liberian Government in regulating commerce within its jurisdiction had
enacted laws imposing duties on all imported goods. The English traders,
accustomed for hundreds of years to unrestricted traffic on this very
coast, were indignant at the presumption of the upstart colony, and
ignored its regulations. The Government protested, but in vain. And at
length the little colonial revenue schooner John Seyes, while
attempting to enforce the laws at Edina, was actually seized by the
stalwart Britisher and dragged before the Admiralty Court at Sierra
Leone. A long discussion which would be profitless to follow in detail,
ensued. The result was, that the John Seyes was confiscated. The British
Government opened a correspondence with the United States, in which it
was ascertained that Liberia was not in political dependence upon them.
Whereupon the sovereignty of Liberia was promptly denied, her right to
acquire or hold territory questioned, and she was given to understand
that the operations of British traders would in future be backed by the
British navy.

Evidently if Liberia was to maintain and govern her territory something
must be done. The Colonization Society while claiming for Liberia the
right to exercise sovereign powers, seems to have had the unacknowledged
conviction, that England's position, however ungenerous, was logically
unassailable. The supreme authority wielded by the Society, its veto
power over legislative action, was undoubtedly inconsistent with the
idea of a sovereign state. This is clearly apparent from the fact that
though there was pressing necessity for a treaty with England, neither
the colony nor the Society had power to negotiate it. It was accordingly
determined to surrender all control over the colony; and the "people of
the Commonwealth of Liberia" were "advised" by the Society "to undertake
the whole work of self-government;" to make the necessary amendments to
their Constitution, and to declare their full sovereignty to the world.

The suggestion was adopted in Liberia by popular vote, and a convention
met on July 26, 1847, adopted a Declaration of Independence and a new
Constitution, closely modelled on the corresponding documents of the
United States. In September the Constitution was ratified by vote of the
people. Governor Roberts was elected to the office of President, upon
which he entered January 3, 1848. His inaugural address is one of
remarkable interest, fitly proclaiming to the world a new Republic.



The widespread interest awakened by the actual establishment of a
permanent colony at Monrovia led to the formation of a number of State
Colonization Societies, at first purely auxiliary to the central body,
but later in some cases independent. The foundation of independent
settlements at Bassa Cove and Sinou by the New York, Pennsylvania and
Mississippi Societies, and their union in 1837 into the Commonwealth,
has been considered. A much more important colony was founded by
Maryland at Cape Palmas, which for years maintained its independence.

In 1831, the Maryland State Colonization Society was formed. Active
interest in the movement had long been felt in the State, and it
scarcely needed the eloquence of Robert Finley, son of the old champion
of colonization, who visited Baltimore in that year, to awaken
enthusiasm. The Society had hardly been formed when ample funds were
provided in an unexpected way. In August, 1831, a tragic Negro uprising
took place in Virginia, in which some sixty-five white men, women and
children were murdered. The Southampton Massacres were attributed
largely to the instigation of the troublesome free-Negro element, and
the growing sentiment in favor of emancipation was abruptly checked. The
Maryland Legislature, sharing the general excitement, passed in December
a resolution which became law in March, and proved to the State Society
what the Act of March 3, 1819, was to the main organization. The
connection was more explicit. Three members of the Society were to be
appointed Commissioners to remove _all_ free Negroes to Liberia. The sum
of $20,000 in the current year, and of $10,000 in each succeeding year,
for a period of twenty years, was devoted to the purpose. Any free Negro
refusing to emigrate was to be summarily ejected from the State by the
sheriff. The wave of feeling which dictated this monstrous piece of
legislation passed away before any of its harsh provisions were carried
out. But the beneficent portion remained in force. The Society was left
in the enjoyment of the liberal annuity of $10,000.

In October, 1831, and December, 1832, expeditions were sent out which
landed emigrants at Monrovia. The difficulty of arriving at an agreement
with the parent Society regarding the rights and status of these people,
together with other considerations, led to the adoption of the idea of
founding a separate colony. The plan was adopted largely through the
support of Mr. John H.B. Latrobe, throughout his life one of the most
active and efficient friends of colonization. The motives of the
undertaking were distinctly announced to be the gradual extirpation of
slavery in Maryland, and the spread of civilization and Christianity in
Africa. Cape Palmas, a bold promontory marking the point where the coast
makes a sharp bend toward the east, was selected as the new site. Its
conspicuous position makes it one of the best known points on the coast,
and some identify it with the "West Horn" reached by Hanno, the
Carthaginian explorer, twenty-nine days out from Gades. Dr. James Hall,
who had gained experience as physician in Monrovia, was placed in charge
of the expedition, and the brig Ann, with a small number of emigrants,
sailed from Baltimore November 28, 1833. A firm legal basis was
projected for the new establishment in a Constitution to which all
emigrants were to subscribe. The experience gained by the older colony
was put to good use. Regular courts, militia, and public schools were
provided for from the first.

The vessel touched at Monrovia, gathered as many recruits as possible
from those sent out on the two previous expeditions, and finally
anchored at Cape Palmas on February 11, 1834. After the usual tedious
"palaver" and bargaining, the natives formally sold the required land.
The cape is a promontory some seventy-five feet in height, separated
from the mainland, except for a narrow, sandy isthmus. A river,
navigable for some miles to small boats, opens opposite it, and forms a
safe harbor. A long, salt-water lake extends to the east, parallel to
the coast. The land is very fertile and well adapted to farming. Several
native villages lie near the cape. From a well-founded fear of native
treachery the colonists laid out their town on the promontory, upon the
summit of which a brass six-pounder was mounted. Farm lands were laid
out on the mainland, and in a short time the little community was in a
thriving condition. None of the distressing misfortunes encountered by
the colony at Monrovia marred the early history of "Maryland in

In 1836 the health of Dr. Hall, whose services to the infant colony had
been invaluable, became so much impaired that he was obliged to resign.
He returned to the United States, and long rendered the Society
efficient service in another capacity. John B. Russwurm, a citizen of
Monrovia, and once editor of the Liberia _Herald_, was appointed
Governor, and served ably and faithfully until his death in 1851. Early
in his administration a convenient form of paper currency, receivable at
the Society's store, was introduced, and proved most useful in trade
with the natives. In 1841 some slight difficulties with employes of
missions led the Society, while still retaining control of affairs, to
assert by resolution that the colony was a sovereign State. A revenue
law introduced in 1846 soon produced an income of about $1,200. In this
year began the trips of the "Liberia Packet," a vessel maintained by a
company formed to trade between Baltimore and _Harper_, as the town of
the colony was named, in honor of Robert Goodloe Harper. A certain
amount of trade was guaranteed and other aid given by the Society. In
1847 the justiciary was separated from the executive; a chief justice
and a system of courts were provided for.

The year 1852 ended the period during which the Society drew its annual
stipend from the State treasury; but the General Assembly was induced to
extend the provisions of the Act of 1831 for a further period of six
years. It may be as well to note here that in 1858 a further extension
was made for five years, the amount at the same time being reduced to
$5,000 per annum.[10] For twenty years the colony had flourished under
the care and good management of the Society. Prosperity now seemed
secure, and a spirit of discontent, a desire to throw off the yoke and
assume autonomy began to prevail. The great success following the
assumption of Independence by Liberia in 1847, and the recognition at
once obtained from the leading nations of Europe, naturally strengthened
the feeling. A committee of leading citizens petitioned the Society to
relinquish its authority, at the same time demanding or begging almost
everything else in its power to bestow. The Society was further asked by
its spoiled fosterling to continue to support schools, provide
physicians and medicine, remit debts, and finally, to grant a "loan" of
money to meet the expenses of government.[11]

The Board of Managers, though deeming the colony still unripe for
independence, generously determined to grant the request, as made
advisable by force of circumstances. Among other things it was feared
that the better class of colonists might be attracted toward the
independent State of Liberia. A sort of federal union with that State
was suggested, but found impracticable. A convention met and drafted a
Constitution, which was submitted to the Board. An agreement was reached
as to the conditions of the transfer of the Society's lands, etc. Both
were ratified by the people, and in May, 1854, Wm. A. Prout was elected
Governor. Other officials, senators and representatives, were chosen at
the same time.

The prosperity of the colony continued under the careful management of
Gov. Prout. On his death the Lieutenant-Governor, Wm. S. Drayton,
succeeded to his office. It was not long before the "rash and imprudent"
conduct of this official precipitated a serious conflict with the
natives. An expedition against them resulted in a demoralizing defeat,
with loss of artillery and twenty-six valuable lives. In consternation
an urgent appeal was sent to Monrovia. The treasury of the Republic was
exhausted from the effects of the uprising of the Sinou river tribes;
but Dr. Hall was fortunately present, and supplied the Government with a
loan from the funds of the Maryland Society. One hundred and fifteen
Liberian troops, under command of ex-President Roberts, were soon
embarked for Cape Palmas, and easily overawed the native chiefs, who
agreed to a fair adjustment of their grievances by treaty, February 26,

The war was not without important results. The Maryland colonists were
thoroughly aroused to the weakness of their isolated position, and
determined to have union with Liberia at any price. It was known that
the Republic was willing to admit Maryland only as a county, on
precisely the same terms as the other three--Montserado, Sinou, and
Bassa. State pride and the views of the Society had hitherto kept them
from such a union; but now, in the reaction from their recent terror, a
vote of the people called for by Act of the Legislature was unanimous in
favor of "County Annexation;" and a committee was appointed to arrange
matters at once with Roberts. When he declined to assume any such
responsibility, they actually proceeded to dissolve the Government, and
cede all public property forthwith to the Republic of Liberia. The
interesting document entitled the "Act or Petition of Annexation," shows
the number of colonists to have been at this time 900 and the
aboriginal population about 60,000. The tax on imports produced $1,800 a
year. The State's liabilities were $3,000, with assets estimated at

The Liberian Legislature by an Act of April, 1857, formally received the
colony into the Republic as "Maryland County." The advantages gained by
this change undoubtedly more than counterbalanced any loss of
independence. Though the total dissolution of the government and
surrender of all rights and property before any negotiation with
Liberian authorities had taken place, seems inconceivably rash
statescraft, the wisdom of the colonists in desiring the union is

At the time of annexation the Maryland Colonization Society had on hand
some $6,000, which was invested, and the interest devoted to a school at
Cape Palmas; in connection with this trust its existence is prolonged.
Up to the end of its period of activity it had received and expended
nearly half a million dollars; the balance sheet of December 31, 1857,
may be of interest:

State Appropriations, ........... $ 930.00
State Colonization Tax, ......... 12,851.00
Colonial Agency, ................ 1,091.85
Columbia Expedition, ............ 248.88
Stock of C. & L. Trading Co., ... 1,250.00
Mdse., .......................... 104.62
State Fund, ..................... 241,922.16
Contributions, .................. 45,385.74
Profit and Loss, ................ 139,972.31-1/2
J.T.G., Colonial Agent, ......... 126.70



The History of Liberia from this point on assumes a peculiar interest.
The capacity and capabilities of the Negro are subjected to a crucial
test. He is left fully freed from the control or influence of an alien
race, in possession of a borrowed civilization, and of a borrowed
political system of an advanced type, dependent on popular intelligence
for its very existence. Can he maintain his position? Will he make
further progress, developing along lines peculiar to his race and
environment, and spreading a new civilization among the adjacent tribes?
Or is he to lapse helplessly back into his original condition--to be
absorbed into the dense masses of surrounding barbarism? The question is
a vital one. The solution of weighty problems in large part depends upon
the answer.

The form of government was, as has been seen, closely copied from that
of the United States. There is the same tripartite division--executive,
legislative and judicial. The President is elected every two years, on
the first Tuesday in May. He is commander-in-chief of the army and navy;
makes treaties with the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate, with
whose advice he also appoints all public officers not otherwise provided
for by law.

The legislative authority consists of a Senate of two members from each
county, elected for four years, and a House of Representatives holding
office for two years; four members being apportioned to Montserado
county, three to Bassa, one to each other county, with one additional
representative for each 10,000 inhabitants. The judicial power was
vested in a Supreme Court with original jurisdiction in all cases
affecting ambassadors and consuls and where the Republic is a party, and
appellate jurisdiction in all other cases; and in subordinate courts to
be established by the Legislature.

The majority of the colonists had been long accustomed to similar
institutions in the land of their captivity, and the new machinery of
government was soon running smoothly. Within the little State peace and
prosperity prevailed; its foreign relations, on the contrary, were
involved in the greatest uncertainty. It had indeed severed the leading
strings which bound it to its natural protector, and stood forth in the
assertion of its independence. But it was wholly unsupported and
unrecognized. The dispute with England, whose protege on the north
looked with jealousy and distrust on Liberian policy, remained
unsettled. The danger was real and pressing. Clearly recognition must be
sought and an international footing obtained without delay. President
Roberts accordingly determined to go abroad, and as at once chief
magistrate and ambassador appeal to the leading courts of Europe. His
first effort, however, was directed toward obtaining alliance with the
United States. In America his reception was enthusiastic. But the
delicacy with which the dissension on the slavery question made it
necessary to handle every subject remotely bearing on that bone of
contention, prevented him from obtaining even the formal recognition of
Liberia. Roberts then determined by pleading his country's cause in
England to arouse compassion in the heart of the power from which there
was most to fear. Here substantial rewards met his efforts. His
prepossessing personality, tact, and statesmanlike qualities won many
friends.[12] With their support the recognition of Liberia as a
sovereign State was soon obtained, together with a commercial treaty
which left nothing to be desired. In further evidence of kindly
sentiment the English Government presented the young Republic with a
trim little cutter of four guns for coast protection. In France and
Belgium similar generous treatment was experienced, and Roberts was
conveyed home in triumph on the British man-of-war Amazon.

A second visit of Roberts to England, in 1852, four years later, to
adjust disputes with traders who claimed certain tracts of land, was
equally successful, and France, under Louis Napoleon, presented him with
arms and uniforms for the equipment of the Liberian troops. In 1852
Prussia also extended her friendship, soon followed by Brazil and the
free Hanse towns. In 1862, the necessity for cautious dealing with the
race question having passed away, the United States government at last
formally recognized the Republic, and Holland, Sweden, Norway, and Hayti
formed treaties in 1864. The consent of Portugal and Denmark in 1865,
and of Austria in 1867, brought Liberia into treaty relations with
nearly all the leading commercial nations.

The internal condition of the Republic during the first decade was one
of unprecedented growth and prosperity. The Colonization Society in
America was in a flourishing condition, and gained friends on every
side. Its receipts for the ten years were not far short of a million
dollars; and this generous means permitted the transportation, in the
same period, of over five thousand chosen emigrants. The accession of so
large a force of laborers added a new stimulus to the activity awakened
by self-government. Many new settlements were formed and all the older
ones received an infusion of new strength. Agriculture, especially the
cultivation of the great staples, rice, coffee, sugar and cotton, made
rapid progress; while commerce was stimulated by the establishment of
regular monthly lines of steamers between England and various points on
the coast, the first of which was started in 1853. The enterprise of
Holland soon added still other lines. Communication with America was at
the same time facilitated by the regular trips of a large vessel built
for the purpose, the gift to the Society of Mr. John C. Stevens of

At the close of his fourth administration President Roberts decided to
decline reelection. For eight years he had been at the helm, and had
brought the ship of state safely through her first perilous voyages. And
now while the waters seemed smooth and skies serene he thought it best
to intrust her guidance to other hands. The election took place in May,
1855, amidst scenes of political strife and party violence at once
intense and short-lived. It resulted in the choice of Stephen A. Benson
for President and Beverly P. Yates for Vice-President. Both were
distinctly the product of Liberian training. Benson was brought over, at
the age of six years, by his parents in 1822, and received his entire
education in the country. He became a successful merchant and entered
political life in the wake of Roberts. As chief magistrate he showed
himself a practical and efficient man, with the interests of the country
at heart.

One of the leading objects of Benson's policy was the improvement and
elevation of the aborigines; but his designs were in part frustrated by
the outbreak of a stubborn and exhausting war with the native tribes
dwelling about the Sinou River. Details must be omitted for want of
space; but this war devastated four settlements and sadly depleted the
national treasury. It was soon afterwards that the Maryland colony at
Cape Palmas was almost overwhelmed in a similar native uprising, and
united with the Republic, as elsewhere narrated.

A widespread scarcity of provisions followed these wars, which gave rise
to much apprehension. But this eventually did good in giving new
emphasis to the fact that main reliance must be placed upon agriculture
rather than trade. The great resources of Liberia were shown at a
National Fair, held in December, 1858; premiums were awarded for the
best specimens of coffee, arrow-root, cotton, rice, ginger, potatoes,
oxen, sheep, swine, turkeys, butter, preserves; cloth and socks of
African cotton; boots; soap and candles from palm oil; ploughs, hoes and
other implements from native iron and home manufacture; farina;
chocolate; planks, shingles, cabinet work, and many other products of
Liberian agriculture and industry.

President Benson was reelected without opposition, and entered upon his
second term in January, 1858. A fresh outbreak of the slave trade in
this year was followed by a number of captures by U.S. cruisers, giving
rise to the old difficulty in regard to the disposition of the cargoes.
The Act of March 3, 1819, which had long fallen into disuse, was
revived, and a contract made with the Colonization Society to transport
and maintain for a twelvemonth the recaptured Africans already on the
Government's hands. The substitution of small, swift steamers for the
craft of older days so increased the efficiency of the navy that
captures were made in rapid succession. Within two months 1,432 Africans
were landed at Key West. This state of affairs made further legislation
immediately necessary. Congress, acting upon the suggestion of a
Presidential message, passed an Act amending the Act of March 3, 1819,
which empowered the President to form a five-years' contract with "any
person or persons, society or societies," to receive in Africa and care
for the unfortunates rescued from slavers, for the period of one year,
and at a price of $100 per capita. Commanders of cruisers were to be
instructed to land their captures directly upon the coast of Liberia
whenever practicable; immediate measures were to be taken for removing
to Africa those already at Key West; and the sum of $250,000 was
appropriated to defray expenses.

Three large vessels were at once chartered and stored with $60,000 worth
of supplies; with the least possible delay the suffering crowd at Key
West was transported to Liberia; but only 893 survived the passage. The
effect of the new orders issued to the U.S. slave squadron was soon felt
in Liberia. On August 8, 1860, the _Storm King_ unexpectedly arrived
with a cargo of 619; within twenty-four hours the Erie, prize to the
steamer Mohican, followed with 867. Tidings came that still larger
numbers were en route. The effect of this inundation of liberated
barbarians upon the small civilized community, already surrounded by
savage swarms, may be imagined. The greatest consternation prevailed,
and excitement rose to fever heat. President Benson wrote to the Society
that great evils would result unless means were liberally supplied, and
entire control of the new arrivals given to the Liberian Government. The
Society accordingly transferred the execution of its contracts to that
government, and placed at its disposal all money received by their
terms. This action seems to have allayed the worst apprehensions; and
although over 4,000 recaptured Africans were landed within the space of
two months, no harm seems to have resulted. They made rapid progress in
civilization, becoming assimilated to and in many cases intermarrying
with the colonists; from among them arose some of the best citizens of
the Republic.

President Benson's policy in regard to the natives was successful in
bringing many tribes much more closely under the influence of the
government. A number of steps were taken toward actively spreading among
them the arts of civilized life, improving their methods of agriculture,
and checking the evils of intertribal warfare and of superstition. A
poll tax of one dollar a year was levied on each male adult, to be
collected from the chiefs of the several districts; with a part of the
funds thus raised schools for popular instruction were to be established
throughout the country.

The control and oversight by the central authority of so many small
settlements scattered over a large range of coast had been greatly
facilitated by the small armed cutter presented in 1848 by the English
government. This was now found to be hopelessly out of repair, and was
generously replaced by the donor with another and somewhat larger
vessel--the Quail, an armed schooner of 123 tons. About the same time
the New York Society sent over a small steamer to provide rapid and
regular communication between points along the coast. In honor of a
liberal benefactor it was called the "Seth Grosvenor."

The third and fourth administrations of Benson passed uneventfully, and
in January, 1864, Daniel B. Warner, who, the May previous, had been
elected, succeeded him. Warner was born near Baltimore, in 1812, and
emigrated in 1823. The Civil War in America, with the sanguine hopes it
aroused in the breast of the Negro, caused a rapid falling off in the
number of applicants for transportation to Liberia. The income of the
Society for once exceeded the demand upon it, and several good
investments were made. Liberia, however, was demanding more cultivators.
A supply came from an unexpected quarter. Two societies were organized
by thrifty negroes of Barbadoes, to return to Africa and make their home
in the new Republic. Agents were sent out, and sympathy with their
enterprise enlisted. The Liberian Government issued a proclamation of
cordial invitation, and the Legislature appropriated $4,000 to assist
the colonists, increasing in their case the allotment of land from ten
to twenty-five acres for each family. The Colonization Society devoted
$10,000 to their aid, and despatched an experienced agent to take charge
of the expedition. A large vessel was chartered, and after a pleasant
voyage of thirty-three days, without the loss of a single life, 346
emigrants were landed at Monrovia. They proved a welcome and valuable
acquisition, many being mechanics and skilled laborers.

After the close of the war, the alluring prospect of "ten acres and a
mule" having failed our freedmen, the Society again received numerous
applications for passage. The M. C. Stevens had been sold during the
period of depression; another and larger vessel, the Golconda, was
therefore purchased and fitted for an emigrant ship. During her first
four voyages she safely carried over 1,684 persons.

In January, 1867, the semi-centennial of the founding of the
Colonization Society was celebrated in Washington. From the review of
the fifty years' work it appeared that the sum of $2,558,907 had been
expended, exclusive of outlay by the Maryland Society, and of the large
sums expended by the United States Government. 11,909 emigrants had been
sent over, in 147 vessels; of these 4,541 were born free, 344 purchased
freedom, and 5,957 were emancipated for the purpose of going to
Liberia.[13] Besides these, 1,227 had been settled by the Maryland
Society, and 5,722 recaptured Africans had been sent back by the United
States Government.

In January, 1868, James S. Payne entered upon the office of President.
He is another example of Liberian training. Born in Richmond, Va., in
1819, he was taken before his tenth year to Monrovia by his father. One
of the leading purposes of his administration was the establishment of
closer intercourse with the great tribes of the interior. These people,
the Mandingoes especially, were much further advanced in civilization
than the coast tribes, who formed a barricade between them and Liberia,
and offered determined opposition to any attempt to penetrate inland.
They feared to lose their advantageous position as middlemen, and
succeeded in keeping anything but the vaguest rumors about the interior
from reaching the colonists. In 1869 Benjamin Anderson, a young Liberian
appointed by the Government, and provided with liberal financial aid by
a wealthy citizen of New York, accomplished an extremely interesting
journey to a point over 200 miles from the coast.[14]

With great difficulty and the expense of a small fortune in presents to
captious and rapacious chiefs, he succeeded in making his way from point
to point along a course roughly corresponding to that of the St. Paul's
River. The route lay through dense forests, along paths worn by many
generations of native feet. The ascent was steady; at 100 miles from the
coast the elevation was 1,311 feet, and toward the end of the journey
it rose to 2,257 feet. All along the way the population was dense, and
showed a steady improvement in character, civilization and hospitality
as the coast was left behind. The object of his journey, Musardu, the
chief city of the Western Mandingoes, was at length reached, just on the
edge of the primeval forest. Beyond lies a vast plateau covered with
tall grass, showing here and there a solitary palm, and stretching away
to the head waters of the Niger. The climate is wholesome, the air
bracing, and the soil fertile.

The city proved large and populous; the houses were small and of a
monotonous uniformity, bewilderingly placed without apparent
arrangement. The whole was surrounded with a huge mud wall, which served
not only as a defense against foes, but to keep out wild beasts,
especially elephants, herds of which were frequently seen near the town.
The inhabitants were strict Mussulmans, and were much further advanced
in civilization than even the most intelligent tribes through which he
had passed. They had an extensive commerce with the interior, caravans
coming from places as distant as Timbuctoo. Good horses were plentiful,
and there were evidences of the existence of valuable gold mines.
Anderson was received with profuse hospitality; they appeared to be
delighted with the idea of opening trade with Liberia, and promised
gold, ivory and various commodities in exchange for European goods.

Another journey with the same general results was subsequently made by
another citizen, to Pulaka, about one hundred miles to the southeast of
Monrovia. These explorations are of great interest. They show the belt
of coast occupied by Liberia to be merely the entrance to a high and
healthful interior of great fertility and unlimited resources, over
which the Republic has power to expand indefinitely.

President Payne's successor was Edward James Roye, who was duly
inaugurated January 3, 1870. Born in Newark, Ohio, in 1815, he had
passed through the public schools of his native town, afterwards
attending the college at Athens, Ohio, and Oberlin. He went to Liberia
in 1846, becoming a prosperous merchant and politician. From 1865 to
1868 he held the post of Chief Justice. Roye came into office at a time
when a rage for internal improvements possessed the country; and with
this spirit he was in full sympathy. His inaugural outlines a bold and
ambitious policy. The resources of the Treasury were entirely inadequate
to his extensive projects, and in an evil moment the Legislature passed
an Act authorizing the negotiation of a loan of $500,000. The loan was
placed in London on terms which netted only L85 per bond of L100,
redeemable at par in 15 years and bearing interest at 7 per cent. The
amount thus offered was further reduced by the requirement that the
first two years' interest should be paid in advance. From the remainder
were deducted various agents' commissions and fees, until at length the
principal reached Monrovia sadly reduced in amount,--not over $200,000.
And this soon disappeared without any visible result. It is an old
story; but in Liberia's case it was particularly disastrous. For with
her little revenue, rarely exceeding $100,000, it soon became impossible
to pay the $35,000 yearly interest on a debt for which she had
practically received not a single advantage. And this accumulating at
compound interest has reached a magnitude absolutely crushing. So
desperate is her financial condition that many believe inevitable the
fate which croaking prophets have long foretold, and against which she
has struggled bravely--absorption by England.

Serious as were the more remote effects of the financial blunder just
considered, its immediate consequences brought upon the country a crisis
which might have resulted in civil war. Great dissatisfaction with the
negotiation of the loan prevailed. The Administration was severely
criticised; serious accusations were brought against it. While the
excitement was at fever heat matters were complicated by an attempt of
the Administration to prolong its hold of office, which precipitated the
threatened outbreak. For some years a Constitutional Amendment had been
under consideration, lengthening the term of President and members of the
Legislature. The measure had been submitted to the people, and twice
voted upon; but the result was a subject of dispute. Roye and his party
maintained that it had been duly carried and was a part of the organic
law of the land; and that as a consequence his term did not expire until
January, 1874. A proclamation was issued forbidding the coming biennial
elections to be held.

This action at once aroused violent opposition. A strong party declared
that the amendment had not been carried; and in any event could not be
construed to apply to the present incumbent. The proclamation was
disregarded; the polls opened on the accustomed day; and the veteran
Joseph J. Roberts, aptly called the epitome of Liberian history, was
elected by large majorities.

Far from being subdued by the decided expression of popular will Roye
and his supporters, with the spirit of the decemvirs of old, determined
to maintain power at any hazard. Roberts's election was declared
illegal, and of no effect. Throughout the summer the two parties stood
at daggers drawn. At length the increasing strength of the opposition
encouraged the thought of removing the President from office. The legal
method of impeachment seemed far too slow and uncertain for the temper
of the times. An excited convention was held in Monrovia, October 26,
1871, at which a "Manifesto" was adopted decreeing his deposition. A few
extracts disclose its character:

"President Roye has, contrary to the Constitution, proclaimed himself
President for four years, although elected for only two years.

"He has distributed arms and munitions of war, and has not ceased his
efforts to procure armed men to crush the liberties of the people.

"He has contracted a foreign loan contrary to the law made and provided;
and without an act of appropriation by the Legislature he has with his
officers been receiving the proceeds of that loan.

"Every effort to induce him to desist from his unconstitutional course
has been unavailing. Threats and entreaties have been alike lost upon
him. He has turned a deaf ear to the remonstrances from all the counties
of the Republic:

"Therefore, on the 26th day of October in the year of our Lord 1871, and
in the twenty-fifth year of the Independence of the Republic, the
sovereign people of Liberia did by their resolutions in the city of
Monrovia, joined to the resolutions from the other counties of the
Republic, depose President E.J. Roye from his high office of President
of Liberia; and did decree that the Government shall be provisionally
conducted by a Chief Executive Committee of three members, and by the
chiefs of Departments until the arrival of the constitutional officer at
the seat of Government."

Before the party of the Administration could recover from the shock of
this action, President Roye and his Secretaries of State and of the
Treasury were arrested and thrown into prison,--a _coup d'etat_ which
made his opponents undisputed masters of the situation. The appointed
Committee took charge of affairs; the excitement died away with a
rapidity characteristic of Liberian politics, and in January, 1872,
Roberts was triumphantly inaugurated. Roye died in prison soon

A reign of peace and prosperity followed under Roberts, interrupted
toward the end of another term, to which he was elected, by a severe war
with the Grebo tribe near Cape Palmas. Limited space will prevent
detailed consideration of the later history of the Republic. Payne was
elected to a second term in 1876. A.W. Gardiner was Chief Executive for
three successive terms, from 1878-1884; and H.R.W. Johnson, a native
born Liberian, son of the famous pioneer Elijah Johnson, was made
President in 1884. The recent years of the Republic have not brought an
increased tide of immigration, nor any marked progress. The diminished
interest in colonization felt in the United States so crippled the
finances of the Society that few immigrants have been sent in the last
decade. That large numbers of Negroes are willing, even anxious to go,
is shown by the lists of the Society, which has adopted the policy of
aiding only those who can pay a part of their passage. Several instances
of the formation of societies among the Negroes themselves to provide
for their own transportation have occurred. In South Carolina the
"Liberia Joint Stock Steamship Company" was formed, which succeeded in
purchasing a vessel and sending over one expedition of 274 emigrants.
The company was unfortunate and failed financially before another
attempt could be made. In Arkansas a large secret Society for the same
object was formed, several hundred members of which made their way to
New York and prevailed upon the Colonization Society to give them

The culmination of a dispute with Great Britain over the north-western
boundary of Liberia is perhaps the most interesting topic of her recent
history. The boundaries of the Republic were never very definitely
marked out, as her territory grew by gradual settlement and purchase
from native chiefs. Even to-day there is no hard and fast interior
border line; the country extends back indefinitely from the coast, new
land being taken up as settlement proceeds. In 1849 the coast line
acquired in this way extended from the San Pedro River on the south-east
to Cape Mount, the extreme settlement on the north-west. Between 1849
and 1852 various purchases were made from the natives covering some
fifty miles more of the north-western seaboard. These purchases extended
to She-Bar, very near Sherbro Island, and were confirmed by formal deeds
from chiefs of the local tribes. The conditions of the deeds bound
Liberia to establish schools in the districts ceded, and to guarantee
the protection, peace and safety of the natives. If now a few
settlements had been made in this territory all future trouble would
have been avoided; but all available energy was needed for intensive
development, and the newly acquired territory was left uncolonized. In
the course of time English traders established themselves within this
district, who refused to recognize Liberia's jurisdiction, and who
smuggled in large quantities of goods in bold defiance of the revenue
laws. As early as 1866 correspondence with the British Government was
opened; and Liberia's jurisdiction was more than once virtually
recognized. Matters were complicated by the outbreak of disturbances
among the natives, in quelling which the Republic was obliged to use
military force--a course which resulted in the destruction of property
belonging to the English traders. Claims were at once brought against
Liberia through the English Government to a large aggregate amount.
Holding Liberia liable for damages received in the territory was a
practical admission of her jurisdiction. Nothing was accomplished until
1871, when Lord Granville proposed to President Roye, who was then in
England, to compromise on the River Solyma as the limit of the Republic.
This is about the middle of the disputed territory. Roye weakly agreed,
and this agreement is known as the Protocol of 1871. It was not ratified
by the Senate. The tact of President Roberts staved off the crisis for
some time; but at length the English Foreign Office demanded a
settlement, and a commission of two from each State and an arbitrator
appointed by the President of the United States met on the ground. Every
possible delay and impediment was resorted to by the British
commissioners, who further refused to submit the points disputed to the
umpire. Of course, no agreement was reached.

The situation remained unchanged until 1882. On March 20 four British
men-of-war silently entered the harbor, and Sir A.E. Havelock, Governor
of Sierra Leone, came ashore. President Gardiner was intimidated into
acceding to the demand that the boundary should be fixed at the Manna
River, only fifteen miles from Cape Mount. But when this "Draft
Convention," as it was called, came before the Senate for ratification,
it was indignantly repudiated. At the next regular meeting of the
Legislature in December, a resolution refusing to ratify the Draft
Convention was passed, and a copy sent to Havelock. It elicited the

"Her Majesty's Government cannot in any case recognize any rights on the
part of Liberia to any portions of the territories in dispute," followed
by the peremptory announcement that "Her Majesty's Government consider
that they are relieved from the necessity of delaying any longer to
ratify an agreement made by me with the Gallinas, Solyma, and Manna
River chiefs on the 30th of March, 1882, whereby they ceded to Her
Majesty the coast line of their territories up to the right bank of the
Manna River."

Liberia made a last feeble effort. A "Protest" was drawn up and sent to
the various powers with whom she stood in treaty relations--of course,
without result. The President of the United States replied at once,
counselling acquiescence. Nothing else was possible. The Senate
authorized the President to accept the terms dictated, and the "Draft
Convention" was signed November 11, 1885. On April 26, 1888, Sir Samuel
Rowe visited Monrovia and formally exchanged ratifications. Thus once
more strength proved triumphant; Liberia's boundary was set at the Manna
River, and Sierra Leone, which had possessed but a few hills and swamps,
was given a valuable coast line.



Colonization has come to be looked upon with unmerited
indifference--with an apathy which its history and achievements surely
do not deserve. To some, perhaps the present condition of the Republic
seems a discouraging and inadequate return for the life and treasure
lavished upon it; for others, hoping for a bloodless and gradual
extinction of slavery, the Civil War carried away the chief element of
interest. Others still, who looked for a ready solution of the Negro
Problem in this country, have gradually lost heart in the face of the
increasing millions of the race. And so, some from one cause, some from
another, have lost interest in colonization and in Liberia, until a time
has come when few have more than the vaguest knowledge of these terms.
Sometimes the voice of contempt is heard; but this is always a proof of
ignorance. Liberia stands forth historically as the embodiment of a
number of ideas, efforts, principles, any one of which ought to secure
at the least our respect, if not our sympathy and enthusiasm.

1. _As a Southern Movement toward Emancipation_.

This thesis will doubtless meet with the most strenuous opposition; but
a careful and impartial study of the writings and addresses of those
most prominent in the movement will convince anyone of their profound
hope that colonization would eventually lead to the extinction of
slavery in the United States. It must be remembered that at the time of
the formation of the Society the pro-slavery feeling in the South was by
no means so strong as it became in later years, when the violence of
Abolition had fanned it to a white heat. Indeed, during the whole period
before 1832 there seems to have been a prevailing sentiment in favor of
emancipation--at least throughout Maryland, Virginia, and North
Carolina. But the condition of the free blacks was notoriously such that
the humane master hesitated to doom his slaves to it by emancipating
them. The colonizationist hoped, by offering to the free Negro an
attractive home in Africa, to induce conscientious masters everywhere to
liberate their slaves, and to give rise to a growing popular sentiment
condemning slavery, which would in time result in its extinction. Of
course there were those in the Society who would not have subscribed to
this doctrine; on the other hand, many held views much more radical. But
it is the men who formed and guided the Society, who wielded its
influence and secured its success, whose opinions must be regarded as
stamping its policy.

The Constitution of the Society did not touch upon this subject. It was
needless to give unnecessary alarm or offense. But when in 1833 the
Maryland Society adopted its Constitution--a much larger and more
explicit one--the attitude taken is boldly announced:

"Whereas the Maryland State Colonization Society desires to hasten as
far as they can the period when slavery shall cease to exist in
Maryland, and believing that this can best be done by advocating and
assisting the cause of colonization as the safest, truest and best
auxiliary of freedom under existing circumstances," etc.

It may well be questioned whether such a plan would ever have succeeded:
but it must not too hastily be called chimerical. As a practical result
it secured the emancipation of several thousand slaves, many of whom
were supplied by former owners with money for transportation and
establishment in Africa. What further success it might have had was
prevented by the rise of the Abolition Movement. The intense
pro-slavery feeling which this stirred up in the South caused the
Colonization Society to be regarded with distrust and even active
hostility. It was accused of secretly undermining slavery and exciting
false hopes among the slaves. It was even said to foment discontent and
raise dangerous questions for sinister purposes, and was subjected to
bitter attack as "disguised Abolitionism."

From the opposite extreme of opinion the Society suffered assault still
more violent. William Lloyd Garrison, in his intemperate zeal for
"immediate emancipation without expatriation," could see nothing but
duplicity and treachery in the motives of its adherents. His "Thoughts
on Colonization" hold up the movement to public odium as the sum of all
villainies, and in the columns of the _Liberator_ no insult or reproach
is spared. His wonderful energy and eloquence brought over to his camp a
number of the Society's friends, and enabled him in his English campaign
to exhibit it in a light so odious that he actually brought back a
protest signed by the most eminent anti-slavery men of that country.

Assailed on one side and on the other the Society, as we have seen,
serenely pursued its course. Apparently it did not suffer. But it can
scarcely be doubted that its growth and expansion were seriously checked
by the cross-fire to which it was subjected. Among the negroes
themselves prejudices were industriously disseminated, and everything
was done to make them believe themselves duped and cheated.

From these reasons colonization never reached the proportions hoped for
by those who looked to it for the gradual extinction of slavery. But we
should not fail to recognize in the movement an earnest and noble, if
too ambitious, effort to solve, without violence or bloodshed, a problem
only half disposed of by Lincoln's edict and the Fifteenth Amendment.

2. _As a Check to the Slave-Trade._

The coast upon which the colony was established had for several hundred
years been one of the chief resorts of the slave dealers of the western
shores of Africa. Their "factories" were situated at numerous points on
both sides of the early settlements. The coast tribes, broken up and
demoralized by the traffic, waged ceaseless wars for the sole purpose of
obtaining for the trader a supply of his commodity. It was their only
means of getting supplies of the products and manufactures of
civilization; and, as we have seen, when they found the presence of the
newcomers an obstacle to their chief industry, they took up arms to
expel them.

Until the year 1807 there was no restriction whatever on the traffic,
and the proportions which it reached, the horrors it entailed, are
almost incredible. Sir T.F. Buxton estimated on careful calculations
that the trade on the western coast resulted in a loss to Africa of
500,000 persons annually. At length the progress of humanity drove
England to declare war on the infamous traffic, and her cruisers plied
the length of the continent to prevent infractions of her decree. At
enormous expense the entire coast was put in a state of blockade.

The result was mortifying. Instead of disappearing, the exportation of
slaves was found actually to increase, while the attending horrors were
multiplied. Small, swift cutters took the place of the roomy slave-ships
of older days, and the victims, hurriedly crowded into slave-decks but a
few feet high, suffered ten-fold torments on the middle passage from
inadequate supplies of food and water.

The colonists, even in their early feebleness, set their face resolutely
against the slave trade: its repression was a cardinal principle. Their
first serious wars were waged on its account. Ashmun risked his life in
the destruction of the factories at New Cesters and elsewhere. The
slavers, warned by many encounters, forsook at first the immediate
neighborhood of the settlements, and, as the coast line was gradually
taken up, abandoned at length, after many a struggle, the entire region.
Six hundred miles of the coast was permanently freed from an inhuman and
demoralizing traffic that defied every effort of the British naval
force. Nor was this all. The natives were reconciled by the introduction
of a legitimate commerce which supplied all they had sought from the
sale of human beings.

In still another way did the colony exercise a humane influence. Among
the natives exists a domestic slavery so cruel and barbarous that the
lot of the American plantation Negro seemed paradise in comparison. Life
and limb are held of such small value that severe mutilation is the
penalty of absurdly slight transgressions, or is imposed at the
arbitrary displeasure of the master, while more serious offenses are
punished by death in atrocious form: as when the victim is buried alive
with stakes driven through his quivering body.[16] The institution is of
course a difficult one to uproot. But among the natives in the more
thickly settled portions of the country it has ceased, and is mitigated
wherever the influence of the Government penetrates, while the number of
victims is greatly diminished by the cessation of inter-tribal warfare.

In this way Liberia has proved, from the standpoint of humanity,
pre-eminently successful.

3. _As a Step toward the Civilization of Africa._

George Whitefield is said to have declared to Oglethorpe when lamenting
his failure to exclude slavery from Georgia, that he was making a
mistake: the Africans were much better off as slaves than in their
native barbarism, and would receive a training that would enable them
ultimately to return and civilize the land of their nativity. In this
bold idea he anticipated one of the leading thoughts of the fathers of
colonization, and, perhaps prophesied, a great migration which the
world is yet to see. But to confine ourselves to the present and the
strictly practical--there is to the interior of Liberia, sweeping away
beyond the valley of the Niger, a country of teeming population and vast
resources. That this territory be opened to the commerce of the world,
and the blessings of civilization be conferred upon the people, it is
necessary that some impulse of enlightenment come from without. The
casual visit of the trader has been proved by experience to do vastly
more harm than good. Vice and demoralization have too often followed in
his track. The direction and instruction of European agents accomplish
little. The best efforts of all men of this class have resulted in an
unequal hand-to-hand fight with the deadly climate, in which no white
man can work and live. Besides, the natives need more than guidance;
they must have before them the example of a civilized settlement.

It would be impossible to imagine a more ideal agent for accomplishing
this work than Liberia. True, its slow development has prevented it as
yet from penetrating to the most fruitful portion of the interior
district; but so far as it has gone the work has been wonderful. One
after another of the native chiefs has sought, with his people,
admission to the privileges of citizenship, agreeing to conform to the
laws of the country and abolish inconsistent aboriginal customs. The
schools are full of native children, while large numbers are distributed
in a sort of apprenticeship among Liberian families for training in the
arts of civilized life. The English language has become widely known.
More remote tribes, while retaining native customs, have entered into
agreements or treaties to abstain from war, to keep open roads and
routes of commerce, to protect travellers and missionaries and such
Liberians as may settle among them. This is in itself an advance; and in
addition various forms of knowledge, improved implements and methods of
agriculture must enter in and insensibly raise these tribes to a higher

In reclaiming the natives lies a source of great future power for
Liberia. When immigration from the United States shall assume such
proportions that numbers of interior settlements can be made which shall
be radiating centres of civilization, the enormous potential energy of
native intelligence and labor will be brought to bear on the development
of the country with marvellous results.

4. _As a Missionary Effort_.

The attempts of the Christian Church to evangelize the western districts
of Africa constitute one of the saddest and most discouraging records of
history. From the first attempt of the Roman church in 1481, it has been
one continuous narrative of a futile struggle against disease and death.
A whole army of martyrs has gone bravely to its doom leaving no trace of
its sacrifice save unmarked and forgotten graves. It has indeed been a
bitter experience that has proved this work can be successfully
undertaken only by men of African blood, for whom the climate has no
terrors. And the superiority of an established Christian community to a
few isolated missionary stations requires no demonstration. From the
first the colonists were active in spreading a knowledge of the Gospel
among the natives. Lot Cary, one of the earliest emigrants, was an
earnest missionary, and besides efficient work at home he established
mission stations at Cape Mount and elsewhere.

In 1826 four emissaries of the Basle Missionary College made Monrovia
their headquarters, and did some good work; but they soon succumbed to
the climate. The American churches of those denominations most largely
represented in Liberia--the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist and
Methodist--made strenuous efforts, and sent out a succession of
missionaries, most of whom fell victims to the fever. Later, after
learning the salutary lesson, they accomplished much through the
organization and direction of the work of Liberian missionaries. In
this way the gospel is safely and successfully propagated among the

A foe more stubborn than paganism is to be met in the ranks of Islam.
There seems to be something in its teachings which renders the native a
ready convert. Its simplicity is readily understood; and it sanctions
the practices of polygamy and slave-holding to which he is accustomed.
Under the zealous proselytism of the Mandingoes the Mohammedan faith has
taken a strong hold on the interior, and is spreading rapidly to the
very doors of Liberia. Candor compels the admission that it brings with
it a marked improvement in the condition and intelligence of the
converts. Intemperance--which in many cases follows in the tracks of the
Christian merchant--disappears. A knowledge of Arabic is soon acquired
and the Koran is eagerly read and its principles put in practice. The
whole life of the convert is transformed, and he becomes in turn zealous
in the dissemination of the faith. The efforts of missionaries alone can
never stem this torrent; if any impression is to be made upon the
Mohammedan tribes it must be by the extension of Christian settlements
and civilization.

5. _As a Refuge to the Negro from the Pressure of Increasing Competition
in America._

It would be unnecessary to bring into review the causes that are
operating daily to make the conditions of earning a living in America
more difficult. However much or little credence we place in the
Malthusian theory of the increase of population, in the doctrine of
diminishing returns, or the iron law of wages, all thinking men are
agreed that the country is already entering upon a new era. The period
of expansion, of the taking up of new territory by the overflowing
population of the older districts, is practically ended; future
development will be intensive, the country will be more thickly settled,
and the sharpness of competition will be immeasurably increased. The
possibility of rising in life will be reduced to a minimum; and there
will exist a class, as in the older civilizations of Europe, who live,
and expect to see their children live, in a subordinate or inferior
relation, without the prospect of anything better.

There may be under this new regime a number of occupations in which the
Negro, by contentedly accepting a subordinate position, may hold his
ground. Or the conditions of life may become so severe that a sharp
struggle for existence will leave in possession the race which shall
prove fittest to survive. To follow the train of thought would lead into
all the unsolved difficulties of the Negro Problem. But surely there
will be some among all the millions of the race who will become
dissatisfied with their life here. Some will aspire to higher things,
some will seek merely a field where their labor will meet an adequate
return; many will be moved by self-interest, a few by nobler motives. To
all these Liberia eagerly opens her arms. The pressure in America finds
an efficient safety-valve in the colonization of Africa.

With such additions to her strength, the resources of Liberia will be
brought out and developed. Communication with America will be made
easier and cheaper. The toiling masses left behind will have before them
the constant example of numbers of their race living in comfort and
increasing prosperity under their own government. Many will become eager
to secure the same advantages, and gradually a migration will begin that
will carry hundreds of thousands from the house of bondage to the
promised land.

It is absurd to declaim about "expatriation" and to declare such a
movement forced and unnatural. The whole course of history reveals men
leaving their homes under pressure of one cause or another, and striking
out into new fields. The western course of migration has reached its
uttermost limit, and the tide must turn in other directions. One vast
and rich continent remains; upon it the eyes of the world are fixed.
Already the aggressive Aryan has established himself wherever he can
gain a foothold; but the greater part of the country is forever barred
to him by a climate which he cannot subdue.

To whom then can this rich territory offer greater inducements than to
the colored people of the United States? And what is more natural and
rational than that they, when the population of the country approaches
the migration point, should follow the line of least resistance and turn
their steps to the home of their forefathers.


The sources of information which proved most useful to the writer are:

The Annual Reports of the A.C.S., together with the files of its
quarterly journal, the _African Repository_.

Messages of Presidents of Liberia, and the Reports of Secretaries of
Treasury, War, and Navy.

The Archives of the Maryland State Colonization Society, preserved by
the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.

* * * * *

KENNEDY: Colonization Report.

ALEXANDER: History of Colonization. 1845.

GURLEY: Report on Condition of Liberia. 1850.

CARL RITTER: Begruendung u. gegenwaertige Zustaende der Negerrepublik
Liberia. 1852.

ANDERSON: Narrative of a Journey to Musardu. 1870.

LATROBE: Maryland in Liberia. 1885.

WAUWERMANS: Liberia; Histoire de la Fondation d'un Etat negre libre.

SCHWARTZ: Einiges ueber das interne Leben der Eingebornen Liberias.
Deutsche Kolonialzeitung. 1887.

--Die Neger-Republik Liberia. Das Ausland. 1888.

BLYDEN: Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race.

BUeTTIKOFER: Reisebilder aus Liberia. 1890.


[Footnote 1: Letter to Philip A. Bruce, dated London, April 8, 1889.]

[Footnote 2: James Ferguson, _Life of Hopkins_. Hopkins' Circular,

[Footnote 3: Jefferson, _Notes on Virginia_.]

[Footnote 4: Kennedy's _Report_, p. 160.]

[Footnote 5: A.C.S. Report for 1853, pp. 37-55.]

[Footnote 6: The remarks of these gentlemen and others of similar views
have subjected the Society to many unjust attacks. Of course many would
join such a movement from mixed motives; but the guiding principles of
the Society itself have always been distinctly philanthropic.]

[Footnote 7: Report of Amos Kendall, Fourth Auditor, to the Secretary of
the Navy, August, 1830.]

[Footnote 8: Ashmun.]

[Footnote 9: These were eventually paid by the United States Government.
Kendall's Report to Secretary of Navy, December, 1830.]

[Footnote 10: The outbreak of the Civil War ended the arrangement after
the third payment.]

[Footnote 11: This singular petition is preserved in Minute Book No. 4
of the M.S. C.S., p. 36.]

[Footnote 12: Carl Ritter, who saw him in 1852, speaks of him as "den
edlen, hochgebildeten, erfahrenen, weisen, und der Rede sehr kundigen
Staatsman Wir (i.e., Ritter,) haben wiederholt seinen wuerdenvollen Reden
in den ersten Kreisen in London beigewohnt."]

[Footnote 13: _Semi-Centennial Memorial_, p. 190.]

[Footnote 14: B. Anderson, _Narrative of a Journey to Musardu_.]

[Footnote 15: A.C. Reports of 1881 and 1882.]

[Footnote 16: Anderson's _Journey to Musardu_.]


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