Liberia Recent History

Liberia, land of Africa, was born in America in 1816 when with the foundation in Washington of the “American Colonization Society”, by Ashmun Jeudi, it was proposed to bring back to Africa the black slaves, freed from servitude, but not desired as citizens of the free states of North America.

In 1821 a first nucleus of these Negroes was transported to the coast of the region, to Cape Mesurado. In addition to food and livelihoods, the “Society” also provided them with weapons to defend themselves from the natives who in 1822 tried to oppose the newcomers, without taking into consideration their peaceful intentions.

In 1827 a Protestant pastor, RR Gurley, called Liberia this which is the smallest of the independent states, and Monrovia the first small city project, in honor of the then American president James Monroe.

According to Abbreviationfinder, this area had been discovered around 1470, at the mouth of the Saint Paul river, by some Portuguese navigators who called it “Pepper Coast” because this drug was the main product of the region. And already in the following century the whites began to search on these coasts for “black ivory”, that is, the Negroes who were then deported as slaves.

Gradually other nuclei joined the first; a large group came from Maryland, settled at Cape Palmas, had a governor appointed by the “Society”, who also had to direct the expeditions that they had to continuously organize against the locals, who, coming out of the thick bushes in which they lived, attacked these black colonists making their lives impossible.

In 1847 the governor-in-office Joseph Roberts, under the order of the Society, proclaimed the independence of the colony and capital Monrovia; then he established the Republic and promulgated a Constitution, drawn up on the model of that of the United States. Then he imposed certain principles, such as the Protestant religion and the use of the English language also for the natives, creating the first disagreements among the various parties into which the settlers had divided.

Liberia Recent History

The first president of the republic was precisely Roberts who, first of all, devoted himself body and soul to destroying the slave trade practiced by many European black men.

The republic immediately knew the alternation between good and bad times and the disputes that arose for the borders. In any case, the United States with its mediations always managed to restore order.

Liberia adopted a flag similar to the American one; it had 11 horizontal white and red stripes and, at the top left, a blue rectangle in which a white star with 5 rays was placed, a symbol of unity and freedom.

But certainly these two words did not correspond to anything real for what was the practical life of the country. And this was due to the clear division of the two parts of the population: one represented by the “citizens”, ie Negroes of American origin, and the other by the “civilized”, ie Negroes imported after the establishment of the republic. Not to mention numerous indigenous tribes or those from Sudan.

In the northern part of the state, some Mandingo, Mohammedan tribes settled, who practiced agriculture and cattle breeding. But the mass of indigenous peoples remained anchored to paganism, feeding only on a vegetarian system, using summary robes and wearing iron jewelry and various amulets.

The “citizens” have always been the true masters of the republic, they never granted citizenship to whites, they only abolished slavery in name because in practice the planters paid the indigenous chiefs a given sum for each negro they made work in concessions.

The revenue of the republic was always due to customs duties and always lower than expenses. The economy was always in the hands of foreigners, especially Americans and British.

In 1927 Liberia’s finances were placed under the direct control of American officials and a two million dollar loan was launched on the American market to pay off the previous loan contracted in 1912 with Britain.
In 1932 Liberia accepted an assistance plan proposed by the United Nations Council and controlled by the United States. The plan included security measures in the administrative, hygiene and financial fields.

The territory was divided into three provinces, each governed by a provincial prefect and an additional prefect, responsible for their work towards the president. The provincial prefects would have been three foreigners, hired by the Liberian government, and the additional ones appointed by the United Nations, who would also have hired two doctors, both to oversee the hospitals and to monitor the application of hygiene rules. The United States allegedly appointed two experts to oversee that the care plan was being carried out. Then it was declared that if Liberia had not respected all the rules, the plan would have been revoked.

And this happened because Liberia, not wanting foreign control, made reservations that would amount to a refusal of the plan.

During the Second World War, Liberia was an important base for the United States, both for the landing of large contingents and for the production of rubber guaranteed by FIRESTONE, all reserved for the United States’ military needs.

Of course all this represented a strong push for the country’s economy and in 1944 the United States entered into a five-year plan with the Liberian President William VS Tubman; this plan, in addition to promoting purely military structures, also provided for the construction of a port in Monrovia, and of a railway that from this city led to Kolhum, in French West Africa.

But Tubman applied what was the “open door” policy because he sought new sources to improve his economy from other countries, while maintaining a strong prevalence of commercial treaties with the United States. To this end, he embarked on a long journey to Europe in 1956, visiting Italy, France, West Germany, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland. In 1957 he was in the Soviet Union the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, JW Cooper.

This desire of Liberia to get out of economic isolation was followed by political one. In fact, he participated in the Inter-Parliamentary Union and in the first Afro-Asian Conference held in Bandung in 1955.

On June 23 of the same year, President Tubman was attacked by dissidents from his own party; the attacker was killed after a week in a gun fight with the police.

In 1958 Tubman attended the first Conference of African Independent States which was held in Accra on the initiative of Ghana. He also took care to increase the participation of the population in the life of the country, equalized the provinces of the interior to the coastal ones and also in the social field he carried out important actions as in 1961 when he instituted the right to retirement and in 1963 he introduced a modern work code which recognized union rights.

In 1964 he established good relations with the Soviet Union and supported the process of decolonization of African countries. Then in 1966 a strike was declared for the employees of FIRESTONE, the largest industrial company in the country; riots ensued which Tubman repressed rather harshly.

The following year he was re-elected president for the sixth time, as candidate of the “True Wig” party, which had now become a single party.

After his death on 23 July 1971, he was succeeded by vice-president WR Tolbert, who governed more democratically. He replaced some elements of the old guard’s government with younger members; had political prisoners released; expanded school facilities and cared more for national interests by intervening the state in the weaker sectors.

In foreign policy, while maintaining the traditional orientation towards the west, in particular towards the United States, it also turned to other countries and in 1972 the Soviet Embassy opened in Monrovia. He also forged relationships with other Eastern European countries.

At the end of the seventies, the “Progressive Peolple ‘s Party”, after economic difficulties, attempted to provoke a national strike; to the repressive measures adopted by Tolberto, a group of non-commissioned officers of the army, led by SK Doe, replied, who attacked the presidential palace, killed the president and brought down the government. Doe assumed power, suspended the Constitution and had about ten members of the deposed government executed. This caused a stir abroad and Doe was forced to moderate his repressions. The United States recognized the new government and continued to help the country.

In 1983 Doe re-established diplomatic ties with Israel. In 1984 the civil government was restored and a new Constitution was issued along the lines of the previous one.

In October 1985 the presidential elections were won by Doe. In 1987 he set up a campaign against corruption by practicing repressions which in 1989 provoked an armed insurrection by the “National Patriotic Front”, led by Ch. Taylor, who proclaimed himself president of a provisional government.

The Community of West African States sent troops to restore order and elect temporary president of national unity A. Sawyer. The United Nations intervened to sanction the end of the hostilities of the civil war in 1993 and formally declared their greater commitment to Liberia.

In July 1993 in Cotonou, Benin, an agreement for the definitive pacification between the factions was signed, but this agreement was not appreciated by everyone, indeed, by reaction, new armed nuclei were formed.

To aggravate this situation even more, there were strong contrasts that led to the split, both in the National Patriotic Front, led by Taylor, and in the United National Movement of Liberia for Democracy, supported by the followers of Doe. The latter split into two groups: one of the Mandingo brand, leader A. Kromah, and one Krahn, leader R. Johnson.

In two different places and times ceasefire agreements were signed. One in Accra, Ghana, in December 1994, and one in Abuja in Nigeria, in August 1995. The appointment of a Council of State was foreseen with them, with the presence of the leaders of the main factions.

But already from the beginning of 1996 it was possible to see how difficult it was to govern, due to a strong upsurge in violence and armed clashes. In Monrovia, in the American embassy, ​​many other foreigners had taken refuge in addition to US citizens. To evacuate them, the United States had to send troops to them.

Only in August 1996 was it possible to sign another agreement, in Abuja, with which disarmament began, at least for some factions. And these, abandoned the armed struggle, gave birth to new political parties and called new presidential and legislative elections.

These took place under the direct control of some international organizations and were won: the first by Taylor and the second by his party, that is, the National Patriotic Front.

All this was not enough to completely quell the struggles and in fact they started again, in September 1998, and mainly affected the capital.