Under its constitution adopted in January 1986, a president, who is freely elected to a six-year term, serves as the head of state and commander in chief of the military. It was established on land acquired for freed U.S. slaves by the American Colonization Society, which founded a colony at Cape Mesurado in 1821. The Liberian judicial system is overseen by a Supreme Court, with a lower court system comprised of courts of appeals, criminal courts, and local magistrate courts. Liberian immigrants to the United States have the highest passport acceptance rates and the longest extension rates of any citizens of African nations. Over the next 40 years, 19,000 African American repatriates, sometimes known as Americo-Liberians, settled in Liberia, along with some 5,000 Africans recaptured from slave ships, and a small number of West Indian immigrants. An intricate, nuanced perspective on this community's history, Liberia, South Carolina complicates simplistic understandings of Jim Crow and highlights the importance of studying African American communities in Appalachia. Americo-Liberian weddings follow the traditional African-American or Afro-Caribbean style weddings in which the bridegroom appears in a lounge suit and the bride in a white wedding dress. By 1867, the society had sent more than 13,000 emigrants. On July 26, 1847, Liberia declared its independence from America. The current president, George Weah, was elected in 2017. Today, the women’s galvanizingly effective efforts are credited with bringing about a peace agreement in 2003. The Liberian population is made up of several indigenous ethnic groups who migrated from Sudan during the late Middle Ages. The United States, however, had long used Liberia an important base of operations in Africa, and during the Cold War, the U.S. provided millions of dollars in aid that helped prop up Doe’s increasingly unpopular regime. Subsequent African-American settlers to Liberia between 1843 and 1900 also included settlers from Mississippi, Kentucky, and Florida. In 2005, elections were held in Liberia, and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who had once been arrested by Samuel Doe and lost to Taylor in the 1997 elections, was elected President of Liberia.  Their language continued to carry elements of African-American Vernacular English. She was Africa's first female head of state. Traditional Americo-Liberian cuisine includes African-American soul food such as cornbread, fried chicken, collard greens but also incorporated local African traditional dishes such as palm butter soup and rice. In 1931, an international commission revealed that several prominent Americo-Liberians had enslaved indigenous people. In the modern era, although pioneered by the Americo-Liberians, Liberians, irrespective of ethnicity, wear both African and Western-style dress. Since 2000, women have held over 14% of the seats in the National Assembly. In 2002, a group of women, led by social worker Leymah Gbowee, formed the Women of Liberia, Mass Action for Peace, a cross-religious organization, that brought Muslim and Christian women together to work for peace. , Although many of the upper-class Americo-Liberians left the country or were killed during the civil wars, and their houses and monuments crumbling, ordinary Liberians look to the United States for aid. Others believe their extensive political influence was in part due to the Masonic Order of Liberia, a fraternal organization. Several of the Americo-Liberians also settled in Cape Mount and the Barbadian settlers, who were incorporated into the Americo-Liberian or Congo ethnicity, settled in Crozierville and included prominent families such as the Barclays, Morgans, Bests, Thorpes, Weeks, and Portemans. Although Liberianist scholars have neglected internal stratifications such as class and geography among the Americo-Liberian society, regional and local socio-economic differences among the Americo-Liberians resulted in slight cultural differences between rural 'upriver' Americo-Liberians such as those based in Clay-Ashland and city-based Americo-Liberians, particularly those based in Monrovia who were sometimes referred to 'Monrovia Americo-Liberians.' Some African Americans following resettlement in Canada also participated as founding settlers in Sierra Leone and other Recaptive repatriates settled in present-day Côte d'Ivoire.. In 2012, he was convicted of war crimes by the International Court of Justice and sentenced to 50 years in jail. Last year, Ghana gave citizenship to 126 people of African descent, many of them Americans. So… Its name means "land of the free", and it is considered the most American of African countries in terms of its political institutions. Liberia is a country in West Africa which was founded by free people of color from the United States. They spoke English, dressed like Americans, built Southern plantation-style homes, ate American foods, practiced Christianity, and lived in monogamous relationships. Africans are concerned that if Black Americans would relocate to Africa that we we would clash with Africans. 10 Myths About Spanish and the People Who Speak It, Ongoing UN Peacekeeping Missions in Africa, The History of the Three-Fifths Compromise, What Is a Failed State? Americo-Liberian women between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries wore elaborate Victorian and Edwardian style American dresses that were fashionable among both the African-American and white American communities in the southern United States. Similar to the hierarchical power structure of federalism in the United States, Liberia is divided into 15 counties, each headed by a presidentially appointed superintendent. The designation 'Congo' for the Americo-Liberian population came into common usage when these African Americans integrated 5,000 liberated Africans called Congos (former slaves from the Congo Basin, who were freed by British and Americans from slave ships after the prohibition of the African slave trade) and 500 Barbadian immigrants into the Americo-Liberian hegemony. Over the next few decades, 19,900 Black American men and women migrated to the colony. Members of the legislative two-chamber National Assembly are elected to six-year terms in the House of Representatives and nine-year terms in the Senate. They identified there as Americo-Liberians. There he met Mable Owens Clarke and her family, the remaining members of a small African American community still living on land obtained immediately after the Civil War. Although the Americo-Liberian diaspora is extensive in the United States and United Kingdom, there remain thousands of Americo-Liberians in Liberia in cities and towns such as Monrovia, Crozerville, and Careysburg. They spoke an African-American Vernacular English, and some ventured into the interior and mingled with local African peoples. From the day they arrived, they set about establishing an American rather than African culture. Charles Taylor, then head of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, speaks in Gbargna, Liberia, 1992. They modeled the Liberian government after that of the United States. As for African Americans, they are highly welcomed to Liberia. In 1999, another rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) challenged Taylor's rule. Although Americo-Liberians would continue to wear elaborate style dress for special occasions such as weddings, parades, and the inauguration of presidents, they adapted their styles of dress to incorporate newer Western-style fashion and elaborate African-style dresses between the early to late twentieth centuries. LURD reportedly gained support from Guinea, while Taylor continued to support rebel groups in Sierra Leone. Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948) is a former Liberian politician and convicted war criminal who served as the 22nd President of Liberia from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003, due to the Second Liberian Civil War and growing international pressure. , Americo-Liberians speak Liberian English and its varieties such Merico and Liberian Settler English, all of which have been influenced by African-American Vernacular English, Gullah, and Barbadian Creole. , The Liberian constitution, structure of government, and flag resemble those of the United States. As part of the agreement, Charles Taylor agreed to step down. Immigrants from Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast settled in Monrovia or in other Americo-Liberian settlements, and were incorporated into Americo-Liberian society. Thesis: Louisiana State University, 2010), "25 years after his demise, Samuel Doe continues to cast a long shadow across Liberian politics", https://web.archive.org/web/20070809123601/http://www.uniboa.org/migration.html, Historically black colleges and universities, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Black players in professional American football, History of African Americans in the Canadian Football League, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Americo-Liberian_people&oldid=992218628, North American people of African-American descent, Articles needing additional references from May 2008, All articles needing additional references, "Related ethnic groups" needing confirmation, Articles using infobox ethnic group with image parameters, Wikipedia articles with style issues from August 2013, Articles with unsourced statements from August 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2020, Wikipedia articles with style issues from November 2012, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2009, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2014, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 4 December 2020, at 03:20. In 1980, a violent military coup was led by Samuel Doe. The embroidery and quilting skills of its Black American settlers are now firmly embedded in Liberian art, while the music of the American South blends with ancient African rhythms, harmonies, and dance. Americo-Liberians introduced traditional African-American baking techniques into the modern-day nation of Liberia. While there have been some critiques of her rule, Liberia has remained stable and made significant economic progress. Land was purchased from local tribes on the West African coast, and the colony founded there came to be known as Liberia, from the… Monrovia, with a population of over 1.5 million, is the country’s capital and largest city. In 1816, a group of white Americans founded the American Colonization Society (ACS) to deal with the “problem” of the growing number of free blacks in the United States by resettling them in Africa. About 85.5% of Liberia's population practices Christianity, while Muslims comprise 12.2% of the population. Liberia remains unique for its baking traditions that are derived from the African-American immigrants to Liberia. They identified there as Americo-Liberians. With a population of nearly 5 million and a land area of 43,000 square miles (111,369 square kilometers), Liberia is bordered by Sierra Leone to its northwest, Guinea to its north, Côte d’Ivoire to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean to its southwest. Americo-Liberians based in Monrovia were portrayed as more urbane than their rural counterparts and were perceived by some Americo-Liberians as wielding too great an influence on national political affairs. Simone also lived in Liberia, Barbados, Belgium, the U.K., the Netherlands and Switzerland. While English is the official language, over 20 different languages are spoken by the indigenous ethnic groups representing over 95% of the population. Liberia was conceived by American political and religious leaders of the time as a place to relocate Africans who were brought to America as slaves. There is a debate among academics about how upper-class Americo-Liberians were able exert a political power and influence greater than their population.  By many accounts, Liberians easily integrate into African-American communities. Christian music is popular, with hymns sung a-cappella in the traditional African style. The Republic of Liberia is a country located on the West African coast. Other groups include the ancestors of the Black Americo-Liberians who migrated from America and founded Liberia between 1820 and 1865 and other Black immigrants from neighboring countries of West Africa. In this West African country founded by freed black American slaves, African American officers performed their duties as instruments of imperialism for a country that was, at best, ambivalent about having them … The former residences of Americo-Liberian families were built in the style of antebellum plantation homes they may have admired in the American South. , Although Western literature and discourse in the United States and United Kingdom use the term "Americo-Liberians", this term is outdated and in common parlance the majority of Liberians (including the Americo-Liberian people themselves) and neighbouring West Africans such as Sierra Leoneans refer to the Americo-Liberian people as "Congo" or "Congau" people. The Origins of Liberia Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS), who believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States. English remains the official language of Liberia, though the languages of the indigenous peoples are widely spoken. . Americo-Liberian culture is a blend of the African-American and Caribbean culture brought to Liberia by the various American, Recaptive, and West Indian settlers and is exhibited by the cuisine, language, and architectural style of the Americo-Liberians. On July 26, 1847, Liberia declared its independence from America. The United States established diplomatic relations with Liberia in 1864; 17 years after it declared independence from the American Colonization Society, an organization that resettled free African … , The early African-American settlers practiced their Christian faith, sometimes in combination with traditional African religious beliefs. Trailer for our upcoming documentary on the story of Liberia and the Chattahoochee Valley.See http://aziliafilms.com/ for details. From 1878 to 1980, the Republic of Liberia was a de facto one-party state, ruled by elites of both the indigenous and Americo-Liberian-dominated True Whig Party and Masonic Order of Liberia. So, the ACS encouraged slaveholders to offer freedom on the condition that those accepting it woul… . Doe's tenure as leader of Liberia led to a period of civil wars, resulting in destruction of the country's economy. However, this is disputed as the country was founded by free Black American immigrants in the 1820s and governed by these Americo-Liberians until 1989. The Americo-Liberians constituted less than 2 percent of Liberia's population, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they made up nearly 100 percent of qualified voters. Americo-Liberian architecture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a unique fusion of antebellum architecture from the United States blended into the African environment of Liberia. Liberia’s culture draws from the Southern U.S. heritage of its Americo-Liberian settlers and the people of the country’s 16 indigenous and migratory groups. Americo-Liberians established schools and also established the University of Liberia, formerly Liberia College, in addition to other higher learning institutions such as Cuttington College. African American Officers in Liberia tells the story of seventeen African American officers who trained, reorganized, and commanded the Liberian Frontier Force from 1910 to 1942. In 1989, Charles Taylor, a former Americo-Liberian official, invaded Liberia with his National Patriotic Front. In the early 21st century, Liberia has been reduced to one of the most impoverished nations in the world, in which most of the population lives below the international poverty line. As founders of the nation, and taking up about five percent of the Liberian population, upper-class Americo-Liberians had a leading role national politics from the founding of the colony until Samuel Doe led a military coup in 1980. Tubman College of Technology. , Learn how and when to remove this template message, Liberia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture, "About this Collection - Maps of Liberia, 1830-1870", "Settlement of Liberia and Americo-Liberian Rule", President William V. S. Tubman, 1944–1971, Wegmann, Andrew N. "Christian Community and the Development of an Americo-Liberian Identity, 1822-1878," (M.A. It also includes the descendants of Americo-Liberian people in America. U.S.-LIBERIA RELATIONS. In 2003, the women of Liberia helped bring an end to the Second Civil War, and in 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa, was elected President of Liberia. Americo-Liberians made a concerted effort to educate Liberians from other ethnic groups, including through the use of the ward system. (1) While African-Americans started emigrating in small numbers to Sierra Leone as early as the 1780s, the Providence Island landing marks the … , In addition to indigenous Liberian chiefs and royal families, upper-class Americo-Liberians and their descendants led the political, social, cultural and economic sectors of the country; alongside indigenous Liberian elites, upper-class Americo-Liberians ruled the new nation from 19th century until 1980 as a small but dominant minority. More information about Liberia is available on the Liberia Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet. The peace, however, did not last. The American Colonization Society (ACS) was an early advocate of the idea of resettling American-born blacks in Africa. Americo-Liberians were credited for Liberia's largest and longest economic expansion in the early to late twentieth century, especially William V. S. Tubman, who did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendants of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. Looking for a place to re-settle free-born Black Americans and formerly enslaved people, the ACS chose the Grain Coast. The original Congo people or Liberated Africans or Recaptives were settled in New Georgia, and were incorporated into the Americo-Liberian ethnic group. The Americo-Liberian or Congau ethnic group has produced several notable politicians, businessman, and professionals including: Americo-Liberians formed a cultural elite in Liberia. In 1847, the ACS encouraged Liberia to declare independence, as the organization could no longer supp… Yes, Liberia is open to everyone provided you meet up with the visa requirements and policies stipulated by the country. Liberian Americans are an ethnic group of Americans of full or partial Liberian ancestry. In 1996, Liberia's warlords signed a peace agreement and began converting their militias into political parties. Although the terms "Americo-Liberian" and "Congo" had distinct definitions in the nineteenth century, they are currently interchangeable and refer to an ethnic group composed of the descendants of the various free and ex-slave African-American, Caribbean, Recaptive and Sierra Leone Creoles who settled in Liberia from 1822. Furthermore, Americo-Liberians contributed to the culinary cuisine of the region by introducing American baking techniques. The oft-stated claim that after the Scramble for Africa, Liberia was one of two African states to remain independent is misleading because the indigenous African societies had little economic or political power in the new republic. African American Officers in Liberia tells the story of seventeen African American officers who trained, reorganized, and commanded the Liberian Frontier Force from 1910 to 1942. Over the next few decades, 19,900 Black American men and women migrated to the colony. The Americo-Liberians arrived with varying degrees of formal and informal education. Antebellum southern architecture incorporated Georgian, Neoclassical, and Greek Revival styles that are also reflected in Americo-Liberian architecture of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Americo-Liberian houses were a variation of different architectural styles from the American South and were built of weather-board or stone frame and had both verandahs. Notable supporters of transporting freed blacks to Liberia included Henry Clay, Francis Scott Key, Bushrod Washington, and the architect of the U.S. Capitol, William Thorntonall slave owners. President Abraham Lincoln with African Americans outside of the White House, circa 1863. However, the ethnic groups who inhabited Liberia did not customarily wear Western-style dress, and it was the Americo-Liberians who popularized Western-style dress including the top hat, tailcoat, lounge suit and frock coat. The sister ethnic group of Americo-Liberians are the Sierra Leone Creole people, who share similar ancestry and related culture. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Getty Images, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia's 'Iron Lady', Countries in Africa Considered Never Colonized, African American History Timeline: 1700 - 1799. The first African American settlers, known as Americo-Liberians, landed in 1822. Americo-Liberian men wore top hats, frock coats, and lounge suits in addition to spats. They developed an Americo-Liberian society, culture and political organization that was strongly influenced by their roots in the United States, particularly the country's Southeast but was also influenced by Afro-Caribbean culture and the West African cultures of the multi-ethnic Recaptives. Still modeled on the United States federal government, Liberia’s government is a republic with a representative democracy made up of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Born in Brooklyn, Monique John moved to Liberia three years ago to work as a journalist. Doe was assassinated in 1990, and for the next five years, Liberia was divided up between competing warlords, who made millions exporting the country's resources to foreign buyers. Samuel K. Doe became Head of State after leading the April 12, 1980 coup d'etat in Monrovia against William Tolbert. Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, these various groups of transatlantic settlers and Recaptives or Liberated Africans intermarried and merged to form the Americo-Liberian or Congo ethnic group, which became synonymous terms for this creolized ethnic group which incorporated African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and African elements. In this West African country founded by freed black American slaves, African American officers performed their duties as instruments of imperialism for a country that was, at best, ambivalent about having them serve under arms at … Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence, and … However, some scholars argue against the importance of colorism in early Americo-Liberian society and have noted, that during the early Republic, the Americo-Liberian political leaders had an array of skin colors and tones from very dark skin to light skinned phenotypes reflecting African-European admixture, indicating that the theory on the importance of colorism in Americo-Liberian society is unlikely to be accurate. Several Americo-Liberians served as missionaries to other ethnic groups in Liberia and were among the first Baptist, Methodist, and Episcopal missionaries of black African descent in Liberia. Liberia was established in 1822 as a destination for freed American slaves. King, 17th President of Liberia (1920-1930). On January 3, 1848, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born African American from Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected Liberia's first president after the people proclaimed independence. Are the College Students Who Need Affirmative Action Getting It? Du Bois and Marcus Garvey wrote of the need for Africans to develop their own “Africa for Africans!” identity, demand self-rule, and reject the European view of Africa as having a cultureless society. It is more likely that upper-class Americo-Liberians built their power on their familiarity with American culture and economics, shared lineage, and ability to create a network of shared interests. In 1822, the society established on the west coast of Africa a colony that in 1847 became the independent nation of Liberia. Liberia is the oldest Republic in Africa and stretches along the West African Coast. Looking for a place to re-settle free-born Black Americans and formerly enslaved people, the ACS chose the Grain Coast. Americo-Liberians trace their ancestry to free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans who emigrated in the 19th century to become the founders of the state of Liberia. The Americo-Liberians were among the first black Africans to qualify as medical doctors and lawyers in the United States and prominent Americo-Liberian pioneers include Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, a distinguished Harvard-educated Liberian psychiatrist and physician.
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