- A West African state founded in 1821 by freed American slaves, sponsored by the American Colonization Society and funded in part by the U.S. Congress. President James Monroe, who favored a gradual elimination of slavery, had developed the idea as early as 1801 in correspondence with President Thomas Jefferson after the Gabriel slave rebellion in Virginia, where Monroe then served as governor. In 1819, Monroe secured an appropriation of $100,000 from Congress to resettle recaptured and illegally traded slaves in Africa.Monroe referred to Liberia as “a little America, destined to shine in the heart of darkest Africa,” but the settlers encountered resistance from the local inhabitants who resented both the presence of the newcomers and the suspension of the local slave trade. With assistance from the U.S. Navy, the settlers nonetheless established themselves at Cape Messurado in 1822 and eventually established a capital at Christopolis, which they renamed Monrovia in 1824. After retiring from presidential duties, Monroe served as the first president of the American Colonization Society. The society governed Liberia until 1847, when it declared itself an independent republic modeled after the United States. The settlers ruled over the native population as a hereditary aristocracy, denying them the vote and other rights of citizenship.FURTHER READING:Liebnow, J. Gus. Liberia: The Evolution of Privilege. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.