Liberia’s perennial problems

Murals on the base of monument to Liberia's first president J.J. Roberts
Pictures Following the Chinchin Trail

Since 1822 – the arrival of the first colonists – efforts to develop the country had been hindered by a number of factors. First there were the internal divisions within the group of colonists (far from homogeneous) separating ‘blacks’, including so-called Congo-people, from ‘mulattoes’ and other light-skin Americo-Liberians. The ‘Roye-incident’ is illustrative of this internal struggle for power. Secondly, there were external threats to the survival of a Colony or Republic governed by black people. These threats even gave rise to the proclamation of the Republic, in 1847, but are also illustrated by the greediness of European colonial powers during the ‘Scramble for Africa’ (see the loss of the Gallinas territory). Thirdly, there were threats from within that dated from the first days of colonisation: clashes and conflicts between the settlers (and later their descendants) with the tribal population living in the area claimed by the republic, i.e. the coastal counties and the vast Hinterland. The deeper the Liberian Government penetrated into the Hinterland and the more territory it claimed (if she would not do it European powers would claim it) the more resistance it met from the tribal population. Moreover, the indigenous population consisted of 26 different tribes, who frequently were at war with each other (see President Coleman's resignation).

Lastly, the overall constant problem was a financial one: keeping the foreigners under control resulted in the restrictive
1864 Ports of Entry Law (heralding the era of a Closed Door Policy). This Act outlawed international trade outside the main six ports, adding another reason for the inland and coastal tribal population to rise against the authority of the Monrovia based government. Whereas government revenue decreased as a result of the restrictive law, increased military spending to suppress the numerous revolts and wars added to the public deficit. This deteriorated an already precarious financial situation. Consequently, the Liberian Government faced financial bankruptcy at more than one occasion. 





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