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Liberia and the U.S. Civil War

Liberia and the U.S. Civil War

(p.159) Liberia and the U.S. Civil War
This Distracted and Anarchical People
Karen Fisher Younger
Fordham University Press

On July 26, 1847, Liberia declared independence from the American Colonization Society. From the beginning the republic of Liberia enjoyed the support and unofficial cooperation of the United States government. Yet the United States refused to recognize the republic until Abraham Lincoln, in December 1861, urged Congress to establish official relations with the republic. Lincoln argued that recognition would spur commercial advantages as well as increase black emigration. By this time, black American emigrants, known as Americo-Liberians, had asserted their authority over the native African population and had established their cultural, political, and economic domination. The symbols of the republic—its flag, motto, and seal—as well as its government was modeled after that of the United States. Its leaders declared Liberia the “Promised Land” for African Americans. But the republic was far from paradise. Wars between natives and Americo-Liberians plagued the infant nation. This essay will examine how Americo-Liberians, who in emigrating had given up hope for black civil rights in America, reacted and responded to the events transpiring across the Atlantic when the tide of freedom swept the United States during the Civil War.

Keywords:   Liberia, Americo-Liberians, Black Emigration, Civil War

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