Liberia–United States relations

Liberia – United States relations are bilateral relations between Liberia and the United States.

Liberia – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Liberia and USA


United States

Country comparison

Liberia Liberia United States United States
Coat of Arms Coat of arms of Liberia Great Seal of the United States (obverse)
Flag Liberia United States
Population 4,505,000 328,205,000
Area 111,369 km2 (43,000 sq mi) 9,833,520 km2 (3,796,742 sq mi)
Population density 40.43/km2 (104.7/sq mi) 35.0/km2 (90.6/sq mi)
Capital Monrovia Washington, D.C.
Largest city Monrovia – 1,010,970 New York City – 8,550,405
Government Unitary presidential republic Federal presidential constitutional republic
First leader President Joseph Jenkins Roberts President George Washington
Current leader President George Weah President Donald Trump
Official languages English None at federal level (English de facto)
GDP (nominal) US$2.106 billion ($881 per capita) US$18.558 trillion ($57,220 per capita)


State Gifts Candlesticks
A pair of ivory candlesticks with a wooden presentation box that was gifted to American President Gerald Ford by Liberian President William R. Tolbert.

U.S. relations with Liberia date back to 1819, when the US Congress appropriated $100,000 for the establishment of Liberia.[1] The United States officially recognized Liberia in 1862, 15 years after its establishment as a sovereign nation, and the two nations shared very close diplomatic, economic, and military ties until the 1990s.

U.S. assists Americo-Liberians

The United States had a long history of intervening in Liberia's internal affairs, occasionally sending naval vessels to help the Americo-Liberians, who comprised the ruling minority, put down insurrections by indigenous tribes (in 1821, 1843, 1876, 1910, and 1915). By 1909, Liberia faced serious external threats to its sovereignty from the European colonial powers over unpaid foreign loans and annexation of its borderlands.[2]

President William Howard Taft devoted a considerable portion of his First Annual Message to Congress (December 7, 1909) to the Liberian question, noting the close historical ties between the two countries that gave an opening for a wider intervention:

"It will be remembered that the interest of the United States in the Republic of Liberia springs from the historical fact of the foundation of the Republic by the colonization of American citizens of the African race. In an early treaty with Liberia there is a provision under which the United States may be called upon for advice or assistance. Pursuant to this provision and in the spirit of the moral relationship of the United States to Liberia, that Republic last year asked this Government to lend assistance in the solution of certain of their national problems, and hence the Commission was sent across the ocean on two cruisers.[3]

In 1912 the U.S. arranged a 40-year international loan of $ 1.7 million, against which Liberia had to agree to four Western powers (America, Britain, France and Germany) controlling Liberian Government revenues for the next 14 years, until 1926. American administration of the border police also stabilized the frontier with Sierra Leone and checked French ambitions to annex more Liberian territory. The American navy also established a coaling station in Liberia, cementing its presence. When World War I started, Liberia declared war on Germany and expelled its resident German merchants, who constituted the country's largest investors and trading partners – Liberia suffered economically as a result.[4]

In 1926, the Liberian government gave a concession to the American rubber company Firestone to start the world’s largest rubber plantation at Harbel, Liberia. At the same time, Firestone arranged a $5 million private loan to Liberia.[5][6]

In the 1930s Liberia was again virtually bankrupt, and, after some American pressure, agreed to an assistance plan from the League of Nations. As part of this plan, two key officials of the League were placed in positions to ´advise´ the Liberian government.[7]

World War II

Roosevelt and Barclay
President Edwin Barclay (right) and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, January 1943

During World War II, Liberia joined the Allies and Monrovia was host to important Allied logistics bases. Firestone was a large munitions supplier for the Allies.[8][9]

Since 1970

Liberian and United States relationships became strained between 1971 and 1980 due to Liberian president William R. Tolbert's establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries.[10] In 1978, United States president Jimmy Carter made the first official presidential visit to Liberia.[9]

During the 1980s, the United States forged especially close ties with Liberia as part of a Cold War effort to suppress Communist movements in Africa.[8] Samuel Doe's government was seen by American strategists as being especially important to their Cold War policies in Africa and his government received between $500 million and $1.3 billion during the 1980s from the U.S. through direct and indirect channels.[11] Furthermore, Liberia was home to a relay station for Voice of America, a large navigation tower, and the CIA's main African base for the majority of this period.[9]

Carter and Tolbert
Liberian President Tolbert and U.S. President Jimmy Carter (in car, left) in Monrovia

The rise of Charles Taylor's government, the Liberian Civil War, regional instability and human rights abuses interrupted the previously close relations between Liberia and the United States. Charles Taylor's election in 1997 was monitored by the Economic Community of West African States and the United States officially recognized the result and the new government.[12] However, during Taylor's presidency, the United States cut direct financial and military aid to the Liberian government, withdrew Peace Corps operations, imposed a travel ban on senior Liberian Government officials, and frequently criticized Charles Taylor's government.[1][13] Much of the Liberian-American tension from this period stems from the Liberian government's acknowledged support for the Revolutionary United Front, a rebel group in Sierra Leone and surrounding region.[8] Due to intense pressure from the international community and the United States, along with Liberian civic organizations like the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, Charles Taylor resigned his office on August 11, 2003.[10]

The resignation and exile of Charles Taylor in 2003 brought changes in diplomatic ties between the United States and Liberia. On July 30, 2003, the United States proposed a UN Security Council draft resolution to authorize the deployment of a multi-national stabilization force.[14][15] Despite stated concerns about prosecution in the International Criminal Court, United States president George W. Bush sent 200 marines to Monrovia's airport to support the peace-keeping effort. The United States also deployed warships along Liberia's coast as part of the stabilization effort.[16] The United States committed $1.16 billion to Liberia between the years of 2004 and 2006.[1][17]


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) implements the U.S. Government's development assistance program. USAID's post-conflict rebuilding strategy focuses on reintegration and is increasingly moving towards a longer-term development focus. Rehabilitation efforts include national and community infrastructure projects, such as building roads, refurbishing government buildings, and training Liberians in vocational skills. USAID also funds basic education programs, improving education for children, focusing on girls, and training teachers. In the health area, USAID programs include primary health care clinics, HIV/AIDS prevention, and a large malaria program. USAID supports rule of law programs, establishing legal aid clinics and victim abuse centers, training judges and lawyers, community peace building and reconciliation efforts, and anti-corruption projects to promote transparency and accountability in public sector entities. USAID is also providing support to strengthen the legislature and other political processes. USAID is strengthening civil society's role in delivering services and advocating good governance. Total USAID funding program for these programs in FY 2007 was $65.9 million.

In 2009, a 17.5 million dollar contract was offered to Liberia with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems as the conduit.[18] This money is meant to support the 2011 general elections and 2014 Senate elections.[18]

U.S. officials

Principal U.S. Officials include:

  • Ambassador—Christine A. Elder
  • Deputy Chief of Mission—Karl Albrecht
  • Management Counselor—Steven Cowper
  • Political/Economic Counselor—William McCulla
  • Economic Officer—
  • Public Affairs Officer—Dehab -
  • Consular Officer—Steven Harper
  • USAID Director—Patricia Rader
  • Chief, Office of Security Cooperation - unknown

The U.S. Embassy is located in Monrovia.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website (U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets).

  1. ^ a b c "Liberia". 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  2. ^ John Pike. "Liberia". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  3. ^ ""Our Responsibility in Liberia", The Literary Digest, Friday, December 25, 1909". 1909-12-25. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  4. ^ John Pike. "Liberian-Grebo War of 1910". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  5. ^ R.J. Harrison Church, "The Firestone rubber plantations in Liberia." Geography 54.4 (1969): 430-437. online
  6. ^ George Dalton, "History, politics, and economic development in Liberia." Journal of Economic History 25.4 (1965): 569-591. online
  7. ^ W.E. Burghardt Du Bois, "Liberia, the League and the United States." Foreign affairs 11.4 (1933): 682-695. online
  8. ^ a b c "International Spotlight: Africa on the Agenda". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  9. ^ a b c "Global Connections . Liberia . U.S. Policy". PBS. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  10. ^ a b "Global Connections . Liberia . Timeline". PBS. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  11. ^ John Pike (1996-05-17). "Monrovia - US Embassy". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  12. ^ "STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY : U.S. Delegation to the Presidential Inauguration in Liberia". Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  13. ^ "U.S. offers U.N. resolution on Liberia - Aug. 1, 2003". 2003-08-01. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  14. ^ Taylor sets date to step down, CNN, August 2, 2003
  15. ^ "FRONTLINE/WORLD . Liberia - No More War . Liberia's Historic Ties to America". PBS. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  16. ^ "Africa | Welcome for US Liberia deployment". BBC News. 2003-07-26. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  17. ^ Liberian president invites rebels into government, CNN, August 12, 2003
  18. ^ a b Jean-Matthew Nation, Tamba (29 October 2009). "Liberia to het $17.5m for polls". Daily Nation (Kenya).

Further reading

  • Akpan, Monday B. "Black imperialism: Americo-Liberian rule over the African peoples of Liberia, 1841-1964." Canadian Journal of African Studies (1973): 217-236. in JSTOR
  • Allen, William E. "Liberia and the Atlantic World in the Nineteenth Century: Convergence and Effects." History in Africa (2010) 37#1 pp : 7-49.
  • Bixler, Raymond W. The Foreign Policy of the United States in Liberia (New York: Pageant Press Inc., 1957)
  • Chalk, F. "The Anatomy of an Investment: Firestone’s 1927 Loan to Liberia," Canadian Journal of African Studies (1967) 1#1 pp: 12-32.
  • Duignan, P., and L. H. Gann. The United States and Africa: A History (Cambridge University Press, 1984)
  • Feick, Greer. Red, White and Blue Rubber: American Involvement in the Liberian Slavery Crisis, 1928-1934 (undergraduate senior thesis 2011). online
  • Gershoni, Yekutiel. Black Colonialism: The Americo-Liberian Scramble for the Hinterland (London: Westview Press, 1985)
  • Hyman, Lester S. United States policy towards Liberia, 1822 to 2003 (2003) online free
  • Liebenow, J. Gus (1987). Liberia: the Quest for Democracy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Lyon, Judson M. "Informal Imperialism: The United States in Liberia, 1897–1912." Diplomatic History (1981) 5#3 pp 221-243.
  • Rosenberg, Emily S. "The Invisible Protectorate: The United States, Liberia, and the Evolution of Neocolonialism, 1909–40." Diplomatic History (1985) 9#3 pp 191-214.

External links

Embassy of Liberia in Washington, D.C.

The Embassy of Liberia in Washington, D.C. is the diplomatic mission of the Republic of Liberia to the United States. It is located at 5201 16th Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood. The property was initially purchased to be the ambassador's residence, but Ambassador H.E. Charles D.B. King later purchased a different residency.The ambassador is Charles A. Minor.

Flag of Liberia

The Flag of Liberia or the Liberian flag bears a close resemblance to the flag of the United States, showing the freed American and Caribbean ex-slaves' offspring and bloodlines the origins of the country.The Liberian flag has similar red and white stripes, as well as a blue square with a white star in the canton. It was adopted on July 26, 1847.

Foreign relations of Liberia

Liberian foreign relations were traditionally stable and cordial throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. During the 1990s, Charles Taylor's presidency and the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars underscored Liberian relations with the Western world, the People's Republic of China, and its neighboring countries in Western Africa.Stabilization in the 21st century brought a return to cordial relations with neighboring countries and much of the Western world. Liberia holds diplomatic relations with many western nations, as well as Libya, Cuba, and the People's Republic of China.

Foreign relations of the United States

The United States has formal diplomatic relations with most nations. This includes all UN member states and UN observer states other than (i) UN member states Bhutan, Iran, North Korea and Syria and (ii) the UN observer State of Palestine. Additionally, the U.S. has diplomatic relations with the European Union and Kosovo. The United States federal statutes relating to foreign relations can be found in Title 22 of the United States Code.

International Contact Group on Liberia

The International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) is composed of members from the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union, World Bank, United States, Ghana, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Sweden. The ICGL was formed from a need for an international and regional response to the Second Liberian Civil War. The ICGL was cited by the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord with a number of tasks, most notably ensuring the faithful implementation of the accord by all parties. In September 2005, the ICGL and the Government of Liberia signed GEMAP, a novel approach to the problem of systemic political corruption.

The ICGL now functions under a broader, regional institution called the International Contact Group on the Mano River Basin.

Liberian Declaration of Independence

The Liberian Declaration of Independence is a document adopted by the Liberian Constitutional Convention on July 26, 1847, to announce that the Commonwealth of Liberia, a colony founded and controlled by the private American Colonization Society, was an independent state known as the Republic of Liberia. The Declaration was written by Hilary Teague and adopted simultaneously with the first Constitution of Liberia. The anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and accompanying Constitution is celebrated as Independence Day in Liberia.

The Declaration articulates the history of the Americo-Liberians who settled the original colony and lays out the aspiration of Liberia to be accepted as a free and independent state within the "comity which marks the friendly intercourse of civilized and independent communities." Listing the injustices committed against African Americans as a result of slavery in the United States, the Declaration notes the foundation of the colony by the American Colonization Society, as well as their gradual withdrawal from governance in favor of increasing self-governance by the colonists. The noted goal of Liberia is both to establish a state built upon the structure and principles of the law of nations and to modernize the indigenous peoples of the region, including converting them to Christianity.

The Declaration partially relied upon the United States Declaration of Independence, in particular its discussion of natural law:

We recognize in all men certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, and the right to acquire, possess, enjoy, and defend property.

Its listing of injustices perpetrated by the United States parallels the charges set forth in the US Declaration of Independence against King George III. However, the Liberian Declaration asserts no right of revolution but frames its independence as the planned purpose of the colony by the American Colonization Society. The Society, having surrendered all control of the colony in January 1846, fully encouraged the independence of Liberia. The Commonwealth of Liberia declared its independence from the American Colonization Society on July 26, 1847, as the Republic of Liberia, creating Africa's first independent republic.

On January 3, 1848, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a free man of color born in Norfolk, Virginia, United States of America, was elected and became Liberia's first president.

The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after the United States Constitution and flag because nearly all of Liberia's founders were free people of color and free slaves who had emigrated as colonists from the United States. Liberia was founded as a colony of the American Colonization Society, a private organization established in Washington, D.C. in 1816.

On February 5, 1862, after 15 years of avoiding the issue, the United States officially recognized Liberia's independence.

List of ambassadors of the United States to Liberia

This is a record of Ambassadors of the United States to Liberia.

Liberia, as a nation, had its beginnings in 1821 when groups of free blacks from the United States emigrated from the U.S. and began establishing colonies on the coast under the direction of the American Colonization Society. Between 1821 and 1847, by a combination of purchase and conquest, American Societies developed the colonies under the name “Liberia”, dominating the native inhabitants of the area. In 1847 the colony declared itself an independent nation. Because it was already established as a nation, Liberia avoided becoming a European colony during the great age of European colonies in Africa during the latter half of the 19th century.

The United States recognized Liberia as an independent state in 1862 and commissioned its first representative to Liberia in 1863. The representative, Abraham Hanson, was appointed as Commissioner/Consul General. The status of the commissioner was later upgraded to Minister, and finally to full Ambassador in 1949. Relations between the United States and Liberia have been continuous since that time.

Eight U.S. ambassadors have died at their post serving in Liberia.

The U.S. Embassy in Liberia is located in Monrovia.

Mittie Maude Lena Gordon

Mittie Maude Lena Gordon (born August 2, 1889) was a black nationalist who established the Peace Movement of Ethiopia. The organization advocated black emigration to West Africa in response to racial discrimination and white supremacy.Gordon was born in Louisiana. She had been a delegate to the 1929 UNIA convention in Jamaica. In Chicago, in December 1932, she founded a movement that would allow for the repatriation of African Americans to Liberia, because it would be cheaper to establish African Americans in West Africa than it would be to provide them with welfare in America. Her Peace Movement sent a petition with over 400,000 signatures to President Roosevelt in 1933. The petition was diverted to the State Department, from there it was diverted to the Division of Western European Affairs, where it stagnated.Due to her affiliation with Japanese politicians and Japanese members of the Pacific Movement of the Eastern World as well as the Black Dragon Society in the early 1940s, she was put under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In October 1942, she arrested for 'conspiring with the Japanese,' an enemy nation of the United States during World War II, and she spent the majority of the war years in jail.

Operation Sharp Edge

Operation Sharp Edge was a non-combatant evacuation operation carried out by the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) and 26th MEU of the United States Marine Corps in Liberia in 1990 and 1991. The MEUs were supported by Amphibious Squadron FOUR (Task Force 61) composed of USS Saipan (LHA 2), USS Ponce (LPD 15), USS Sumter (LST 1181), USS Barnstable County (LST 1197), USS Peterson (DD 969), and Fleet Surgical Team TWO.

Operation United Assistance

Operation United Assistance is a 2014 United States military mission to help combat the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, including the part of the epidemic occurring in Liberia. The 101st Airborne Division headquarters was responsible for leading the mission.

Peace Movement of Ethiopia

The Peace Movement of Ethiopia was an African-American organization based in Chicago, Illinois. It was active in the 1930s and 1940s, and promoted the repatriation of African Americans to the African continent, especially Liberia. They were affiliated with the Black Dragon Society.

United States presidential visits to Sub-Saharan Africa

Six United States presidents have made presidential visits to Sub-Saharan Africa. The first was an offshoot of Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretive World War II trip to Morocco for the Casablanca Conference. Since 1978, all presidents, except Ronald Reagan, and incumbent president Donald Trump, have visited Sub-Saharan Africa. All totaled, fourteen countries in the region have been visited by a U.S. president.

Bilateral relations
Diplomatic missions


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.