The Liberian Declaration of Independence of 1847 is a noble document: nobler, in fact, than the American, insofar as the freed slaves of America who founded the country had far more to complain of than the white colonists of North America ever had. It deserves to be better known:
We, the people of the Republic of Liberia, were originally inhabitants of the United States of North America.
In some parts of that country we were debarred from all rights and privileges of men – in other parts, public sentiment, more powerful than law, frowned us down.
We were everywhere shut out from all civil office.
We were excluded from all participation in Government.
We were taxed without our consent.
We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which gave us no protection.
We were made a separate and distinct class and against us every avenue of improvement was effectually closed …
We uttered our complaints, but they were unattended to.
Unfortunately, more is required for a country’s long-term success than justified grievance well expressed at its foundation. The problem for Liberia was twofold: the country produced nothing very much, and was already occupied by tribes of native Africans, to whom the Americo-Liberians appeared as colonial interlopers. The country’s