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Settlement & History of Liberia

For over a century up till 1980, Liberia was governed by the True Whig Party, its named derived from the 19th century American political party. The Americo-Liberians, as the settlers' descendants are called, continued to identify strongly with the United States -- only to often discover, to their dismay, that Americans were scarcely aware of them, or of Liberia itself.

The American colonial origin of Liberia also left its mark in the form of a social contradiction that dominated 20th-century Liberia, and still deeply marks Liberian society. The Americo-Liberians were of African ancestry, but they did not think of themselves as Africans. Nor did they regard the indigenous African peoples of Liberia as their fellow-countrymen. They proudly adopted the declaration that "The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here" as Liberia's national motto, they offered no liberty to the indigenous majority of Liberians. Not until 1904 were the indigenous peoples even admitted to citizenship, which remained nominal for decades more.

Only after 1944 did efforts begin to forge a unified Liberian identity. Even then, Liberia remained essentially a colonialist society until 1980. Since 1980, Liberia has struggled with coups, rigged elections, dictatorship, and brutal civil war, but the seeds of this strife -- as elsewhere in Africa -- were planted in the colonial era.

The remainder of this essay will examine


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