J.J.Roberts 
First President
1848 - 1855
1872 - 1874
Stephen A. Benson
President
1856 - 1864
Beverley P. Yates
Vice President under
Stephen A. Benson
1856 - 1860
James M. Priest 1860 Vice-President under Daniel B. Warner 
1864 - 1867
E.J.Roye
President
1870 - 1871
  
James S. Smith
Vice-President
1870 - 1872
may have served Pres. Roye's unexpired term
 
Jane Roberts 
Wife of President 
J.J. Roberts

Philip Coker
Chaplain Liberian
Senate 1850s
     

Chancy Brown  Sergeant at Arms Liberian Senate 1850s James Yates
Secretary Liberian Senate 1850s
C.H. Hicks
Clerk House of Representatives 
1850s
     
Edward Wilmot Blyden 
Politician, theologian, 
writer, Pan-Africanist

    
Edward Morris
Senator 
Sinoe County 1850s
John Hanson
Senator
Bassa County 1850s
R.McGill 1846   
Liberia Trustee
Member of the 
Urias McGill family
1850s

Urias McGill
Merchant of Monrovia

Alfred F. Russell
President 
1883 - 1884
  

19th century colonists ('Americo-Liberians')

 

 

 

 

 

     

J.J. Roberts
President of Liberia 1848-55; 1872-74

Joseph Jenkins Roberts (1809-1876) was born in Virginia, U.S.A. His parents were poor. He came to Liberia in 1829. Roberts soon became a prosperous trader and also engaged in politics. After the creation of the Commonwealth of Liberia, in 1838, he became Vice-Governor. In 1841 Governor Thomas Buchanan, a cousin of the President of the USA, James Buchanan, died and was succeeded by J.J. Roberts. It was the first time that the colony was not governed by a white agent of the American Colonization Society - its legal owner  - but by a colonist. Although Roberts was a colonist, "he was not really black; he was an octoroon and could have easily passed for a white man", as Aboyomi Karnga, one of Liberia’s best-known historians reported. 
When in 1847 the Independent Republic of Liberia was created, 
J.J. Roberts became its First President. He served several terms from 1848 till 1855. After the deposition of the country’s first ‘black’ president, E.J.Roye (in 1871) he was again elected and served another term. It is very likely that the ‘colour conflict’ which separated the leading mulattoes from the large majority of colonists of darker complexion had much to do with the animosity between Roberts and Roye.

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Background information 
on J.J. Roberts

African-American Mosaic
A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture

 

E.J.Roye, 
President of Liberia 1870-71

Edward James Roye (1815-1872) was born in Ohio, U.S.A. After the death of his father he was left a considerable inheritance. Roye was a pure descendant of the Ibo tribe,  an American College graduate, and migrated to Liberia in 1846, one year before the colony’s independence. When he was elected President of Liberia, May 1869, he was one of the wealthiest men in the country. E.J. Roye and J.J. Roberts, the First President of Liberia, were political adversaries. They disagreed on the issue of closing off the country for foreign traders' activities ('Closed Door Policy') or opening up the colony and the hinterland for foreign traders and investors ('Open Door Policy'). Also at the personal level they were not on speaking terms. It's likely that the 'colour issue' played an important role (see under Joseph Jenkins Roberts). President Roye was deposed on October 26, 1871, following a controversial international loan (from Great Britain). He died a mysterious death in February 1872. After new elections had been held, the presidential power was handed over to former President Roberts in January 1872.  

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Alfred F. Russell 
President of Liberia 1883-84

Alfred Francis Russell (? – 1884) originated from Kentucky, U.S.A., before coming to Liberia in 1833. He was Vice-President of Liberia when President Anthony William Gardiner’s handling of a boundary dispute with the British was disapproved by a number of senators. Vice-President Russell shared the criticism and soon headed the opposition against Gardiner’s willingness to give up a large part of Liberian territory. President Gardiner resigned over the boundary question on January 20, 1883. Russell served his unexpired term from January 20, 1883 to January 7, 1884 when he was succeeded by Hilary Richard Wright Johnson who had won the elections held in May 1883. Alfred Francis Russell died on April 4, 1884. The following year the disputed territory was officially ceded to Great Britain (‘the Gallinas territory’).

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unidentified Americo-Liberians 1850s

 

Pictures: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
Washington D.C., U.S.A.