23 Presidents, 6 Interim Presidents
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf succeeded to Gyude Bryant who had been the head of Liberia´s transitional government since October 14, 2003.
The term of office
Some statistics - confirming Liberia's unique character (look out, double counting!)
Presidents of Liberia – in chronological order:
James Spriggs Payne 1868-1870
James S. Smith (VP)
Joseph Jenkins Roberts 1872-1876
James Spriggs Payne 1876-1878
Alfred Francis Russell (VP)
Joseph James Cheeseman 1892-1896
William David Coleman (VP)
Garretson Wilmot Gibson
Daniel Edward Howard 1912-1920
Edwin James Barclay
6 Interim Presidents during the civil war (1990s):
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
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.
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 in 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.
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 Galinas territory’).
Charles D. B. King
Charles Dunbar Burgess King was born in Monrovia on March 12, 1871 of Sierra Leonian parents. He studied law and started his career at the Supreme Court, later turned to the State Department. After the turn of the century he became Attorney-General with the rank of cabinet minister under President Arthur Barclay (1904 -12), and Secretary of State under President Daniel E. Howard (1912 - 20).
Illustrative for Liberia’s international profile in the early 1900s is King’s participation in the Peace Conference following the end of World War I. He also was among those who signed the Treaty of Versailles.
While attending the Peace Conference he was elected president (May, 1919). On January 1, 1920 he was inaugurated. King’s 10-year Administration is marked by some of the most historic events Liberia ever experienced. They greatly influenced the course of Africa’s First Republic:
What happened with President King after he resigned?
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