July 26: Independence Day of Liberia
WAELE AFRICA Foundation Wishes to congratulate the government and people of Liberia on the occasion of her National Day and 173 independence on 26th July 1847. We wish your country and all its people happiness, continued success and prosperity.
The Republic of Liberia celebrates its Independence Day on July 26. This
public holiday commemorates the country’s independence from the American Colonization Society in 1847.
Liberia is a West African state whose history is unique compared to most other countries in Africa. It was founded as a colony for former African-American slaves. The only other sovereign country that was established as a colony for former slaves is Sierra Leone, founded by Britain after the American Revolutionary War.
The Dutch and the British tried to establish trading posts in what is now Liberia in 17th century, but their attempts eventually failed. Meanwhile in the United States abolitionists were looking for ways to free more slaves, and southern slaveholders wanted to get rid of free blacks in their states, believing they were a threat to the stability of the institution of slavery.
In 1816, Robert Finley of New Jersey founded the American Colonization Society (ACS) that focused on the so-called “repatriation” of manumitted and free-born blacks. The first ship with black emigrants, aptly named Mayflower of Liberia, departed New York in early 1820. It had over 80 free blacks and several white agents of the Society on board. The agents were tasked with finding an appropriate area to establish a settlement.
In 1821, the ACS acquired a strip of land from a local ruler and began to
develop the colony on Cape Mesurado, which would be known as Liberia. The
first years of colonization were very tough for the settlers. People
suffered from the harsh climate and lack of resources, died from yellow
fever and in armed conflicts with indigenous peoples, who resisted the
expansion of the American colony.
Nevertheless, during the first decade of colonization some 2,600 African Americans arrived in Liberia. The colony continued to grow and expand, and other colonies were started in the area by American state colonization societies and by the United States government. In 1838, all the colonies were united to form the Commonwealth of Liberia. The first settlement founded by the colonists, Monrovia, was named the capital.
As the colony developed and matured, the ACS administrators gradually gave it more self-governance. In 1841, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a free-born black from Virginia, was appointed as the first black governor of the Commonwealth.
By that time, the ACS was effectively bankrupt and waned to get rid of the financial burden that Liberia had become. In 1846, the Society surrendered all control of the colony and fully encouraged its independence. A referendum was held, in which most Liberians voted for independence. On July 26, 1847, the Liberian Constitutional Convention adopted the Liberian Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the independent Republic of Liberia.
Independence Day is the national holiday of Liberia. Since it is a public holiday, all government offices and most businesses are closed to allow citizens to participate in various festivities. Independence Day is marked with nationwide celebrations; the official events are held in the national capital of Monrovia.