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Before 1820 1820-1900 1901-1970 1971-present

Emancipated slaves awaiting their departure for Liberia
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
1820-1900
February 6, 1820: The Elizabeth sails from New York to the west coast of Africa with 86 passengers on board.

The passengers are almost all freeborn Blacks. Also on board are one white agent of the ACS and two representatives of the U.S. government.


December 11, 1821: A U.S. government agent and an ACS agent sail to the Grain Coast to begin negotiations with local kings for purchase of land for the settlement.

Government agent Capt. Robert F. Stockton and ACS agent Dr. Eli Ayres engage in several days of negotiation with King Peter Zolu Duma. An agreement is reached, and land is purchased at Cape Mesurado and the adjacent island of Dozoa.


November 11, 1822: The Battle of Crown Hill

The colony comes under attack from some 500 members of two indigenous ethnic groups. This is among the first in a series of armed clashes between the native population and the colonists in early Liberia, indicative of the conflict of intentions and culture that marked the early, uneasy relationship between the two groups.


February 20, 1824: The ACS names the colony Liberia, for liberty, and the capital Monrovia, after U.S. president James Monroe.



January 1, 1836: Thomas Buchanan, cousin of U.S. president James Buchanan, arrives at Bassa Cove to serve as governor.



1839: The ACS adopts the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Liberia.



January 20, 1842: Joseph Jenkins Roberts becomes the first African American governor of the Commonwealth of Liberia.

Prior to Roberts, there were other African Americans who had served as acting governors of the colony, always pending the arrival of new, white appointees from America.


July 26, 1847: Liberia becomes independent. The Liberian Declaration of Independence is adopted and signed.



October 5, 1847: Governor Joseph Jenkins Roberts is elected the first Liberian president.



January 3, 1848: Joseph Jenkins Roberts is inaugurated into office. He will be reelected and serve a total of eight years.

During Roberts's presidency, the country's first university is established, and the smuggling of slaves, which had continued to occur on the coast, is suppressed.


1860: Liberia's territorial boundaries are expanded, with assistance from the United States.

Following various treaties, purchases, and battles with indigenous chiefs, by 1860 Liberia's boundaries are extended to include a 600-mile coastline.


June 3, 1862: The United States formally recognizes Liberia's independence.

The U.S. establishes formal diplomatic relations and signs a treaty of commerce and navigation with Liberia.


1871: The Liberian government takes out the first of several major foreign loans.

The loans come primarily from Britain.


December 7, 1874: Indigenous chiefs meet in the National Legislature for the first time.







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