Though the establishment of the Republic of Liberia in 1847 followed the repatriation of freed slaves from the Americas, making the oldest Liberian state a quasi-colony of the US, it was not until a decade and half later before the United States recognized Liberia’s independence. Whatever the reason, Uncle Sam arose from that depth of history circumstance to become Liberia’s most reliable economic and political benefactor. Two diplomatic instruments stand out prominently as the cradle of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, though they might have been conspicuously missing from Liberia’s archive. Now, anyone interested in taking glimpse at the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and Liberia and Liberia’s Instrument of Ratification can do so at the Liberia National Museum; courtesy of the United States Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Marie Royce, who has been in the country making speeches and donations that inspire national attention to culture and tourism. The Analyst reports.
Liberians with the sense of history and politics are now at liberty to see in real time and take note on two major documents that refresh memories of how the United States of America, whence came the organizers of modern Liberia, reacted when it was declared that the Republic on the west coast of Africa was now free and independent.
Liberia was formed when an American charity, the American Colonization Society, with financial support from the United States Government, repatriated to these shores the first batch of ex-Africans slaves.
Historians are still struggling to get reasons why the United States, whence came agents that administered the newfound land for 25 years, did not immediately recognize its colony’s independence while powerful European countries were doing otherwise.
Fifteen years after Liberia’s independence, which was July 26, 1847, what did America say on the paper it would do in recognition of independence? What level of relationships it sought?
On June 28, at least a month to the 172nd Independence Anniversary of Liberia and 157 years after Uncle Sam formally acknowledged Liberia’s independence, a top official of that country has presented two historic documents that speak of how formal diplomatic relations were tied.
The official, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in a statement at the Liberia National Museum the United States “hopes to continue supporting Liberian efforts to preserve your history and culture, working in partnership with the government and other stakeholders.”
Ambassador Moyce described as unique the relationship between the United States and Liberia, adding, “The histories of our nations are inextricably bound to one another. Today we honor that special bond through two gifts.”
“First, I am pleased to present a series of books on Liberian history and literature for the museum’s library,” she said. “This collection includes not only the work of prominent historians and cultural anthropologists, but also contemporary voices of Liberian and Liberian-American writers.”
Then came her second gift, archival copies of the original documents that led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two nations.”
The two documents include the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and Liberia and Liberia’s Instrument of Ratification.
She noted that the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States of America and the Republic of Liberia was signed in London in 1862 over 150 years ago and it sought to set the terms of free trade between our two countries, to provide for mutual assistance for American and Liberian vessels in the event of trouble at sea and most importantly, by signing the treaty, the United States officially recognized a free and independent Republic of Liberia.
According to Ambassador Moyce, Article One of the treaty is especially resonant; it set a tone for relation between our two countries that is just as meaningful today as it was when it was signed more than 150 years ago.
Article One states: “There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Republic of Liberia, and also between the citizens of both countries.”
She expressed the hope that the documents and books presented will enhance the collections of the Liberia’s central museum and be an attraction and a joy for visitors.
“National museums such as Liberia’s are strong places of interest for tourists,” the US Assistant Secretary of State said, adding, “They engage their visitors, and promote the enjoyment and sharing of authentic cultural and historical heritage.”
She commended Liberians in the tourism and culture sector for their contribution to their country and called upon them to preserve and share Liberia with visitors to this country and for future generations of Liberians.
“As President Trump has said, ‘we write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers,’” she asserted further. “What an impressive cultural and historical treasure for the enjoyment and appreciation of Liberians today and for generations to come.”