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Early History

The small African country of Liberia has a unique history, one that is shared by only one other country in the world, Sierra Leone. Both were colonized by foreign powers with one express purpose. Unlike most colonies, which were established for the purpose of monetary gain or political power, these two countries were both begun as a state for freed slaves, descendants of captured Africans. The abolition movement had been making headway on both sides of the Atlantic, catching hold in both America and Britain. With the emancipation of slaves and the abolishment of the slave trade, both countries suddenly found themselves with a large population of free blacks in a society that, despite the progress of the abolitionists, still harbored resentment. Both the government leaders and the leaders of the abolition movement sought ways to solve this problem, finally coming up with the idea of returning Africans to their original homeland. With this sentiment, and through the work and evolvement over several decades, the two countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia were born.

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Liberia was colonized by America, and did not start out as a separate country. The present-day scene actually evolved in stages, encompassing the span of nearly a decade. The roots can be traced as far back as the American War for Independence, but the movement did not gain momentum until much later, closer to the Civil War era. However, the ideal that defined the faction remained the same- to deport freed African slaves back to Africa. The concept was that there was no possible way for whites and blacks to exist together freely and on equal terms. Since the slaves were now free- and therefore on a semi-equal level with white persons- the solution was deportation. In the decades leading up to the Civil War and even for a short time directly following it, several thousand former slaves were relocated.

Liberia began as five separate colonies founded by the American Colonies Society (ACS), the organization formed for the relocation of freed blacks. Cape Mesurado was the first, with the others quickly followed. As Cape Mesurado expanded inland from the coast, it was named Liberia, with Monrovia as its capital, a fact that remains to this day. The colony quickly drained the finances of the ACS, and in the middle of the nineteenth century the organization released its hold, allowing the colony to become a country. This movement was also compelled by the settlers themselves, who resented the unfair treatment at the hands of the ACS representative.

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