By James Ciment
The first well known background of the previous American slaves who based, governed, and misplaced Africa's first republic
In 1820, a gaggle of approximately 80 African american citizens reversed the process historical past and sailed again to Africa, to a spot they might identify after liberty itself. They went less than the banner of the yankee Colonization Society, a white philanthropic association with a twin time table: to rid the United States of its blacks, and to transform Africans to Christianity. The settlers staked out a beachhead; their numbers grew as extra boats arrived; and after breaking loose from their white overseers, they based Liberia―Africa's first black republic―in 1847.
James Ciment's Another the US is the 1st complete account of this dramatic scan. With empathy and a pointy eye for human foibles, Ciment unearths that the Americo-Liberians struggled to reside as much as their excessive beliefs. They wrote a stirring assertion of Independence yet re-created the social order of antebellum Dixie, with themselves because the grasp caste. development plantations, preserving based soirees, and exploiting or even aiding enslave the local Liberians, the persecuted grew to become the persecutors―until a lowly local sergeant murdered their president in 1980, finishing 133 years of Americo rule.
The wealthy solid of characters in Another the United States rivals that of any novel. We come across Marcus Garvey, who coaxed his fans towards Liberia within the Twenties, and the rubber king Harvey Firestone, who equipped his empire at the backs of local Liberians. one of the Americoes themselves, we meet the intense highbrow Edward Blyden, one of many first black nationalists; the Baltimore-born explorer Benjamin Anderson, looking a mythical urban of gold within the Liberian hinterland; and President William Tubman, a descendant of Georgia slaves, whose monetary regulations introduced Cadillacs to the streets of Monrovia, the Liberian capital. after which there are the natives, males like Joseph Samson, who used to be followed by means of a well known Americo relatives and later presided over the execution of his foster father in the course of the 1980 coup.
In making Liberia, the Americoes transplanted the virtues and vices in their state of delivery. The inspiring and stricken historical past they created is, to a awesome measure, the reflect snapshot of our own.
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Extra info for Another America: The Story of Liberia and the Former Slaves Who Ruled It
It appeared untouched by the war. And, indeed, it hadn’t been. Its owner, a scion of one of the wealthiest and most powerful Americo-Liberian families, had been the country’s sports minister before the war and had recruited a score of burly soccer players to stand guard on his property. Getting into town every day proved difficult. Monrovia’s fleet of taxis, many in no better shape than its buildings, did not cruise the district where I was staying. So each morning, before the sun got too hot, I would climb the small hill that separated Mamba Point from downtown.
Whether they did so before their departure or mid-voyage is also not known. But contemporaries who were familiar with it say it was modeled after the Mayflower Compact, drawn up by the Pilgrims two centuries earlier. If so, it was a brief document, pledging the settlers to the service of God in their new home and proposing a civil government, under their own leadership and with the power to make laws for the community. But it was not to be. Unbeknownst to the Elizabeth’s passengers, the ACS and the federal government, which helped fund the expedition, had something very different in mind.
But in Liberia the circle was a fraction of the size. The Americoes’ history can be seen as a family saga, spanning generations and rife with profligate sons and malcontent daughters, strivers and schemers, scandal and achievement. It has the feel, the richness, of a novel. Viewing the Americoes in this light leads one to see tragedy, not justice, in their violent demise at the hands of a people they by and large oppressed. Hidebound by their Americanness and surrounded and outnumbered by natives, they could never reconcile their idealism with their pursuit of power and wealth, and with their very survival.