Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God: A History of the True Whigs

That doesn't sound like Garvey will be bringing a lot of happiness. But then again, radicals rarely do.
France, the UK and the USA going 'this is a nice country, shame if something like embargo, the calling in of debts and occupation happened to it' doesn't really help, either.

As you noted earlier in this thread, in a way that made me worry you'd seen my notes, Liberia has only got this far by keeping their heads down on a global scale.
 
France, the UK and the USA going 'this is a nice country, shame if something like embargo, the calling in of debts and occupation happened to it' doesn't really help, either.

As you noted earlier in this thread, in a way that made me worry you'd seen my notes, Liberia has only got this far by keeping their heads down on a global scale.
I'm sorry for that. I was just too curious not to take a look ;)

And the great powers are another major threat. Liberia remains small and weak, and they can strangle it without most of the country even noticing it. So Liberia really can't make too much noise. Which, of course, Garvey is poorly suited for. So even without any sort of military intervention, a new economic low is very much possible, with all the suffering that entails.
 
Garvey New
Marcus Garvey: 1921-26 - The Radical
1617745577629.jpeg

The rise of Garvey to Liberian President is probably one of the most remarkable stories in modern African history if only for it's speed. In 1919, there's little indication that he had given Liberia any thought at all, two years later he was its president. Picking a foreign ideologue with no history in the country and who had actively antagonised their neighbours as their presidential candidate seems, on the surface, an inexplicable decision by the True Whigs, given they had lost only two elections of the last seven and didn't need to risk anything on a hail mary. Part of it can be explained by the genuine sense that Liberia was in decline and needed something drastic to get it out of its malaise, part of it can be explained by Johnson's own character and the way his desire to redeem his family name with grand acts competed with a certain ambivalence about actually holding power, but more than anything it was a testament to the genuine charisma and charm of Garvey, undoubtedly one of the political giants of his age.

Garvey was born to Jamaica to a poor black peasant family but one where he had access to books at a young age and was a voracious reader, who was drawn to the literary world. He worked for magazines in Jamaica, the UK and Panama and was able to access the philosophical world of the black radicals. In Liberia, he made much of his fascination with the books of Edward Blyden, whose world view chimed to a man who had grown up in the very colour conscious climate of colonial Jamaica where dark skinned blacks were very clearly at the bottom of the rung. Blyden's solution of a country in Africa which comprised of all the blacks and would act as a homeland for them was one he embraced wholeheartedly. It's hard to ignore that Garvey wasn't a particularly original thinker and largely regurgitated Blyden and other African intellectuals faithfully. His skill was as an organiser and a speaker rather than a thinker, but having absorbed the ideology of the pan-africans he set about putting that into practice in a way even Blyden hadn't been able to.

While convinced that it was the West Indies, where both he and Blyden had been born, that was the future of the black race and from where most of his inner circle would come, Garvey had little luck establishing himself in Jamaica initially. It was in the USA that his message first found fertile ground, in the wake of the massacres of black people in East St. Louis and elsewhere Garvey's message of armed self defence and emigration to their own country seemed far more realistic than that of integration. He mobilised thousands of poor blacks to join him on a promise of reverting their fortunes. Whatever else Garvey did, his ability to unite black America under a single banner in this way spoke of serious skill in building a coalition and they not only followed him, they funded him, Garvey was one of the most effective fund raisers who ever lived. And it was this visible and financial support, that brought him to the attention of Liberia. By picking Garvey as their President, Liberia could guarantee the investment of the Black diaspora. In the early months of Garvey's leadership, Monrovia became a boom town as UNAI members set up businesses and built houses for immigrating members. The problem was immigration was expensive when done humanely, the first immigration of the settlers had seen the settlers arrive under terrible conditions, live in slum housing 10 to a house, die in huge numbers to diseases and emerge impoverished and without jobs. It was uplifting this underclass that had been one of the main goals of the True Whigs and they weren't prepared to create a new one.

This time new arrivals were provided with medicine and nets to protect them from malaria, new buildings were constructed ready for new arrivals to move in, new businesses were set up for workers and places were found for them in local villages. The UNAI and Liberia were both running out of money fast before many immigrants could actually be shipped over. The UNAI at this point did own several steamships but they were in poor condition and had been bought for far more than they were worth, while Liberia had sold most of their own ships capable of doing a trans oceanic voyage. Until the ships could be repaired and refurbished, immigration had to happen through buying cabins on pre-existing ships. And the American government, supported by black intellectuals who either felt that mass emigration would just enshrine white supremacy in the USA or who had personal grudges against Garvey, did its best to harass the UNAI. The BOI had firmly infiltrated the movement and in 1920 pushed for criminal charges to be labelled against its leader, for selling shares for a ship they had not, yet, bought. Garvey himself was living in Liberia and could not be got at, but this slowed down the emigration efforts.

From Liberia's end this meant that the immigrants that did arrive were exclusively rich blacks whose money and status meant they proved popular rather than the feared masses of low skilled immigrants. Even anti Garvey Newspapers like the Star and the Commercial had nothing but good things to say about the arrivals of the likes of the talented actress Henrietta Davis, who quickly revitalised Monrovia's cultural scene.

But there were still problems with the new arrivals in terms of culture clashes. Most of the new arrivals simply didn't know anything about Liberia and didn't speak any of the Liberia languages, including Vai which had become a de facto language of governance. In the USA for instance many UNAI members were scammed into buying Liberian dollars despite the fact that currency was practically useless thanks to the inflation of the 1870s and foreign currencies such as sterling and the us dollar were far more often used. To an extent, this was something that the True Whig's leadership had counted on, hoping that Garvey would become a figurehead leader like Zeppey had been, but in this they misjudged the man. He fell out with Johnson within the first few years, due to the other man's perceived laziness and nepotism, and took insult from the way the inland chiefs and kings treated him. As a result he began to replace the party leaders with his own people and some of his privates speeches reveal a growing resentment of the existing Liberians, who he viewed as unwitting tools of white colonisation, due to their insistence he not move against the foreign companies operating in the country. His next move would instead be aimed at the True Whig leadership.

One of the reasons Liberia had been such a major part of the pan-african philosophy is there was really nothing else holding it together beyond racial solidarity. It had no common language, no common religion, no common national identity, it was just a bunch of black people in a room. Blyden's genius had been refusing to attempt to write a country wide law code, but allowing each tribe to operate under it's laws only within the larger democratic structure of a presidential state. Chiefs could be persecuted under a country-wide code of conduct but could still write their own laws over their own people, the only restriction from above was that the accused must be defended and prosecuted by arguments rather than the trial by endurance common in 18th century Liberia. So Monrovia had a law against slavery, but the vai and mande kingdoms which had joined Monrovia didn't and while Liberia had ended the slave trade, that hadn't changed. In the Liberia tribal system, praised by Blyden for it's collective ownership, there was no such thing as free labour as the tribal chief assigned labour to its members. Moreover slavery existed as a sort of workhouse system in which impoverished people were pawned to settle debts, a family in debt would offer themselves up their labour as collateral to pay it off. This 'pawning' off families had become the primary source of slaves as inter clan raiding had been much reduced by the pax monrovia established.

In 1924, Garvey announced, with a view to the foreign press, that he was ready to finally end the curse of domestic slavery within his country, something that the British, for instance, had not yet done in Nigeria. Those deemed slaves would be freed, and bought back to Monrovia as a new class of Kongos, the freed slaves taken from slave ships in the early days of the colony. It was typical of the man, a big flashy judgement that he had limited power to enforce. A lot of the leaders in the interior were happy to be within Liberia but jealously guarded their own independence in terms of law making and viewed this as a huge attack on that. The result was the Slave's war, the largest civil strife the country had seen since the Republican Uprising.

And to an extent it happened during a much larger crisis. Liberia owed a lot of money to both France and the UK, and those countries were pretty ruthless in using that to extract concessions from the government. Liberia had long since banned expatriate labourers working in Portuguese and Spanish colonies, thanks to the appalling conditions, but had passed no such laws re: labour in the British and French empires despite conditions not being much better. The Timber and Rubber plantations set up in the interior by French and British companies also paid little in either wages or taxes, the anti slavery law was at least partly aimed at them, thanks to their use of pawned labour themselves.

Garvey was not happy with this arrangement, Garveyism at its heart had always championed economic nationalism and Garvey himself had began his political career as a trade unionist. Blacks should be working for blacks and buying from other blacks and he resented the existence of white companies within a black country even if they'd been given a fair deal, which they weren't. Black companies which could outcompete the existing monopolies while offering better conditions for workers was one of the main promises under which the True Whigs had won the 1921 elections. Garvey's attempts to set up competing government and cooperative owned companies, resulted in alarm in France and the UK, who had never been happy for Garvey to take control, after previous comments about the black race rising as one to take its rightful place as rulers of its own country was seen as a direct challenge to the colonial empires and they began to call in their debts, which the country had no chance at all at paying off.

By 1924, Liberia was very nearly a pariah state internationally and there was clear suspicion that French agents had tried to assassinate Garvey, certainly the increasingly efficient opposition to his presidency within the senate and the house was almost certainly funded from Freetown, though it was also a side effect of the increasingly politicisation of the interior, most congress seats were still uncontested but there were much fewer independents. Garvey, who viewed that an effective president must be absolutist, found himself increasingly restricted by his government who worked against him at every turn and he saw, not incorrectly, the hand of the white man in this. Garvey's ideology was based on the idea that the black race must establish itself in its own state so that it had the strength to treat with the whites as equals, and an attempt by the white race to crush that at the birth fitted entirely into his expectations. His True Whig handlers convinced him not to project his message across Africa, that Liberia only survived by keeping its head down, so instead he launched his PR campaign of crushing slavery.

It also meant that the 1925 election would be largely fought only in Monrovia itself as much as the interior was at war and thus unable to vote. Garvey's True Whigs would win in a landslide, but by this point the country was also slipping out of his control. French troops had marched into the country in 1924 to protect its businesses in the country and as the war continued, this number increased. Moreover waging a war is expensive and the Liberian government defaulted on more and more debts, France began to seize territory as compensation much like they were doing in the Ruhr at the same time. In late 1925, the French Army decided they needed to restore order by occupying the capital and Monrovia itself surrendered without fighting. Garvey attempted to escape into the interior to continue the fight from there but was captured and shot in early 1926

There are few men in Liberian History to divide opinion so much as Marcus Garvey. To his supporters he was a second Edward Roye, a radical who aimed to improve the lot of the common Liberian man and was killed by those who wished to keep their own power. To his enemies, he was a stranger to Liberia who did not understand its position or culture and whose bungling led to the Occupation and the darkest years in Liberian history.
 
So, what are roughly Liberia's borders ITTL? It would be helpful to have even a rough sketch of the extent of the African power.

Apart from my question, I must congratulate you for writing a timeline of such an interesting, yet massively overlooked place. Ever since reading James Ciment's Another America, I've always wanted to read more about Liberia.
 
Last edited:
So, what are roughly Liberia's borders ITTL? It would be helpful to have even a rough sketch of the extent of the African power.
The Sierra Leone border is basically otl, though Liberia has lost a little less. But this liberia stretches far further north into what in otl is guinea so that it reaches the banks of the niger and includes most of south east guinea and north west ivory coast, with a border with olt mali. And the eastern border is about 70 miles further east into ivory coast on the coast as well going down to san pedro.

Basically in otl france took the majority of land claimed by Liberia in various treaties and in ttl they haven't. Hence they're a bit more confident as a country and a lot more muslim. We'll see if they still have those borders post occupation, of course.

In terms of ambition, Liberia's official aim is still to unite all of Africa into one country, they haven't followed otl's retreat from racial solidarity to nationalism but given their struggles in uniting Liberia and their inability to stand up against a European Army, most politicians know that's not a realistic goal at this point, they'll probably be aiming much more to be part of an African federation.
 
Oh wow. Garvey made even more of a mess than I had expected with French troops actually marching in and putting a violent end to his rule. That will certainly have interesting consequences. I'm expecting them to have much more direct influence on Liberian politics (and particularly the economy) going from there. And, of course, radicalism like Garvey's probably doesn't have the best name at first. Unfortunately, I can also see this situation being brought up as an argument as to why Europeans should rule over Africa, but by the time that becomes more relevant this will be more in the past and forgotten by most of the world.
 
Occupation New
Didwho Welleh Twe: 1926-29 - The Guerrilla

191px-Didwho_Twe.jpg


Plenyono Gbe Wolo: 1926-29 - The Exile

1617814214098.jpeg

Amy Ashwood Garvey: 1926-29 - The Widow

1617814167742.jpeg
Allen Yancy: 1926-29 - The Puppet

1617814227840.jpeg

Working out precisely who was the leader of the True Whigs during the Occupation is something of a problem as organisation largely broke down in the chaos that followed Garvey's death. The official True Whig President was Allen Yancy, a scion of one of the first settler families, who was installed in Monrovia and basically did what the French asked. It's well known that France had been aiming to annex Liberia into West Africa entirely for some decades but their membership in the League of Nations combined with the USA's loose protectorate over the black republic prevented such ambitions. France, like the USA in Central America, was officially there purely to keep order and secure their investments, Yancy was still President and the French would withdraw as soon as the situation was stabilised. While, Garcia, Garvey's ambassador to the League of Nations, attempted to raise some fuss, it was generally accepted by Western powers that Yancy was the legitimate leader with the French merely acting as his police force.

What this meant was practice was the French were there mainly to obtain free labour. The colonial Empires all had a shortage of labour, whereas Liberia had an abundance of it. This is why so many Liberians crossed borders to work as labourers and why France funded mining, rubber plantations and timber industries within the interior. With France having loaned money to the Wesley Regime which Garvey had been unable to pay back, they had a justification to take control over Liberia taxation and in practice they preferred that those taxes were paid by corvée labour rather than money. Labour practices in the French, and for that matter British, businesses had never been good but during the occupation they were particularly bad with the army escorting villagers to Bauxite mines at gunpoint and those who resisted being shot. France also had Yancy's government borrow more money to cover the building of industry and the paying of the Army to maintain control, meaning the debt was only increasingly while Liberia's resources were leaving the country.

France found itself morally obliged to continue the Slave's War and the Senegalese Tirailleurs made quick work of most of the resisting Kingdoms, especially as Freetown had stopped selling them weapons. Despite post occupation stories, violent sacks of resisting cities such as happened to Musardu were rare, and most chiefs surrendered relatively peacefully and maintained their positions in return. French control was however strictly enforced throughout the interior and all the domestic slaves were freed, though the welfare system Garvey had imagined did not come to pass, with instead the newly released slaves being exiled out of their tribes and often ending up either working in the bauxite mines or emigrating to Lagos and Freetown.

French control was not total, though, resistance groups did break out throughout the country. The most famous of these was led by Didwho Welleh Twe who, prior to the occupation, had been a rich Nana Kru farmer who owned much land outside Monrovia. The Nana Kru were generally viewed as the poorest of the Kru peoples and his riches had earned him many enemies among the other Kru and the settlers, perhaps because of this he was a prominent supporter of Garvey. Despite that, there's no evidence he was planning any kind of armed resistance until Yancy's regime attempted to arrest him in order to seize his lands. He and his followers were warned in advance, however and slipped away ahead of the police. For the next several years he and his men would harass the French and Yancy's men at every opportunity, and Twe claimed to be Garvey's successor and representative of the rightful regime. He in particular was noted for his attacks on the Kru farmers who supported Yancy and had moved to claim his land but it wasn't an entirely regional struggle, he supported and worked with networks of other rebels and bandits throughout Liberia.

Twe was far from the only person to claim Garvey's legacy. Garvey's widow, Amy Ashwood, had let Liberia prior to Garvey's death, officially to run the UNAI efforts from the USA, unofficially because the marriage was increasingly tumultuous. Upon his death she rallied the black American community into protesting. Garvey had never been a universally popular figure, he underpaid black writers, was racist against the lighter skinned coloureds and flung both violence and insults at those black people he disagreed with, but his death and the occupation of the one free Black Republic in Africa was a brutal shock to his enemies as well as his supporters. Ashwood was able to harness that shock into both political pressure on the Coolidge administration, reliant on black northern votes, and the broadcasting of Garvey's message into Africa itself. The existing activists within the colonial countries had normally been somewhat distanced from both Liberia and the diaspora but the events of 1925 changed that. Ashwood was quickly joined by UNAI members who fled Liberia and they started making contacts with men like Ernset Beoku-Bets and Ladipo Solanke who had been campaigning for better rights within British Africa and Kojo Tovalou who did the same within French Africa, building alliances that would be long be profitable.

Garveyist rhetoric spread through the colonial Empires like wildfire during the late 1920s and 1930s, the UNAI was banned in most of the colonial empires but exiles from Liberia and emissaries from the New World carried the message regardless. Colonial officials from Nigeria to the Belgian Congo were perplexed to hear rumours of a great Jamaican King preparing to set sail for Africa in a great iron ship full of black soldiers, that ship never came but news of him did. Copies of the Negro World and the Herald went everywhere.

But it was Freetown which became the heart of the resistance, the second great exile to Sierra Leone happened during the occupation and the pre-existing black radicals of Sierra Leone found themselves joined by many more from Liberia. The British had at best a wary tolerance of these newcomers, many an exile found himself raked over the coals by the British Colonial Police and several were executed for weapons dealing but nonetheless the community found welcome from the native Africans and were able to get their message out about French rule in Monrovia. Their unofficial leader was Plenyono Gbe Wolo, a Christian Kru who was the first African to graduate from Harvard and had arrived back in Liberia in 1922 during the height of enthusiasm over Garvey's rule to open a new school in his village. In 1926, Yancy tried to have the school shut down, Wolo objected and was beaten by French Tirailleurs for his trouble. As a result, he moved to Freetown and became a respected leader among the migrant community, leading many protests against the French consulate.

Yancy, Wolo, Ashwood and Twe all represented factions of the True Whig party after they'd splintered during the invasion of 1925. He know that Wolo and Ashwood, at least, kept in touch and there's suspicion that Twe and Wolo, who were old friends, also did so. Yancy was very much kept out of the loop. We know from the general planning that the 1929 election was much in everyone's thoughts, but noone knew if the French would allow it to happen or how free it would be. When it did happen it was one of the strangest contests in Liberia History, a straight fight between the True Whigs and the Patriotic Union, in which it was the Patriotic Union candidate who got the support of Wolo, Ashwood and Twe.

(Authors Note: That picture of Yancy is probably of his son but that's some dispute so I went with it anyway.)
 
Nobody New
Nobody: 1929-36 - The Consensus

It is accepted among the True Whigs that it was the pressure and attention the Garveyites put on France that meant the 1929 elections were held at all. This is a misunderstanding of French motivations, while Yancy and the French Soldiers on the ground might have had some ambitions in creating a dictatorship, Paris certainly did not. Rather, the new Government were largely eager to get out of Liberia entirely and had already begun withdrawing soldiers in 1928. And to an extent, it was mission accomplished from the French point of view. The Liberian economy was now largely under the control of their companies and the loans Yancy had taken out meant any future Government was controllable through that, especially given the example they had made over Garvey defaulting. French soldiers would remain in Liberia up until 1940 but only in very small numbers and they were officially advisors to either private security forces guarding the mining sites or the Liberian army. Having rearranged the economy, France could achieve the same benefits in terms of bauxite, rubber and timber without having to have the bad PR of having soldiers on the ground fighting armed rebels or elections being cancelled. And Yancy's heavy handed approach was increasingly seen as a liability so they also weren't too worried about him losing, depending of course on who replaced him.

The elections were therefore almost certainly always going to be held, but that didn't mean they were going to be fair or free. Yancy had arrested or criminalised a lot of the opposition and he was able to run under the True Whigs name, meaning the Garveyites would need to register a new party, something the government could make very difficult. Wolo and Ashwood argued that they could not risk splitting the anti government vote and therefore anyone opposed to the French occupation, should support the Patriotic Union Candidate, Thomas Jefferson Richelieu Faulkner, who had become a main voice of opposition in Yancy's Liberia.

Faulker was a prime example of what the PU called 'yankee entrepreneurship'. He was a self made man and champion of rugged capitalism. Born in North Carolina shortly after the American Civil War, he'd grown up in Baltimore where he learned electrical engineering. In the early 1900s he moved to Massquoi's Liberia and opened a power plant, an ice cream parlour, a telephone exchange, and an ice factory, becoming a marvel much noted in the Liberian newspapers and making his own fortune by selling this new technology to the Vai Kingdoms, who he grew to have a close relationship with. He was known for his relentless energy, despite being well into his 60s when he ran for government, but also for his moral rectitude and paternal attitude to his workers.

He had opposed Garvey as a con man and chancer who didn't understand the country he wished to rule but had accepted him as the rightful President, he had never done the same for Yancy. Faulkner angrily took the government to task for being illegitimate from Congress, and then took refuge with the American diplomatic delegation when reprisal was threatened. Whenever an American newspaper covered events in Liberia, there was almost always a quote by Faulkner attached. In particular he denounced the labour recruitment by French mining companies, which he said was tantamount to slavery. Faulkner's US connections kept him safe and there was little doubt that the Hoover administration were interested in him, in return. Hoover had in mind a kind of economic diplomacy in which the US dollar could battle European guns in terms of influence. Moreover the US economy needed rubber, thanks to British protectionism, and the French had proved that Liberia was a good place to grow it.

Hoover hoped to steal Liberia's economy from the French and to that end he sent vote counters to Liberia in 1929 to attempt to make sure Yancy couldn't try anything. Under close watch by the USA, there was little violence or vote tampering during the election and Faulkner, as the voice of a united opposition, ascended to the presidency and Yancy left the country to Senegal.

Faulkner had inherited a deeply divided and ravaged nation. Violence was still common place and the scars of previous violence were deep, with communities divided between those who had collaborated with the French versus those who had resisted. Faulkner pardoned rebels and bandits whenever ever possible, Twe and his men being the most notable example, but he could not return them lands that had been confiscated, which meant collaborators still had their homes. And there was the other memory too, of the Slave's War, which had torn asunder the relationship between the interior and the settlers again and led to huge bitterness on both sides, not least because of the way it led to the occupation. Faulkner attempted to run as a unity candidate, he even invited True Whigs like Wolo, returning from exile, into his government and allowed the UNIA to reopen a branch in Monrovia, though they were never again the dominant force in Liberian politics the way they had been under Garvey, and he used all his energy in trying to bridge communities together again and rebuild but he was limited in how much he could achieve.

Economically, he was also unable to carry out his plans to truly pivot towards the American economy. Shortly after his election, Black Tuesday happened and the Great Depression ended any plans Hoover might have had to buy out the French loans and replace them with American loans. France, on the other hand, weathered the depression far better and their companies remained dominant within Liberia, with no American competition emerging. Faulkner was able to restrict their ability to demand corvée labour and worked with the League of Nations and the International Labour Organisation, ran by Albert Thomas, a French Socialist, to enforce labour rights for all workers within his country, but it was a haltering improvement and abuses were still rampant. Moreover, the puppet strings still remained, the French ambassador was said to have his accountment check any Liberian budget before it could be passed.

In 1933, with Liberia still recovering from the events of the 1920s and the world spiralling into economic depression and political extremism, the True Whigs did not put up a candidate for President for the first time since the party was started, though they still ran for Congress seats, and Faulkner was comfortably re-elected. In 1935, as if to emphasise the dangers of the world, Ethiopia, the other remaining Black ruled African Country was invaded and annexed into Italy, something that the Liberian papers reported with shock and outrage and a certain amount of fellow feeling. Haile Selassie told the League of Nations that it was him today and it would be them tomorrow, but of course for Liberia it had been them yesterday.

In 1936, Faulkner died of natural causes and the united front he had formed crumbled upon his death, but for Liberia there was some hope in Selassie's speech, though it was not apparent at the time. France would soon find themselves facing their own occupation and would have little attention to spare to a small republic in Africa.
 
Kaba New
Abdourahmane Sinkoun Kaba: 1936-45 - The Hero
260px-Vieux_Sinkoun_Kaba_%28en_blanc%29_001.jpg

Faulkner was a respected and well liked man, but his time in government was by no means a golden era. French officials still maintained control over the government thanks to their debt and French companies still dominated the export economy. As the depression bit harder and the prices of commodities tumbled, many of the non french owned export businesses collapsed resulting in a subsequent loss of tax income. While enough internal trade existed to make sure that the loan payments could still be paid off, it meant increasingly less money was available for other government spending. Cuts were made to the Army, which meant banditry and, increasingly violent feuds between those who had prospered during the occupation and those who had been rebels, continued to be a problem in the interior, and to the stuttering attempts at welfare, as unemployment increased. While the Occupation had cowed many of the more radical voices, there were still many among the True Whigs who were dissatisfied with their support of Faulkner's government.

His death, and the ascension of his Patriotic Union deputy, Clarence Gray, a Vai Chief from Grand Cape Mount, quickly led to the united front collapsing. Some members of the True Whigs, Wolo among them, joined Gray's Patriotic Union, now seen as the default Liberian nationalist party opposed to foreign rule by either the French or African Americans. Others left the government and prepared for the 1937 election. Didwho Twe, the old guerrilla being one of the most respected men in the country, was the forerunner for new leader but his unconciliating views towards collaborators with Yancy's regime put off many moderates and they put their support behind Nathanial Varney Massaquoi, the son of the old president who had come to represent the golden era before the occupation. As had happened in the equally bitter debate of 1913, a compromise candidate was picked, Sinkoun Kaba, the youngest son of a Mandinka Islamic family from Liberia's far north who had been selected as the town's congressman. Kaba had been 19 when the Slave's War had started and 20 when the French Occupation had started, so while he had supported the True Whigs in both wars, he had done little in either that was remembered and so was seen as a unity candidate. He had however already a reputation for intelligence, competence and, most importantly an effortless diplomacy.

Many of Massaquoi's supporters also assumed that he would lose the 1937 Election and so their man could take over to run in 1941 because having sat out the 1933 Presidential Election, the True Whigs found themselves faced with two new factors which were supposed to reduce their chances of winning. One was female suffrage, an inevitable result of an increasingly educated female population, which Faulkner had introduced in his first term. In this he was guided by pragmatism as much as ideals, as it was felt women voters tended to support the Patriotic Union and their message of social conservatism. Secondly, they found themselves challenged from the left on Economics, by the Socialist Party, which had been set up to run in the 1933 Election by discontented radicals and put up the Sierra Leone born Union Leader I.T.A. Wallace Johnson as their candidate.

The True Whigs position on class divisions had always been that it was an alien European custom that the African concept of communal property would prevent. Garvey had supported cooperation owned companies and trade unions but he was racially focused rather than than class focused, his aim was for Black Capitalism, with the emphasis on companies being owned by black men rather than not being owned by bosses. Wallace Johnson however was a traditional Marxist, who emphasised the worker's struggle, and while he struggled to gain votes he was directly competing for the True Whigs Radical base.

Kaba also had the issue of having to reunite the True Whig base. The interior chieftains who had supported Zeppey and Massaquoi had largely been alienated by the Slave's War and were being actively courted by Gray, while the Garveyist radicals felt disowned by the party and were drawn to Wallace Johnson. His choice for Vice-President was therefore much examined. We know that he initially tried to reach out to Wallace-Johnson himself, but was rebuffed and it's strongly rumoured that Amy Ashwood Garvey was long considered, but in the end it was decided the election would be won or lost with the Native Liberians and Didwho Twe was picked. With a Christian Kru as his running mate, Kaba leaned hard into his Islamic base in the campaign, touring mosques, for much of 1937 in a far more vigorous campaign than was usual. The effort paid off, with the Islamic vote united largely behind him Kaba won the 1937 Election.

Kaba's government differed from Faulkner's mostly in that it had less faith in the instruments' of white men, cooperation with the League of Nations was much reduced, and it tried to improve labour relations by reaching out to Trade Union leaders, many of whom Kaba grew close to, rather than by talking to bosses. It was also considerably luckier in timing.

In June 1940, the Fall of France happened as German Troops rolled into Paris. Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the French Government in exile, called on for the colonies to declare for him, rather than the puppet Government based in Vichy, and French Equatorial Guinea did. French West Africa however remained loyal to Vichy. This chaos was an opportunity a more cautious man might not have taken but Kaba jumped on it. He quickly declared that uncertainty about the leader of the government of France meant that he would stop paying back loans and started nationalising the major French companies operating in the country. There was some violence as a result, The Vichy Governor of French Sudan gave orders to the Soldiers protecting the french site to destroy as much industry as possible, so that nothing could be seized, to the point of collapsing mines, but the Liberian Army, having arrested its French officers, mostly managed to prevent too much sabotage happening. Vichy France complained, but faced with Invasion from Free France and tensions among the border with the British Empire, could do nothing.

Liberia had regained control of their resources. For the rest of WW2, foreign companies would have to pay Liberia for it's Iron, Bauxite, Gold, timber and, in particular Rubber. This was to win Kaba the 1941 election, fought as Ethiopia also freed itself from occupation, and would prove invaluable in his second term as by early 1942 and the fall of British Malaysia, there were few places in the World other than Liberia which could provide rubber and iron in the quantity the Allies needed it. Now instead of that money being paid to France, it was coming to the Liberian government, who, in keeping with the True Whig philosophy of communal property as a form of welfare, invested it into public schools, hospitals, social housing and food kitchens.

In return however Kaba gave up control of his security, he invited in the American Army to guarantee his country and it's rubber would remain safe from Vichy France. Several thousands US soldiers and engineers were based there, building new infrastructure in terms of airports, seaports and railways. Liberia's own declaration of war in early 1943 was largely beside the point, as by that point Vichy West Africa had surrendered and it had noone to attack. Much like Wesley had, Kaba mostly used War with Germany as an excuse to seize money off what German traders still remained in the country.

Kaba stood down in 1945, after the end of the war, but before the next election. He would serve in future governments as minister but he felt the stress of the job had taken much out of him and it was time for someone else to cope with the new challenges of a post war world.

(Authors Note: In the picture, Kaba is the man on the left.)
 
The war has really been a positive then. There are some big advantages to France falling, and, of course, selling all the rubber for significantly better prices also helps. And I like that the money actually is invested into long-term projects which promise to make Liberia a better place.
 
Fascinating TL. Reminds me of Male Rising. Will follow this.
That's far too kind a comparison but glad to have you aboard.
The war has really been a positive then. There are some big advantages to France falling, and, of course, selling all the rubber for significantly better prices also helps. And I like that the money actually is invested into long-term projects which promise to make Liberia a better place.
Enjoyed your ongoing commentary on the French occupation. A lot of butterflies had to be sacrificed to make it happen but I liked the idea of the French inadvertently investing hugely in Liberia and then losing everything they built when they get occupied.
 
Enjoyed your ongoing commentary on the French occupation. A lot of butterflies had to be sacrificed to make it happen but I liked the idea of the French inadvertently investing hugely in Liberia and then losing everything they built when they get occupied.
For the butterflies, there are good arguments to be made. After all, anything happening in Liberia is a pretty small deal on the world stage, so things would mostly carry on as otl. And you did avoid specific names for people who weren't born yet, so that also helps.

And besides, karma always is fun.
 
Massaquoi Jr. New
Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi: 1945-53 - The Reformer
1618090058872.jpeg

Few politicians in Liberian history have been as privileged as the second Massaquoi President. Born in 1905 to a father who was both King of the Galinas and President of Liberia, he seemed to live a charmed life. Nathaniel was 19 when the Slave's War tore apart the Galinas people and was in Europe at the time, being educated. He returned to Africa only to teach in Freetown in 1926 and thus also missed the Occupation. When he did return to Liberia, to take over from his ailing Father, he immediately became the standard bearer for the Islamic wing of the True Whigs and made a serious run for the leadership in 1936 leading to him being appointed Secretary of State in Kaba's cabinet. This meant he was in charge of foreign affairs during World War II and so became the poster boy for Liberia's alliance with the Allies and the obvious choice to take over in 1945, where he faced the electorate with the country doing as well as it had ever done. The export economy was booming, government income was high and government debt was low (a deal was eventually made to pay back something to France but the crippling debts of the pre war period were a thing of the past).

The 1945 election saw Massaquoi largely run on the records of his predecessors and against Clarence Gray's bold economic plan to liberalise by privatising the industrial sector and he won comfortably. The Socialists, while still only a spoiler party rather than one which could challenge for the Presidency, however had a good election running largely against the feudal control of local chiefs and making much of the fact that both the other Presidential candidates were from the aristocracy, who dominated the political scene thanks to having better educations and a strong position in the various secret societies. It was the socialists who first began to genuinely challenge the feudal chiefs for their congress seats by organising the former domestic slaves and mine workers.

This challenge was the main reason why Massaquoi felt that root and brunch constitutional reform was needed. The original Written Constitution of Liberia, had included the line that the citizens of Liberia were all former Residents of the USA and so had been removed by Bylden when he extended the Franchise to a lot of people who weren't. But nothing had really replaced it, thanks to the True Whig concept of Liberia being a patchwork of different legal jurisdictions under a single President. Liberia was a country obsessed with the law, it had more lawyers per person than anywhere in the world, but that was largely because Liberian Law was complicated and every interaction between people from different ethnicities was a minefield. Massaqoui felt things needed to be simplified and consolidated.

The 1947 constitution was stunningly radical in some ways and surprisingly conservative in others. Massaquoi took the starting point that the Chiefs needed to be reformed or they would be overthrown. And that primarily meant democratising them. Liberia had already been divided into 30 districts for electoral purposes and Massaquoi took the position that each of these districts, including Monrovia which had only limited self government under the current set up, should have the full rights of being able to set their own laws, taxes and services but their leader must be chosen by a general election within that district. The Multicultural nature of Liberia meant that the districts often included multiple ethnicities with multiple law codes and so this would remove the least significant interior leaders from the equation by annexing their lands into the more powerful native Kingdoms but in return those positions would be removed from the blood lines. Those leaders would be given the honoury title of King, though many such as the Mayor of Monrovia choose not to use it, and would rule for life and have full power to alter laws within their district but could be challenged at any point if a thousand signatures could be found within the district, thus forcing another election. This way it was hoped that the King could be held accountable though if they won the challenge it meant they couldn't be challenged again for another four years, a compromise forced upon Massaquoi by the more conservative wing.

However to balance this, he also increased the Power of the Presidency. It was Massaquoi's opinion that the Slave's War had happened because there was no peaceful way for the President to amend laws in the interior. Those interior leaders had been viewed by Blyden as rulers of the perfect society and so his attempts to bring them into the democratic system had been focused on allowing them to effect Monrovian laws through their votes and congress members rather than vice versa. Garvey, the democratically elected President, had had no peaceful mechanism for changing laws in Galinas and the other interior Kingdoms. Massaquoi's new constitution would give the President the right to introduce universal laws, such as Garvey's emancipation order, but it would need the support of a Majority of the, now elected, Kings to pass. He included the existing universal laws as a bill of rights which prohibited slavery, murder and rape from being legalised, enshrined full suffrage and enforced the right for trial by jury, the freedom to join a trade union and the legality of being able to publish critical leaflets among others. This bill could only be amended or added to by the President with the consent of both the Kings' Council and the Senate. The President would also be given the sole ability to declare war or take out loans, both of which they could do without the approval of the Senate.

The Senate, not the Congress. Since Roye had changed the terms of everyone from two years to four, the Senate, House and President had all been elected at the same time, meaning that the party which won one of the parliaments almost always won the other one too. The President, being elected by popular vote rather than geographic vote, could find himself at cross purposes to Congress but Congress always agreed with in itself which begged the question as to why there were two houses at all. Massaquoi's constitution would see the House of Representatives replaced by the Kings' Council with only the 60 Senators continuing their traditional role. But, knowing that 'half of you will lose your jobs' was a hard sell, he mandated in the Bill of Rights, that each District would have a 11 man House of Representatives which would be able to amend and block the King's laws and would be elected every national election, thus actually much increasing the number of politicians, though the district Houses, in practice, often became a retirement house for old politicians. The constitution would also end 'double jobbing', which had been rampant between the house and the senate, and solved the problem of the President needing to have a congress seat, by simply reserving two extra seats for the President and the Leader of the opposition so no loyal congressman had to stand down to allow the President to address the Senate.

There were three more major elements of the constitution. Citizenship, Expansion and Budget. Citizenship in Liberia prior to the 1947 constitution was automatic for anyone moving to the country as long as they were black or coloured with whites and asians banned from ever gaining citizenship. The Patriotic Union had argued for a more sophisticated citizenship process, both to slow down the steady trickle of African-American immigrants which the PU tended to distrust and to give a route for citizenship for the existing Lebanese minority in Monrovia. Massaquoi's Constitution however would not only keep the existing Citizenship system exactly as it was and make it a universal law, which the Kings had no control over, but would explicitly call the country a Black ethnic state, which any black person would be welcome in. This move towards embracing Pan-Africanism as a state philosophy was at the core of the constitution.

To that end the constitution also made it clear that any African state could, if they voted for it in a referendum, join Liberia as a district with the same rights and responsibilities as any other district and neither the senate nor the Kings' Council could block this if the President approved it. The Post War era came with it an increased demand for independence among the African Empires and Massaquoi, who had family living in Sierra Leone, was newly hopeful that the grand old dream of an Africa united under Liberian rule could at last come true, regularly inviting independence activists in neighbouring countries to Monrovia.

Lastly there was the Budget. Now that the government was making money from mining and plantations within districts that it had given some sort of self rule to, the question was how should that be dealt with. For a start, to prevent a PU King from simply selling government owned industries, one of the universal laws was that government industry could only be sold by the President and only then after a district wide referendum. Moreover, having essentially given away any taxation powers to the Kings, meaning the hated hut tax Monrovia had long collected could now be removed by the Kings' themselves, the poison pill within that gift was that the President maintained all the profits from the national industries. This both funded his government and what Massaqoui called the people's fund, which the President could use to fund any infrastructure project in any of the districts which was for communal use, that is any citizen could use it, whether that was roads, schools, hospitals, soup kitchens or housing. This was, by design, a system that led to pork barrel politics and helped perpetuate regional inequality, it was not a coincidence that the first projects funded by it were Monrovian sanitation and electrical systems that cemented the popularity of Monrovia's True Whig Mayor. However, by making this linked to the national industries, it also made it very difficult for any future PU president to privatise them.

The Constitution was overwhelming in its ambition and yet it had many noted omissions. With no country wide currency in Liberia for generations and foreign currency or barter largely used instead, Massaquoi had neglected to mention anything about the right to print currency. Likewise, with the US army providing the main security force, there was no detail on how an army would be funded or ordered in case of war. That was left to the districts to organise. As well as that, the emergence of the socialists hadn't prevented government thinking still being based around a two party system, the vote counting system to prevent fraud was still bi partisan meaning in districts where the socialists did well, vote counting was still done by a representative of the two biggest national parties and the socialists often accused of them cooperating to shut them out. Land tenure for farming was also left entirely to the districts despite it being an increasingly contentious issue and the way the True Whig's economic theory had always made much of communally owned land and property, the idea that land should belong to everyone. And there was no term limit placed on the President.

The Constitution was fiercely opposed by the opposition, with the PU leader, and ex True Whig, Plenyolo Gbe Wolo, making much of the dictatorial 'Yancy like' powers it gave to the President in terms of being able to declare war and the Socialists complaining that it made it much harder for the government to nationalise industries it did not already control but thanks to a True Whig controlled Congress, it still passed into law in 1947. In the resulting elections for the Kings and their houses, the True Whigs dominated with Massaquoi's sister, Fatima, winning the Kingship of Galinas and both Kaba and Twe also winning their districts, as the old aristocracy were mostly voted back into power. The 1949 elections also saw comfortable victories for the True Whigs both in the senate and in the Presidential Election, though their regional results were more mixed.

Having upended Liberian Politics entirely, Massaquoi was much more hands off in his second term, with the economy continuing to boom and crime falling, he has able to concentrate on foreign politics. It was under Massaquoi that the first Liberian forces, a battalion of Vai volunteers, fought as part of a UN peacekeeping operation in Korea. And it was under Massaquoi that Liberia began to truly flex the freedom won by its alliance with the USA, speaking openly of the end of European colonisation and hosting regular meetings of independence activists, many of whom were Liberian educated and in favour of pan africanism, within Monrovia with promises of their eventual unification.

To an extent, this was a misreading of Liberian public opinion. While there was widespread sympathy for the captive nations and a hope for their eventual freedom, there was also still many who remembered the French occupation and were wary of such bold steps. There was also a genuine fear of being joined to strangers who they had nothing in common with. There was to be no third term for Massaquoi, let alone the fourth his father had won, the PU's nationalist appeal of no further expansion helped them win back the Presidency for the first time in 16 years. In this they were hugely helped by a split in the pan-african vote, thanks to a Socialist surge under their charismatic new leader, the great grandson of Liberia's old enemy, Samuri Ture.
 
Last edited:
I can understand the people not really being interested in being joined by foreign nations they know next to nothing about. It's quite risky in many ways and chances are that they see it as themselves having to pay for others.

Otherwise, the constitution also is a very interesting one with some powers remaining with the president, but a lot going to the kings who would often have other priorities. It's also interesting that the kings basically have their own house of parliament, although in the long run, I could see that being filled with representatives from the kingdoms while the kings see to internal affairs.

The legal situation also is something that would lead to a lot of fun, with all the different jurisdictions in what remains a fairly small country, although, of course, I don't know for sure how many people actually live in Liberia at this time.
 
I can understand the people not really being interested in being joined by foreign nations they know next to nothing about. It's quite risky in many ways and chances are that they see it as themselves having to pay for others.

Otherwise, the constitution also is a very interesting one with some powers remaining with the president, but a lot going to the kings who would often have other priorities. It's also interesting that the kings basically have their own house of parliament, although in the long run, I could see that being filled with representatives from the kingdoms while the kings see to internal affairs.

The legal situation also is something that would lead to a lot of fun, with all the different jurisdictions in what remains a fairly small country, although, of course, I don't know for sure how many people actually live in Liberia at this time.
Always good to see a comment from you.

What you saw from the pan-africanists in 1950 in OTl was everyone going 'we should be one country' and then they tried it and was like 'no'. In this timeline, Liberia is still officially up for it rather than otl, where they'd completely rejected it and defined themselves by their commitment to national sovereignty. But yeah, I sympathise with the PU position on this. Liberia would be tying themselves to a lot of very damaged countries whose culture had evolved in very different ways. Massaquoi's idea of all of West Africa being run by Monrovia just isn't going to happen, of course. But we're now at a point when peaceful expansion is possible, places like ghana, guinea and mali were actively trying to form a west African union state in the 1950s otl and the voters are beginning to consider what that means rather than just going 'yeah, one people, solidarity'.

Yes' you'd imagine with the Kings' Council it'll be filled with people speaking on behalf of the King's rather than the Kings themselves. The thing is a hands off President, doesn't really need the Council, it's only one who intends to heavily amend the Universal laws that does. The system is something of a mess, it's going to cause a lot of future problems, but it seemed like a realistic compromise as to how to try and enact the Blydenesque philosophy of democratising the African chieftain system without Europeanising it.

The legal situation is ridiculous, but it seems like what Blyden envisioned and OTL Liberia also had the most lawyers per person of any country in the world at this time, so I liked the idea of giving them things to do.

OTL Liberia had just less than a million people in it at around 1950, this Liberia is a bit richer, has seen a bit less conflict and a bit more immigration. It's also about twice the size and has around half of the 3 million 0TL population of Guinea living in it. I'd ballpark it as around 3 Million.
 
Top