Return to Africa

13 02 2008

Liberia, Scott C68, C69, 1952, 39mm x 26mm
Monrovia and the Liberian coastHere is a pair of map air mail stamps. The first one has a 1831 map showing the grid of streets in Monrovia, Liberia. Although there are no labels on the busts flanking the design, they depict U. S. President James Monroe and Jehudi Ashmun, 1794-1828, who were both active in the colonization movement of the 19th century. The second shows the Liberian coastline, Ashmun again (this time labelled), and William Tubman, 1895-1971, who was President of Liberia at the time the stamps were issued. Both maps are small in scale and somewhat idealized, but prominent by the contrasting color in which they were engraved.

In this country, the colonization movement was seen as a sort of trans-border apartheid initiative supported by those on the slaveholder side and opposed by the abolitionists. But it seems that there were many complex motivations among those in the organization. Ashmun in particular wished to see a sort of huge empire in west Africa and was key in taking over that tribal lands that were eventually occupied by the new country. Although the plan to relocate the hundreds of thousands of free persons of color did not succeed, the nation of Liberia has survived to the present day, with its recent history one of internal strife.




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