Flag of Liberia

April 9, 1827 – August 24, 1847

After their arrival on the Grain Coast, the colonists began to expand their territory and settle on Cape Mesurado and surrounding areas. In 1824 the Colony on Cape Mesurado was named Liberia. The settlers wanted a flag for the colony and its shipping vessels. On April 9, 1827, a resolution was presented to the ACS Board to adapt the US flag with a few modifications for the colony.

It was decided that the flag would have a white cross on the blue field. This flag symbolized the origin of the settlers and their Christian beliefs.

Flag of the Liberian Colony 1827-1847
Source: Wikipedia

Among the Resolutions of the Board of the Society during this period is one relating to the flag of the Colony. At the meeting of the Board on April 9, 1827, a preamble and resolution was presented:

“As a flag is requested for our Colony at Liberia, and as it will be proper to make the flag nearly like the flag of the United States, being dependent thereon, yet sufficiently distinct to designate it as the flag of the African Colony, Resolved that the flag of the United States be adopted only with the addition of a white cross in the center of the azure field.”

…In order to further Liberian shipping the Board passed a Resolution (September 26, 1828) imposing duties on foreign imports and granting bounties to Liberian shipowners:

-Charles Henry Huberich

Before joining the Liberian Republic in 1857 as Maryland County, Maryland in Africa had a similar flag with alternating black and yellow stripes based on the US state of Maryland flag colors.

This settlement was established by the Maryland Colonization Society in 1834 at Cape Palmas. During this period, besides the American Colonization Society, the state societies were organizing and transporting their freed slaves to the Grain Coast.

Maryland in Africa Flag, 1834 – 1857
Source: Wikipedia

Current Flag
Liberian Flag
The Liberian flag. First hoisted on Aug. 24, 1847. Source:Wikipedia

During the constitutional convention of 1847, it was determined that a new flag with more significance was needed to represent the nation. Governor Roberts wrote a letter to Susannah Lewis asking the ladies of the town to create a suitable design for the new flag.

Chairing the committee, Lewis worked with Rachel Johnson, Mary Hunter, Sarah Draper, Collinette Teage, Matilda Newport and J.B. Russworm to create our current flag.

The group basically made a few changes to the first flag. They reduced the stripes from 13 to 11 to represent the signatories of the Declaration of Independence; the blue canton remained and represents the continent of Africa, while the white cross was changed to a white star signifying Liberia as the only independent nation on the African continent.

On August 24, 1847, the Liberian flag was unfurled and hoisted. On this day, we still celebrate Flag Day in Liberia with military and student parades especially in Monrovia. From afar Liberia’s flag still looks like the United States flag. There are minor differences, but not enough to disguise the origin and interests of the settlers.


Sources

Cassell, Abayomi. Liberia: History of the First African Republic. New York. Fountainhead Publishers, 1970. Print.

Guannu, Joseph S. Liberian Civics. Monrovia: Herald Publishing, 2004. Print.

Büttikofer, Johann. Travel Sketches from Liberia : Johann Buttikofer’s 19th Century Rainforest Explorations in West Africa: Annotated English Edition, edited by Henk Dop, and Phillip T. Robinson, BRILL, 2012.

Johnston, Harry Hamilton. Liberia. Hutchinson & Co., 1906. Print.

Liebenow, J. Liberia : the Quest for Democracy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Print.

Richardson, Nathaniel R. Liberia’s Past and Present. Diplomatic Press and Pub. Co., 1959. Print.

Wilson, Charles Morrow. Liberia: Black Africa in Microcosm. [1st ed.]. Harper & Row, 1971. Print.