Daniel E. Howard

Daniel E. Howard
Credit: Wikipedia

Daniel Edward Howard

Term 16th President: 1912 – 1920
Born August 1, 1861, Buchanan,
Grand Bassa County, Liberia
Died July 9, 1935, Monrovia, Liberia
Race/Ethnicity Black, Americo-Liberian
County of Origin Montserrado
Political Party True Whig Party


Daniel Edward Howard was born in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County in 1861. His father Thomas Howard was Secretary of the Treasury, and for many years served as Chairman of the True Whig Party. At that time, the True Whig chairman position had much influence and power. President Coleman’s hinterland policies drafted by Thomas Howard caused pressure from the public and led to Coleman’s resignation in 1900.

Taking in his father’s footsteps and achieving more rank and power, Daniel Howard worked as Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the True Whig Party before becoming president.


Daniel Howard was educated in Liberia and like the distinguished men of his day, attended Liberia College where he studied Management. Howard was drawn to politics and quickly imposed his strong and agreeable personality on his superiors (Maughaum, 1920). He studied under Edward Wilmot Blyden who made his last visit to Liberia in 1912 to attend Howard’s inauguration.


1884 Private Secretary to President H.R.W. Johnson
1892 Clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas, Montserrado County
1900 Secretary of the True Whig Party
1900 – 1904 Superintendent of Monteserrado County
1906 – 1911 Chairman of the True Whig Party
1906 – 1912 Secretary of the Treasury
1912 – 1920 President

Vice Presidnet
Samuel G. Harmon


As Secretary of the Treasury and head of the True Whig Party, he was assertive in national politics and was a natural “leader of men” (Ellis, 1944). He was influential with the natives as he fluently spoke some of their languages and had sometimes settled their palavers (disputes). His interactions with President Barclay and other leaders granted him many political favors. This, along with his personality and leadership skills rendered him the people’s candidate for the presidency in 1911.


Howard won the election in May 1911 and began his presidency on January 1, 1912. He was considered an able and appropriate successor to Barclay and would continue the work of his predecessor. He also surrounded himself with the best cabinet of his time.

In continuing Barclay’s policy of an intimate and harmonious relationship with the natives, he invited several influential native chiefs in planning his first inauguration ceremony. This gesture was the first of its kind and very impressive and pleasing to the chiefs.

By the time Howard became President, foreign appointees controlled the nation’s revenue and government employees were paid only after servicing the nation’s debt. Howard’s tenure was marked by internal and external conflicts, a poor economy and reduced government revenue as well as World War I. Like Barclay, he persisted on increasing the government’s control of the hinterland, causing conflicts with the natives. He also arranged for the loan of 1912.

Most of Liberia’s revenue was from trading with Germany, England, the US, and other European nations. With the onset of WWI, Liberia remained neutral considering both sides affected her economy. A British blockade off the Liberian coast diminished trading and the nation’s revenue. When the US entered the war, Liberia broke diplomatic ties with Germany and sided with the Allied forces in May 1917.

Liberia declared war on Germany on August 4, 1917 and all Germans in the country were deported. The only battle with Liberia involved a German submarine bombarding Monrovia on April 10, 1918 when Liberia refused to close the French wireless tower. The Germans bombarded Monrovia, destroying the French tower, the navy steamer “President Howard” and killing four people. Eventually, Liberia was one of the signatories to the Versailles Treaty signed on June 28, 1919 which brought an end to WWI.

Liberia’s economy was in serious distress as Germany was her main trading partner. After the war, Liberia’s trade did not resume and plans by the West to help rebuild the economy and infrastructure did not materialize.

Post Presidency

In 1920 he was succeeded by C.D.B. King who had served as his Secretary of State. Howard died in Monrovia on July 9, 1935.


Burrowes, Carl Patrick. Power and Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830-1970 : the Impact of Globalization and Civil Society on Media-government Relations. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2004. Print.

Cahoon, Ben. Counties of Liberia. World Statesmen. Web.

Coleman, James Smoot. Political Parties and National Integration in Tropical Africa. University of California Press, 1964. Print.

Dunn, D. The Annual Messages of the Presidents of Liberia 1848-2010 : State of the Nation Addresses to the National Legislature : from Joseph Jenkins Roberts to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Berlin ;New York: De Gruyter, 2011. Print.

Lynch, Hollis Ralph. Edward Wilmot Blyden; Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832-1912. Oxford University Press, 1970. Print.

Maugham, R. The Republic of Liberia, Being a General Description of the Negro Republic, with Its History, Commerce, Agriculture, Flora, Fauna, and Present Methods of Administration,. C. Scribner’s sons, 1920. Print.

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