National Geographic : 2004 Feb
GEOGRAPHICA HISTORY Born inthe U.S.A. Liberia,America's West African stepchild 1817 American Colonization Society founded to create African homeland for free blacks. The private group sells certificates (left) to raise funds. LIBRARYOFCONGRESS 1822-24 First African-American immigrants settle at Cape Mesurado, nam ing it Monrovia (after U.S. President James Monroe) and the col ony Liberia-"liberty" UAIHULYN CULL,LUJANUtLtI INIM7 After looters left his home last summer, Johnny Thorpe (above) took out a piece of paper he had hid den away. It was a photo of his grandparents, who came to West Africa in 1896 from the U.S. state of Virginia and settled in a Libe rian town named-what else? Virginia. Last July, while Liberians in the capital of Monrovia were laying the bodies of civilians killed in the country's civil war in front of the U.S . Embassy, Thorpe declared, "We are part of them"-meaning Americans. "They should come here now." In August some 200 U.S. Marines finally did just that the latest chapter in the compli cated story of U.S.-Liberian ties, which began when Americans founded Liberia in 1822. After 47 days the last of the contingent of U.S. peacekeepers was pulled out and helicoptered to ships offshore. While grateful for the U.S. military presence, which helped preserve a fragile cease fire, Monrovians were saddened by the unannounced departure: They had wanted to hold a cere mony to give the Marines a proper farewell. -Karen E. Lange 1847-48 Liberia declares its indepen dence and Americo Liberian Joseph Jenkins Roberts (right) is elected president. LIBRARYOFCONGRESS 1926 Firestone creates world's largest rubber plantation at Harbel, supplying the U.S. auto industry and military. RONALDREAGANLIBRARY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES 1989-2003 Rebels led by Charles Taylor, a U.S. -educated Americo Liberian, invade to topple Doe. In 2003, after Taylor abdicates, the U.S. briefly deploys a small number of Marines in Monrovia as peacekeepers (right). - 1822-1904 Some 23,000 immi grants (left), mostly from the U.S.,arrive to form an Americo Liberian elite that rules over Liberia's indigenous Africans. COKERTIRECO. - 1941-45 During WW II, U.S. uses Uberia as an out post against the Axis powers In Africa. - 1980s Americo Liberian rule ends in a 1980 coup led by Samuel Doe (left, in a 1982 visit to U.S.). In return for Cold War support, U.S. backs Doe's dictatorship.