The Liberian

Civil War

"There was killing every day and night, mostly people from my tribal group. You can't change who you are."


The civil war in Liberia dragged on for seven long years. However, it's aftermath turned out to be longer and more treacherous. Since the United States was responsible for the forming of Liberia under the American Colonization Society, this war could have turned out less destructive in the long run with United States aide. During this time the citizens of Liberia felt abandoned from what they considered their brother country,the US. Although the US helped in the end, the state of Liberia was already in ruins putting it in a tough spot for recovery. liberian_lone_star.jpg

A native Liberia showing his nationalistic feelings by holding the Liberian flag, which was molded after the US flag. Liberia put one star in the corner, leaving them to be known as the "Lone Star".

The American Colonization Society

The American Colonization Society was established in 1817 in Liberia as a place for freed slaves to call their home. This idea was brought upon by upper class white citizens who weren't ready to view the free blacks equal to whites. This movement was mostly supported by southern plantation owners who saw them as a threat in the United States. In 1819 Congress approved $100,000 to return the illegally brought Africans back to Africa. However, some of the blacks didn't consider themselves African because they were born in United States and African was only their heritage. In 1821, the U.S. Navy purchased this land called Liberia for the placement of the free blacks from the United States. Up until 1840 when the American Colonization Society declined more than 11,000 blacks were placed in Liberia. However, the United States took responsibility for Liberia until 1912. ("American Colonization Society")

This is a certificate verifying one who joined the American Colonization Society. In the bottom right corner it is signed by Henry Clay.

Early Liberia

Once the free blacks, called Americo-Liberians, got to Liberia they modeled their Constitution in 1847 after the United States and the capital was named Monrovia after James Monroe. While living in Liberia, the Americo-Liberians oppressed the native Liberians as they had been oppressed in the U.S. This created tension between the two groups. For almost a century and a half the Americo- Liberians, who made up 5% of the population, controlled the government and gave few rights to the native Liberians. This created the beginnings for a civil war. ("American Colonization Society")

This is the cost of Liberia where the free black Americans were brought in the 1800s.

Tensions Rise

William Tolbert Jr., elected president in 1971, was the last of many leaders of Americo-Liberians. Tolbert's presidency was run short in 1980 when Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe staged a military coup against him. After executing Tolbert, along with 13 of his employees, Doe began the first republic lead by native Liberians. Doe's seizing of the government started out in an economic collapse, so the U.S. sent Doe $60 million in an effort to keep communism out of Africa (MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia). In 1985 Doe won a rigged presidential election and then turned to oppressing tribes in Nimba County. Although Doe was unpopular with the Mano and Gio tribes who lived in this area, he kept tight control the army and secret police to stay in power. Later, Doe survived military coups with the support of the United State's Reagan Administration ("History of Liberia"). This support was given because Liberia was not a supporter of Iran and Libya, two countries which the Reagan Administration was fighting against.

"From then, in 1980, it all went bad," said Amos. "Everyone was tense, afraid. We don't know who to answer to. What was going to happen next?"

The angry people of Nimba County formed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, led by Charles Taylor of the Mano tribe. Charles Taylor came to Liberia after braking out of a Massachusetts prison for embezzlement charges he committed in Liberia. Taylor gained control of most of Liberia, but continued to fight for Monrovia. At the same time Field Marshall Prince Johnson, leader of the Gio tribe, fought for Liberia as well. Civil War continued between these three forces until Johnson signed a ceasefire agreement with Doe to form a combined effort against Taylor in 1990. However, several months later in September, Johnson captured and tortured Doe, leaving him to slowly die. Johnson then declared himself president, but due to lack of support Liberia was left in chaos.

Charles Taylor, leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia who became President.

Taylor's Rule

After seven years of turmoil, over half of the population was either displaced or moved out of the country. Many refugees went to Ghana in search for food, water and shelter. The U.N. provided aide to Liberians in the Ghana refugee camps. However, in 1997 Taylor won a presidential election held by the U.N. and many Liberians returned to their homes. Taylor's victory was due to his terrorizing campaign; "I killed you Ma, I killed your Pa" (Masland). Two years after Taylor's election, the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) peace keeping forces moved out, leaving Taylor to rule on his own. Taylor, being half Americo-Liberian and half native Liberian and because of his education at Bentley College, thought he was superior to the natives. This caused him to commit serious infractions on human righ ts and war crime. Taylor supported rebels in Sierra Leone by trading weapons for diamonds. This created criticism from other neighboring countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. At the same time, Taylor accused Guinea of supporting Liberian refugees. Because of this support, Liberian refugees were able to attack Lofa County in Liberia, which created war not only in Liberia, but in neighboring countries.

A method of torture used under Taylors reign. children/part2.htm

Child soldiers arming up to fight

Violence fills Liberia with murders by Ttaylor's police everyday.

"The famous Boy Soldiers were drafted into this war. Various estimates put the number of Liberian soldiers under the age of 15 at 6,000 at one point. Some were as young as 9 years old; they were reportedly shown videos of Rambo and Kung Fu movies and given drugs before committing atrocities."

In July 2000, the Liberian government reported the first attacks from rebel forces including the LURDs (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy). Then, in 2001, the UN imposed economic restrictions on Liberia for helping rebel groups (trade of weapons for diamonds) in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Cote d'Ivoire. Taylor was also accused of war crimes including the use of child soldiers. During his rule, Taylor also outlawed private newspapers and radio stations that were accused of criticizing the president. Taylor's government officials carried out physical assaults, harassment, extortion, mistreatment, killings, "disappearances," and torture (Shehu). In August of 2003 conditions were so bad that the ECOWAS group was called back into Liberia to disarm and demobilize the fighting. By July 2003, members of the Friends of Liberia Organization in Liberia called on he US for help, viewing it as the United States' obligation because of their long history. The United States hadn't helped earlier because of other worldly obligations and didn't feel the brotherly obligations felt by Liberians (Frank Ardaiolo). The United States, United Nations, and European Union were finally called in to address the humanitarian crisis in Liberia. On August 11, 2003 resident Taylor finally stepped down leaving Vice President Moses Blah in control of the country. A peace treaty in August between the rebels and government set up a new government in preparation for the 2005 presidential election.

 "It used to be that refugees would escape terror and war and go to a place that was peaceful," said Limon. "In Africa, they escape terror and war and go to someplace where there is terror and war."

Liberia's Recovery

After Charles Taylor left Liberia the United States forces including the Red Cross moved in to help refugees of war. President George W. Bush pledged to help restore peace to Liberia. Two months later, in October 2003, President Gyude Bryant was sworn in as head of state. Bryant was chosen by the UN to lead Liberia in a transitional government until the 2005 election. He is from the Grebo group, a member of Liberia's Episcopal Church, and seen as politically neutral. Bryant is also the founder and member of the Liberia Action Party, which was very critical and Taylor. Meanwhile, the United Nations sent over 700 ECOWAS to Liberia to help keep peace.

Gyude Bryant, the President of Liberia from 2003-2005


Student made artwork

Map of Liberia and surrounding countries off of the eastern coast of Africa.

After many years of civil war and destruction, Liberia finally sees hope for the future. Nevertheless, many innocent victims have suffered the effescts of a war torn country. "It's not something a normal person would like to experience. It's a suppressing, depressing, an emotionally draining experience...You have to survive. If I didn't leave I would be dead."

Brief Timeline of Liberia's History
 Student made diagram



Associated Press. "Liberian Violence Continues Despite Peace." ABC News. 30 Oct 2003. http://abcnews.go.con/wire/World/ap20031030_156.html (11 Nov. 2003)

This is a recent article about all of the violence in Liberia. It also mentions the peace treaty signed in August and has quotes from various people living in Liberia.


"American Colonization Society." The Columbia Encyclopedia. Edition 6, 2000 p1360. Infotrac. Online Database. 20 Nov. 2003.

The encyclopedia explains the goal of the American Colonization society and how it has turned out in later years.


Bartholet, Jeffrey. "A Big Man in Africa: INSIDE THE MIND OF A TYRANT: Brutal and seemingly indifferent to his people's woe's, Liberia's Charles Taylor symbolizes much that is wrong with Africa. But to understand him is to take a first step toward fixing a broken continent." Newsweek. May 14, 2001: p28. Infotrac. Fiche Coll.: 107G0353. Online Database. 20 Nov. 2003.

This article was all about Charles Taylor and how he came to take control of Liberia after being educated in The US and escaping from a Massachusetts jail. It is much more in depth about Charles Taylor than other sources.


Binary, Peter. "Born in the USA." The New Republic. 13 May 1996: 214, 16. InfoTrac. Fiche Collection. Online Database. 19 November 2003.

This was about the present situation in Liberia around the time the article was written. It argues that the U.S. should supply the needed military power to end the Liberian civil war.


Berkeley, Bill. "Doe our dear." The New Republic. 19 March 1990: 202, 19. InfoTrac. Fiche Collection. Online Database. 19 November 2003.

This is an overview of the present situation in Liberia when the article was written. It focuses on former President Samuel Doe of Liberia and the U.S. involvement at that time.


Charbonneau, Louis. "Chronology of Liberian Civil War." Alternet. 2 November 2003. (2 November 2003)

This had a chronology of the civil war's events from 1997 to October 2003.


Charles Taylor, George Moose, Jerry Rawlings. US Department of State Dispatch. 16 October 1995: 6, 750. InfoTrac. U.S. Government Printing Office. 19 November 2003.

This is a transcript of The Abuja meeting on the civil war in Liberia. The people involved in the meeting were Charles Taylor, George Moose, and Jerry Rawlings. This was found in an online database.


"Charles Taylor's new-found land; Liberia's mini-war." The Economist. March 2, 2002. Infotrac. Economist Newspaper Ltd. Online Database. 19 Nov. 2003.

This is about Taylor's infringement on human rights and how displaced Liberians are going to Sierra Leone for help. There are a lot of tensions in this area.


Cherian, John. "End of a Civil War." Frontline. 12 September 2003. (22

November 2003).

This article gave a very detailed look at the end of the war and what rebuilding was being done to Liberia and it's economy.


C., Huberich. "Liberia." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2000: 6, 2768. InfoTrac. Electronic Collection. Online Database. 19 November 2003.

This is a brief overview of the geography, economy, government, history (to 1980), and Doe Regime.


Clinton, Bill. President Clinton Names Bismarck Myrick New U.S. Ambassador To Liberia. Speech. Jet, 14 June 1999.

This was a speech made by former President Bill Clinton declaring Bismarck Myrick the U.S. ambassador to Liberia. It was received from the InforTrac online database.


"Country Profile: Liberia." BBC News. Oct 31 2003. (22 Nov. 2003)

This source goes through Liberia in different categories like overview, facts, leaders, and media, to give a broad look at what is going on in Liberia. It was very helpful to have different categories to sort of information.


Donovan, Gill. "Relief group to address abuse allegations." National Catholic Reporter. March 22, 2002: v38 i20 p8(1). Infotrac. Churches Together International. Online Database. 19 Nov. 2003.

This is an organization getting churches together for a Christian relief organization. It wants to stop the violence in Liberia.


Frank Ardaiolo and Jeanette Carter. "The Liberian Crisis: A Call to Action." Friends of Liberia: A Non Profit Organization Dedicated to Liberia. July 7, 2003. (1 Nov. 2003).

This is an article from people in Liberia asking the US for help so peace can be restored to Liberia. It was helpful because it was written by Liberian people giving their point of view.


George E. Moose, Asst. Secretary for African Affairs. "Pursuing Peace in Liberia." U.S. Department State Dispach. May 13 1996: v7 n20 p244(2). Infotrac. Transcript. Online Database. 20 Nov. 2003

This is a speech given about Liberia and how to go about continuing foreign relations with Liberia. The US wants to help restore peace to the country and George Moose gives some suggestions about what the US should do next.


George E. Moose, Asst. Secretary for African Affairs. "U.S. Resources and response to developments in Liberia." US Department of State Dispach. Oct 16, 1995: v6 n42 p750(3). Infotrac. Transcipt. Online Database. 20 Nov. 2003.

In this speech he talks about the Abja meeting on the civil war in Liberia and what to do about Charles Taylor regarding aspects of the war.


"History of Liberia: A Time Line." American Colonization Society Collection. Library of Congress. March 12 1998. (1 Nov 2003).

This was very helpful because is sorted the events in Liberia into an easy to follow chronological order and explained what people belonged to what group and who they were fighting.


"Liberia." MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2003 ed. (1 Nov. 2003).

This was a very helpful website because it was very detailed about the civil war in Liberia from beginning to the present. It included all of the warring factions and events up to August 2003.


"Liberia." The Columbia Encyclopedia. Edition 6, 2000 p22786. Infotrac. Online Database. 20 Nov. 2003.

This gave general history and information on Liberia, including the civil war and events that led up to it.


Lizza, Ryan. "Where Angels Fear to Tread." The New Republic. 24 July 2000: 22. InfoTrac. Fiche Collection. Online Database. 21 November 2002.

This was about the Clinton administration's lies regarding African relations.


Masland, Tom "Taylor's Last Stand." Newsweek International. 28 July 2003. (19 November 2003)

This article had information about Taylor's political career and being elected in as Liberia's president until his exile, which was shortly before this article was written.


Massing, Michael. "Chester Crocker's Africa." The Nation. 25 January 1986: 242, 71. InfoTrac. Fiche Collection. Online Database. 20 November 2003.

This tells about the crisis first breaking out in Liberia. Written from the time so there is no illusions the war. It is just strait facts about what happened in Liberia right before war broke out.


Okenwa, Lillian. "Taylor: Hearing On Preliminary Objections Begins Today in Sierra Leone." Oct. 31, 2003. (1 Nov. 2003).

This was a recent article about what is going on in Liberia regarding Charles Taylor and Liberia's future.


On War.Com. Liberian Civil War 1989-1995. 13 October 2003. (2 November 2003).

This web page offered an overview of the events leading to and during the Liberian Civil War. It was one of the few articles that gave an overview of facts, rather then what was happening at that exact moment.


P., Staudenraus. "American Colonization Society." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2000: 360. InfoTrac. Electronic Collection. Online Database. 19 November 2003.

This was a brief overview of the history of Liberia and when U.S. transported free backs to Africa in the 1800's who founded the country.


Rhodes-Pitts, Sharifa. "Crying Freedom." The Boston Globe. 27 July 2003. http://infoweb/ (19 November 2003).

This article had information about Liberia's history and U.S. relations with Liberia in the past.


Richard Boucher, Joseph Snyder. "Conflict in Liberia." US Department of State Dispatch. 9 November 1992: 3, 813. InfoTrac. Fiche Collection. Online Database. 19 November 2003.

This is a transcript of statements made by Richard Boucher, State Department Spokesman, and Joseph Snyder, State Department Acting Spokesman, about the recent (to the time) deaths of five U.S. nuns and shooting at the U.S. embassy compound in Monrovia.


Shehu, Mohammed S. "Human Rights Developments." Human Rights World Watch Report 2001: Liberia. Date published. (1 Nov. 2003).

This website was about how Charles Taylor neglected Human Rights on the people. It focused on child soldiers and unsanitary refugee camps.


"Taylor Claps for Jesus." The Economist (US). 2 March 2002.!ar_fmt?sw_aep=mlin_m_needhamhs (19 November 2003)

This had information on the situation in Liberia up until the point it was written, which was when former President Taylor declared a state of emergency.


"Timeline: Liberia." BBC News. Oct 31 2003. (22 Nov 2003)

This timeline started from 1847 when Liberia's constitution was formed for freed slaves. It goes to 2003 stressing important events, which is very helpful.


"United Nations High Commission for Refugees." UNHCR Briefing Notes: Repatiation of Refugees from Liberia Continues. Oct 31 2003. (1 Nov. 2003)

This was a current article about what is going on with refugees and the government in Liberia. It also talks about the charges Charles Taylor will face.


Walsh, Tome. "Out of Africa." Sacramento News & Review. 23 May 2002. (22 Nov 2003)

This article was about a man named Amos Gbeintor who grew up during Liberia's Civil War. It explains the story of his family and neighborhood through the war. He eventually made it to America and is trying to help his family get here safely.


Weisberger, Bernard. "America's African Colony." American Heritage. December 1995: 46, 26. InfoTrac. Fiche Collection. Online Database. 20 November 2003.

This is an overview about the birth of Liberia.


"West Africa Refugees flee Civil War." The Christian Century. August 14, 2002: v119 i17 p17(1). Infotrac. The Christian Century Foundation. Online Database. 19 Nov. 2003.

This was about the humanitarian aide in Liberian and about how all the refugees are being displaced and what the government is doing.


*All quotes are said by Amos Gbeintor and taken from