1871 to World War One
After E.J. Roye was removed from office, J.J. Roberts became president again serving for four more years (1872-1876), followed by James S. Payne's second term as president (1876-1878).
The ruling elite in Liberia continued to have territorial disputes with the European countries of England and France. In 1883, Liberia lost the region north of the Mano River when Sierra Leone claimed that territory and was backed by Great Britian. Anthony W. Gardiner, president since 1878, was so upset in the way the British took this territory, he resigned from office and vice-president Alfred F. Russell became president. At the May election, Hilary R. W. Johnson was elected and became the first Liberian-born president serving from 1884 to 1892. He negotiated with the British government to establish a treaty specifying exactly the boundary between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In 1892, the area beyond Cape Palmas was claimed by the Ivory Coast when Liberia and France signed a treaty. President Johnson was responsible for this negotiation but retired before the treaty was signed. This map shows the boundry encroachment of Liberia's neighbors. Joseph James Cheeseman from Edina, Grand Bassa Co. became the next president.
Liberian society and political structure was arranged in layers. The most powerful were "Americo-Liberians" which were actually mixed African and European ancestry. They were lighter skinned than the indigenous native blacks. The Americo-Liberians sent their children to America for high school and college. While this ruling elite live and prospered achieving respect they could never attain in America, they failed to include native Liberians into their power base. In fact, they took their land, taxed them, and controlled their trade.
Ethnic struggles with the Kru, Gola, and Grebo tribe who resented inclusion on their land occurred several times during Cheeseman's reign. One notable uprising occurred in 1893 when the Grebo tribe attached the settlement of Harper. Troops and the gunboat Gorronomah were sent to defeat the tribesmen. President Cheeseman died in office and vice-president
William David Colemen served the remainder of the term and another four years until 1900.
William Coleman took office with broad ideas for opening up the Interior. He established Liberian influence in the interior northwest of the Saint Paul River. He conducted an expedition into Gola territory which he intended to subdue the Gola Tribe and their allies, but was terribly defeated. The policy Coleman established was unaffected and reports of depredations upon the natives by Colman's commanders caused leading citizens and prominent members of the Legislature to call for immediate change. Coleman resigned from office and was replaced by Garreston W. Gibson.
Garreston W. Gibson was sixty-eight when he took office as President and had a vase amount of political experience including Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of State. His accomplishments as President include the granting of rights to the Union Mining Operations to investigate the hinterland for minerals including gold. Also investigated was the flora of the Liberian hinterland. Finally, the Northern boundary was surveyed by a joint commission of Liberia and Great Britain. He served from 1900 to 1904.
Arther Barclay was the President from 1904 to 1912. During his administration Liberia joined the convention of African Powers for the preservation of big game, rare animals and birds. In 1907 he headed a mission to the U.S. to arrange boundary disputes with the British and French Governments.