Liberia : Liberia...and the slaves who returned to africa...


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009

Stephen Allen Benson (1816-1865)

Born in Maryland, Stephen Benson was only six years old when he immigrated with his family to Liberia in 1822. Soon after the Bensons arrived, indigenous tribesmen attacked their settlement. Stephen and several siblings were held captive for several months until the ACS agent secured their freedom. Upon his release, Benson rejoined his family and began his schooling. In 1835, service with the militia took him to Grand Bassa County; Benson remained there, engaging in trade as well as agriculture.

Benson was first elected to public office in 1842, winning a seat on the Colonial Council. After Liberia gained its independence in 1847, he served as a judge until his election as Vice President in 1853. When President Joseph Jenkins Roberts declined to seek a fifth term in 1855, Benson was elected to succeed him. During his four-term presidency, Liberia saw an expansion of both its internal and external trade and, in 1862, welcomed long-awaited diplomatic recognition by the United States. The first Liberian President to speak several native languages, Benson favored a progressive policy toward Liberia's indigenous peoples; regrettably, this policy remained largely unimplemented. Leaving office at the close of 1863, Benson returned to his coffee plantation in Grand Bassa County, where he died in 1865.

This portrait was probably made during Washington's first year in Liberia. The discoloration that now partially obscures the image is primarily the result of tarnish.


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009

Urias Africanus McGill (circa 1823-1866)
The freeborn son of George R. and Angelina McGill of Baltimore, Urias McGill was eight years old when he immigrated to Liberia with his parents and siblings aboard the Reaper. Although Mrs. McGill died shortly after the family's arrival in Monrovia in February 1831, her husband and children survived. Several members of the family settled at Cape Palmas, while George McGill remained in Monrovia with sons James and Urias. A Methodist clergyman and teacher by profession, the elder McGill joined the ranks of Liberia's prosperous merchants, and in time his four sons followed his lead. By the early 1850s, Urias and James had formed a successful partnership under the name of Urias A. McGill & Brother, and in 1854 they were joined by brothers Samuel and R. S. McGill to create the larger trading concern of McGill Brothers. Embracing both transatlantic and African coastal trade, as well as a thriving commission business with numerous stores and warehouses, the McGill Brothers firm played a principal role in Liberia's early commercial history and earned a handsome fortune for its partners.
Augustus Washington's portrait of Urias McGill is believed to date from 1854, the year in which the McGill Brothers partnership was formed.

Unidentified woman

The identity of the woman pictured in this daguerreotype has not been established. It is reasonable to assume that she was connected in some way with the McGill family, and may have been Urias McGill's wife....


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009

Edward Morris born circa 1802

Born in slavery, Edward Morris emigrated from Mississippi to Liberia in 1838 and took up residence in Sinoe, the new settlement established by the Mississippi State Colonization Society (an auxiliary of the ACS) as a destination for former slaves from that state. Morris followed the example of other early settlers in Liberia and soon made trade his principal occupation. By 1843, he was the owner of two warehouses and was counted among the successful members of the colony's merchant class. When Liberia declared its independence from the ACS in 1847, Morris was among the first elected to the legislature of the new republic, where he represented Sinoe County. He served several terms as a member of the Liberian Senate and later held office as superintendent of Sinoe County (1857-1861), in which capacity he governed that county and was responsible directly to Liberia's President.

It was while serving his final term as one of two senators from Sinoe County that Edward Morris sat for this daguerreotype portrait.

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