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Anthony W. Gardiner

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Anthony William Gardiner
9th President of Liberia
In office
January 7, 1878 – January 20, 1883
Vice PresidentAlfred Francis Russell
Preceded byJames Spriggs Payne
Succeeded byAlfred F. Russell
9th Vice President of Liberia
In office
January 1, 1872 – January 3, 1876
PresidentJoseph Jenkins Roberts
Preceded byJames Skivring Smith
Succeeded byCharles Harmon
1st Attorney General of Liberia
In office
PresidentJoseph Jenkins Roberts
Personal details
Born(1820-01-24)January 24, 1820
Southampton County, Virginia, United States
Died1885 (aged 64-65)
Political partyTrue Whig

Anthony William Gardiner (January 24, 1820 – 1885) served as the ninth president of Liberia from 1878 until 1883. He was the first of a series of thirteen True Whig presidents who held uninterrupted power until 1980.

Early years


Gardiner was born in Southampton County, Virginia in the United States on January 24, 1820.[1][2] In 1831, in the wake of Nat Turner's Rebellion in Southampton, when Gardiner was still a child, his was one of the families who relocated to Liberia under the sponsorship of the American Colonization Society. Gardiner received his law degree in Liberia and, in 1847, he served as a delegate to the National Convention, which drafted Liberia's declaration of independence and constitution. He became Liberia's first attorney general and later served in the House of Representatives of Liberia from 1855 to 1871. He served as Speaker of the House of Representatives 1860–1861.[3]

In May 1871, he was elected vice-president and was elected once again, serving until 1876. During the incapacitation of President Joseph Jenkins Roberts from 1875 until early 1876, Gardiner was also acting president.

Less than two years after leaving office as acting president, Gardiner won election to the presidency, taking office in 1878. In the same election, the True Whig Party won a massive victory and proceeded to dominate Liberian politics until a coup d'état in 1980 ended almost a century and a half of minority rule by the Americo-Liberians.

Presidency (1878–1883)


In the decades after 1868, escalating economic difficulties weakened the state's dominance over the coastal indigenous population. Conditions worsened, and the cost of imports was far greater than the income generated by exports of coffee, rice, palm oil, sugarcane, and timber. Liberia tried desperately to modernize its largely agricultural economy. As president, Gardiner called for increased trade with and investment from outside countries, improved public education, and closer relations with Liberia's native peoples. However, his policies were overshadowed by the ramifications of the European powers "scramble for Africa".

Territorial conflicts with European powers


Rivalries between the Europeans colonizing West Africa and the interest of the United States helped preserve Liberian independence during this period, and until 1919, despite Liberia's ongoing disputes with England and France.

During Gardiner's administration difficulties with the British Empire and Imperial Germany reached a crisis. Liberia was drawn into a border conflict with the British Empire over the Gallinas territory, lying between the Sewa River and the Mano River—territory which now forms the extreme eastern part of Sierra Leone. The British made a formal show of force at Monrovia in a mission led by Sir Arthur Havelock; meanwhile, the looting of a German vessel along the Kru Coast and personal indignities inflicted by the natives upon the shipwrecked Germans, led to the bombardment of Nana Kru by the German corvette SMS Victoria and the presentation at Monrovia of a claim for damages, payment of which was forced by the threat of the bombardment of the capital.



President Gardiner resigned on January 20, 1883, due to a serious illness. He was succeeded by the vice president, Alfred F. Russell. Two months later, in March 1883, the British Government annexed the Gallinas territory west of the Mano River and formally incorporated it into Sierra Leone.

See also



  1. ^ Elwood Dunn, D. (4 May 2011). The Annual Messages of the Presidents of Liberia 1848–2010: State of the Nation Addresses to the National Legislature. ISBN 9783598441691.
  2. ^ Dunn, Elwood D.; Beyan, Amos J.; Burrowes, Carl Patrick (20 December 2000). Historical Dictionary of Liberia. ISBN 9781461659310.
  3. ^ Dunn, D. Elwood (4 May 2011). The Annual Messages of the Presidents of Liberia 1848–2010: State of the Nation Addresses to the National Legislature. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9783598441691 – via Google Books.
  • Brawley, Benjamin (1971) [1921]. A Social History of The American Negro, Being a History of the Negro Problem in the United States. Including A History And Study Of The Republic Of Liberia. New York, AMS Press. ISBN 0-404-00138-6.

This article incorporates public domain text from Brawley, A Social History of The American Negro, retrieved from Project Gutenberg[1]

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by Vice President of Liberia
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Liberia
Succeeded by