LIBERIA

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LIBERIA ; the name which, in 1824, on the motion of general Robert Goodloe Harper, was given to the territory purchased by the American colonization society, on the western coast of Africa. The origin and" purposes of this association have been already described in the article Colonization Society, as well as the ill success of the first attempt to establish a settlement, in 18*20. In the summer of 1821, cape Montserado, or Mesurado, with a large tract of adjoining country, was purchased of the native chiefs, or headmen. The emigrants first established themselves on cape Montserado, under the direction of doctor Ayres, Jan. 7, 1822. Almost immediately after taking possession of the cape, doctor Ayres was, in consequence of severe illness, obliged to return to the U. States; but, happily for the colony, Mr. Jehudi Ashmun arrived, and assumed the superintendence of affairs, Aug. 8. For more than six years, this able man devoted all his powers to the work of establishing, upon broad and sure foundations5, this colony, so interesting to the U. States, and so full of hope for Africa. His defence of the infant settlement, in 45* December, 1822, against the united forces of the natives, showed great courage and talent. During the visit of the present secretary* of the society to the colony, in> 1824, the system of government now in operation was adopted, and the benefits which have resulted from it are great. The supreme power resides in the agent of the society, but all the civil and military officers of the colony are annually elected by the people. Through the negotiations of the late Mr. Ashmun, great access sions were made to the original territory of Liberia. Full possession has been obtained of large tracts of country, and a jurisdiction (which excludes all foreign nations from making settlements) acquired over the coast, from cape Mount to Trade Town, a distance of 150 miles. The territory of Liberia is generally low upon the coast, but gradually rises towards the interior, and, at a distance of from 20 to 30 miles from the sea, hills are visible, of considerable elevation. About 48 miles due northwest from cape Montserado, is Grand Cape mount, which is elevated from a level country, on a base of about four miles in diameter, 900 feet above the sea, which washes it on three sides. This mount, the northwestern extremity of Liberia bay, is covered with a deep and unfading foliage. Several springs of excellent water descend from it, and the Pissou river (a broad, but irregular and sluggish stream, which has been traced to about 100 miles from its mouth) empties itself into the ocean on its northern side. The St. Paul's river, which flows into Liberia bay, at the distance of from eight to nine miles north of cape Montserado, is of considerable magnitude, and supposed to admit, above its falls (about 20 miles from its mouth), of boat navigation for 200 or 300 miles. The Montserado river is 40 miles long, and enters the sea on the northern side of the cape of the same name. In the Junk district, southeast of cape Montserado 40 miles, are two considerable rivers, one descending from the northnorthwest, and the other from the eastnortheast, and pouring their waters into the ocean at the distance of only two miles from each other. The river St. John's, 81 miles southeast from cape Montserado, is larger than any we have mentioned, and represented by Mr. Ashmun as majestic, and navigable for vessels of 90 to 100 tons, abounding with fish, and having its course through a fertile, delicious and salubrious country, of a rich and mellow soil, fanned 16 hours in every * R. R. Gurley.24, even in the dry season, by a sea breeze, tempered and sweetened, in its passage up the river, by the verdure which crowns its banks, rendering the scene one of the most delightful that can be imagined. Cape Montserado, upon which is situated Monrovia (so called in honor of president Monroe, one of the earliest and most efficient friends of the colonization society), the earliest settlement made in Liberia, is about 6° 27' N. lat, and 10° 40' W. Ion. from Greenwich. Cape Montserado is elevated about 80 feet above the ocean, is washed by the water on three sides, and connected with a level tract of land on the fourth. Its length, from northwest to southeast, is three and one third miles; its average width, from northeast to southwest (directly across from the river to the ocean), three fourths of a mile. It comprehends about 1600 acres. From May to October, the wind, on this coast, is uniformly from southsouthwest. In November and December, the sea breeze varies from southsouthwest to northnorthwest, the land breeze commonly from northeast and north. Masters of vessels should remember that this coast may, at all seasons, be descended with little difficulty; but that the ascent, between January and May, is exceedingly slow, both the current and wind being in opposition. Vessels standing by cape Mount ought to give this cape a birth of two or three leagues. The anchorage ground, at the distance of one or two miles northeast of cape Montserado, is safe and good. The American colonization society has transported to Liberia 1402 free persons of color. Between 100 and 200 slaves, liberated from the grasp of pirates on the coast, have been placed under the protection of the colony. About 300 slaves, taken while about to be brought into the XT. States contrary to law, have been removed to Liberia by the government of the U. States. There are four flourishing settlements within the limits of the colony Monrovia, Caldwell, the Halfway Farms (or New Georgia), and Millsburg, situated 20 miles in the interior, on the eastern bank of the St. Paul's. One of the native tribes has voluntarily placed itself under the laws of the colony, and others have expressed a desire to follow its example. The natives, in the vicinity of Liberia, may be divided into three great classesthe Fey or Vey tribes occupying the country from Gallinas river to Grand Cape mount, a distance of 50 miles, and which are estimated by Mr. Ashmun at 1500. Between cape Mount and cape Montserado is the Dey tribe, about half the number of the Veys. Southwest of Montserado are the Bassas, extending over various countries. Their number may be estimated at 150,000. The Feysare described as a proud, selfish, deceitful race; the Deys as indolent,pacific and inoffensive, and the Bassas as industrious, and many of them laborious. It is not to be understood, however, that each of these classes is held together and directed by a single government. They are all of them broken up into small and feeble tribes, utterly incapable of conducting warlike operations in a united and powerful manner. The people farther in the interior are of a more elevated and civilized character, have some knowledge of the Arabic language, and some acquaintance with the more useful arts. The articles to be obtained by trade at Liberia are chiefly ivory, camwood, gold, tortoiseshell, hides, the teeth of the seahorse, and a small quantity of coffee. The country abounds in cattle, goats, swine and fowls, and in most of the fruits and productions of other tropical climates. Thus far, the efforts of the American colonization society have been attended with great, if not unexampled, success. The men of color, who have migrated to Liberia, have felt the influences of enterprise and freedom, and are improved alike in their condition and character. Those who were slaves have become masters; those who were once dependent have become independent: once the objects of charity, they are now benefactors, and the Yery individuals who, a few years ago, felt their spirits depressed in our land, and incapable of high efforts and great achievements, now stand forth conscious of their dignity and power, sharing in all the privileges and honors of a respected, a free, and a Christian people. The plan of the American colonization society appears practicable to a very great extent, and, we trust, will be made the means of inestimable good to the U. States and to Africa.