At the Official 175th Liberian Independence Day Programme at Centennial Pavilion, Ambassador McCarthy remarked that July 26 “is a notable day in the history of not only Liberia and the United States, but all of Africa, as the continent’s first independent republic. From its inception on this continent, Liberia represented something new and hopeful, just as America – from which it sprang – represented something new and hopeful on the American continent.”
As a symbol of the longstanding friendship between the United States and Liberia, U.S. Embassy Monrovia publicly unveiled the commissioned recreation of a bronze plaque, originally gifted to the government of Liberia in commemoration of its Centennial Independence Day and unveiled on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
On July 26, 1947, the National Committee for the American Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of Liberia held a plaque unveiling ceremony at the foot of the John Marshall statue on the west front of the Capitol in Washington D.C. At the unveiling, Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson, delivered profound remarks on the founding of Liberia and the lesser-known pivotal role of the Courts in the country’s success. This event was particularly significant to Justice Jackson, who was an official descendant of Judge Bushrod Washington, an early Supreme Court Justice, nephew of President George Washington, and first president of the American Colonization Society, the fostering organization of the colony of Liberia. Once unveiled, Justice Jackson described the bronze plaque stating, “In the artist’s concept, hands extending from the African and North American Continents are clasped across the sea. In this friendly grasp we will make and share progress in the arts and sciences of civilization, in commerce and manufacture, in government, and enlightened social organization – in all those things which make life beautiful and worthy.”
Democratic Congressman William Levi Dawson of Illinois, the first African American to serve as a chairperson of a congressional committee, read the text inscribed on the plaque:
“We, citizens of the United States, cherish the unique historical ties existing between our nation and Liberia, and in the name of ‘our common Creator and common Judge’ commend for Liberia the spirit of freedom, ‘sympathy and friendly consideration’ as a principle of peace which all members of the world family of nations should share, and we,
On this 26th day of July, 1947, duly represented and assembled in Washington, the capital city of the United States of America, extend to Liberia our congratulations and warmest sentiments on its centenary of statehood.”
The plaque, sculptured by Harris Lewis Raul and bronze casted by the Baumgarten Company, was received by then-President, Charles D.B. King, the new Liberian envoy to Washington. Following the ceremony, King, his wife, and others at the ceremony went to the Lincoln Memorial where King laid a wreath honoring President Lincoln, during whose administration the United States recognized Liberia’s independence.
With thorough research conducted by Deputy Chief of Mission Joel Maybury, the United States Embassy in Monrovia provided Liberian artist, Leslie Lumeh, with the above description and inscription on the plaque to be expertly recreated as an oil painting. In honor of the Bicentennial Year, 175th Liberian Independence Day, and the 160th anniversary of U.S.-Liberian diplomatic relations, U.S. Embassy Monrovia presented this plaque to President Weah and the entire Liberian government to restore this important bilateral history.