Written by: Jay U Boye
Liberia and the United States of America relationship dates way back before the establishment of Liberia. In 1947 the two countries officially made a commitment and established a strong bilateral tie.
At the official ceremony held on July 26th 2022, Liberia’s independence day celebration, US-Liberia Ambassador, McCathy presented a historical plaque to HE Dr. George M. Weah.The recreation of a 1947 bronze plaque, originally gifted to the government of Liberia in commemoration of their 100th Independence Day and unveiled on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Due to the civil war, the bronze plaque has since disappeared. And to recreate this pictorial alive, expert painter Leslie Lewis was commissioned to resolidified this old painting.
The United States of America Presented the first African Republic, Liberia with the Bronze Plaque a symbol of commitment and bilateral ties to Liberia. Unfortunately for Liberia, the Bronze Plaque was stolen from the National Museum of Liberia, since then, there has been no Symbol of strong bilateral ties between the two countries. The oil painting features the remodeled image of hands emerging from the United States of America and Liberia, clasped across the Atlantic Ocean, above the world.
“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.”
Historicity of the Missing Bronze Plague
The above inscription on the bronze plaque was read by Democratic Congressman William Levi Dawson of Illinois, the first African American to serve as a chairperson of a congressional committee.
Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson unveiled the plaque noting, “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.”
The sculpturing was by Harris Lewis Raul. Bronze casting of the plaque was done by the Baumgarten Company, which operates in Laurel, MD, to this day. The plaque was received by Charles D.B. King, the new Liberian envoy to Washington. King was a former Liberian President.
The plaque unveiling ceremony took place on July 26, 1947 on the West Front of the Capitol near the statue of Justice John Marshall. The program was carried by NBC, CBS, and other media. 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.
Researched documents or Newspapers of the plague supporting documentation, including a press release from the time (Liberian Embassy), the U.S. Congressional Record of the event in Washington, an official program that participants would have received at the time of the 1947 ceremony, and U.S. newspaper coverage.
On July 26th 2022 the US Government through the American embassy presented a re-sculptured Bronze plaque to HE. Dr. George M. Weah, renewing her relationship to the oldest independent state in Africa.
It was a historical moment for the West African state and the United States of America.
(Information researched by Joel Maybury, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy, Monrovia, Liberia and Min.of Agriculture Jeannie Cooper).