War for the Future

Liberia

Liberia

Welcome to the RVA Global Tour. eat great food, see great art, take selfies with history, and earn prizes at the museum. 

  1. Snap a photo with two or more posters. 

  2. visit the american civil war museum to get your prize.

Scroll down for Boston Drayton’s story, find others at the tour home page, and take off around the world… from Richmond! [Note: This is a prototype test of the Global Tour. Please let us know what you think! email to cgraham@acwm.org]

This 1867 map of Liberia shows the location of Maryland (in pink), formerly the Republic of Maryland governed by Boston Drayton, but by the time this map was made, a county of Liberia.

This 1867 map of Liberia shows the location of Maryland (in pink), formerly the Republic of Maryland governed by Boston Drayton, but by the time this map was made, a county of Liberia.

 
Elders at Richmond's First African Baptist church ordained Boston Drayton in 1848.

Elders at Richmond's First African Baptist church ordained Boston Drayton in 1848.

Boston Drayton, a black Lutheran from South Carolina, came to Richmond in 1848 to be accepted by First African Baptist Church. He did so in order to be eligible to go to Liberia under the auspices of the Virginia Colonization Society. Mary Jane Richards, a young black Richmonder also went to West Africa in 1856, sponsored by her nominal owner, Elizabeth Van Lew. Richards and Drayton may not have known each other, but they joined up to 15,000 Black Americans as part of colonizations plans in Liberia.

The harbor at Monrovia, Liberia's capital city.

The harbor at Monrovia, Liberia's capital city.

Colonization schemes that sent Black Americans to West Africa satisfied a need by white Americans to provide an outlet for black people freed from slavery. Drayton's and Richard's aspirations are not known, but some African Americans like Martin Delaney of Pennsylvania imagined West Africa as a refuge for Black Americans subject to relentless oppression at home.

The American Colonization Society established Liberia in 1821 and that country declared its independence in 1847. Boston Drayton quickly became Governor of a concurrent colony called the Republic of Maryland. In 1856, Drayton sought Liberian military assistance in Maryland’s struggle with the local Grebo and Kru people. In return, Liberia absorbed Maryland and Drayton became Liberian Chief Justice in 1861. The United States, freed of the slaveholding southern states, recognized Liberian independence in 1862.

Mary Jane Richards, for reasons unknown to us, returned to Richmond in 1860, and as an employee in Jefferson Davis' home worked to undermine the new Confederacy. Meanwhile, Boston Drayton, a successful merchant and politician in Liberia, died in 1865, hopeful that his new nation was poised for a bright, if complicated, future.

 
 
 

Understand where Boston was coming from by visiting the site of the original First African Baptist Church, now a part of Virginia Commonwealth University

 
 

Visit Africanne on Main for a taste of Liberian cuisine.