Until recently, these visits have been of a uniformly harmonious character, but as they have become more frequent, and to more numerous points of our extending coast, questions have arisen, which it is supposed can be adjusted only by agreement between sovereign powers.
For years past, the American Colonization Society has vir tually withdrawn from all direct and active part in the administra tion of the government, except in the appointment of the Governor, who is also a colonist, for the apparent purpose of testing the ability of the people to conduct the affairs of government, and no complaint of crude legislation, nor of mismanagement, nor of mal-administration has yet been heard.
We uttered our complaints, but they were unattended to, or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country.
The first constitution under which Liberia, on July 26, 1847, was declared a "free, sovereign and independent state by the name and style of the Republic of Liberia." The decision of the Liberian Commonwealth to regularize its status in accordance with modern international law was a direct result of what Governor Joseph Jenkins Roberts called the "embarrassment we labor under with respect to the encroachments of foreigners, and the objections urged by Great Britain in regard to our sovereignty." Because Great Britain, operating from neighboring Sierra Leone, regarded the Commonwealth and its parent organization the American Colonization Society (ACS), as "private persons" not entitled to exercise sovereignty especially in the domain of levying and collecting customs duties, the need was urgently felt to proceed with formalizing independence.
After appropriate consultations with the ACS and the U. government, with both endorsing the idea of independence, the Commonwealth Council began preparation of the mechanics for assuming independence.
The Constitution is based on the ideals of democratic government as reflected in the original American Constitution, and embodying such fundamental principles as centralism (authority inherent in national governments); popular sovereignty (government by the will and consent of the governed); limited government (powers of government specified in the Constitution); government of general powers (acts unspecified in the Constitution but necessary for good government); separation of powers (legislative/executive/judiciary); and the supremacy of the judiciary (inherent power of judicial review).
The Constitution specifically contains a preamble and five articles including the bill of rights (Article I), legislative powers (Article II), executive powers (Article III), judicial powers (Article IV), and miscellaneous provisions (Article V).
Greenleaf's draft proposal essentially containing clauses for a constitution (and not a complete draft) was first sent to the Liberian Commonwealth by the ACS in June 1846 with the ACS Secretary Joseph Tracy making clear that they were only intended as a guide to the impending deliberations of the constitutional convention. From Grand Bassa came John Day, Amos Herring, Anthony W. While it has been conventional wisdom among students of Liberian history that Professor Greenleaf wrote the Constitution of 1847, recent scholarship indicates Greenleaf's unfamiliarity with 19th-century Liberian settler society as reflected in the five constitutional articles.
Once the convention got under way in January 1847, it received from the ACS "additional constitutional articles" from Greenleaf. In addition, it is assumed that neither Greenleaf nor the ACS, controlled as it was by Euro-Americans, could have been responsible for sections 12 and 13 of Article V, which restricted the ownership of property and citizenship rights in Liberia to blacks.Drawing upon the American experience, the repatriates labored toward preparing a declaration of independence and a constitution, which would include a bill of rights.They also naturally looked forward to a new relationship with the ACS. Even though records of the proceedings were kept, they were subsequently lost, so that the only known account of the proceedings is that found in the journal of James W. According to Lugenbeel, Teage was made chairman of the committee on the preamble and bill of rights and requested to draft the Declaration of Independence.As our territory has extended , and our population increased, our commerce has also increased.The flags of most of the civilized nations of the earth float in our harbors, and their merchants are opening an honorable and profitable trade.In assuming the momentous responsibilities of the position they have taken, the people of this Republic, feel justified by the necessities of the case, and with this conviction they throw themselves with confidence upon the candid consideration of the civil ized world.