Slavery / Forced Labor

A real crisis occurred during the tenure of President Charles D. B. King. Thomas J. Faulkner, the opposing candidate for President in 1927, revealed conditions similar to slavery as acceptable under the King administration. The League of Nations formed a tripartite commission to investigate. Their report confirmed practices of forced labor and the traditional practice of pawning, but did not find slavery as defined by the Anti-Slavery Convention of 1925. The reforms implemented by the King administration ultimately forced the President and Vice-President to step down.

Phillip James Johnson has recently completed a dissertation at Louisiana State University on the topic, and specifically on the contributions of American sociologist Charles S. Johnson's work with the League of Nations commission. Entitled "Seasons in Hell: Charles S. Johnson and the 1930 Liberian Labor Crisis," it is available in full-text.


For more information, see

  • Azikiwe, Nnamdi. Liberia in world politics. 1934 Reprinted in Westpost Negro University Press, 1970.
  • Akingbade, Harrison Oladunjoye. The Liberian problem of forced labor 1926-1940. Istituto italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente] vol.52, n.2, p.261-273, 1997
  • Ibrahim K. Sundiata, Prelude to scandal: Liberia and Fernando Po, 1880-1930, 15 Journal of African History, no. 1, p. 97-112Ibrahim K. Sundiata, Black Scandal: America and the Liberian Labor Crises, 1929-1936 (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1980).
  • Buell, Raymond L. Liberia: A Century of Survival, 1847-1947 in University of Pennsylvania Museum, African Handbook, No. 7 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1947).
  • Guannu, Joseph S. Liberia and the League of Nations: the crisis of 1929-1934. United States, 1972 (thesis submitted to Fordham University).
  • International Commission of Inquiry into the Existence of Slavery and Forced Labor in the Republic of Liberia. Title: Report of the International commission of inquiry into the existence of slavery and forced labor in the republic of Liberia. Monrovia, Liberia, September 8, 1930. Published: Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931.
  • Johnson, Charles S., and John Stanfield, ed. Bitter Canaan: the story of the negro republic. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1987
  • Knoll, A. J. Firestone's labor policy, 1924-1939, 16 Liberian Studies Journal no. 2, p. 49-75 (1991).
  • Normandy, Elizabeth L. African-Americans and U.S. policy towards Liberia 1929-1935. 18 Liberian Studies Journal, no. 2, p. 203-230, 1993
  • Taylor, John P. Liberia and the League of Nations, 1929-39. Geneva, political science thesis, 1986.
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