“In 1821, the United States government sent Dr. Eli Ayres to West Africa to buy, on what was known as the “Pepper Coast,” land that could be used as a colony for relocated slaves from America. He sailed to the location on the Mesurado River aboard the naval schooner USS Alligator, commanded by Lieutenant Robert Stockton. When they arrived, Stockton forced the sale of some land at gunpoint, from a local tribal chief named King Peter.
Soon after this sale was consummated, returned slaves and their stores were landed as colonists on Providence and Bushrod Islands in the Montserado River. However, once the USS Alligator left the new colonists, they were confronted by King Peter and his tribe. It took some doing but on April 25, 1822 this group moved off the low lying, mosquito infested islands and took possession of the highlands behind Cape Montserado, thereby founding present day Monrovia. Named after U.S. President James Monroe, it became the second permanent African American settlement in Africa after Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Thus the colony had its beginnings, but not without continuing problems with the local inhabitants who felt that they had been cheated in the forced property transaction. With the onset of the rainy season, disease, shortage of supplies and ongoing hostilities, caused the venture to almost fail.
As these problems increased, Dr. Ayres wanted to retreat to Sierra Leone again, but Elijah Johnson an African American, who was one of the first colonial agents of the American Colonization Society, declared that he was there to stay and would never leave his new home. Dr. Eli Ayres however decided that enough was enough and left to return to the United States, leaving Elijah and the remaining settlers behind. The colony was nearly lost if it was not for the arrival of another ship, the U.S. Strong carrying the Reverent Jehudi Ashmun and thirty-seven additional emigrants, along with much needed stores. It didn’t take long before the settlement was identified as a “Little America” on the western coast of Africa. Later even the flag was fashioned after the American flag by seven women; Susannah Lewis, Matilda Newport, Rachel Johnson, Mary Hunter, J.B. Russwurm, Conilette Teage, and Sara Dripper. On August 24, 1847 the flag was flown for the first time and that date officially became known as “Flag Day.” With that a new nation was born!”


Captain Hank Bracker, "Seawater Two...."
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