Settlement Surrounded by Palisade (Liberia ?), 1840s-1850s

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This record was last updated on 27 Jun 2017

Image Reference

Drawings of Western Africa (University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, MSS 14357, no. 12).

Ink and watercolor and crayon. Identified by the unknown artist as a “Stockade,” the palisade surrounds a tightly packed group of rectangular houses with pitched roofs. A guard (?) at the entrance carries a spear and axe (typical of some Liberian native peoples; see image UVA02); a flag flies from a pole within the village. The flag, house types, and palisade suggest this is an American settlement, perhaps at Cape Palmas, where the Maryland in Liberia colony was established in 1834. The colony’s flag was first unveiled aboard a ship leaving the United States in November 1833, and perhaps this is the flag that is depicted. When the colony was established, the founders were instructed by the Board of Managers of the Maryland State Colonization Society to “build a large stockade,” and within it to lay out streets, plots of land, etc. After completion of the “stockade” and houses for the American colonists, the farmlands were then to be assigned. The initial dwellings in this “stockade fort” were twelve framed (weatherboard) houses with shingled roofs; such single-storied houses were the characteristic house type of early and later American settlers (houses of the indigenous Africans were quite different). Sources: P. Campbell, Maryland in Liberia (Univ. of Illinois Press, 1971), pp. 77-78; Richard Hall, On Afric’s Shore (Baltimore, 2003), pp. 20, 73; also John Latrobe, Maryland in Liberia (Baltimore, 1885), pp. 37, 44; Archibald Alexander, A History of Colonization on the Western Coast of Africa (Philadelphia, 1846), p. 408. An engraving of the Fair Hope Mission station at Cape Palmas in 1841, shows the settler houses surrounded by a low wall or palisade (The Missionary Herald 1841, p. 352, published in Erskine Clarke, By the Rivers of Water [Basic Books, 2013], figure 8). See other image references “UVA” on this site. For background to this and other UVA images, see image reference UVA01.