Tubman, William Vacanarat Shadrach

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Tubman, William Vacanarat Shadrach

William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman, 1895–1971, president of Liberia (1944–71). As a young man he was a lawyer, a collector of internal revenue, a teacher, and an officer of the Liberian militia. He was elected to the senate in 1923 but resigned in 1931 after a League of Nations investigation found Liberia (governed by Tubman's party) guilty of selling its people into slavery. He was reelected to the senate in 1934, but he resigned again in 1937 to become an associate justice of the Liberian supreme court. He was elected president in 1943 and took office in 1944. He was reelected several times, with the help of constitutional amendments, serving until his death. Tubman greatly modernized the economy of his country and its educational facilities and gave the vote to women and other ethnic groups. He and high officials of freed-slave descent, however, were often criticized for living in luxury while the vast majority was poor. Other African leaders accused Tubman of being too much under the influence of the United States.

See biography by R. A. Smith (1967); E. R. Townsend, ed., President Tubman of Liberia Speaks (1959); D. E. Dunn, The Foreign Policy of Liberia during the Tubman Era, 1944–1971 (1979).

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