Settlement Surrounded by Palisade (Cape Palmas, Liberia?), mid-19th cent.

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This record was last updated on 09 Sep 2015

Image Reference

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

Ink and watercolor and crayon. Identified by the 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), and a flag flies from a pole within the village. The flag, house types, and palisade suggest this is an American settlement, perhaps Cape Palmas, where the Maryland in Liberia colony was established. The colony’s flag was first unveiled aboard a ship leaving the United States in November 1833, and perhaps this is the depicted flag. When the colony was established in 1834, 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 colonists, the farm lands 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 most typical house of early and later settlers (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; cf. 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 ). This is one of 22 works displayed on this website of West African coastal scenes -- out of a total of 32 -- held by University of Virginia Library. None of the works is dated or signed, and they seem to have been done by at least two different persons (perhaps associated with missionary activities in West Africa and/or the American Colonization Society). See also other image references “UVA” on this website.