The eagle, the sparrow and the vultures : America's policy and perceptions in Liberia, 1909-1933
Brim, Larry Ray
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United States-Liberian relations in the period 1909-1933 provide a look at the Open Door thesis presented by William A. Williams and Robert F. Smith, among others. They maintain that the United States acts in an imperialistic manner, attempting to establish a commercial Open Door World where a fair field and equal investment opportunity for American business results in the expansion of corporate capitalism in the undeveloped areas of the world. Through the use of dollar diplomacy, military intervention, diplomatic intervention, and extension of the political, social and religious value systems of the United States, corporate capitalism thrives without the necessity of an outright colonialist apparatus. This paper examines Liberia's historical experience 1909-1933 in the light of this view of corporate capitalist expansion, stressing social, religious, and legal images as significant in the relations between the United States and Liberia. Through the Foreign Relations papers of the United States State Department and the Chicago Defender newspaper, American policy and perceptions towards Liberia and Liberia's response are shown to be a clear example of American imperialistic penetration of Africa. It is not shown, however, that this necessarily destroys the image of America as a unique nation in history. Along with this reservation, the effect on Liberia of American expansion is evaluated and compared with its historic role as an outpost of American civilization.