Governor John B. Russwurm and the Civilizing Mission in Maryland in Liberia, 1836–1851

  • Amos J. Beyan


In many ways Russwurm’s leadership in Maryland in Liberia can be understood in the contexts of his experiences in Liberia that had been informed by his American episode. Before he assumed the governorship in Maryland in Liberia in 1836, Russwurm was already among the most Westernized blacks in the early nineteenth century As it has been noted, Hebron Academy and Bowdoin College had exposed Russwurm to American high ideals. He had studied philosophy, mathematics, Latin, Greek, international law, literature, rhetoric, religion, political science or government, history, geography, and other disciplines that qualified him as a virtuous citizen. The methods of teaching included daily recital or narration of the writings of scholars such as Warren and Webster, and the concrete illustration of what were considered to be scientific concepts at that time. The moral and religious requirements Russwurm and other students had adhered to at Bowdoin included drinking no alcoholic beverages, dressing to the taste of the officials of the college, praying before breakfast and dinner, studying three hours before and after noon, and attending chapel services every evening. Russwurm, like the white leaders of the ACS and those of MSCS, promoted the mentioned rectitude in Liberia, and later, in Maryland in Liberia. Such an effort constituted the civilizing mission in the two American settlements in West Africa in the early nineteenth century.


Sugar Cane Corporal Punishment Early Nineteenth Century Social Arrangement Black Nationalism 
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© Amos J. Beyan 2005

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  • Amos J. Beyan

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