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Arthur Barclay (July 31, 1854 – July 10, 1938) was the 15th President of Liberia, serving from 1904 to 1912.

Arthur Barclay
Arthur Barclay.jpg
15th President of Liberia
In office
January 4, 1904 – January 1, 1912
Vice PresidentJoseph D. Summerville
J. J. Dossen
Preceded byGarretson W. Gibson
Succeeded byDaniel Edward Howard
Personal details
Born(1854-07-31)July 31, 1854
Bridgetown, Barbados
DiedJuly 10, 1938(1938-07-10) (aged 83)
Monrovia, Liberia
Political partyTrue Whig


Early life and educationEdit

Barclay was born at Bridgetown, Barbados, on July 31, 1854, the tenth of twelve children of Anthony and Sarah Barclay. He was the father of Anthony Barclay, who served on the Supreme Court of Liberia, and uncle of the 18th President, Edwin Barclay.

His first teacher was his oldest sister, Antoinette Barclay. He later entered the Preparatory Department of Liberia College, under the principalship of Anthony T. Ferguson. Having completed the course prescribed, he matriculated into the Collegiate Department and graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in the Class of 1873.


In 1877, he was appointed Principal of the Perparatory Department of his Alma Mater, which position he held for a number of years, and served during the vacation as Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives. His later services to the said institution were: Professor, Member of the Board of Trustees, and sometimes Acting President.

He was called to the Bar of Montserrado County in 1877, and after practising law for three years, he attained the rank of Counsellor of the Supreme Court in the year 1880.

His first official position was Private Secretary to President Joseph Jenkins Roberts, from 1874; his second, Judge of the Court of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas of Montserrado County to which he was appointed by President Alfred F. Russell, in 1883.

In 1885, President Hilary R. W. Johnson appointed him Sub-Treasurer of Montserrado County, which post he held for 5 years.

He was mayor of Monrovia from 1892 until 1902.[1]

In 1892, President Joseph James Cheeseman, on taking office, elevated him to Cabinet rank as Postmaster-General, and afterwards to the post of Secretary of State. On the demise of H. A. Williams in 1896, he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, which position he held continuously until his election to the Presidency in May 1903. Inaugurated in January, 1904, he served until January 1912. After his retirement he frequently acted as Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of the Interior and War. He was President of Liberia College, 1914-1917.

He served upon the following diplomatic commissions:

Presidency (1904–1912)Edit

Arthur Barclay was President from 1904 to 1912. In addition to continued internal unrest, the country faced a severe economic crisis and huge indebtedness to European creditors. In the decades after 1868, escalating economic difficulties weakened the state's dominance over the coastal indigenous population. Conditions worsened, as the cost of imports was far greater than the income generated by exports of coffee, rice, palm oil, sugarcane, and timber. Liberia tried desperately to modernize its largely agricultural economy.

In 1907, while President of the Nation, he headed the mission to arrange boundary disputes with the British and French Governments, associating with F. E. R. Johnson, Secretary of State, and T. McCants Stewart, Deputy Attorney-General of Liberia.

Under his government, the Liberian Frontier Force was created, which later evolved into the Liberian Armed Forces.


He died at his home in Monrovia on Sunday, July 10, 1938, at 4:30 in the afternoon.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Liberia Bulletin, American Colonization Society, 1904


  • Nathaniel R. Richardson, Liberia's Past and Present. London: The Diplomatic Press and Publishing Company, 1959.

External linksEdit