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Jehudi Ashmun was appointed General Superintendent of the Liberian colony by the American Colonization Society (ACS) in 1822. He became the fourth official to take up that post since the settlement of the colony. Unlike his predecessors, none of which lasted more than a year, Ashmun was in the post for six years. His longevity and the lack of administrative oversight gave Ashmun almost dictatorial influence over the direction of early colonial Liberia. His background as a Methodist preacher and academic, as well as the ambition of the ACS to spread the influence of Christianity, would create an expectation that mission and evangelism would be central to the early colony. Instead, Ashmun ignored any religious responsibilities becoming a militaristic and expansionist colonial administrator. In Ashmun and the ACS’s dispensation with evangelical pretence this period of colonial history previews the way in which the expansion of Christianity and mission could, and would, be used as cover for exploitative colonisation. 

Marc Eliot is a Ph.D. Candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.