The Republic of Maryland -- Freed American Slave Colony
Rare map of the Republic of Maryland, drawn by Commander William Francis Lynch for the United States Navy.
The Republic of Maryland (also known variously as the Independent State of Maryland, Maryland-in-Africa, and Maryland in Liberia) was a small country that existed from 1834 to 1857, when it was merged into what is now Liberia. The area was first settled in 1834 by freed African-American slaves and freeborn African Americans primarily from the U.S. state of Maryland, under the auspices of the Maryland State Colonization Society.
The larger American Colonization Society was founded in 1816. It supported the settlement of thousands of free African Americans to their colony based in Monrovia in West Africa, along the coast. There were also initially separate settlements founded by state colonization societies of Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. In 1838, these African-American settlements were united into the Commonwealth of Liberia, which declared its independence from the American Colonization Society in July 26, 1847.
The Maryland colony remained separate from the Commonwealth of Liberia, as the colonization society wished to maintain its trade monopoly in the area. On February 2, 1841, Maryland-in-Africa became the Independent State of Maryland.
On May 29, 1854, the State of Maryland declared its independence, naming itself Maryland in Liberia, with its capital at Harper. It was also known as the Republic of Maryland. It held the land along the coast between the Grand Cess and San Pedro rivers. It lasted three years as an independent state.
Soon afterward, local tribes including the Grebo and the Kru attacked the State of Maryland in retaliation for its disruption of the slave trade, by which they had profited.
Unable to maintain its own defense, Maryland appealed for help to Liberia, its more powerful neighbor. President Roberts sent military assistance, and an alliance of Marylanders and Liberian militia troops successfully repelled the local tribesmen. The Republic of Maryland recognized that it could not survive as an independent state, and following a referendum, Maryland was annexed by Liberia on April 6, 1857, becoming known as Maryland County.