True Whig Party

The True Whig Party (TWP), also known as the Liberian Whig Party (LWP), is the oldest political party in Liberia. Founded in 1869 by primarily darker-skinned Americo-Liberians in rural areas, the party dominated Liberian politics from 1878 until 1980. The nation was virtually a one-party state, although opposition parties were never outlawed.[2] Initially, its ideology was strongly influenced by that of the United States Whig Party.

True Whig Party
Liberian Whig Party
Historic leadersEdward James Roye
Anthony W. Gardiner
William Tubman
William Tolbert
Founded1869 (1869)
Preceded byOpposition Party
HeadquartersMonrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia
IdeologyBlack conservatism[1]
Political positionRight-wing
International affiliationNone
Colors     Green
Historical ethnic affiliationAmerico-Liberians


The political party was founded in the township of Clay-Ashland in 1869 as a reorganised version of the Opposition Party.[3][4][5] It presided over a society where Black American settlers and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, constituted nearly 100% of the citizens able to vote. It primarily represented them, often working in tandem with the Masonic Order of Liberia.[6]

The party endorsed systems of forced labour. In 1930 they sent "contract migrant laborers", under conditions tantamount to slavery, to Spanish colonists on Fernando Pó in Spanish Guinea (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea),[7] leading to a five-year U.S. and British boycott of Liberia. Despite this dispute, the West considered the True Whig Party as a stabilizing, unthreatening force. The US and Britain invested extensively in the nation under William Tubman's long period of rule (19441971).

The party lost power after Tubman's successor, William Tolbert, was killed in a military coup on 12 April 1980 by a group of AFL soldiers, who formed the People's Redemption Council (PRC). They opposed his clampdown on the political opposition and his tolerance of corruption. The opposition restricted activities of the True Whig Party; the vast majority of its members and supporters left the party, but it struggled on as a minor party. Members of indigenous groups began to exert more political power, in keeping with their dominance in number of the national population.


In 1991, the party faced a challenge from a new group, which identified as the "National True Whig Party of Liberia." TWP chairman Momo Fahnbulleh Jones threatened legal action to induce the newly founded party to change its name.[8]

The party participated in the 2005 general election as part of the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia (COTOL), which dissolved the next year. It registered to compete as an individual party in the 2011 general election, while endorsing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's bid for a second term.[9] However, the party had strife over its leadership five months before the election,[10] and it failed to nominate any candidate for any legislative seat.

Electoral history

Presidential elections

Election Party candidate Votes % Result
1869 Edward James Roye Elected Y
1877 Anthony W. Gardiner Elected Y
1879 Elected Y
1881 Elected Y
1883 Supported Hilary R. W. Johnson Elected Y
1885 Hilary R. W. Johnson 1,438 62.25% Elected Y
1887 Elected Y
1889 Elected Y
1891 Joseph James Cheeseman Elected Y
1893 Elected Y
1895 Elected Y
1897 William D. Coleman Elected Y
1899 Elected Y
1901 Garreston W. Gibson Elected Y
1903 Arthur Barclay Elected Y
1905 Elected Y
1907 Elected Y
1911 Daniel Edward Howard Elected Y
1915 Elected Y
1919 Charles D. B. King Elected Y
1923 Elected Y
1927 243,000 96.43% Elected Y
1931 Edwin Barclay Elected Y
1939 Elected Y
1943 William Tubman Elected Y
1951 Elected Y
1955 244,873 99.5% Elected Y
1959 530,566 100% Elected Y
1963 565,044 100% Elected Y
1967 Elected Y
1971 714,005 100% Elected Y
1975 William Tolbert 750,000 100% Elected Y
2005 Supported Varney Sherman 76,403 7.8% Lost N
2011 Supported Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 607,618 90.7% Elected Y

House of Representatives elections

Election Votes % Seats
1955 244,873 99.5%
29 / 29
1975 750,000 100%
71 / 71
2005 137,897
as part of COTOL
8 / 64
2017 14,723 0.96%
0 / 73

Senate elections

Election Votes % Seats
1955 244,873 99.5%
10 / 10
1975 750,000 100%
18 / 18
2005 252,677

as part of COTOL

3 / 30

See also


  1. Carl Patrick Burrowes (2004). Power and Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830-1970. Africa World Press. p. 312.
  2. "Liberia Country Study: The True Whig Ascendancy" Global Security
  3. Shillington, Kevin (2005). Encyclopedia of African History. 1. Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 978-1-57958-245-6.
  4. Donald A. Ranard, "Liberians: An Introduction to their History and Culture" Archived 2015-04-09 at the Wayback Machine, Center for Applied Linguistics, April 2005
  5. Carl Patrick Burrowes (2004) Power and Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830-1970: The Impact of Globalization and Civil Society on Media-government Relations, Africa World Press, p85
  6. Monrovia - Masonic Grand Lodge
  7. Report of the International Commission of Inquiry into The Existence of Slavery and Forced Labor in the Republic of Liberia. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1931.
  8. "True Whig Party To Sue If...", The Eye, 23 July 1991: pp. 7/8
  9. Kwanue, C.Y. (June 17, 2011). "TWP Endorses Ellen's 2nd Term". Daily Observer. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011.
  10. "Power Struggle in TWP: Partisans Demand Leadership Out But...", Liberian Observer 2011-05-23: 1/10.
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