Leading Americo-Liberians like Edward W. Blyden pointed out that President Roberts’ claim of purchasing the Vai Chiefdoms was false. Like the Dei, Bassa, Kru, Grebo, and almost every tribe, the Vai denied ever selling their territory or abdicating their political sovereignty to the Americo-Liberians.
One of the main reasons why the Vai chiefs opposed the establishment of the settlements was the same with all the tribes of the hinterland: The habits of the Americo-Liberians to “spread their feet all over the country,” from the coast where they were permitted to “sit down.”
As a result of the reluctance of the Americo-Liberians to pay careful attention to the Vai chiefs’ complaints especially that of Marano Sando, he induced most of the Vai chiefs to sign an agreement which made their territories a British protectorate. By 1883 the Sierra Leone Governor, Arthur Havelock proclaimed the entire Vai Chiefdoms British territory and part of Sierra Leone. By 1885, most of Liberia and the Vai tribe were annexed to Sierra Leone.
Thus we see how most of the purchases of the coastal and hinterland of Liberia were made through fraud. Rumors had it that $30,000 was allocated to the new settlers of Liberia for the purchase of land for the various settlements along the coast and the hinterland, and that Mr. Roberts had misappropriated the funds then tried to cover up by filing false land transaction reports. Such was the case when only $1200-1300 was accounted for of the $2,650 he reported.
The third major and last resistance was the 1932 resurgence of the Kru militarism, which shows the manner in which the Americo-Liberians dealt with the natives in armed rebellion. Besides their plans of brutal response, other plans seemed to eliminate certain tribes altogether. An example was what happened to the Sapo tribe when they rebelled. They were almost wiped out entirely save the intervention of the British and the International community.
There was strong evidence that the Kru uprising was caused or promoted by outsiders not living among the Kru people. However, it should be stressed here as mentioned earlier that many of the tribes had been exposed to the outside world (Europeans), and had the capability to resist anyone trying to impose their sovereignty upon them. Therefore, it was not surprising at all for many to see how the Kru tribe responded to the Americo-Liberian Government.
This most recent confrontation of the Kru with the Liberian Government was so intensified that it drew the attention of the League of Nations. Regardless of how this might be interpreted, whether the reports were exaggerated by the American Press or that the British Parliament reacted unfavorably to the Liberian Government, the Kru tribe arming themselves was the result of what happened during the 1915 uprising of Kru Coast, and how the USS Chester nearly wipe out the whole tribe. The Kru tribe had vowed “never again” and so when the Liberian Government sent out the military expedition into their territory, although peaceful as it was intended to be, in preparation, they armed themselves.
The government’s reaction to resistance from those tribes under their subjugation was brutal. For example, in 1911, the Krus of Know Point rebelled and were crushed. Their chiefs were tried for “high treason.” Two were convicted and executed. The following is what was said by President Barclay after the incident:
“The lesson I wished to drive home to the Coast Tribes is:
If you rebel, it will be as good as your ruin. The Grebos
have learnt a lesson; and then the bitter cup is handed to
Know Point people. If the lesson is driven home, the other
tribes will mark, learn and invariably digest the moral desire.”
In October of 1912, President Howard sent a military commission against the Krus of River Cess with an order to:
“Land at Timbo and proceed at once to River Cess
destroying Bobotown on the way as well as Weavers’
and any other chief town who have joined them. Catch Bob
Roberts if you can and report; and if you can’t take him
alive, shoot him. If you are able to accomplished the above
then call a council of neutral and other chiefs and talk the
palaver as to the cause of the trouble and take such steps,
as you deem necessary, disarming as many of the rebels as