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Edward James Roye (February 3, 1815 – February 11, 1872) served as the fifth President of Liberia from 1870 to his overthrow in 1871 and subsequent violent death. He had previously served as the 4th Chief Justice of Liberia from 1865 until 1868. He was the first member of Liberia’s True Whig Party to serve as President.

Roye was born into a prosperous African American family in Newark, Ohio. Roye was a descendant of the Igbo people.His father, John Roye, managed a ferry across the Wabash River at Terre Haute, Indiana and acquired considerable land in Terre Haute as well as Vandalia in the neighboring state of Illinois. As a result of the family’s financial standing, young Edward was able to attend Ohio University in neighboring Athens, Ohio. In 1836, upon the premature death of his father, Roye relocated to Terre Haute where he established the community’s largest barber shop, boasting a 79-foot (24 m) high barber pole, “the tallest in western Indiana”. (Source: Wikipedia)

Interesting Biographical Snippets
  • When Roye took office, Liberia was in the midst of political instability exacerbated by a fiscal crisis so Roye sailed to England where he began loan negotiations with London banks. Roye hastily agreed to the loans without consulting the legislature.
  • On October 26, 1871, President Roye was forcibly removed from office after unconstitutionally extending his term.
  • Varying accounts indicate that he was killed on February 11 or February 12, 1872. Another account suggests that he drowned while trying to reach a British ship in Monrovia harbor, on Feb. 12, 1872.
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