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Edwin James Barclay (January 5, 1882 – November 6, 1955) was a Liberian politician. A member of the True Whig political party, he served as the 18th President of the country from 1930 until 1944. Under his leadership, Liberia was an ally of the United States during World War II.

Edwin Barclay’s paternal grandparents moved from Barbados to Liberia with their children in 1865. Edwin’s father, Ernest Barclay, and uncle, Arthur Barclay, were also important Liberian politicians. In 1901, at the age of 19, Edwin wrote a Liberian patriotic song, “The Lone Star Forever.” Barclay and his wife Euphemia’s foster son, George Arthur Padmore (1915-2005), became the Liberian ambassador to the US.

Edwin Barclay, a member of the True Whig Party which ruled at that time, served as foreign minister and secretary of state of Liberia in the government of Charles D.B. King from 1920 until 1930. He became President of Liberia in 1930 when President King and Vice President Allen Yancy resigned because of a scandal. He was elected in his own right for the first time in 1931. (Source: Wikipedia)

Interesting Biographical Snippets
  • Barclay is credited with helping the country survive some of Liberia’s greatest threats to its sovereignty in that country’s history. These included threats by the League of Nations led by Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to recolonize the country.
  • Barclay’s administration signed a Defense Pact with the United States in 1942, which commenced a period of strategic development including the construction of roads, airports and other infrastructure projects.
  • In May 1943, Edwin Barclay visited the United States and became the first black man to be officially introduced from the rostrum of the United States Congress as a guest of honor.
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