Joseph James Cheeseman (1843 – November 12, 1896) was the 12th President of Liberia. He was born in Edina, Grand Bassa County, Liberia and was elected three times on the True Whig ticket. Cheeseman was educated at Liberia College (now University of Liberia).
In the decades after 1868, escalating economic difficulties weakened the state’s dominance over the coastal indigenous population. Conditions worsened, as the cost of imports was far greater than the income generated by exports of coffee, rice, palm oil, sugarcane, and timber. Liberia tried desperately to modernize its largely agricultural economy.
In 1892, the French forced Liberia to cede to the Ivory Coast the area beyond Cape Palmas which Liberia had long controlled. President Johnson (1884–92) was responsible for this negotiation but retired before the treaty was signed. (Source: Wikipedia)
- During Cheeseman’s presidency, whenever the British and French seemed intent on enlarging at Liberia’s expense the neighboring territories they already controlled, periodic appearances by U.S. warships helped discourage encroachment.
- Ethnic struggles with the Kru, Gola, and Grebo tribe who resented incursions into their territory occurred several times during Cheeseman’s reign.
- Cheeseman was the first President of Liberia to die in office.