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Stephen Allen Benson (May 21, 1816 – January 24, 1865) served as the 2nd President of Liberia from 1856 to 1864. Prior to that, he served as the 3rd Vice President of Liberia from 1854 to 1856 under President Joseph Jenkins Roberts.

Benson was born in Cambridge, Maryland, United States, to free African American parents. In 1822, his family expatriated to the newly created country of Liberia, on the ship Brig Strong. Shortly after his arrival in August 1822, the colony was taken over by African natives, holding Benson and his relatives captives for four months.

For four years, he was a military shopkeeper. He was also a private secretary to Thomas Buchanan, the last of Liberia’s white governors. Benson later became a successful businessman. Benson joined the militia in 1835 and in 1842 became a delegate to the Colonial Council. After Liberia’s independence in 1847 he became a judge. He was also a Methodist preacher. (Source: Wikipedia)

Interesting Biographical Snippets
  • Benson obtained the recognition of Liberia from Belgium in 1858. In 1862 Benson also achieved diplomatic recognition from the United States.
  • Benson knew many indigenous languages and sought collaboration with the native tribes, in contrast to previous Liberian policy, which emphasized American-Liberian superiority and Western customs.
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