COMMONWEALTH OF LIBERIA
CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF LIBERIA
Adopted by the Board of Directors of the American
Colonization Society, Jauary 5, 1839.
American Colonization Society hereby grants to
the colonies or settlements in Liberia, on the
western coast of Africa, under its care, the following
colonies of settlements of Monrovia, New Georgia,
Caldwell, Millsburg, Marshall, Bexley, Bassa Cove,
and Edina, and such other Colonies hereafter established
by this Society, or by Colonization Societies
adopting the Constitution of the American Colonization
Society, on the Western coast of Africa, are hereby
united into one Government, under the name and
style of the Commonwealth of Liberia.
Legislative powers herein granted, shall be vested
in a Governor and Council of Liberia; but all
laws by them enacted shall be subject to the revocation
of the American Colonization Society.
Council shall consist of representatives to be
elected by the people of the several colonies
or settlements and shall be apportioned among
them according to a just ratio of representation.
Until otherwise provided, Monrovia New Georgia,
Caldwell, and Millsburg, shall be entitled to
six representatives; and Marshall, Bexley, Bassa
Cove ,and Edina, to four representatives; to be
appointed among them by the Governor.
representatives shall, in all cases, except treason,
felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged
from arresting during their attendance at the
session of the Council, and in going to or returning
from the same; and for any speech or debate therein,
they shall not be questioned in any other place.
otherwise provided by law, the Governor shall
appoint and publish the times, places, and manner,
of holding elections, and making returns thereof,
and the same for the meeting of the Council.
Governor shall preside at the deliberations of
the Council, and shall have a veto on all their
Colonial Secretary shall be appointed by the Governor;
and it shall be the duty of such Colonial Secretary
to record in a book or books, all the official
acts and proceedings of the Governor, of the Council,
and of the Governor and Council; to secure and
preserve the same carefully; and to transmit a
copy of each of such acts or proceedings to the
American Colonization Society, from time to time.
Provided, however, that such acts and proceedings
be so transmitted at lease once a year.
great seal shall be provided for the Commonwealth
of Liberia, whereby the official and public acts
of the Governor shall be authenticated; and the
custody of the said seal shall be committed to
the Colonial Secretary.
Governor and Council shall have power to provide
a uniform system of military tactics and discipline:
to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining
the militia, and for governing such part of them
as may be employed in the service of the Commonwealth:
declare war in self-defence:
make rules concerning captures on land and water:
make treaties with the several African tribes,
and to prescribe rules for regulating the commerce
between the Commonwealth of Liberia and such tribes;
except that all treaties for the acquisition of
lands shall be subject to the approval of the
American Colonization Society:
prescribe uniform laws of naturalization for all
persons of color. All persons now citizens of
any part of the Commonwealth of Liberia shall
continue to be so, and all colored persons emigrating
from the United States of America, or any District
or Territory thereof, which the approbation, or
under the sanction of the American Colonization
Society, or of any Society auxiliary to the same,
or of any State Colonization Society of the United
States, which shall have adopted the Constitution
of the American Colonization Society, shall be
entitled to all the privileges of citizens of
Liberia; except the same shall have been lost
or forfeited by conviction of some crime.
Executive power shall be vested in a Governor
of Liberia, to be appointed by, and to hold his
office during the pleasure of, the American Colonization
governor shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army,
of the Navy, and of the Militia of the Commonwealth;
he shall have power to call the Militia or any
portion thereof into actual service, whenever
the public exigency shall require; and he shall
have the appointment of all military and naval
officers, except the captains and subalterns of
militia companies, who may be elected by their
lands owned by the Society, and all other property
belonging to the Society, and in the Commonwealth,
shall be under the exclusive control of the Governor
and such agents as he may appoint under the direction
of the Society.
Governor, with the advice and consent of the Council,
shall appoint all officers, whose appointment
or election is not other wise specially provided
for in this Constitution.
shall be a Lieutenant Governor, who shall be elected
by the people in such manner as shall be provided
by law. He shall exercise the office of Governor,
in case of a vacancy in that office, occasioned
by the Governor's death or resignation, or in
case the Governor shall delegate to him the temporary
authority of Governor during the Governor's absence
judicial power of the Commonwealth of Liberia
shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such
inferior Courts as the Governor and Council may,
from time to time, ordain and establish. The Governor
shall be, ex officio, Chief Justice of Liberia,
and as such shall preside in the Supreme Court,
which shall have only appellate jurisdiction.
The Judges, both of the Supreme and inferior Courts,
except the Chief Justice, shall hold their offices
during good behavior.
code or uniform system of civil and criminal law,
shall be provided by the American Colonization
Society for the Commonwealth of Liberia.
present criminal laws in force in the several
colonies or settlements now forming the Commonwealth
of Liberia, and such others as may, from time
to time, be enacted, shall constitute the criminal
code of the Commonwealth. Such parts of the common
law as set forth in Blackstone's Commentaries,
as may be applicable to the situation of the people,
except as changed by the laws now in force, and
such as may hereafter be enacted, shall be the
civil code of law for the Commonwealth.
great seal shall be provided for the Colonies,
whereby the official and private acts of the Governor
shall be authenticated, and the custody thereof
shall be committed to the Colonial Secretary.
otherwise provided by law, the Commonwealth of
Liberia shall be divided into counties, as follows:
Monrovia, New Georgia, Caldwell and Millsburg,
shall constitute one county, under the name of
the county of Montserado ; and Bassa Cove, Elina,
Bexley, and Marshall, shall constitute the other
county, under the name of the county of Grand
shall be no slavery in the Commonwealth.
shall be no dealing in slaves by any citizen of
the Commonwealth, either within or beyond the
limits of the same.
shall not be prohibited.
right of trial by jury, and the right of petition,
shall be inviolate.
person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending
any civil cause for or against himself or herself,
before any tribunal in the Commonwealth, by himself
or herself or counsel.
male citizen of the age of twenty-one years shall
have the right of suffrage.
elections shall be by ballot.
military shall at all times, and in all cases,
be in subjection to the civil power.
the mechanic arts, and manufactures, shall be
encouraged within the Commonwealth; and commerce
shall be promoted by such methods as shall tend
to develope the agricultural resources of the
Commonwealth, advance the moral social and political
interests of the people, increase their strength,
and accelerate and firmly establish and secure
their national independence.
standards of weight, measure and money, used and
approved by the Government of the United States
of America, are hereby adopted as the standards
of weight, measure and money within the Commonwealth
of Liberia. But the Governor and Council shall
have power to settle the value of the actual currency
of the Commonwealth, according to the metallic
currency of the United States of America.