The Real J. J. Roberts

March 15th was the birthday of one of the greatest men that ever lived. As happens every year, the day went largely unnoticed by those who today feast on the fruits he planted.

That man was Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who labored to lay deep the foundation of Liberia. Yes, he was the country’s first president, but that was only one among many significant achievements.

Less known but equally noteworthy, he won quick recognition of Liberia’s independence from both Britain and France, the two superpowers at the time. This was no small feat for a former slave leading a “nation” of a few thousand citizens.

What is even more significant, he did it when those two rivals were constantly at each other’s throats. Imagine a tiny nation in the 1950s winning the backing of both the United States and the Soviet Union!

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