William Tubman Biography

(19th President of Liberia (1944 - 1971))

Birthday: November 29, 1895 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Harper, Liberia

William Tubman was the 19th President of Liberia. His 27 years in office saw Liberia transform from underdeveloped colony to a nation with a bustling economy. The son of a preacher, Tubman came from modest beginnings. His father, a Methodist preacher, was a strict authoritarian. He raised his kids to have strong faith and strong character. Tubman aspired to follow in his father's footsteps and become a preacher. He became a lay pastor at the age of 19 while serving as an officer in the Liberian military. After the military stint, Tubman studied for his law degree and passed the Bar exam. This provided him a springboard to get into the world of politics. Ever since his first day in political office Tubman always advocated for the rights of the native African tribesmen. He fought for more infrastructure development in the areas populated by tribesman, saying these people did not get any of the benefits of colonialism. He became Liberia's 19th president in 1944 and ushered in Liberia's economic Golden Age. His economic open door policy brought in a substantial stream of foreign investment. The country had the second-fastest growing economy throughout the 1950s. This success earned Tubman the title of "Father of Liberian Modernization"
Quick Facts

Also Known As: William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman

Died At Age: 75


Spouse/Ex-: Antoinette Tubman

children: John Hilary Tubman, Jr., Wilhelmina Tubman-Tucker, William Eli Tubman, William V.S. Tubman

Presidents Political Leaders

political ideology: 19th President of Liberia - 3 January 1944 – 23 July 1971, Political party - True Whig

Died on: July 23, 1971

place of death: London, England

Grouping of People: Black Politician

Cause of Death: Complications From Prostate Gland Surgery

Childhood & Early Life
William Tubman was born on November 29, 1895, in Harper, Liberia, to Alexander Tubman and Elizabeth Tubman. He had four other siblings.
His father was a Reverend, stonemason, general of the Liberian army, and a speaker in the Liberian House of Representatives. His mother, who was from Atlanta, Georgia, was the daughter of freed slaves. Her parents were members of the group of 69 freed slaves who came to Liberia from Georgia in 1844.
Growing up, Tubman was no stranger to discipline. His father valued discipline highly and he even made his kids sleep on the floor because he thought that the beds are too soft and are a hindrance in character development.William received his early education from a primary school in Harper and later on went to the Methodist Cape Palmas Seminary, and Harper County High School.
In 1910, at the age of 15, Tubman joined the Liberian army. From 1910 to 1917 he advanced from a private to an officer.
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His first plan was to follow in his father's footsteps as a preacher. He was certified as a lay pastor at the age of 19.
While working as a junior collector of customs, he studied law in his free time. At the age of 23, he passed the Bar examination.
He spent the next few years in the Maryland county Probate court. His worked as a tax collector, recorder, and a colonel in a local militia.
Tubman entered politics at the age of 28. In 1923, he was elected to the Senate of Liberia. This made him the youngest senator in Liberian history.
He won re-election in 1929 and also became an adviser to Vice President Allen Yancy.
In 1931, he resigned from the senate. He took up the job of defending Liberia before the League of Nations. Liberia was accused of using slave labor.
He returned to the senate in 1934. He served for three years before resigning again in 1937.
President Edwin Barclay appointed him as associate justice of the Liberian Supreme Court in 1937 and he served in this capacity until 1943.
In 1942, Tubman ran for the Liberian presidency. He beat the five other candidates in fray and was elected as the 19th President of Liberia on May 4, 1943.
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William Tubman was also the longest serving President of Liberia, spending 27 year in office. His reign as President ended with his death in 1971.
Major Works
William Tubman was known as the father of Liberian modernization. One of his most significant policies was the National Unification Policy. This policy sought to unify tribesmen and colonists under one national Liberian Identity. The policy led to infrastructure development throughout the country.
He also was known for his economic open door policy. Throughout his presidency he was focused on attracting foreign investment and businesses. This policy helped substantially in the economic development of Liberia. During the 1950s Liberia had the second highest rate of economic growth in the world.
Awards & Achievements
He was the youngest Liberian senator; he became a senator at the age of 23.
His term of 27 years is the longest term by any Liberian President.
Personal Life & Legacy
His wife's name was Antoinette Tubman. The couple had four children together: William V.S. Tubman Jr., Wilhelmina Tubman-Tucker, John Hilary Tubman, and William Eli Tubman.
He died on 23 July 1971, at the age of 75, in a London clinic.
Tubman survived an assassination attempt in 1955.
He was a member of the Prince Hall freemasons, which was an all African-American branch of the organization

See the events in life of William Tubman in Chronological Order

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