[Footnote 1: Reminiscences of the president, Mrs. Frances D. Gage, cited by Tarbell.]
“Amid roars of applause,” wrote Mrs. Gage, “she returned to her corner, leaving more than one of us with streaming eyes and hearts beating with gratitude.” Thus, as so frequently happened, Sojourner Truth turned a difficult situation into splendid victory. She not only made an eloquent plea for the slave, but placing herself upon the broadest principles of humanity, she saved the day for woman suffrage as well.
In a former chapter we have traced the early development of the American Colonization Society, whose efforts culminated in the founding of the colony of Liberia. The recent world war, with Africa as its prize, fixed attention anew upon the little republic. This comparatively small tract of land, just slightly more than one-three hundredth part of the surface of Africa, is now of interest and strategic importance not only because (if we except Abyssinia, which claims slightly different race origin, and Hayti, which is now really under the government of the United States) it represents the one distinctively Negro government in the world, but also because it is the only tract of land on the great West Coast of the continent that has survived, even through the war, the aggression of great European powers. It is just at the bend of the shoulder of Africa, and its history is as romantic as its situation is unique.
Liberia has frequently been referred to as an outstanding example of the incapacity of the Negro for self-government. Such a judgment is not necessarily correct. It is indeed an open question if, in view of the nature of its beginning, the history of the country proves anything one way or the other with reference to the capacity of the race. The early settlers were frequently only recently out of bondage, but upon them were thrust all the problems of maintenance and government, and they brought with them, moreover, the false ideas of life and work that obtained in the Old South. Sometimes they suffered from neglect, sometimes from excessive solicitude; never were they really left alone. In spite of all, however, more than a score of native tribes have been subdued by only a few thousand civilized men, the republic has preserved its integrity, and there has been handed down through the years a tradition of constitutional government.