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Growth of Partisan Politics

A two?party system had already begun to develop in Liberia during the early years of the commonwealth when John Seys, a Methodist clergyman, founded the Anti?Adininstration Party to protest Buchanan's refusal to allow missionaries to import goods duty free. The governo's supporters rallied around him in the public debate that ensued, organizing the Pro?Administration Party to back candidates favorable to his position in elections for the legislative coLmcil. During the constitutional convention in 1547, the Anti?Administration Party spokesman, Saul Benedict, proposed amendments that were defeated by the Pro?Administration Party majority backing Roberts. Benedict opposed Roberts in the first presidential election later that same year. The Anti?Administration Party wtis dissolved after the election, however, and Benedict joined the new president and his former ProAdministration Party antagonists in forming the True Liberian Party, subsequently renamed the Republican Party. Property qualifications for voting and the considerable political discipline displayed by the mulatto minority, on whose support the party was based, enabled Republican candidates to contest most elections to their advantage for the next 30 years.

Elements that had once composed the defunct Anti?Administration Party were brought together in 1860 by John Henry Goode and reorganized as the True Whig Party at a convention held in Clay?Ashland. Designated the "party of the people," the True Whigs built their support among recent immigrants, the Congoes, and black Americo?Liberian coffee and sugarcane growers in the upriver settlements. Resentment against social discrimination by the mulattoes, exclusion from political life, and economic policies that seemed to favor mulatto commercial interests bound the True Whig factions together. In 1869 the party's candidate, Edward James Roye, defeated the Republican incumbent, James Spriggs Payne, for the presidency. Roye, a successful businessman and former chief justice of the Supreme Court, became the first nonmulatto to hold the presidency, and his victory marked a turning point in the country's history.

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