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Land of the Free

14 Jun 2023
Land of the Free

This week we are looking at a banknote from Liberia. Liberia is a West African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The country is also referred to as the “Land of the Free” as a homage to the country’s freedom from slavery. It was founded by freed U.S. slaves on land acquired for them by the American Colonization society. Liberia was never subjected to colonial rule, and is the oldest republic in Africa.

Our blog-ette is on Liberia’s 2016 20-Dollar banknote ( B313a, P33a). This is a paper note with English text. On the front is William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman, and a 5-pointed star. The back shows the bank seal, 5-pointed star, and men and women at an outdoor market. The watermark is Liberia coat of arms with electrotype CBL.

William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman was a descendent of early American immigrants who were freed slaves. Tubman was the 18th president of Liberia, and was the longest serving president with 27 years in office. Tubman is known to have traveled extensively while president, and to have received many foreign heads of state. He was responsible for numerous reforms including enactment of suffrage and property right for females 21 years and older, the authorization of tribespeople to participate in government, and a nationwide public school system.

Liberia coat of arms was adopted in 1847. The shield shows a 19th century ship arriving at the coast of Liberia with a sun and dove above them in the sky. The ship symbolizing the freed slaves brought over from the United States. The sun represents the birth of a new nation, and the dove meaning peace. On land there is a plow, shovel, and palm tree. The plow and shovel symbolize the dignity of labor and hard work for the nation to prosper. The palm represents food and prosperity. The national motto is split above and below the shield. It reads: “The love of liberty brought us here. Republic of Liberia.”

This 20 Dollars banknote displays William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman, coat of arms, and men and women at an outdoor market. 



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