William R. Tolbert, Jr.

William R. Tolbert, Jr.

President of Liberia
Born May 13, 1913

William Richard Tolbert, Jr. was the 20th President of Liberia from 1971 to 1980. Trained as a civil servant, he entered the country's House of Representatives in 1955 for the True Whig Party, then the only established party in the country. He was elected Vice president to William Tubman in 1952 and served in that position until Tubman's death in 1971.… Read More

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1913 Birth Born on May 13, 1913.


1934 21 Years Old He attended Bensonville Elementary School, Crummell Hall Episcopalian High School, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Liberia in 1934. … Read More


1943 30 Years Old Tolbert was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1943, and served until being elected vice president.
1952 39 Years Old …  He was elected Vice president to William Tubman in 1952 and served in that position until Tubman's death in 1971. … Read More


1965 52 Years Old A Baptist minister, in 1965 he became the first African to serve as president of the Baptist World Alliance, and was also a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. … Read More
1971 58 Years Old 1 More Event
Following Tubman's death in 1971, Tolbert succeeded him as president. … Read More


1975 62 Years Old Upon becoming president, Tolbert initiated some liberal reforms. Though reelected in 1975, his government was criticized sharply for failing to address the deep economic disparities between different sectors of the population, notably the Americo-Liberians, who had dominated the country since independence, and the various indigenous ethnic groups that constituted the majority of the population. … Read More
1976 63 Years Old He successfully worked for a constitutional amendment to bar the president from serving more than eight years in office, and in 1976 he vowed fierce opposition to members of the Legislature who sought to repeal the amendment and again permit what Tolbert called an "evil tradition". … Read More
1979 66 Years Old 1 More Event
In early April 1979, Tolbert's minister of agriculture, Florence Chenoweth, proposed an increase in the subsidized price of rice from $22 per 100-pound bag to $26. … Read More
In March 1980 Tolbert ordered the banning of the PAL, and had Gabriel Bacchus Matthews and the rest of the organization's leadership arrested on charges of treason. In the early hours of April 12, 1980, 17 non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia led by Master Sergeant Samuel Doe launched a violent coup d'état; all of them were "indigenous" Liberians. … Read More
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