The author of the [Liberian] constitution was Simon Greenleaf, a Harvard professor who had never set foot on the African continent. He lacked any direct knowledge of the indigenous people who would be "governed" by the constitution, let alone the complex political systems they had developed. . . .
At its founding, the government in Liberia professed to be a representative democracy, while it was in fact a one-party semifeudal state. It would take a century before indigenous Liberians would be granted suffrage. Even then the political elite remained entirely Americo-Liberian for 132 years, a ruling minority of 2 percent that was attached to the mainline Christian churches and Masonic societies, unwilling to yield their political power.Johnny Dwyer, American Warlord: A True Story (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), ch. 2.