Dear Mr. Editor:
I have read an article in Front Page Africa on Edwin James Barclay (1882-1955), Eighteenth President of Liberia (1930-1944), in which the so-called “expert” historian, Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, writes that “former President Barclay and former President William V.S. Tubman had a feud where Barclay was accused by the Tubman Government [of] plotting against the state. As a result, Barclay was arrested and sent to prison where he remained and fell ill and died.” (This quotation is taken from Barclay Redux…Front Page Africa April 30, 2014.
I observe that in the same article for May 1, 2014 the section on Barclay’s alleged arrest, imprisonment, illness and death in prison have been taken out). I have also heard your ”EXPERT” Historian, Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, former Minister of Information, (on Charles Snetter’s radio station) telling Front Page Africa that in 1955 “former President Edwin Barclay refused the involvement of the government in his funeral rites and was buried in a quiet ceremony on his farm after his death in the U.S. This was a result of a bitter feud between Barclay and the W.V.S. Tubman era.” Why would Emmanuel Bowier give such false information to Liberians and the world?
EDWIN JAMES BARCLAY WAS NEVER SENT TO PRISON. HE DID NOT DIE IN PRISON AND HE DID NOT DIE IN THE USA. HE DIED IN A BED AT THE DU SIDE MEDICAL CENTER near Harbel, on the Firestone Plantation.
Edwin Barclay and his doctor travelled in a small plane from the James Spriggs Payne Airfield to the Du Side Medical Center for medical treatment and that is where he left us for a much better place on November 6, 1955. My husband and I with many others were at the airfield to see him off. When the little plane taxied near where we were standing, he was looking straight ahead and I wanted him to see that I was there. I had several names for him but he enjoyed the story about Chesterfield and snakes. I yelled, “CHESTERFIELD!” He started to look around. My husband said, “He is looking for you.”
When he saw where I was he gave me a big smile and wave, which I returned. I have never forgotten that smile and the wave. I admired the man and listened to his stories and as he did not have many visitors, he did have someone to listen to his stories. At this time I was living three doors from his house and could drop by anytime.
Another name I sometimes called him was “Lone Star” and when I talked about how he wrote that brilliant song, he would tell about the inspiration for other things he had written.
His body was driven by road to his farm and I was one of those assigned to be there to receive the body and make preparations for the burial. It was a beautiful ceremony with his family, friends and neighbors. Everybody at that funeral wanted to be there. Neighbors brought chairs, etc. Among the relatives working with us was his first cousin’s daughter whom he educated in France, Mrs. Antoinette Louise Padmore Tubman, wife of President William V.S. Tubman.
Sometimes I wonder whether EDWIN James Barclay was not a genius. To have written The Lone Star Forever at nineteen years old was quite a feat.
To have a local politician refer to him as “a jill cup thinker” is sycophancy at its highest level—sycophancy seems to be a Liberian thing.
Continue to rest in perfect peace, “Chesterfield,” “Lone Star,” “Cousin Eddie.” You did not treat with them—you ignored all of them. You did your best for Liberia.