J.J. Roberts to Simon Greenleaf, 6 April 1852

  • Greenleaf_Simon_By Healy_1848_HLSL_olvwork724100.tif

    Simon Greenleaf by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1848

    This portrait was a gift from students upon Greenleaf’s retirement from teaching at Harvard Law School in 1848.

  • Roberts to Greenleaf_1852_Greenleaf Papers_Box 1-15_seq. 107

    J.J. Roberts to Simon Greenleaf, 6 April 1852

    Roberts remarks that the site chosen for the newly established Liberia College is “perhaps one of the best in Liberia."

  • Joseph Jenkins Roberts_by McCarty_1840-60_Library of Congress_DAG no. 1025.tif

    Joseph J. (Joseph Jenkins) Roberts by Augustus McCarty, 1840-1860, Library of Congress

    This daguerreotype of Roberts was taken around the time he was president of Liberia..

  • Roberts to Greenleaf_1852 verso_Greenleaf Papers_Box 1-15_seq. 109

    J.J. Roberts to Simon Greenleaf, 6 April 1852

    See Roberts’ red, wax seal on his letter written to Simon Greenleaf in 1852.

Simon Greenleaf Papers, 1792-1853: Box 1, Folder 15
HOLLIS 601717
Available at http://bit.ly/sgpapers17, seq. 107

After his retirement from Harvard Law School in 1848, Royall (1833-1846) and Dane Professor (1846-1848) of Law Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) stayed active, becoming involved in the American Colonization Society. Greenleaf was one of two elected vice presidents at the 1841 founding of the Massachusetts Colonization Society, an auxiliary organization of the American Colonization Society. The Society was setting up the government of Liberia, a colony for freed American enslaved people, which became a nation in 1847. Greenleaf drafted the country’s original constitution, modeling it on that of the United States, and advised the country’s leaders on developing its system of legal education.

A particular concern of Greenleaf’s was the education of Liberian citizens. In 1848 he and Boston clergyman Joseph Tracy (1793?-1874) founded the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia, dedicated to establishing and maintaining a college there. Unfortunately Greenleaf did not live to see the fruits of his efforts; construction of Liberia College commenced five years after his death. In this 1852 letter, J.J. Roberts (1809-1876), Liberia’s first president and a free man who had emigrated to Liberia from Virginia, informs Greenleaf of the recent foundation of Liberia College, and requests any improvements to the college’s recently drafted Act of Incorporation.