Charles King: This former Liberian King Holds the Record for the Most Fraudulent Election in History

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Charles Dunbar Burgess King was a politician in Liberia who served as the 17th President of Liberia from 1920 until 1930. In 1927, won the presidential election with over 15 times more votes than there were electors, but a forced labor and slavery scandal forced his resignation in 1930.

Charles King: This former Liberian King Holds the Record for the Most Fraudulent Election in History

Charles Dunbar Burgess King was a politician in Liberia who served as the 17th President of Liberia from 1920 until 1930. He was a member of the True Whig Party, which ruled the country from 1878 until 1980.

Charles King was Attorney General from 1904 until 1912, and Secretary of State of Liberia from 1912 until he was elected president in 1919.

In this capacity, he attended the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and the accompanying First Pan-African Congress. Though a moderate supporter of reform, he continued to support the patronage machine and dominance of the True Whig Party.

King, with his entourage on the steps of the Peace Palace, The Hague, in 1927 | image ©Wikipedia

In 1927, King was challenged in the presidential election by Thomas Faulkner. In the presidential election, the result was a victory for Charles D. B. King who was re-elected for a third term after defeating Thomas J. Faulkner of the People’s Party.

Charles won the election with over 15 times more votes than there were electors, the elections were referred to as “the most rigged ever” by Francis Johnson-Morris, a modern head of the country’s National Elections Commission, and also made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the most fraudulent election ever reported in history.

According to an official statement, despite there being fewer than 15,000 registered voters in Liberia at the time, King received around 243,000 votes, compared to 9,000 for Faulkner. Thus, King earned the dubious achievement of being listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most fraudulent election reported in history.

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Following the election, Faulkner accused members of the True Whig Party government of using slave labor at home and also selling slaves to the Spanish colony of Fernando Po, as well as involving the Army in the process.

As is the norm with African governments, Charles denied using slave labor at home and also selling slaves to Fernando Po.

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In 1930, despite the government’s denials and a refusal to cooperate, a report ‘International Commission of Inquiry into the Existence of Slavery and Forced Labor in the Republic of Liberia‘ by the League of Nations under the chairmanship of British jurist Cuthbert Christy implicated government officials, including both King and vice president Allen Yancy of profiting from forced labor, which it equated to slavery.

As a result of the scandal, there were suggestions about putting Liberia into trusteeship. As a result, the House of Representatives began impeachment procedures against King, who quickly resigned. He was succeeded by Edwin Barclay. Faulkner contested the 1931 elections, but lost again.



Mr Madu
Mr Madu is a freelance writer, a lover of Africa and a frequent hiker who loves long, vigorous walks, usually on hills or mountains.

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