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William Tubman 100 Greatest Africans
William Tubman was elected President in 1943 on a platform of economic growth and increased civil and political rights for all Liberians. One of the first official acts of Tubman's administration was the declaration of war against Nazi Germany and Japan. Liberia became an important country in the supply line of the Allied troops. The U.S. constructed the Free Port of Monrovia and built a temporary landing strip on the beaches of Robertsport.
Tubman enfranchised native Liberians and women for the 1951 election. However, this fact, although pleasing to those groups and the international community, did not change the electoral outcome as Tubman used the True Whig-controlled electoral machinery to produce fraudulent results. This, however, did not significantly harm his popularity in Liberia throughout his lifetime. Regarded as a pro-Western, stabilizing influence in West Africa, Tubman was courted by many Western politicians, notably U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Meanwhile, Tubman courted Amy Ashwood Garvey, and had a long-term relationship with her.
A gunman attempted to assassinate Tubman in 1955 at the behest of his political opponents, after which he cracked down brutally on any known opposition politicians.
Tubman's term is best known for the policies of National Unification and the economic Open Door. He tried to reconcile the interests of the native tribes with those of the Americo-Liberian elite, and increased foreign investment in Liberia to stimulate economic growth. These policies led to the crowning achievement of the Liberian economy during the 1950s, when it had the second largest rate of economic growth in the world.
At his death in 1971 in a London clinic, Liberia had the largest mercantile fleet in the world, the world's largest rubber industry, the third largest exporter of iron ore in the world and had attracted more than US$1 billion in foreign investment. He was succeeded as President by his long-time vice president William Tolbert. The economic prosperity of Liberia at this time would unleash political dissent with the autocratic rule of Tubman and the True Whig Party, leading to the overthrow of the True Whig oligarchy in 1980 by Samuel Doe. This would also destroy the economic prosperity of Liberia's golden age.