John Hanson (circa 1791-1860)
On August 11, 1827, John Hanson arrived in Monrovia aboard the brig Doris. A former slave who had purchased his freedom, Hanson was thirty-six years old when he left Baltimore and immigrated to Liberia. Settling in Grand Bassa County, he engaged in commerce and in time joined the ranks of Liberia's influential merchant class. In December 1840, Hanson won election to the newly created Colonial Council, Liberia's first popularly elected legislative body. Seven years later, when the independent Republic of Liberia held its first elections, Hanson was one of two senators elected from Grand Bassa County. He served several terms in the Liberian Senate and took a keen interest in his nation's economic development. When Hanson died in 1860, President Stephen Allen Benson mourned him as "a faithful and patriotic servant" whose loss was "very severely felt in Liberia."
In this daguerreotype, the bespectacled Senator Hanson appears much as he does in the watercolor rendering of the Liberian Senate.
Attributed to Augustus Washington
Sixth-plate daguerreotype, circa 1857
Image courtesy Prints and Photographs Division
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Click here to view the Liberian Senate watercolor.