title: A Durable Memento

James Mux Priestspacer James Mux Priest (died 1883)

Described by the Liberia Observer as "the first Presbyterian colored missionary sent to Liberia," the Reverend James M. Priest established Sinoe County's first Presbyterian church in 1848. Fifteen years later, he shared the ticket with presidential candidate Daniel Bashiel Warner and was elected to the first of two terms as Liberia's Vice President. In 1867, Priest helped to found the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Liberia. This fraternal order became the most politically influential and socially prestigious organization of its kind in the country and long remained a symbol of Liberia's powerful elite. Priest remained a dedicated advocate for his faith and in the spring of 1870 traveled to the United States, where he represented the Presbytery of West Africa at the Presbyterian General Assembly in Philadelphia. In 1878, Priest was named an associate justice of Liberia's Supreme Court and served in this capacity until his death in 1883. When the African Repository reported his passing, Priest was mourned as "a man of excellent abilities and of blameless life, [who] enjoyed the confidence of the country."

Daguerreotyped during his tenure as a senator representing Sinoe County, Priest is posed as if seated at his desk in the Senate Chamber.

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.


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