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William D. Coleman
*William D. Coleman was born on this date in 1842. He was a Black Americo-Liberian politician.
Of mixed race, William David Coleman was born into slavery in Fayette County, Kentucky. He emigrated to Liberia with his family when he was 11 years old. Upon their arrival, the family consisted of William, his widowed mother Ellen, and three others settled in Clay-Ashland near Monrovia.
Coleman trained as a carpenter and had other manual labor jobs before becoming a successful trader. Studying at night, he picked up the education he had abandoned as a child when poverty had prevented further schooling. In 1877, he was elected to the House of Representatives to represent Montserrado County and became the Speaker of the House. Coleman was elected as a senator for the same county two years later.
He remained in the Senate until he was elected vice president alongside Joseph James Cheeseman on the True Whig ticket in 1892. They were re-elected twice to the two-year presidential terms. Upon Cheeseman's death in 1896, Coleman ascended to the presidency, serving out Cheeseman's second term and winning two terms of his own. In 1896, Coleman married Ophelia Coleman, a native of Arkansas, who emigrated to Liberia in 1895. On June 24, 1898, Ophelia died in the Executive Mansion in Monrovia.
After resigning from the presidency, Coleman continued to be in Liberian politics. He ran for president three more times (1901, 1903, and 1905) as a member of the People's Party, losing each election. He died on July 12, 1908, in Clay-Ashland at 65. His grandson Samuel David Coleman was also involved in politics and was killed by government forces on June 27, 1955, after accusations of a failed coup. The William D. Coleman High School in Clay-Ashland, Liberia, was built in his memory.