From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

The Barclays

Arthur Barclay (1854-1938) served as Secretary of State and was the 14th President of Liberia, Africa from 1904-1912. He changed the term of office from two years to four years and was re-elected three times. His nephew, Edwin J. Barclay (1883-1955) completed the term of President C. D. B. King. Edwin was the 17th president of Liberia and had the term of office changed from four years to eight years; he was re-elected twice. Edwin J. Barclay was also a poet. He and his successor were the first African heads of states to be invited to the U.S. [by President F. D. Roosevelt]. Edwin Barclay's visit to the White House marked the first time journalists from African American weekly newspapers were assigned to the White House to cover a diplomatic visit. The Barclay family had been politically active in Liberia since the end of the 1800s; Ernest J. Barclay (d. 1894), had served as the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Secretary of State, both in Liberia. Ernest and Arthur were the sons and Edwin was the grandson of former Kentucky slaves who left the U.S. during the Civil War. The family stopped in Barbados where Edwin Barclay's father Ernest, and his uncle Arthur, were born. They were two of the many children of Anthony and Sarah Barclay. In 1865, the family moved to Africa. They were among the 300 West Indians migrating to Liberia, most of whom were from the British West Indies. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; Dictionary of African Historical Biography, 2nd ed., by M. R. Lipschutz and R. K. Rasmussen; The Political and Legislative History of Liberia by C. H. Huberich; "2 Presidents in one family," Baltimore Afro-American, 06/05/1943, p.3; Liberia by H. H. Johnston and O. Stapf [v.2 available online at Google Book Search]; and "Negro guest in White House," The Sunday Morning Star, 04/04/1943, p.24. See also "Collected Poems of Edwin James Barclay," Monrovia, 1901, in the Daniel Murray Pamphlet Collection [online at the Library of Congress].

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Dunnigan, Alice A.
NKAA Source: Fascinating story of Black Kentuckians : their heritage and traditions
NKAA Source: Dictionary of African historical biography
NKAA Source: The political and legislative history of Liberia : a documentary history of the constitutions, laws and treaties of Liberia from the earliest settlements to the establishment of the Republic, ...
NKAA Source: The Afro-American (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Sunday morning star (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“The Barclays,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 21, 2022,

Last modified: 2019-05-22 18:01:06