How Doe Assumed Power
In 1980, Samuel K. Doe, a 28 year-old Master Sergeant, assumed power in Liberia in a blaze of glory. In a surprise night-time attack on the Executive Mansion overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Doe and his accomplices brutally murdered President William R. Tolbert Jr, ending 133 years of rule by black American settlers and their descendants (known as Americo-Liberians). Having discarded with Tolbert, Doe became Liberia’s first president of “exclusive indigenous heritage”
In the subsequent decade, President Doe inflamed ethnic politics and eked out a suspiciously close victory in the 1985 elections, before he met an even less dignified end than his predecessor.
Capture, Brutal Murder
At the end of the Cold War, his previously unwavering support from the US evaporated and, as Liberia erupted into civil war, Doe was left vulnerable. Nine months into the conflict on 9 September, 1990, Doe was captured on a visit to the recently deployed ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Monrovia.
Hours later, he was dead, though Liberia’s civil war would continue for another 13 long years. In his last hours, Doe was stripped to his underwear, interrogated on live television, and his ear was sliced off. Rebel leader Prince Johnson nonchalantly presided over the affair.
Watch the full video of his reign and brutal end below.