to Mr. Evarts.
Paris, August 20, 1879. (Received September 4.)
Sir: Referring to the confidential dispatch from the Department of State, No. 163, of date July 17, 1879, I have the honor to report that immediately upon receipt of said communication, careful and judicious inquiries were instituted by this legation in well-informed quarters as to the facts suggested in the dispatch of the Acting Secretary of State, and set forth in that of Mr. Smyth, United States minister resident and consul-general at Monrovia. The result of this investigation is as follows:
- The French Government has no diplomatic or consular representative [Page 342] of any grade in Liberia, hence the French consul-general at Monrovia could not have offered to the Liberian Government the protection of that of France.
- The French Government has never proposed or expressed a desire that Liberia should be placed under its protectorate; it has, on the contrary, declined to entertain any scheme looking to such result.
- The proposition referred to originated with the Liberian consul-general at Bordeaux, Mr. Car ranee, and was perhaps seconded by the Liberian consul at Paris, Mr. Huart, the former having the advantage of superior rank, and the latter as “nearer the throne.” These officials are both Frenchmen, but are not believed to be persons of such standing and influence as to attach to their movements any considerable importance. They are doubtless animated by the very laudable ambition to figure in the diplomatic world, and to be known to fame as the prime movers in a great governmental enterprise, but their success hitherto has not been very pronounced.
For months Mr. Carrance has besieged the French foreign office to represent and advocate the advantages which would accrue to France by extending her protectorate over Liberia. He has pressed this scheme not only at the foreign office but also at the ministry of commerce, at the chamber of commerce of Bordeaux, and before Mr. Gambetta.
It can be safely stated that he has nowhere met with any encouragement. At the foreign office he was told that such protectorate could hardly benefit French commerce, and, moreover, that it would not probably be satisfactory and agreeable to the Government of the United States, whose susceptibilities the French Government would always desire to respect. Indeed, I think I am justified in saying that the persistency of the Liberian consul-general has been so annoying, that he is not likely to be hereafter received by the minister for foreign affairs in audience upon this subject.
Mr. Huart, the Liberian consul here, admits that he has endeavored to secure the “commercial protection” of France for Liberia, but denies having had anything to do with the political scheme of Mr. Carrance, which he considers as unwise. I am informed that Mr. Huart’s time recently has been largely occupied in efforts to induce the Government of Liberia to create an order of nobility, and to provide decorations for distinguished public service, one of which, it is to be hoped, will hereafter adorn the person of the able Liberian consul.
In conclusion, I have the honor to say that I am satisfied there is no cause for apprehension that the French Government will for a moment listen to the propositions of these intermeddling and superserviceable officials, who, I strongly suspect, in this matter represent nobody but themselves.
I have, &c.