No. 320.
Mr. Smyth to Mr. Evarts.

No. 21.]

Sir: I have the honor to call to your attention the interest manifested by the farmer class, in this the largest county of Liberia, Montserrado, in the United States.

On the 22d day of March I was officially requested to be present at the Planters’ Hall, Clay Ashland, on the St. Paul River, at the annual gathering of the planters or farmers. I availed myself of the opportunity to attend. The secretary of state was present and presided, a circumstance very unusual. He delivered an eloquent address, in which, with much earnestness, seconded by hearty responses from his auditors, the appreciation of their government of the interest and solicitude shown by the United States in the prosperity of their republic, and testified to a renewed confidence in the United States Government in consequence of the presence of so eminent a gentleman as Commodore Shufeldt as the arbitrator in the northwest-boundary matter; also as “to the survey of the St. Paul River from its bar-mouth 20 miles interiorward, and of the adjacent land to within a short distance of the rich and healthy locality of Borphora, the Mondiugo Country. He urged them to interest themselves in their aboriginal brethren, to whom they owed the duty of closer relationship.

Should the survey, the report of it made by Lieutenant Drake, together with the general report upon Liberia, commend itself to our government by inducing Congressional action looking to a development of the country lying back of Monrovia and the St. Paul settlement, to which this river could be made, by the removal of the obstructions to navigation, a direct means of communication, there would be opened a mart for many of the manufactured commodities of the United States, which would be a source of material advantage to our industrial classes, to the government, and would greatly aid in the stability of this republic, which has existed thus long amid most untoward circumstances.

Then, when it is remembered how potent an agent of civilization commerce is and how much the United States, in common with the remainder of the civilized and Christian world, owe to Africa and the negro race, it does seem that our Government might take, with propriety, some part in aiding this struggling government in the accomplishment of some results for Africa. The Hon. E. W. Blyden, minister to Great Britain, spoke as only he can speak of the relation that the negro race had sustained to the Aryan races, and expressed the hope that our great republic would aid the reform sentiment which was going on in his county.

In my contact with the people of Liberia I have invariably discovered that although the greater portion of their products are sent to England and Germany, and they purchase largely from those countries, they generally express a preference for American products and manufactured articles; but in the absence of a regular line of vessels between their and our country their desire cannot be realized.

I am credibly informed that the countries of Borphora, Pessy, Barline, and Musardo are rich in minerals, particularly gold; dyewoods, mahogany, ebony, &c.; that the people are tractable and friendly, and although Mohammedans, are remarkable for their various industries and for their advancement in letters.

The opening up of these countries promises rich results for the labor, [Page 713] not only to Liberia but to our country, should it be the policy of our government to avail itself of them.

With highest considerations of esteem, I am, &c.,