to Mr. Evarts.
Monrovia, Liberia, February 22, 1881. (Received April 8.)
Sir: I have the honor to forward two copies of the acts passed by the legislature of the Republic of Liberia.
The most important of the acts passed at the recent session is the one on page 11, relative to the amendment to the constitution, so that the presidential term shall be four years instead of two, as now. The proposed amendment will be submitted to the people at the election to be held in May next. This proposed change, if affected, will be of great benefit to the republic.
Next in importance is a resolution on page 6, as to the privileges of native African representatives in the legislature. Heretofore native representatives were invited to be present at the sessions of the legislature, and solicited to speak during the closing hours of that body, but had no privileges beyond this; while this legislation gives them the right to speak, vote, and receive compensation.
The act on page 10, requiring missionaries and missionary bodies to pay the same specific or advalorem duties as any other persons or organizations for necessaries brought into Liberia, if not flagrantly unjust, is, to say the least, im politic, and may and ought to call for a protest from them. The privations to be suffered, and the risks to be run by this class of people in Africa, are too great, and the benefits derived by the people here too great to be taxed by government for necessaries. It seems like ingratitude and a tax on philanthropy.
At the instance of my fellow-citizens here, American missionaries, I respectfully represented their views on the subject to the president and his cabinet. These reasons offered in support of the act are unworthy a people who need, for their children and the native African, the educational benefits which the missionary brings, which need is so illy supplied by the government.
The reasons assigned are that the articles to be used in carrying on these missions may be purchased of Liberian merchants, and the government needs all the available revenue for carrying it on. The prices charged for necessaries here are too exhorbitant for missions to be carried on here, and to attempt to pay them would cause the suspension of all missionary effort here.
An act has been passed incorporating the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Liberia. This is a branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States, which represents the largest and most important Christian organization among negroes in the world.
I have, &c.,