No. 437.
Mr. Blaine to Mr. Smyth.

No. 67.]

Sir: I have read with much interest your No. 118, of April 25, on the subject of the restrictions set by Liberian laws (and by the constitution) to the acquisition by aliens of Liberian citizenship or of residence and ownership of land for business purposes outside of the ports of entry.

Your views, in the main, reflect the desire of this government that Liberia should do everything which may be done to increase her strength and prosperity, by just measures looking to the development of her great natural resources. The wise encouragement of foreign commerce, and the introduction, under proper safeguards, of foreign capital, are measures to this end.

I have read your proposed letter to the Liberian secretary of state on these matters. Its tone strikes me as eminently friendly and frank. As regards foreign trade, and capital, and internal improvement, your remarks are judicious. The questions of alien residence and commerce, at points not ports of entry, seem, as you present them, to be rather of interpretation than fundamental, and you, yourself, point out the different constructions of which they are susceptible. Certainly, on all these points, it should be your aim to foster the extension of American interests in Liberia. The good of the republic will be as much subserved thereby as the material interests of our enterprising citizens.

It occurs to me, however, to question the wisdom of broaching a change in the fundamental code by suggesting the admission of white aliens to citizenship. The peculiar conditions under which the republic was founded, and the almost parental attitude of this government thereto, make it, in my judgment, inexpedient that we should seem to press the consideration of so momentous a change in the structure of the constitution itself. However informally or personally you might present such a view, you could not so dissever your personality from your representative position as to avoid leading to the natural inference that you spoke as the mouthpiece of your government. It seems to be better, therefore, to maintain silence on this point. Eliminating this, the remainder of your note appears to be discreet and proper. In your place, however, I would make it the subject of a conversation with the secretary of state, reducing your suggestions to the form of a private memorandum if he should desire to possess them in writing.

I am, &c.,