No. 381.
Mr. Smyth to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 16.]

Sir: I have the honor to respectfully advise you that, Monday, December 4, 1882, the legislative bodies of the Republic of Liberia, the Senate and House of Representatives, convened in their respective chambers and organized.

On the 6th instant these bodies met in joint convention, the honorable the Vice-President of the Republic presiding, for the purpose of hearing read the annual message of the President.

This document was read by the secretary of state on account of the illness of the President, who is believed to be threatened with paralysis.

Aside from the matter of the money of the state, currency, and the British debt, the important features of the message are the reference made to the appointment by Her Majesty’s Government of a consul to Liberia for the specific purpose of settlement of the long pending northwest boundary matter; the collection of the revenue and its economical use; the matter of a contemplated loan; education; and relations between Liberians (citizens) and aborigines.

Perhaps no questions will arise in the deliberations of the legislature which will be of greater interest, more far reaching in their consequences, and upon which there is at present greater fixedness of purpose to resist any thing other than a just compromise in the one case, and acceptance in the other, than the yielding of the nation’s rights in their northwest territory, and the proposed loan of £400,000.

As to education, popular, there is a growing interest in this matter, which is so general that the masses are making the subject of education of their children, and in many instances the native children, a matter of conversation, although there does not exist any well-defined public-school system; and in the existing schools the provisions for female training are much inferior to that of males.

The distinguished and scholarly president of Liberia College, with Professor Freeman, and the co-operative influence of an earnest executive committee of that institution, have placed it upon such a basis as that it is destined to be of incalculable benefit to the Republic and to Africa if the nation and the friends of the institution in America are but true to the race.

It was unpleasant to find, during my first appointment, soon after I entered upon my office, that there had existed in the early history of this state, and down to a comparatively recent period, marked antipodal relations between the aboriginal negro and the descendants of this race who had returned to this portion of Africa;* but I am happy to bear testimony to the fact that such relations have undergone a happy change, as is plainly shown by the infrequency of wars between Libe-rian citizens and natives (absence of war); the overtures made lately by the powerful King of Medina for a closer union between his state and the Republic; recent marriages between Liberians and aborigines; the cessation of native hostilities among the Gala and Pessy tribes to [Page 611] the east of Monrovia and beyond the civilized settlements; the termination of war between the Vey and Gallenas people, Which had been carried on for more than five years in the disputed territory and the late signing of a treaty of peace and acknowledgment of the authority of Liberia.

As to the legislation of unredeemed currency into gold, or the dispensing with a subsisting obligation entered into between the state and its creditors—in other language, the repudiation of the money of the state—I have good reasons to doubt any such suicidal act on the part of the legislature.

Please find inclosure (1) message.

With renewed sentiments, &c.,

Minister Resident.

P. S.—Having just received a copy of the proposed Spanish loan from the foreign office I have the honor to forward same (2) in connection with the message.

J. H. S.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 16.]


Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

You have assembled again for the purpose of taking into consideration matters of the state, and for the enactment of such laws as may be deemed best for the welfare of the nation.

In the discharge of the duty incumbent upon me at the opening of your session, I have the gratification to say, first, that the past year has been crowned with marked indications of national prosperity, as well as of individual thrift and enterprise.

Agricultural activity has not only kept pace with but has considerably exceeded-that of the last several years, both as to the quantity, as also the variety of the productions. The rice crop, as well as that of breadstuff’s generally, has been unusually favorable, while the exportable articles of coffee, sugar, rubber, palm oil, palm kernels, cam wood, &c., have never been shipped in such large quantities before. This increase is owing partly to the favorable seasons which we have had, partly to the growing industry of our citizens, and partly to the extension of our intercourse with the interior tribes, from whence quantities of rubber, cam wood, and ivory, far in excess of those of former years, are brought down to our markets.

foreign relations.

Nothing has occurred during the year to interrupt the friendly relations between this Republic and foreign nations; so far from it, they have been considerably extended in this direction. I have to mention that His Majesty, Don Alphonso XII, King of Spain, in the early part of the year, gave evidence of his regard for and interest in the Republic of Liberia by tendering to your chief executive the national Order of Isabel the Catholic. In June last the illustrious American President of the United States of Venezuela, General Antonio Guzman Blanco, was pleased to transmit to me, as your President, a first class (great cross) diploma and decoration of the bust of the Liberator, and at the same time expressed a warm desire to see the good relations existing between the two countries strengthened and enlarged.

About the same time President Salomon of the Haytian Republic was pleased to forward a first-class diploma of the national order of that state for the President of Liberia. These are some of the many expressions of increasing interest in and appreciation of the arduous work in which we are engaged, in building up a Christian state in the land of our fathers.

The Government of the United States of America has also afforded a renewed evidence of the friendly attitude of that nation toward Liberia, in the speedy supply of the vacancy caused by the lamented death of the late Hon. Henry Highland Garnet, minister resident and consul-general for that country at the seat of this Government.

The Hon. John H. Smith, LL. D., who only about two months before the occurrence of this sad event just mentioned had closed a term of diplomatic service, [Page 612] justly appreciated by the Department at Washington, and highly acceptable to this Republic, has been returned to fill the important post for which he is so well qualified.

Her Majesty’s Government of Great Britain, anxious to remove out of the way everything that can possibly be the cause of the least friction in the friendly relations so long existing between that Empire and this infant state, saw fit to renew the appointment of British consulate for Liberia, which had been vacant for the last several years, and to invest the appointee with authority to visit this Government with the view of effecting a solution of the long-pending question of the northwest boundary of this Republic, as well as to inquire into certain alleged claims of British subjects, for property said to have been destroyed by the trdops of Liberia in a campaign against certain Gallinas tribes in 1871. His excellency Arthur E. Havelock, C. M. G., governor of Her Majesty’s West African settlements, was appointed said consul. He arrived in this city in March last and met the Liberian commissioners, Hon. W. M. Davis and E. W. Blyden, who with himself held a session of four days. Questions-and points having arisen during the conference that could not be settled without legislative action, the whole matter is referred to your honorable body, and I trust you will give it the attention due to so important a subject at the earliest date possible. As I shall make a special communication to you in connection with the papers to be laid before you on this question. I need not dwell upon it in this document.


The honorable secretary of the treasury will submit to you a report of the financed of the country. Under this head I need only refer you to the urgent necessity, set forth in my last annual message, for the passage of an act making all customs dues, payable in gold or silver coin, while giving to the currency now in circulation the capacity of legal tender in private contracts, and for all other Government claims.

The passage of such a law ought to be followed by retrenchment to the extent of one-tenth in the salaries of officials and the current expenses of Government. These measures, together with a faithful collection of the revenue, and a rigid economy in the disbursement thereof, would soon place the financial department of the country in a safe and healthy condition, and afford every year a considerable surplus to be paid on the indebtedness of the state. In advising retrenchment, gentlemen, I would by no means convey the impression that I regard the salaries now paid to Government officials exorbitant; so far from it I deem them quite insufficient. But there are times, in the history of most nations when citizens must evince their patriotism by making sacrifices for the welfare of the state. Such a time, in my opinion, has arrived in Liberia, and I feel confident in making the assertion that there is a large measure of high-toned patriotism diffused throughout the masses of this Republic, that in an emergency will assert itself, arise to the surface, and sustain the Government in any reasonable measure that you may adopt for the good of the nation and the promotion of our republican institutions. And 1 believe further that every good citizen of this-commonwealth would rather render official service for half pay and see the Government credit restored and brought to a healthy financial condition, than to insist on a large salary, which would precipitate a humiliating aspect of national bankruptcy.

You will observe that among other measures I mention the prompt and faithful collection of the revenue as a means to effect the relief of Government so much desired. It is stated, on very good authority I understand, that not more than two-thirds of the revenue are collected; that if the Government had the full benefit of its customs dues and property tax there would be no lack of means to carry out all the purposes, of the state.

Two years ago I called your attention to this matter, and urged the adoption of the bonded-warehouse system as one likely to remedy some of the defects connected with the operations of the present one. I must again respectfully urge that you spare no pains in endeavoring to inaugurate more effective measures for securing the revenue of the state.

I must not fail to mention under this head, also, the importance of so amending the revenue laws as to impose, higher duties on the importation and sale of alcoholic liquors, gunpowder, fire-arms, and tobacco. The fearful evils inflicted upon this infant state by the large introduction of the first-named destructive agencies are too-apparent to require any comment here. Many of the tribal difficulties among the aborigines, and most of the late irregularities in one section of the Republic among the civilized inhabitants, leading to the destruction of valuable life, may be attributed mainly to the free use of alcohol.

The great importation of rum and gin into this country, which has been going on for the last number of years, is not only productive of disorder among the aborigines in our territory, but is also destroying much precious life, laying waste valuable intellect, [Page 613] engendering a spirit of idleness and thriftlessness among hitherto industrious tribes, and rapidly consuming the wealth of the land. I appeal to you, fellow citizens, in your legislative capacity, to look these facts fairly in the face; consider the ponderous mass of evils with which they are burdening the state, and check, if you cannot wholly remove, the sad consequences being entailed upon us by them.


A report on the state and condition of the common schools of the Republic will be laid before you by the honorable secretary of the interior. Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the schools have had to labor during the year, yet much has been accomplished. And it is the cherished object of the Government to place the advantages of a common-school education within the reach of every child in the country. Your honorable body, seeing the importance of this, will, I feel sure, make the necessary appropriation for books and salaries to carry out the same. The Liberia College, through the indefatigable efforts of the executive committee and faculty, especially Prof. Martin H. Freeman, M. A., who in the absence of the President has charge of the institution, is progressing finely. Great credit is due to the untiring and devoted energy of this able professor, but for whose presence at the college there would have been a total suspension of its operations during the greater portion of the year.

It is with great pleasure that I am able to add at this point, from information that has come to hand since writing the above, that much good is likely to accrue to the institution from the present visit of Dr. Blyden to the United States. The increase of the corps of professors, the addition of a female department, and the revival of a general interest in it on the part of its friends in that country, which he is endeavoring to effect, will add greatly to the efficiency of the college, and render it an invaluable boon to West Africa. By referring to the report of the secretary of the interior you will notice several important suggestions for the improvement of the educational interests of the state which are worthy of your serious attention. I refer especially to the establishment by Government of high schools in the several counties on the manual labor system, the providing of female academies, and the endowment of several scholarships in connection with the Liberia College, to embrace the sciences, medicine, civil engineering, and jurisprudence. The great importance, yea the absolute necessity for a more general diffusion of knowledge among the people of this commonwealth, if we would preserve and perpetuate our civil institutions, is so generally admitted by you that I will not dilate upon the subject at this time.


I regret to be under the necessity of informing your honorable body that the judiciary department of the state has recently been subjected to the loss of the services of one of the oldest judges in the country. I refer to the resignation of Hon. Beverly Page Yates, late judge of the quarterly court of Meontsewado County, in consequence of the failure of his health. And here again I must repeat a recommendation in my last message, to the effect that you may make some provisions by law which will allow a judge, in case of failure of health, to be relieved temporarily for foreign travel, or to seek other means of recovery, without being under the necessity of tendering his resignation. Having noticed this subject at length last year, I beg to refer you to what was then said, and trust you will see the propriety of an enactment to meet the case.

postal department.

The honorable postmaster-general will submit to you his annual report, in which you will notice some important suggestions looking to an in provement in the efficiency of this indispensable service. I have to mention also that a proposal has been made to this Government offering additional facilities for the carrying of the mails between the several ports in the Republic, as well as to foreign countries. The papers referring to the same will be laid before you.

telegraph project.

An enterprise is in contemplation that proposes to bring to Liberia the advantages of telegraphic communication with the settlements on the coast, as well as with. Europe and the United States. The details of the proposition will be submitted to you and your direction in the matter solicited.

[Page 614]

concession asked.

I have to call your attention to a certain proposal that has been made to the Government very recently asking for a concession to engage in mining operations; cut and export timber, cultivate the soil in consideration of a loan to this State of 400,000 pounds sterling for fifty years at 7 per cent, interest. The terms proposed as well as the time mentioned in which the debt is to be paid are more favorable than any hitherto offered. It will be with you, gentlemen, after having given due attention to the terms of the offer and the circumstances of the country, to say whether or not it will be desirable and wise to accept the same. That we have foreign claims which must be met none of you will deny, nor will refuse to admit that it is high time we were inaugurating measures with the view of satisfying the bondholders of the loan of 1871.

Two other proposals were made to the Secretary of State while abroad last year, having reference to the settlement of this debt, which it may be advisable to have before you when you shall find it convenient to take up the one now under consideration.

native difficulties.

It affords me no little pleasure to be able to report the happy termination of difficulties among the native tribes in one section of the Camwood country in Grand Bassa County. Through the persevering efforts of Superintendent Smith, Judge Negle, and others, the guilty parties have been brought to justice, and peace fully restored.

The disturbances which for the last several years existed in the Cape Mount territory have also been settled. In the month of July last I appointed Rev. C. A. Pitman, I. G. Fuller, esq., and Superintendent R. J. B. Wakon, of Robertsport, with Mr. E. J. Barclay as clerk, to visit this section of country, convene the chiefs of the contending factions, and endeavor to restore peace. The commission arrived at Roberts-port, proceeded to Salligah, entered upon their duties with commendable zeal, and after meeting with and surmounting many difficulties, succeeded in having a treaty of peace signed by thirteen chiefs of the Gallinas Mann ah, Solo, Tey Wah, and Sali-gah territories, a copy of which will be submitted to you.

In a former communication I called your attention to the progress that was being made in Maryland County toward the opening up roads interiorward and affecting greater intercourse with the more distant tribes. I am happy to inform you that these efforts have been followed up by Superintendent Gibson, so that at the present time roads for trade and intercourse are available for ingress and egress which have been closed for the last eight or ten years.

The importance of increasing our friendly intercourse with the powerful tribes, of the country is a matter that cannot claim too much of our attention. So important do I regard our relation with these our brethren, and so desirous am I of seeing this-vast aboriginal population share with us the rights, privileges, and advantages of civilization and a Christian Government, thus giving strength and permanency to our republican institutions on this coast, that I consider it really the great work of Liberia at present to pursue such a policy as will cement into one mass the many tribes-about us and bring them under the molding influence of our laws and religion. The great work of Liberia at present is at home, and the sooner we lose sight of distracting party politics and address ourselves to the task of elevating our brethren and building up the country the better.

I am unwilling to close this communication, gentlemen and fellow-citizens, without congratulating you and the nation generally upon the pleasing abatement of that excessive political party strife which ran so high at your last session as to wholly prevent harmonious legislation.

The fact that the storm has passed away and you are able to enter upon your duties, under circumstances so favorable shows that there is yet a gratifying measure of recuperative energy in our little ship of state; that, though at times she may toss and roll as though the next moment were destined to be her last, yet after a while she recovers her balance, uprights herself, and proceeds on an even course towards the sublime goal that awaits her.

May we gather experience from the past, learn wisdom for the future, and, under the direction of Him who guides the affairs of the children of men, go on courageously and faithfully in working out our national destiny.

Trusting that your present session may mark a new era in our national history, and effect great good for the nation and the race,

I have, &c.,


[Page 615]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 16.]

The project for the loan of from three to four hundred pounds sterling in consolidated Liberian debt of 7 per cent, per annum, amortizable in fifty years in equal parts, according to the following conditions:

The Liberian Government will receive the sum total of ——— pounds sterling, to be reimbursed in the period of fifty years in equal amounts.
The sum of the loan will be represented by bonds, to order indifferent amounts, distributed in alphabetical series. Each series will be distinguished by different color.
The bonds will be divided into one hundred, six monthly coupons, representing interest 7 per cent, and payable in Europe, in indicated places, on the 1st of January, and 1st of July in every year.
The Liberian Government will pay to bankers and agents a commission of 5 per cent, upon total sum of loan, and besides will agree to fix a commission of 1 per cent, for payment of coupons and amortization of capital.
The amortization will take place by drawings.
As a guarantee for the loan the Liberian Government will give the following securities: (1) the 50 per cent, of the receipts of custom houses of the Republic with a right of looking into the accounts by the bondholders; (2) the 50 per cent, of the fourth part produced by the sale of forest woods existing in the territory of the Republic of Liberia for a period of fifty years; (3) the 50 per cent, during fifty years of the remaining income of the receipts of the treasury; (4) the 50 per cent, in the fourth of the residue of what is produced by explorations of mines in Liberian territory which the bondholders may work during the fifty years; (5) the Liberian Government will leave to the free use of the bondholders all territory cultivated by them, so that they can grow whatever they like during the period of fifty years; (6) that the Liberian Government will concede to the bondholders’ authority to convert the bonds according to the laws of England, France, and other European nations; (7) that any arrangements that bondholders wish to enter into must be first submitted to the approval of the Liberian legislature; (8) to form the basis of the loan, a special commission of the bondholders and a delegation from the Government of Liberia be found to arrange the contract.