to Mr. McLane.
Washington , January 13, 1886.
Sir: I transmit to you herewith, for your information, a copy of a dispatch to this Department concerning the alleged proceedings of Lieutenant Aroux, commanding a gunboat of the French navy, in negotiating treaties with the chiefs of native tribes within Liberian territory.
You are desired to acquaint yourself with the former inquiries made at the time of the French attempt to control Kent Island, in the Manna River, and with the grounds on which our friendly intervention on behalf of Liberia was based. We exercise no protectorate over Liberia, but the circumstance that the Republic originated through the colonization of American citizens, and was established under the fostering sanction of this Government, gives us the right, as the next friend of Liberia, to aid her in preventing any encroachment of foreign powers on her territorial sovereignty, and in settling any dispute that may arise. The southeasterly boundary at the river San Pedro has never been questioned, and has the powerful sanction of general admission for many years. I will thank you, therefore, to ask the foreign office whether there is any foundation for the report that France, through its officers on the coast, has assumed to treat with Liberian tribes as independent; and you will endeavor to ascertain, if so, whether Lieutenant Aroux’s so-called treaty is in disparagement of Liberia’s sovereign rights in that territory.
I am, &c.,