to Mr. Smith.
Washington , June 4, 1888.
Sir: I transmit herewith, for preservation on the files of your legation, copy of a communication addressed directly to me, under date of February 14 last, by the Hon. E. J. Barclay, secretary of state of Liberia, claiming the intervention of the Government of the United States pursuant to article 8 of their treaty of 1862 with Liberia, to punish the indigenous African tribes which lately attacked certain American missionaries at or near Half Cavalla. A copy of my reply to Mr. Barclay, of even date herewith, is also transmitted for your files.
The original of my letter to Mr. Barclay, sealed and duly addressed, is herewith inclosed, and you will deliver the same to Mr. Barclay without comment, simply explaining that it has been received with your mail from the Department of State.
As it is probable that Mr. Barclay will take an early occasion to speak to you on the subject, it will be proper for you to familiarize yourself with the whole matter, both by perusal of the correspondence herewith sent you and by careful study of the papers on file in your legation relative to the pending claims of France in the Half Cavalla region.
You will not fail to be impressed by the circumstance, which appears both in Mr. Barclay’s letter and my reply, that, notwithstanding the notorious insubordination, or perhaps, to speak more precisely, denial of Liberian jurisdiction and authority on the part of the Half Cavalla tribe and the admitted inability of the Government of the Republic to constrain these aborigines to subjection or control, the Liberian Government took upon itself to give express permission to Bishop Taylor and his coadjutors to the end that they might ascend the Cavalla River, in order to open up mission stations in the interior. This circumstance is significant, even apart from the uncertainty which seems to cloud the Liberian claim to territorial jurisdiction in the interior region back of the coast between Cape Palmas and the San Pedro River. Even if (as Mr. Barclay appears to have assumed) the Government of Liberia were the judge of the emergency requiring the intervention of the Government of the United States to protect its own citizens under article 8 of the treaty of 1862, an assumption which my reply shows to be erroneous, it could hardly be deemed within the legitimate bounds of Liberian discretion to provoke the issue by sending our citizens, or encouraging them to go, into regions inhabited by aborigines over whom no effective control is or has been exercised.
On general grounds of policy it is preferable that the consideration and discussion of the points involved should be conducted from Washington, [Page 1082] and you will find it more convenient to limit your association with the question to reporting to this Department any phases thereof which may be brought to your attention, and awaiting instructions.
I am, etc.,