to Mr. Smith.
Washington, June, 23, 1888.
Sir: I have been afforded an opportunity to read a letter recently addressed to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, of Boston, by Mrs. (or Miss) Mary B. Meriam, an American, missionary residing at Cape Mount, in which reference is made to a strong feeling of race prejudice alleged to be prevalent among the Liberian colonists, and which, it is said, is most prejudicial to the interests of the few white persons resident in that Republic. It is asserted that no white person going to the vicinity of Cape Mount would be sure of safety 5 that they can get no justice done them in case of well-grounded complaints, and that they are exposed to insults and violence. It is said that this inhospitable treatment is not [Page 1084] experienced from the native Africans, “who respect and like the white people.”
The Department does not, as a rule, make vague and general statements of this character the occasion of international complaint, and seldom feels called upon to instruct its agents abroad in respect thereof, preferring to act upon specific cases of complaint.
But in regard to this allegation of an unfortunate race prejudice in Liberia, confirmatory of intimations in the same sense which had previously reached the Department through more or less direct channels, and in view of the slowness of communication with Monrovia and between Monrovia and outlying points on the Liberian coast and in the interior, which might make delay in the ascertainment of facts inexpedient and perhaps dangerous, it seems proper to say for your general guidance that nothing could be more contrary to the true interests of Liberia or more sincerely to be deprecated than any exhibitions of hostility based upon color. Contrary to the principles of equal rights, upon which all good self-government is founded among men, it is furthermore expressly contrary to the constitutional precepts and statutory enactments of the country from which the settlement of Liberia has been mainly effected. It is trusted that in the event of any just complaint of wrong in this regard being brought to your attention you will be earnestly outspoken in favor of the equal and humane treatment of whites in Liberian jurisdiction.
I am, etc.,