Mr. Coolidge to Mr. Foster.

No. 91.]

Sir: Some time ago I learned privately that negotiations were going on between France and Liberia. On inquiry, I found that Baron de Stein was the authorized agent on the part of the Republic of Liberia to settle with France the long-pending questions of boundary. I had an interview with this gentleman during the negotiations, which were yesterday brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

By a treaty, which was to be signed on the 8th instant, Liberia cedes to France the seacoast east of the Cavally River, and receives in exchange certain extension of territory in the interior. She receives an indemnity [Page 297]of 25,000 francs and France recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic within the boundary lines as now agreed upon by the treaty.

It is evident that the French have obtained from Liberia concessions of some importance, for the seacoast is the only part of the country which is worth anything, for the present, at least. But, on the other hand, the territory ceded was entirely unsettled by Liberia. France laid claim to it by treaties with the native chiefs, and the 25,000 francs were welcome.

It is certainly to the advantage of the little Republic to have this troublesome matter settled once for all in a friendly manner with her powerful neighbor. I have no doubt that the growing desire of France for laying the foundation of a future colonial empire in Africa would make it much more difficult to obtain later on such terms as these, and I have not hesitated to say so to Baron de Stein. The energetic protest made by the Government of the United States on the 13th of July, as reported in No. 26 of July 22 has, I think, induced the French to make the present settlement.

I inclose herewith an English copy of the treaty which Mr. de Stein furnished me before it was signed; he will send, later on, a map upon which the new boundary lines are delineated.

He claims that he has increased very much the size of the Republic.

I have, etc.

T. Jefferson Coolidge.
[Inclosure in No. 91.]

convention between the government of france and the republic of liberia.

The undersigned, Mr. Hanotaux, minister and plenipotentiary director of commercial affairs and of consulates at the ministry of foreign affairs of the French Republic, and Mr. Haussman, chief of division at the under secretariate of state of the colonies of the French Republic, and the Baron von Stein, minister resident of the Republic of Liberia in Belgium, commissioner of the Liberian Republic to the Government of the French Republic, to the effect of preparing an understanding relative to the delimitations of the French possessions and of the territories of the Republic of Liberia, have agreed to the following arrangement on both sides, subject to the ratification of the respective governments:

Article I.

On the Ivory coast and in the interior the frontier line between the French possessions and the Republic of Liberia will be constituted as follows, in conformity to the tracing in red on the map annexed to the present convention in duplicate, and marked as follows:

(1)
By the thalweg from the Cavally River up to a point situated about 20 miles to the south of the confluence of the river Fodedongon-Ba at the intersection of 6° 30ʹ of latitude north and of 9° 12ʹ longitude west of Paris.
(2)
By the parallel passing through the said point of intersection up to the conjunction of 10° of longitude west of Paris, it being understood that in every case that the basin of the Great Sestcre River belongs to Liberia and that the basin of the Fodedongon-Ba belongs to France.
(3)
By the meridian 10° up to its conjunction with latitude 7° north. From this point the frontier will run in direct line towards the point of intersection of 11° with the parallel which passes through Tembicounda, it being understood that the town of Bamaquilla and the town of Mahomondon will belong to the Republic of Liberia, the points of Naala and of Monsardon belonging to France.
(4)
The frontier will then take the direction towards the west following the same parallel until its conjunction with the 13° of longitude west of Paris with the Franco-English frontier of Sierra Leone. This line will in any event assure to France the entire basin of the Niger and of its affluents.

[Page 298]

Article II.

The navigation on the river Cavalla to its confluence with the Fodedongon-Ba will he free to shipping and open for the inhabitants of both countries.

France will have the right of erecting at its own expense on the water way (thalweg) or on one or the other bank of the Cavally the works which may be necessary to render it navigable, it being, however, perfectly understood that this fact will in no way infringe the rights of sovereignty, which on the right side belong to Liberia. In case the execution of such works should give rise to the establishment of taxes these would be determined by a new understanding between the two governments.

Article III.

France renounces all rights which she possesses from the ancient treaties concluded on different points of the Seed coast (Cote des Grains) and recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Liberia on the whole coast to the west of the Cavally River.

The Republic of Liberia abandons on its part all pretensions which it might claim to the territories of the Ivory coast situated to the east of the Cavally River.

Article IV.

The Government of Liberia, as in the past, will facilitate to the extent of its means the free engagements of laborers on the Liberian coast for the French Government or its subjects. Reciprocally the same facilities are granted to Liberia by the French Government on the French part of the Ivory coast.

Article V.

In recognizing to the Republic of Liberia the limits which have been fixed, the Government of the French Republic declares that it only intends engaging itself towards the Republic of Liberia free and independent and makes all its reserves for the case that this independence would be impaired or in the case that the Republic of Liberia should alienate any part of the territories which are recognized to it by the present convention.

Done at Paris, December 8, 1892, etc.

The French text will exclusively serve as evidence.

Special Clauses.

I.

The Government of Liberia having incurred certain expenses of establishment on the part of the coast which is to the east of Cavally, France promises to pay to the Government of the Liberian Republic a sum of 25,000 francs as an indemnity.

II.

In case princes or chiefs of aborigines whose states are placed in the territory belonging to France should take refuge on the territories recognized to the Republic of Liberia by the convention of the________, all facilities consistent with the dignity of free independent state will be afforded to France for the pursuit and capture of fugitives.