The Secretary of State to the Commissioners of Liberia.
Washington, April 13, 1909.
Gentlemen: You have been appointed commissioners on behalf of the Department of State to investigate, with the consent of the authorities of the Republic of Liberia, the interests of the United States and its citizens in that country.
The interests of the United States and its citizens in the Liberian Republic arise from the foundation and history of that Republic, and the actual and potential interests which continue to-day are related to matters of commerce, intercourse, and possible immigration, the safeguarding of which interests depends in turn wholly upon the conditions of stable government and the welfare of the Liberian people.
The determination of this Government to send a commission to Liberia for the above-mentioned purpose has been brought about by [Page 706] an application made to the United States by the Republic of Liberia, through a commission specially accredited to this Government in the month of June, 1908, for assistance in maintaining its independence and to enable it to carry on a peaceful and orderly government. With all the study which it has been possible to give and with the assistance which the Liberian commissioners themselves could give, it has been found very difficult to determine the precise thing which the Government of the United States might find it practicable and expedient to do in the way of giving assistance. It has, therefore, been decided to send to Liberia the commission, of which you have been appointed members, to examine the situation and to confer with the officers of the Liberian Government and with the representatives of other Governments actually present in Monrovia, with a view of reporting recommendations as to the specific action on the part of the Government of the United States which may afford the most effective measures of relief.
In making your investigation and recommendations you will give particular attention to the following subjects, which appear from the information in the possession of the department to be those in regard to which the Liberian Government especially needs friendly aid and counsel:
- The controversies between Liberia and neighboring countries concerning the boundaries of the Republic. It is understood that these boundaries have been fixed by solemn international agreements, but that, owing to the inability of the Liberian Government properly to control the native tribes and its consequent failure to maintain order upon the border, there is reason to apprehend the temporary and eventually the permanent occupation of Liberian territory by her more powerful neighbors on the ground of the necessity of assuring order and safety in their own colimiting territories.
- The organization of the frontier police force. It seems that the employment of certain foreign officers and the enlistment of certain men not of Liberian nationality in this force is or has been the occasion of an acute international dispute, and that the preference of the Liberian people is for the employment of citizens or subjects of a Government that is not territorially interested.
- The assistance which the United States Government may be able to give in a reorganization of the fiscal affairs of Liberia in order to place that Republic upon a firm and stable financial basis. In this connection your particular attention is called to the customs department of the Liberian Government, which, it is understood, is largely under the control of foreign officials in order to secure the payment of the foreign loans, and to the treasury department, to which there has already been assigned a foreign financial adviser. The employment of officers of a single neighboring foreign nationality in the various departments of the Liberian Government to the exclusion of officers of other neighboring countries is claimed to be one of the principal causes of embarrassment. There is appended hereto, for the information of the commission in considering the financial affairs of Liberia, a copy of the convention between the United States and the Dominican Republic providing for the disinterested assistance of the United States in the collection and application of the customs revenues of that Republic. The enforcement of the provisions of this convention has relieved the Dominican Republic from serious financial [Page 707] difficulties with foreign creditors and has afforded a healthy revenue for the administration of internal affairs.
- The assistance which the United States may be able to give in the postal, educational, and agricultural departments of the Liberian Government.
- The judicial department of Liberia appears to be a source of complaint and any assistance which the United States may be able to give in order to remedy the conditions complained of in this department is likely to be gladly welcomed.
- Of the many subjects of common interest to Liberia and the United States, among the most important historically and in some other respects is that of the colonization of Liberia by the American negro, and the fact that the country may offer suitable inducements to be availed of by immigrants of the Afro-American race if there be cooperation by the United States to keep open the opportunity for such colonization by desirable immigrants. This phase of the subject may therefore properly receive your attention.
If the commission finds opportunity to exert good offices to bring about the composition of the differences between Liberia and the adjacent governments without the United States becoming in any way a contracting or executory party to such composition, the commission is at liberty to do so. It is, of course, understood that the commission is not to enter into any international engagements to which the United States is a party except ad referendum.
The records of your commission will be kept by your secretary, Mr. George A. Finch, who will take with him, for your convenient reference, copies of the pertinent and material portions of the records of the department bearing upon the various subjects mentioned in these instructions.
To advise and assist you in your investigations and recommendations concerning military affairs, Capt. Sydney A. Cloman, United States Army, has been attached to the commission.
Owing to the climatic conditions in the country which you are about to visit, Maj. Percy M. Ashburn, of the Medical Corps of the United States Army, has been designated to accompany you for the purpose of looking after the health of the members of the commission.
Mr. Frank Abial Flower, an attaché of the commission, will doubtless be able to supply considerable information and perhaps a few suggestions, based upon his special study of African affairs; and doubtless his assistance in the investigations under the direction of the commissioners will be valuable.
The commission will proceed from Washington to Hampton Roads, from which place it will depart, on the 23d of April, on board the U. S. S. Chester, Birmingham, and Salem. It is expected that you will arrive in Monrovia, Liberia, about May 6, and that you will remain in that country 30 days making your investigations. The U. S. S. Chester, Birmingham, and Salem will lie off Monrovia during your stay in Liberia and you will take your lodgment and make your headquarters aboard those vessels. When you have completed your investigations you will return to the United States aboard the same vessels and make your report and recommendations to the Department of State.
I am, etc.,