File No. 882.00/482.
The American Chargé d’Affaires to the Secretary of State.
Monrovia, July 7, 1913.
Sir: I have the honor to report, for the information of the Department, that Captain Newton, one of the American officers, has just arrived [Page 683] at Monrovia, and reports that the town of River Cess, on the Kru coast, was attacked on June 30, at 2 a.m., by a force of rebellious natives estimated at three or four hundred.
River Cess was garrisoned by a force of about eighty Frontier soldiers under a Liberian officer. It will be remembered that this is the same town and district which Major Ballard has held in subjection for the last five or six months. When Major Young was compelled to take leave it became absolutely necessary to have Major Ballard come to Monrovia, and take over the administrative work Major Young had given up.
I stated in my No. 110 of May 15, 1913, that “the Kru coast has only been subdued on account of the wholesome fear the natives have of Major Ballard, and it is anticipated that as soon as he leaves that station and puts a Liberian officer in charge there will be trouble again.” This forecast has been literally fulfilled within less than five weeks after Major Ballard left River Cess.
It was by the merest chance that Captain Newton was at River Cess at the time of the attack. He had gone there for the purpose of paying the troops stationed at that post, and intended to proceed immediately to his own station on the Cavalla river. Apparently the natives did not know of his presence, which is regarded here as having saved the situation. * * * The Kru natives have profound contempt for Liberian officers, and know of their lack of stamina and military skill. * * * Contact with German merchants on shore, and German sailors and officers aboard ship has made them very untractable. The Liberian Government has actually never had more than nominal control over several of the large towns on the Kru coast. * * * This cannot be remedied until the Receivership can get a revenue cutter. Once these towns are subdued and governmental authority well established there, they will contribute large revenues to the Republic. But this is a task of no mean size. The Frontier Force is at present far too small to undertake this work and for the time being will doubtless have to confine itself to the preservation of order as best it can.
The present situation on the Kru coast again demonstrates the point I have called to the Department’s attention in some of my recent despatches, that three American officers are not enough to deal with present conditions in Liberia. To keep order American officers are necessary on the English boundary, the French boundary, the Kru coast, and at one or two important points in the interior. Moreover, at least one American officer will have to be permanently stationed at Monrovia, to conduct the administrative work and prevent hopeless confusion and inefficient handling of funds. Obviously, this is too much for three men.
Another serious question is likely to arise out of this last attack on River Cess. During the fight, I understand, the houses and stores of the foreign merchants were shot into by the Kru natives. I have not heard that any foreigners were injured; but the incident will very probably be used to make good the previous assertions of the German merchants at River Cess that their life and property are not safe at that place.
I have [etc.]