The Chargé in Liberia ( Bundy ) to the Secretary of State

No. 269

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for the information of the Department copy of a communication addressed to the Liberian Government by F. Bonnard,52 Superintendent of the Monrovia Station of the Compagnie des Cables Sud-Americains requesting permission to connect up and use the German cable which was formerly operated by the German South American Cable Co., between Monrovia and Pernambuco, Brazil.

This copy was furnished me by President Howard himself and in handing it to me he stated that the Liberian Government was not disposed to consider favorably the request of Mr. Bonnard’s Company, and he gave the following reasons:

That in the scheme of development which is contemplated by the Liberian Government under the $5,000,000.00 loan from the United States,53 the subject of telegraphic communication is an important item, and until the details are worked out the Republic does not intend to relinquish control of the German station.
That the German Cable station is considered by the Government of Liberia as valuable security for the damage done to Liberian life and property by the attack of the German submarine in April last, and will be held until this question is adjusted.
That the French Compagnie des Cables Sud Americains already has a cable station in Monrovia with facilities sufficient to take care of all the business likely to come to it at this port for a number of years, and, therefore, it would not be in the interest of the Republic to turn over to Mr. Bonnard’s company the German station thereby giving to the French Company a monopoly of all cable lines leading out of Monrovia.
That the Government of Liberia is desirous of having the United States or its citizens acquire control of the German station, if it should prove not to be feasible for Liberia herself to retain possession of it, and until it is known what can be done in this direction, the proposal of Mr. Bonnard, or any thing like it cannot receive the sanction of the Liberian Government.

The President further stated to me that the French Chargé d’Affaires here had made verbal official representations in behalf of the Compagnie des Cables Sud Americains and had urged the Liberian Government to permit it to connect up and use the former German line between Monrovia and Pernambuco.

The President also said that the Chargé d’Affaires intimated that if the Liberian Government refused to grant the permission asked of it, then the Compagnie des Cables Sud Americains would go out to sea get the free end of the cable, at the point where it had been cut, attach a new section and carry the terminus to the French port of Konakry or Dakar. I have no doubt that the reported intimation was made, because when speaking informally to me one day on this subject the French Chargé d’Affaires made practically the same statement.

The President resents the intimation and he gave me to understand that the Compagnie Des Cables Sud-Americains may do as it likes beyond the jurisdiction of Liberia but the veiled threat would not secure the permission sought within confines of the Republic.

The President also asked me to request the Department to support the Liberian Government in its decision not to give up possession of the German station for the reasons already set forth herein.

I have [etc.]

Richard C. Bundy
  1. Not printed.
  2. See the section on financial affairs, pp. 464 ff.