Memorandum by the Third Assistant Secretary of State (Bliss)
President King of Liberia, at his own request, called this morning at 11:30 and I talked with him at some length, I pointed out that the recent investigation instituted by the Senate regarding loans to European countries, which included the proposed loan to Liberia, [Page 364] and which investigation was initiated after the Liberian Commission had left Monrovia, had greatly complicated the question which brought President King to the United States; that the Treasury Department did not feel at this time justified in consummating the loan, even should a loan agreement plan be reached with the Commission. I further said that the State Department was actively engaged in the matter in an endeavor to reach a means of finding a method whereby it would be justified in beginning discussion with the Liberian Commission, but that it might be necessary to await the opening of Congress for submitting the question for the consideration of the Legislature. I also pointed out the disinterested desire of the American Government, as the nearest friend of Liberia, to be of every assistance to that country, because of our friendship for Liberia since its foundation and the desire to see the colored people succeed in the experiment which they had undertaken nearly a century ago. I expressed my personal regret that it had not been possible to enter immediately upon the arrival of the Commission into a discussion of the loan agreement and assured him that I was very much in hopes that the matter could be speedily adjusted as soon as the situation permitted of an exchange of views. President King said that he understood the situation and that while he too regretted it he was not unmindful of the difficulties which were presented, but that he was very much in hopes that it would be possible for the Commission and representatives of this Government to begin preliminary conversations with a view, if possible, of reaching a tentative agreement to be consummated without delay upon the loan being made available. He also asked to know whether the American Government would give its approval to Liberia making a loan with private banking and commercial interests in case the Government did not make the loan. To the first point I told him that it was a matter which would have to be given further consideration, and that his suggestion would have my earnest consideration, and that with regard to the second point it seemed unnecessary to cross that bridge until it had been reached, but that of course a private loan would depend for approval by the American Government on the persons who offered to advance Liberia any money.
He left with me a memorandum on various questions of detail concerning Liberia.
I talked with him regarding the climate of Liberia and had him describe to me at length the visit to Monrovia during the war of the German submarine; and assured him on parting that I wished him to consider that he could come to me at any time to discuss matters informally and unofficially which interested him and Liberia.