The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Curzon) to the American Ambassador (Harvey)52

No. W 7965/1110/98

Your Excellency: In the last memorandum53 from the State Department regarding the British mandates for the administration of certain ex-German territories in tropical Africa and the proposed treaties relative thereto, it was stated that the United States Government desired the insertion in the treaties of the following article:—

“Subject to the provisions of any local law for the maintenance of public order and public morals, the nationals of the United States will be permitted freely to establish and maintain educational, philanthropic and religious institutions in the mandate territory, to receive voluntary applicants and to teach in the English language.”

The United States Government stated that they were willing to accept the wording proposed by His Majesty’s Government for [Page 331]article 8 of the East African mandate and article 7 of the mandates for Togoland and the Cameroons. This wording was adapted from article 2 (1) of the American–Japanese treaty of the 11th February, 1922 relative to the mandate conferred on Japan in respect of the former German islands North of the Equator in the Pacific ocean.
The observations made in paragraph 3 of the American memorandum in regard to the wording of these articles of the mandates were evidently based on an imperfect text due, no doubt, to telegraphic errors. The text actually proposed by His Majesty’s Government was as follows:—

“The mandatory shall ensure in the territory complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship which are consonant with public order and morality. Missionaries who are nationals of States Members of the League shall be free to enter the territory and to travel and reside therein; to acquire and possess property, to erect religious buildings and to open schools throughout the territory, it being understood however, that the mandatory shall have the right to exercise such control as may be necessary for the maintenance of public order and good government and to take all measures required for such control.”

The United States Government explained that in proposing the insertion of the article mentioned in paragraph 1, they were actuated by consideration of the different conditions prevailing and likely to arise in Central Africa as compared with the islands under Japanese mandate, and by the presence in the article just quoted of a limiting clause which might be regarded as similar in effect to the phrase “subject to such control as may be necessary for the maintenance of good government,” which the United States Government had found it impossible to accept.
His Majesty’s Government find it difficult to agree to the text of the article proposed by the United States Government. Article 254 of the tropical African mandates places upon the mandatory Power the responsibility for peace, order and good government, while the text of the suggested treaty article denies by implication to the Mandatory Power the right to subject religious, philanthropic and educational work to the control necessary for the maintenance of good government and thus, as regards these spheres of activity, divorces responsibility from power. His Majesty’s Government have not the slightest intention to discriminate against United States nationals or institutions by subjecting their operations to restrictions not equally applicable to British nationals or institutions. They are of course anxious—and indeed they are bound [Page 332]under the Mandates—to ensure to the utmost, not only the material but also the moral well-being and the social progress of the inhabitants of the mandated territories. The religious and social condition of parts of the tropical African mandated territories is however such that to allow free access to those parts to Christian missionaries would be fatal to the requirements of good government, even if not to those of public order. For instance, in the north of the Cameroons, as in the neighbouring British Protectorate of Nigeria, the native States are Moslem States, which, in the case of the Fulani States, owe their origin to a militant religious movement. Their law, their taxation and their social system are based on the Koran. The British policy has been and is to rule the country through the native administrations and to give these as much local autonomy as possible. To retain the confidence and good will of the native rulers is therefore essential and His Majesty’s Government are satisfied that, in present conditions and for a good many years to come, to require the natives to admit against their will Christian missionaries and missionary schools whose object, whether avowed or not, would obviously be to subvert the Moslem religion, would be so resented by the natives and the Native Administrations that their confidence and good will would be no longer forthcoming; and the Mandatory Power would be unable in consequence to carry out its obligations under article 255 of the Mandates. His Majesty’s Government hope therefore that the United States Government will not press their proposal.
His Majesty’s Government are naturally quite willing that American missionaries should teach in the English language, and they are prepared to give a formal assurance to this effect so far as concerns the territories now in question, if value is attached to it. It would, however, seem unnecessary to do so by means of an article in the treaties and it may be observed that such an assurance relating to territory under British administration where the official language will be English would be of little value as a precedent affecting territories where the official language will be different.
As regards the preamble of the African treaties it would seem desirable for the sake of general uniformity that the wording should follow the same lines as the preamble of the treaty regarding the British mandate for Palestine. A separate note on the subject of this treaty is being addressed to the United States Government56 in which the reasons are set forth which lead His Majesty’s Government [Page 333]to suggest a text different from that which has been proposed by the United States Government. On the hypothesis of this new draft being accepted His Majesty’s Government would propose for the preamble of the African treaties the following text, mutatis mutandis:

Whereas for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations a mandate for the administration of part of the former colony of German East Africa has been entrusted to His Brittanic Majesty, and

Whereas the terms of the mandate in respect of this territory have been defined by the Council of the League of Nations as follows:—

(Insert terms of mandate except the preamble)


Whereas His Brittanic Majesty has accepted the mandate in the above terms in respect of the aforesaid territory and has undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations: and

Whereas the Government of His Brittanic Majesty and the Government of the United States of America are desirous of reaching a definite understanding as to the right of their respective Governments and of their nationals in the said territory:

His Brittanic Majesty and the President of the United States of America have decided to conclude a Convention to this effect and have nominated as their plenipotentiaries . . . . . . who . . . . . . . . have agreed as follows:—

I have [etc.]

Curzon of Kedleston
  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in his despatch no. 1748, Oct. 11, p. 304.
  2. Ante, p. 328.
  3. Numbered 2 in the draft mandates for Togoland and the Cameroons, and numbered 3 in the draft mandate for East Africa.
  4. Numbered 2 in the draft mandates for Togoland and the Cameroons, and numbered 3 in the draft mandate for East Africa.
  5. Note of Oct. 2. p. 304