882.6176 F 51/4

The Secretary of State to Mr. Harvey S. Firestone

Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of December 10, 1924, and of the three draft agreements covering your proposed enterprise in Liberia which have been revised since my talk with you last week and were handed to Mr. Harrison by representatives of your company on December 18. In submitting these draft agreements to the Department, you asked to be advised whether they contain anything which would prevent this Government from giving your undertaking its moral support and approval. You also inquire concerning “the protection afforded the rights of both parties from a contractual and international standpoint”.

In reply, I wish to say that I fully appreciate the importance of developing independent sources of rubber supply under American control, and trust that your enterprise may contribute to that end. With reference to your inquiry whether the enterprise would receive the support of this Department, I may state that it is not the policy of the Department of State to obtain or negotiate concessions for American citizens, although the Department is always desirous to [Page 404] maintain free and equal opportunity for American enterprise throughout the world. There appears to be nothing in the contracts submitted by you which is opposed to the interests or policies of this Government or which would preclude this Department from giving appropriate moral support. It should be understood, of course, that the Government assumes no obligations and the investment must be made at the risk of those engaged in the enterprise. While I cannot presume to bind my successors in office, I may say that it has been and is the policy of the Department when controversies arise to lend proper support of a diplomatic character to claims of American citizens wherever these claims appear to be founded on international law and justice.

I note that Agreement No. 2 contains in Article IV, paragraph (k), a statement to the effect that you will use your best efforts to obtain for Liberia a loan either from the Government of the United States or from some other person or persons. In this connection, it should be clearly understood that this statement in the contract and what I have said above must not be taken by the Government of Liberia or in any other quarter to mean that I intend to reopen the question of a government loan or that any committal in this respect is involved.

Subject to the foregoing, I take pleasure in informing you that this Department, in the light of the information before it, perceives no objection to your proceeding to negotiate an agreement in the matter with the Government of the Republic of Liberia on the lines set forth in the draft agreements submitted to this Department.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes