882.6176 F 51/48
The Liberian Secretary of State (Barclay) to the American Minister (Hood)30
Mr. Minister: In view of the interest which your Department of State has taken in the proposals made by Harvey S. Firestone to this Government, I deem it advisable to acquaint you with the present posture of this affair in order that you might be authoritatively informed of the views of the Liberian Government. For this purpose I herewith enclose a copy of the letter which I addressed Mr. Hines yesterday,31 and desire by this present dispatch to emphasize the observations made in my letter to Mr. Firestone’s representative.
As I had occasion to observe in that letter the matter of direct money returns from Mr. Firestone’s operations in Liberia is of minor concern to this Government. Frankly, what it has been hoped the Republic would gain from the encouragement of large American investments in the country is a counterpois[e] to other menacingly aggressive interests already established in this country, a balancing of foreign influences here and a new economic impulse.
Influenced by these ideas the Government have been disposed to be as liberal in the grant of rights in connection with rubber-production as is consistent with their views of the present [and] future interests of the country.[Page 425]
There are, however, several provisions in the Agreements brought out by Mr. Hines which were neither contemplated nor even remotely suggested in the discussions I had the honour of having with that gentleman in June last year. The understandings we then arrived at were stated both by him and his Principal as being acceptable terms upon which the prospective Lessee could operate in Liberia. The new provisions have been encouched in the Agreements without any notice to this Government and without any previous ascertainment of their possible acceptance. Nevertheless, upon the arrival of Mr. Hines with, in some respect, absolutely new terms, the Liberian Government is expected to place its signature to them without even exercising the right of considering their bearing upon the national interests as this Government interprets them.
The most important of these new proposals is that relating to the question of a loan. The fundamental position which the Liberian Government take upon this question is that it is politically inadvisable in their view to place the Republic under financial obligations to any private concern operating in the country under grants from the Government. This is a line of policy from which there can be no departure. Secondly, in the changed conditions which now obtain in the country, no loan could be negotiated with a private concern upon the terms and conditions of the Agreement negotiated by the Liberian Mission to the United States in 1921. The reason being that any rights the Liberian Government, for political purposes, would be willing with every confidence to accord to the Government of the United States, or any obligations which they would be willing to assume vis-a-vis said Government, they could find themselves able neither to accord nor undertake towards a private concern, however well recommended. Bearing this in mind you can easily see why it has been urged that the question of a loan be taken up in a separate Agreement in which the terms and conditions could be worked out, and that it be eliminated from the present Agreement in which it has no logical place.
I have to emphasize the point that the Government of Liberia do not refuse the assistance of the American State Department in securing the funds necessary to the rapid development of internal works of public utility. On the contrary my Government would be more than appreciative of any benevolent assistance in this direction of which they might be recipients. They nevertheless must urge that the money be secured from sources other than a corporation or individual operating commercially in Liberia, and upon terms and conditions which would be practical, and would also be likely to meet with acceptance by the people of this country.[Page 426]
I should be infinitely obliged if the point of view herein expressed could be placed before your Department of State.
I enclose herewith a copy of my letter to Mr. Hines.
With sentiments of distinguished consideration,
I have [etc.]