882.6176 F 51/207

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

No. 348

Sir: I have the honor, in compliance with Department’s cable No. 12 of March 4, 1926,40 to transmit herewith a single copy of “Correspondence and Draft Agreements of the Firestone Proposals.”41 Agreements numbers one, two and three on pages 54 [51] to 65 inclusive were ratified by the Legislature of Liberia January 13, 1925.

The Act of Ratification is enclosed herewith.42 The Department’s attention is called to section two of this Act authorizing the President to enter into final agreements with the said “Harvey S. Firestone substantially on the terms, conditions and stipulations set forth in the said draft agreements and correspondence incidentally thereto.”

This ratification was of the Hines original Agreements which were not accepted by Firestone. In fact these Agreements were withdrawn and when submitted contained radical changes including the proposed loan.

This Legation has never been furnished copies of the Planting Agreements signed by Secretary of State Barclay in New York. Through courtesy, however, an opportunity to see these agreements and compare them with the original Hines Agreements has been afforded.

The Liberian Government maintains that these later Agreements, their terms, conditions and stipulations are substantially different from the draft agreements ratified by the Legislature in 1925, particularly Agreement No. 2 and it was therefore absolutely necessary for the Liberian Legislature to ratify them in as much as the Act of Ratification of the Hines Agreements merely gave the Executive Government limited power and authority.

[Page 542]

If the new Agreements have substantial changes, it is absolutely essential, not only in compliance with the constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia but also for the protection of the Firestone Plantations Company to have approval by the Legislature. Without such approval all rights thereunder are subject to attack. This Legation is aware that the Department has at its hand all facts subsequent to the resubmission of the second set of Agreements and subsequent to the Act of Ratification of January 13, 1925.

Although the final Planting Agreements as they now stand do not include the loan, it is contended there are such substantial differences that ratification is absolutely necessary.

From this brief explanation and upon comparing the original Hines Agreements, [with] the final ones now in the possession of the Department, taking into consideration the wording of the Act of Ratification (inclosure No. 2,) this Legation hopes that the Department can see the situation clearly as it is regarded here; also see that while Mr. Barclay has the authority of the Executive Government, he could not have complete and final authority including Legislative, unless in direct contradiction of the Act of Ratification of January 13, 1925.

The Joint Resolution approving the final planting Agreements as signed in New York by Mr. Barclay and modified by the Liberian Legislature was transmitted in this Legation’s despatch No. 336 dated February 24, 1926, and the reason and cause for the modifications explained in other despatches transmitted by me to the Department.

In further explanation of these modifications there is enclosed a copy of a cable from Mr. Firestone to President King dated December 19, 1925,43 relative to the number of white employees to be used in Liberia.

All of these modifications were merely interpretations based, as viewed by the Liberian Government, upon mutual understanding except the one on Arbitration, and were needed to assure passage of the Agreements by the Legislature in view of newspaper articles and apprehension on the part of the Liberian people.

Further, I feel that they are of such minor importance that Mr. Firestone should not withdraw, especially since he may be stopped from denying his agreement on these points. This is so, not that their importance should be regarded but in view of his absolute protection through the requisite joint resolution of the Legislature.

The Liberian Government, see Legation’s cable No. 19,44 has sent Mr. de la Rue to explain the situation and consummate the agreements and the loan.

[Page 543]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I sincerely hope that in view of such a friendly definite policy by Liberia, the need on the part of Mr. Firestone and America to secure a source of rubber and desire to assist Liberia in economic development, any misunderstanding may be adjusted and these agreements completed.

I have [etc.]

Clifton R. Wharton
  1. Not printed.
  2. For correspondence and draft agreements reprinted from this pamphlet, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, pp. 367, 379.
  3. For the text of the act of ratification, see ibid., p. 405.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, p. 489.
  5. Dated Mar. 6, 1926; ante, p. 538.