The Assistant Secretary of State (Castle) to Mr. Harvey S. Firestone

My Dear Mr. Firestone: As you know, the Department cabled the American Legation at Monrovia on January 27 nominating Bussell as Acting Financial Adviser in de la Rue’s absence but making it clear that this Government intended to send another man out as soon as possible who would take over the position of Acting Financial Adviser on arrival and who would be confirmed as actual Financial Adviser should de la Rue be unable to return. At the same time the Department suggested that the remuneration of the new man should be the same as de la Rue’s and pointed out that inasmuch as the Loan Agreement makes no provision for such remuneration it would [Page 245] probably have to be made the subject of a supplementary agreement to be arranged direct between the Liberian Government, the Finance Corporation and the Fiscal Agent.

A telegram has now been received from the American Legation at Monrovia dated February 4 which reads in substance as follows:

“Just advised by the Liberian Government no objection to Bussell’s temporary supervision of financial advisers office but feels bound to observe the loan agreement, ‘unalterable criterion by which the powers’ exercised thereunder by Government of the United States are controlled, furnishes no authority for appointment acting financial adviser in the sense suggested by Department and therefore regrets inability to concur in proposed intention of the Department which if carried out would modify loan agreement ‘by reading into it a provision not contemplated nor agreed to at making of contract.’ Further that government will be embarrassed in financial sense by paying De la Rue’s salary during leave and also pay new man equal of salary not in budget which in itself would constitute violation of the loan agreement re extra budget payments. Therefore government shares neither opinion nor understanding with regard to remuneration on new man and supplementary agreement referred to Should De la Rue not return government will not hesitate to accept new nominee and feels assured views expressed will meet sympathetic acceptance by Department.

“I am satisfied government will not change position.”

From this it appears that the Liberian Government intends to stand upon the letter of the Loan Agreement and that it is not disposed to make a supplementary agreement of the sort contemplated, and I am compelled to say that in taking this position the Liberian Government seems to be on strong ground. In the circumstances the Department can do nothing further unless the Finance Corporation and the Fiscal Agent can reach an agreement on the subject with the Liberian Government by direct negotiation, as the only alternative would be definitely to recall de la Rue and to designate a new Financial Adviser of the type desired, a measure which the Department is not prepared to take at the present time for obvious, reasons.

Another telegram from the American Legation at Monrovia likewise dated February 412 regarding the question of the appointment of American officers to the Liberian frontier force states that the Liberian Government will not consent to white officers, that it is willing to retain Outley as captain,13 that it has asked that this Government nominate a negro major but that the salaries may not exceed $8,000 per annum for both. Here again the Liberian Government appears to be well within its recognized prerogatives and the Department accordingly is estopped from taking any action that would be [Page 246] inconsistent with the terms of the Loan Agreement and the expressed wishes of the Liberian Government.

The Department would appreciate receiving any further information which you may have regarding these matters and I shall, of course, be glad to discuss them with you or your representatives.

I have addressed a similar letter to Mr. Hoffman of the National City Bank14 and have mailed a copy of this letter to Mr. Robinson15 at Akron.

I am [etc.]

W. R. Castle, Jr.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Capt. Hanson Outley; see last paragraph of the letter of July 14 to Messrs. Shearman & Sterling, Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. iii, p. 151.
  3. Not printed.
  4. B. M. Robinson of the Firestone Tire Co.