882.74/39

The Minister in Liberia (Francis) to the Secretary of State

No. 40
Diplomatic

Sir: I have the honor to confirm this Mission’s cablegram No. 8, February 29, 11 A.M., in response to Department’s cablegram No. 6, February 25, 5 P.M.,40 in the matter of the establishment of a transatlantic wireless station in Liberia by the Firestone Plantations Company, and to report that Mr. Harvey S. Firestone, Jr., had a conference on that subject, February 22, 1928, with a Commission appointed by the Liberian Government consisting of Mr. Edwin Barclay, Secretary of State, Mr. Louis A. Grimes, Attorney General and Mr. Samuel A. Ross, Postmaster General. I am informed that at this conference a tentative verbal agreement was reached and it was understood that Mr. Firestone would write a letter to Postmaster General Ross formally setting forth his desires in accordance with that agreement. On the same day (February 22) and subsequent to the conference Mr. Firestone wrote Postmaster General Ross stating that he desired to establish wireless stations at various locations on his developments in Liberia for communication between those stations and the head office at Akron to facilitate the operation of his business, and requesting that the following wave-lengths be allocated to his Company for that purpose:

75    to 54    meters
105    85   
109    105   
45   42.8 
31.2  27.3 
25.2  24.4 
20.8  19.85
16.85 14   

On February 25, Postmaster General Ross replied to Mr. Firestone saying, “you are here-by advised that the Government allocates the following wave-lengths to your company, namely:

1. 20.8 Meters
2. 43  
3. 105  
4. 106  

subject, however, to the ‘Act Regulating the Operation of Radio or Wireless, Telegraph, Telephone or Broadcasting Stations in the Republic of Liberia’, and under the following conditions: [Page 259]

a)
Messages to be transmitted shall be only such as refer to the business of the company and not to the private affairs of their employees;
b)
The Government reserves to itself the right to take over and use the station, or to suspend the operation of same in case of war or other public emergency;
c)
The trans-Oceanic communication shall be confined solely to the station established at the headquarters of the Company in Monrovia;
d)
The Government reserves to itself the right unconditionally to close the station in the event of any violations of the ‘Act Regulating the Operation of Radio or Wireless Telegraph, Telephone or Broadcasting Stations in the Republic of Liberia’.”

Attached to this letter was a copy of the Radio Act passed on the last day of the last session of the Legislature which adjourned February 17, 1928.

On February 29, Mr. Firestone replied to Postmaster General Ross’ letter saying:

“We will commence as soon as possible to determine whether these wave-lengths are suitable for the above purpose. If it should be found after experimentation that certain other wave-lengths are more practical and satisfactory for successful communication, we understand that you will allocate to us such wave-lengths, providing no interference with the Liberian Government’s Wireless Station would result by so doing.

In Paragraph (c) on page two of your letter, you mention ‘the Station established at the headquarters of the Company in Monrovia’. We understand that by ‘Monrovia’ you mean ‘Monrovia District’ and that the station referred to is the station we are constructing at our Du River Development.”

Mr. Firestone says he does not understand why the Government seeks to restrict him to the four wave-lengths named and to but one station; that he will try the wave-lengths allocated at the station at the Du Plantation and if they prove satisfactory he will be content, but if not he will request such further and sufficient wave-lengths as are necessary for successful operation.41

The station call suggested by Mr. Firestone is “ELFP”.

For the Department’s information copies in duplicate of the following papers are enclosed:42

Mr. Firestone’s letter of February 22, 1928, to Postmaster General Ross; Postmaster General Ross’ letter of February 25, 1928, to Mr. Firestone, with copies of the Radio Act referred to therein, and [Page 260]Mr. Firestone’s letter to Postmaster General Ross of February 29, 1928.

I have [etc.]

W. T. Francis
[Enclosure]

An Act Passed by the Liberian Legislature, February 17, 1928, Regulating the Operation of Radio or Wireless Telegraph, Telephone or Broadcasting Stations in the Republic of Liberia

It is enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia in Legislature Assembled:

Section 1

That from and after the passage of this Act it shall be unlawful for any person, company, association or corporation to use any apparatus for radio communication or experimentation within the Republic of Liberia when such apparatus radiates energy at any frequency from 60,000 kilocycles to 1,000 kilocycles; and also when such apparatus as may be used as above radiates energy at any frequency from 600 kilocycles to 429 kilocycles.

Section 2

It is further enacted that it shall be unlawful to use any apparatus to receive radio telegraph or radio telephone signals within the frequency specified in the foregoing paragraph; and provided further that it shall be unlawful to import into the Republic of Liberia or to have and maintain any apparatus which may be used to receive radio telegraph or radio telephone signals within the frequencies specified in the foregoing paragraph, provided, however, that the Government may permit the importation of such apparatus and may formally license such apparatus in its discretion when such apparatus is for some specific necessity and the receiving apparatus so permitted will not be used for the purpose of violating the secrecy of the Government Station messages.

Section 3

It shall be unlawful to import in to the Republic of Liberia, or to have in one’s possession any apparatus for radio communication or experimentation which may be used to violate the provisions of Paragraph One; provided, however, that the Government may permit the importation and may license specially such apparatus when it appears that to the satisfaction of the Government that said apparatus will not be used in violation of Paragraph One.

[Page 261]

Section 4

It shall be unlawful for any person or persons, company, association or corporation to establish any station for radio communication or experimentation within a radius of five nautical miles of any Government radio station, even though said station uses apparatus which does not conflict within the provisions of Paragraph 1.

Section 5

It shall be unlawful for any person to use any static machine, X-ray apparatus and/or any machine or device which may cause interference with the Government radio telegraph and telephone stations, within any radius of said stations within which such interference becomes manifest. Upon proof of such interference, the Postmaster General is hereby authorized to subject the use of such machine or apparatus to the penalty hereinafter provided for the violation of this Act.

Section 6

Any patent which may be hereafter applied for under the general law of the Republic or under any special law which patent includes devices, machines, systems or the use of chemical or electrical energy or any other energy, or which may be used for the reception or transmission of power or for the reception or transmission of messages, pictures, photographs, speech or which may be used now or hereinafter in connection with any machine, apparatus or devices which may be used by the Government of the Republic of Liberia, or in the radio telegraph and telephone stations of the Government of the Republic of Liberia or any power station of the Government of the Republic of Liberia, shall be held subject to the right of the Government to use without charge or claim on the part of the patentee. Any patent which shall be granted hereafter shall be subject to the conditions hereinabove specified.

Section 7

No person or persons engaged in or having knowledge of the operation of any station or stations for radio telephone or telegraph operated by the Government of the Republic of Liberia, shall divulge or publish the contents of any message transmitted or received by such station or stations except to the person or persons to whom the same may be directed, or their authorized agent, or to another station employed to forward such message to its destination, unless legally required so to do by the Court of competent jurisdiction or other competent authority. Any person guilty of divulging or publishing any such message except as herein provided, shall on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $250.00 or imprisonment for a [Page 262]period not exceeding three months, or both fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the Court of competent jurisdiction.

Section 8

For the violation of any of these Regulations, except Paragraph 9, for which a special penalty is provided, the owner or operator of the apparatus or both, shall be liable to a penalty of $100.00 and shall forfeit the apparatus, provided, however, that said fine may be reduced or remitted by the President; and provided further that in case of a second violation of these regulations by any person, company, association or corporation holding a license from the Government, the said license shall be revoked and the said person, company, association or corporation shall not be again licensed for a period of five years thereafter.

Section 9

It shall be unlawful for any person, company, association or corporation to use or operate any apparatus for radio communication on a foreign ship in the territorial waters of the Republic of Liberia when such ship is at any Port of Entry of the Republic of Liberia, at which port of Entry, the Liberian Government shall operate a radio station, except that such messages be directed to or through said Government’s radio Station.

Section 10

Any person, company, association or corporation within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Liberia shall not knowingly utter or transmit or cause to be uttered or transmitted any false or fraudulent call or radiogram of any kind. The penalty for so uttering or transmitting any false or fraudulent signal or call shall be a fine not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years in the discretion of the Court of competent jurisdiction.

Section 11

The trial of any offense under this Act shall be in the country in which it is committed, or if the offense is committed on the high seas, or out of the jurisdiction of any particular country, the trial shall be in the country where the offender may be found or into which he shall be first brought.

Section 12

The Postmaster General, with the approval of the President, shall make and publish such regulations and rates for the transmission and reception of messages and for the conduct of the business of the Government Radio Telephone and Telegraph Stations as he shall from [Page 263]time to time in his discretion deem necessary, and when such Regulations are issued and published, they shall be of full force and effect.

  1. Neither printed.
  2. The Minister in Liberia reported in his despatch No. 54, Mar. 22, 1928 (file No. 882.6176 F 51/262), that the Firestone wireless station on the Du plantation had been established and that he had been informed that the first message was transmitted to Akron on March 17.
  3. Enclosures not printed, except for the radio act printed infra.