882.00/825: Telegram

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


77. Supplementing my 75, I wish to submit the following full account of the conversation I had with President King, since the Liberian Government either has misunderstood it or is now attempting to distort it. At the British Legation reception on June 3, at noon, I saw the President, and in the course of general conversation with him the question of the present difficulties of Liberia arose. The possibility of foreign intervention came up, and I inquired, quite informally, what the President would think of intervention by Germany. King said he was opposed to any sort of intervention. I then said that I doubted the United States would allow a foreign intervention; that I hoped, if intervention were ever necessary, it would be by the United States, but that it was my belief Liberia could solve its own problems and no intervention question would ever arise seriously. Then I assured King of the continued American friendly interest. The conversation was entirely informal, the President apparently understanding and appreciating this fact, and he also appreciated my assurance of friendship.

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On repeating it to Secretary Barclay, who was not present, President King either did not give a full account to him or, for reasons of his own, Barclay preferred making official use of it. On June 4, however, a very abrupt note reached me from Barclay who cited isolated extracts of my remarks to President King, stated profound objections to any sort of intervention, and inquired whether my remarks were intended as official horizon and, if so, whether they indicated any alteration in the traditional policy of the United States to Liberia.

Immediately I replied substantially as follows:

“Although I may be repeating, the historic United States attitude toward Liberia continues and will continue, and I extremely regret if my conversation with His Excellency the President was misunderstood”.

I would have personally presented this note in order to clear up any possible misunderstanding, but I have been confined the past three days to bed with a slight, though troublesome, heart affection.

It was my assumption that my reply would close the matter. However, I understand that Secretary Barclay intends carrying it further, for the purpose, presumably, of discrediting American activities in Liberia, and I am informed of a Cabinet meeting held June 5 (following receipt of my note) when it was decided to take up the matter directly with the Department.

In view of the use made of my informal remarks, I realize their indiscreet nature; but I was misled by the President’s apparent understanding and appreciation as the conversation progressed and by the fact that we had been able previously, in numerous conversations, to discuss personally and informally the affairs of Liberia without having them made an official matter. As soon as I am allowed out, I intend to take up the matter personally with the President and the Secretary, in order to clear up any possible misunderstanding.