The Chargé in Liberia (Carter) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 17—12:20 a.m.]
8. I am withholding action upon Department’s telegram No. 3, January 13, 11 a.m., as I have every reason to believe that the proposal therein contained will be turned down unequivocally and possibly indignantly by Liberian Government on the ground that the arrangement would in effect make Lewis an employee of the National City Bank rather than a nominee of the United States Government and appointee of the Liberian Government. In so doing they would be on strong ground and in my estimation the proposal would expose the United States Government to severe criticism both here and elsewhere as it might well be cited as concrete proof that American policy in Liberia is dictated by the National City Bank and aside from undermining Liberian confidence in the fairness and impartiality of the Department might be very awkward to explain in the event of some future Senatorial investigation. I fully appreciate the desirability of having Lewis here as promptly as possible but I am convinced that the action proposed will not accomplish that result and that the proposal will definitely militate against the success of further negotiations on this matter as after a Liberian refusal we might be on less firm ground than we are at present.
My suggestion would be that we advise Barclay that the stipulation made in his note, reported in the Legation’s 77, December 26, 8 a.m., in effect ignores the considerations which we have previously advanced; that the appointment of qualified frontier force officers is regarded as an integral part of the security of the loan; that the falling off of Liberian revenues and the impossibility of securing two qualified officers within the figure of $8,000 has created a situation which was not contemplated at the time the loan was made; that the proposal that we appoint one officer at $7,500 now and a second as soon as the revenues permit was designed to meet this situation within the terms and the spirit of the loan agreement; that if the Liberian Government feels unable to commit itself at this time to the appointment of a second officer as soon as the revenues permit, we propose that Lewis be accepted as senior military adviser at $7,500 now and that all questions [Page 453] re to the appointment of a second officer or a possible increase in the amount provided for American officers for frontier force be left for negotiation and determination in the light of future circumstances.
I am convinced, in view of condition of the revenues which are still falling, Liberian Government will not commit itself at this time to any possible future financial expenditures on this or anything else no matter how carefully such commitment might be guarded by reservations. I have some reason to believe that a proposal such as I have suggested would provide basis for acceptable arrangement, and even if it were refused we could then reasonably charge the Liberian Government with quibbling. Its acceptance would substantially accomplish the result we are seeking and would still reserve our right to raise the question of a second officer at some future date.
I have felt that the questions of principle and policy involved were sufficiently important to warrant the submission of my views and shall await Department’s further instructions.