882.5048/379: Telegram

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


1. At the request of Edwin Barclay, I called informally and unofficially upon him this afternoon. Beginning the conversation, he stated that his Government, much disturbed by the memorandum presented [Page 652] last December 3,6 desired now to ascertain the world’s attitude to the recently submitted new reform program. I replied that the United States Government did not feel disposed to discuss Liberia’s partial compliance with the recommendations of the Commission7 and added that no evidence was forthcoming of acceptance by the new regime of the Commission’s report or of a proposal to effect any reforms except partial and, judged by international public opinion, what could only, therefore, be unsatisfactory ones. Barclay then inquired how such acts as that opening the hinterland could be taken as not complying with the Commission’s recommendations. He stated his intention of appointing the two Commissioners merely as a preliminary measure, and he requested an informal submission of the principal objections to the reform program. Referring to my previous statement, I added that apparently further discussions depended upon Liberia’s acceptance in full of the Commission’s report and that it would seem to be important to have a declaration of the Liberian Government’s intentions in regard thereto. Such a declaration Barclay then promised to submit in a few days.

Thereupon he endeavored to discuss the sanitation question, and I took occasion to deliver to him the message in the Department’s 121, December 29, noon.8

How Barclay reconciles a declaration of this sort with his former antiforeign attitude it is difficult to see; but now it seems evident, following his nomination by the True Whig Party convention on December 13 for the May presidential election, he wishes to obtain recognition from the foreign powers and to that end is willing to make concessions. It also seems probable that he is apprehensive of the results from possible international concerted action.

  1. See memorandum of November 17, 1930, to the Liberian Consulate General at Baltimore, Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. iii, p. 369.
  2. See telegram No. 115, September 8, 1930, 4 p.m., from the Chargé in Liberia, ibid., p. 348; also Department of State, Report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Existence of Slavery and Forced Labor in the Republic of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia, September 8, 1930 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1931), p. 137.
  3. Ibid., p. 444.