882.01 Foreign Control/11

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Marriner) of a Conversation With the British Ambassador (Lindsay), January 14, 1931

The British Ambassador called late in the afternoon to say that he had received another telegram from his Government on the Liberian question. He said that the Foreign Office, which apparently had [Page 658] been blowing very cold on the subject a few days ago, was now blowing extremely hot. He read a copy of a telegram which had gone to the British Chargé d’Affaires at Monrovia telling him to act in close association with the American Charge. I told Sir Ronald that in that case he would have very little action to take since we had told our Chargé to inform the Liberian Government that there was no objection on our part to their requesting advice and assistance from the League. Sir Ronald said he was aware of our point of view on that subject and stated that he thought the remainder of the instructions would take care of that situation. The British Chargé was instructed to inform the Liberian Government forthwith saying that, in the circumstances, the only thing for Liberia to do was to request the League for an International Commission of Control to take over the country, and that if Liberia were unwilling to do this, Great Britain would view it with grave concern and it would imperil the friendly relations existing between the two countries.

At the same time the British Chargé was to urge the Liberians to request a loan from the League of Nations. I told Sir Ronald that I did not think this was a very wise idea as Liberia already had one loan not large in itself but of good size in connection with its revenues and resources and that one of the principal troubles at present in the administration of the country was the extravagance and waste which was everywhere in evidence in connection with the expenditure of the present loan. Furthermore, there was still approximately $500,000 of the present loan not taken up and that advances on it had been withheld due to the Liberian failure to cooperate properly. This is particularly true in connection with sanitation and I had been informed that an advance for this purpose would be forthcoming at any time that the Liberian Government showed a disposition to put proper enforcement measures into effect to carry out the sanitation program. In other words, it would seem that what Liberia needs at the present moment was not more money but the proper management of what it now had.

Sir Ronald said that he entirely agreed with me and would telegraph at once to his Government on this point.

The Ambassador then said that his Government felt that it would be very important for us to state our point of view to the Governments of Italy, Germany, France and Japan, so that they might be prepared at Geneva and at Monrovia to support action of the character that the British were suggesting. I told him that I thought we could inform these countries in accordance with the tenor of our instructions to the Chargé at Monrovia.

J. Theodore Marriner