882.01 Foreign Control/466: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Edge) to the Secretary of State

27. Department’s 9, January 13, 4 p.m. The Liberian Minister called again this morning and said that he had transmitted to his Government the information with respect to the Department’s attitude on the present situation in Liberia and the means of communication between the two Governments there. He said that in reply his Government still maintained its position that as the American Minister there was not accredited to Liberia8 and as there were personal difficulties between him and the President there was no appropriate means of communication between the two Governments, especially as Liberia had no representation in the United States at present. Therefore, his Government had instructed him to present a memorandum which he submitted to Marriner, who received him, in reply to the considerations set forth by Mr. Mitchell in his last note.

Marriner told the Minister that he was completely unfamiliar with the details of the present controversy but that he was sure of one thing, namely: that if the Liberian Government was raising the question as to the means of transmission of its views it would seem evident that the American Government might likewise question the propriety of communicating through the missions in Paris and therefore he would not be able to accept the note from the Liberian Government here without express authority from Washington, which he did not expect to be able to obtain. The Minister then asked if the Embassy could not receive the contents of the note merely as information representing the views of the Liberian Government which had been transmitted to him and which they were at present unwilling to develop elsewhere. I saw no objection to this course and this morning I received a communication from Liberian Minister summing up the point of view of the Liberian Government. The text of the note is as follows:

“The Liberian Government has given most careful consideration to the representations of the Government of the United States of America [Page 881] with respect to the Joint Resolution of the Legislature of Liberia authorizing the suspension of payments on the Gold Loan of 1926.

The Liberian Government desires to make it clear to the Government of the United States of America that it was not until they had considered without success the possibility of following every other legitimate avenue which could lead to the liquidation of the situation in agreement with all the parties to the loan that they were compelled to have recourse to the policy of suspension of payments which the resolution expresses. The Liberian Government wishes to emphasize as strongly as possible their continued acceptance of obligations under the terms of the loan and their desire and determination to meet payments thereon whenever this can be done without adversely affecting the normal carrying-on of the Government.

In the face, however, of adverse trade conditions, the continuous fall in the revenues and the inadequacy of the revenues, it becomes impossible to meet simultaneously the payment of the loan charges and the administration expenses of the Government; in consequence of wide economic distress and the consistent refusal of the Finance Corporation of America to give assistance or advice, if the Government is to be maintained (which is, of course, the primary consideration even for the security of the loan) it is impossible to meet these charges at present.

The Liberian Government notes with surprise the suggestion from the United States of America that the representative of the Finance Corporation of America, sent to Monrovia in December,9 is authorized to suggest a solution to the problem and to integrate this with the plan of assistance of the League of Nations, this having been intimated to the Liberian Government neither by advice from the Finance Corporation of America nor by their representative himself when he was in contact with the President of Liberia. Nor is this suggestion borne out by the declaration made in Geneva by the representative of the United States of America on the Committee of the Council of the League when he intimated why the Finance Corporation of America would not enter into the negotiations scheduled for the 15th of November, 1932.

The coincidence of Mr. Lyle’s interview with the President of Liberia and the passage of the resolution is wholly fortuitous. The policy pursued by the Liberian Government in the present instance is emphatically dictated by the budget situation. In the opinion of the Liberian Government the budget cannot be balanced without the enforcement of the law which is protested against.

The Liberian Government is still open to receive any proposals relevant to this situation. But considering the delay which has already been caused by the attitude of the Finance Corporation of America and in view of the urgent necessity of providing for the payment of the expenses of the Government and of relieving the general economic distress and the unsatisfactory position of the public employees who, with regard to the payment of salaries, have been discriminated against to the advantage of the Finance Corporation of America and the fiscal regime, the Government finds itself unable to suspend the execution of the law unless and until some solution appropriate to the social facts, [Page 882] and not based merely upon theoretic rights, be forthcoming from the parties interested in the question.

The Liberian Government submits this reply through the Liberian Minister in Paris as there is no accredited United States Minister to Liberia and as the attitude of Mr. Mitchell appears to the Liberian Government as needlessly discourteous.”

Copy mailed to Reber.

  1. The Minister in Liberia (Charles E. Mitchell) had had no official relations with the Liberian Government since his arrival in Monrovia in February 1931.
  2. L. T. Lyle, vice president of the Finance Corporation of America.