882.01 Foreign Control/472a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Mellon)

17. Please send to Viscount Cecil, President of the International Committee on Liberia, the following message from me:

“You will recall that last September we exchanged personal messages regarding the best means for correcting the deplorable conditions in Liberia by international cooperation.11 I explained to you the situation as I saw it with respect to the status of the Firestone interests and you replied setting forth the picture as you saw it from the point of view of the League of Nations. While our analyses did not entirely coincide we agreed fully that it would be unfortunate if American collaboration with the Committee were in any way weakened.

“Since this exchange of telegrams the situation has rapidly altered. In September the question we talked over dealt with the formulation of the League plan for the rehabilitation of Liberia. Since then the plan has been evolved and has been endorsed by this Government to the Firestone interests as a basis for direct negotiations with Liberia. Before, however, these negotiations have even begun the Liberian Government has not only passed legislation in contravention to the existing Loan Agreement but has in the past few days taken a series of measures which can only be characterized as destructive of the very basis of the Agreement. They amount in effect to the confiscation of moneys due to an American corporation and to destruction of the security on which funds were advanced.

“I am instructing Mr. Reber to present the situation in some detail to you and the members of the Liberian Committee and to urge affirmative action in the form of international pressure on the Liberian Government to restore the situation by respecting its contractual undertakings until modified by mutual consent. I am, however, sending you this additional personal message to point out the critical character of the situation and the difficult problem with which we are faced of continuing cooperation with the Committee and of adequately protecting American interests at one and the same time. I cannot help suggesting that our path would be made much easier if any misapprehension under which the Liberian Government may be laboring to the effect that the International Committee sympathized with its recent actions were promptly and explicitly corrected.

“I am likewise expressing my concern to the British Ambassador here.”

Please repeat to American Consul Geneva for Reber’s information.

  1. See telegram No. 3, September 25, 1932, to the Acting Chairman of the American delegation at the General Disarmament Conference, and the despatch dated September 29, 1932, from the American representative on the International Committee on Liberia, Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. ii, pp. 758765.