882.01 Winship Mission/58: Telegram

The Special Commissioner for Liberia (Winship) to the Secretary of State

39. Since my telegram No. 38, April 19, 6 p.m., I have had a number of interviews with Barclay, between which Lyle has carried on his discussions. Barclay has abandoned the unreasonable position represented by his counterproposals of April 17, and now offers to pay 7 percent through 1932, and thereafter to be obligated for 5 percent; to restore the authority of the fiscal officers, and to restore priority of assigned revenues. (Lyle cabled complete proposal to his principals last night.)

In general I consider it equitable as a basis for a solution, and I recommend that the Firestones accept it promptly, contingent upon my obtaining from Barclay his agreement to the reestablishment of the depositary agreement, and the reinstatement of Travell.39 The latter would mean a fiscal staff of four which should be sufficient for the present.

The Firestones have desired the appointment of a Frontier Force adviser who should command. No provision for command appears in the loan agreement and a modification to include this can not, I am positive, be obtained from the Liberian Government. I do not consider this point of paramount importance and I recommend that the Firestones abandon it pending Geneva negotiations, since the League plan is much more adequate in respect to potential control over the Frontier Force than the loan agreement.

Regarding the proposed internal bond issue, now that Barclay has agreed that the interest of the 1926 loan shall have priority over interest on the proposed internal bonds, the menace of the latter largely evaporates. (In fact I doubt whether the internal bonds would be acceptable to commercial creditors and the whole scheme may fall of its own weight without forcing an issue on a point which has become minor.)

Barclay offers to put the arrangement into effect at once as a modus vivendi subject to approval in Geneva which I think can readily be obtained.

The position with respect to the League is as follows:

Barclay admits the binding character of the Liberian commitment to the administrative features of the League plan. Following negotiation in Geneva of the further modification of the loan agreement necessary for the establishment of the plan, he would anticipate that a new loan [Page 909] agreement (embodying his agreement with Lyle, plus the further modifications) would be drawn up.
Negotiations in Geneva should take place as soon as possible, that is, next month. (Cecil informed me in London [that] a meeting of the Liberian Committee could be called on short notice.)
An acceptance by the Firestone interests of Barclay’s proposal will in my opinion place them in a most favorable position as having made a fair and generous settlement which cannot fail either to appeal strongly to the League, or to be well received at home.
Should you so desire I should of course be willing to proceed to Geneva and endeavor to push the negotiations to a final conclusion there.…

I plan to sail from here on May 5th, and this will require prompt decision on the part of Firestone interests. I should like to emphasize that I regard Barclay’s present proposal as reasonable in all the circumstances, and that there is real need for obtaining a definitive settlement of the entire problem without delay.

  1. W. A. Travell, Supervisor of Internal Revenue in Liberia; appointed under provisions of the Loan Agreement of 1926, and summarily dismissed in January 1933.