882.01 Winship Mission/64

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Moffat)

I called up Mr. Harvey Firestone, Jr., by telephone to ask him what decision he had been able to make with respect to the Barclay proposal, in order that we might so inform General Winship.

He told me that the Barclay plan had not been made in the form of a text, but consisted in a series of telegrams from Lyle. They had last night sent off to Lyle detailed instructions as to just what they were prepared to accept. These proposals included the liquidation of past interest due as of January 1, 1933, amounting to some $133,000.00, by the issuance of new 1926 Liberian bonds. They likewise agreed to a reduction of interest for the rest of the loan from seven to five per cent. They agreed to the reduction in wages and numbers of the fiscal officers. They set up a very liberal sinking fund arrangement, dependent on the state of Liberian revenues. They still asked for an official to command the Frontier Force, but were not prepared to insist on this point. They agreed to the further issuance of an internal loan under specified conditions. The whole arrangement was to be made contingent on (1) the withdrawal by Barclay of all executive acts in contra-distinction [sic] to the original agreement, (2) the reinstatement of the depositary, (3) the reinstatement of Travell, (4) withdrawal by the Legislature next [Page 910] October of the repudiationist legislation, and (5) an understanding that if this were not withdrawn, the whole modification agreement would lapse. Lyle was to get in touch with General Winship and he hoped that they would continue to work closely together.

I pointed out the urgency of getting further orders to General Winship so that he could attend a meeting of the Commission at Geneva, which would have to be held some time in May, and asked the Firestones if they could get their man over that early. Harvey, Jr., to my intense surprise, said that that was a matter that they would wish to talk about with us further. I replied that this was a matter of great surprise to me, that it had been distinctly understood by Mr. Firestone, with Mr. Stimson and Mr. Castle, that if they got the situation cleaned up in Monrovia, the Firestones would definitely send a man to Geneva. He replied that (1) this promise had been made if the legislation were actually withdrawn, and said (2) the appointment of General Winship came to them as a bolt from the blue. I replied, with some heat, that I could not credit this, that (1) the withdrawal of the legislation or a contingent agreement to accomplish the same purpose seemed to me a very fine distinction, and (2) that they had asked this Government to send a Commissioner to Liberia. He said, however, that we were rushing them, and that his father would like to come down and talk things over with us. I replied that this was all very well, but that we had come to a distinct and definite understanding as to just what would be the role of the Government, of the Firestones, etc., in such a meeting at Geneva, but that leaving aside the question of commitment, it struck me that from their own interests, they would have a far better chance to handle their case properly if the meeting were held right away when General Winship, with all the authority not only of his personal position but of having come from Liberia, were present, than later on when we would merely be able to send an ordinary functionary.

He hesitated for a while, complained of the heat, and finally said half grudgingly that he thought we were right, but that he would telephone us on Monday. I suspect we shall see him in person.

Pierrepont Moffat

Harvey Firestone jr telephoned me at my house Sunday morning April 30th that if the Dept still felt they should send a representative to Geneva for the next meeting of the Liberian Committee, they would do so. I thanked him. P.M.