882.01 Foreign Control/936: Telegram
The Chargé in Liberia ( Hibbard ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 17—12:33 a.m.]
2. For McBride.2 My 50, November 13, 4 p.m.,3 last paragraph. The British Chargé d’Affaires and I have had several conferences on the subject of present conditions on the Kru coast and we have talked with a number of the members of the dissident tribes as well as with the Secretary of State and Fredericks, the County Superintendent at Cape Palmas. It is our conclusion that the Kru tribe is not being oppressed at present, that conditions are no worse there than at other points in the interior and that the Liberian Government has made a sincere effort to come to terms with the Chief. Nimley4 however refuses to submit to any regulations of the Government which are in force in other districts and encourages the tribe in open though at present passive opposition to all government authority. He bases this attitude on promises he alleges he received from Mackenzie when the latter was sent on a peace mission to that area by the League5 and says he will not do so until told to do so by another representative of the League or some other “white man”. We have received this information on numerous occasions by personal messenger from him.
We have also been shown a letter from Mackenzie to the Liberian Government in which he states that no promises of the character alleged were ever given by him. This statement has also been circulated by the League. The situation therefore seems to have reached an impasse.
With the knowledge of his Foreign Office the British Chargé d’Affaires in an effort to have this matter peacefully and definitely settled has proposed to the Liberian Government that a letter from [Page 921] his Government advising submission be delivered to Nimley by one of the Irish Catholic priests who lives in that area and is well liked there. The Liberian Government has accepted this proposal although reluctantly as they obviously resent outside intervention in what they consider purely an internal matter, with the proviso that the Liberian Government approves the letter before delivery and that the bearer be accompanied by a Liberian official presumably Fredericks. The Chargé d’Affaires has submitted a draft note to his Government for approval. It is my understanding that the British Foreign Office will consult the Department of State in the matter as they desire that the two Governments act jointly by sending identic or similar notes to Nimley. The Liberian Government has been informed of our consultation here and we have said we will take no action without their knowledge.
In my opinion the Liberian Government is ready to try this course provided the proprieties are observed in consulting them especially as such a course would remove much of the criticism now directed at them in England. From my talks with the representatives of the tribe I also feel that they are ready to submit particularly if clemency is granted Nimley which the British will suggest. In any case I think this is worth a trial as no other feasible solution short of the use of military force has been offered.
I would appreciate your views and instructions as I have made it clear that I can take no action whatever without them.
In view of the continued delay in Firestone’s6 arrival the President has decided to leave for the interior January 19, returning about March 1st. He has so advised Firestone.