882.01 Foreign Control/938

The British Ambassador (Lindsay) to the Secretary of State

No. 17

Sir: Under instructions from His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I have the honour to refer to the Note No. 882.01 Foreign Control/8417 which you were so good as to address to me on the 17th October last, and to convey to you an expression of his thanks for your courtesy in furnishing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom with a copy of Mr. McBride’s able and most interesting report8 regarding the present situation in Liberia.

After the most careful consideration of the views expressed in Mr. McBride’s report, and in your Note under reference, Sir John Simon [Page 922] finds himself in cordial agreement with the opinion that, in all the circumstances, President Barclay is entitled to proceed with his own reform plan and to engage the services of foreign advisers of his own choosing for the purpose of giving effect to it. Mr. McBride’s report indicates that the Liberian Administration are in fact animated by a desire to introduce those very reforms which the enquiry into local conditions conducted under the auspices of the League of Nations showed to be essential for the welfare of the Liberian people; and, this being the case, His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom will be happy to adopt the same course as the Government of the United States in encouraging President Barclay to carry out his proposals, and in seeking their amplification along the lines laid down in the League Plan.

As the United States Government are aware, His Majesty’s Government’s main preoccupation in Liberia relates to the position of the Kru tribes, who have suffered from considerable persecution; Sir John Simon observes, however, that this aspect of the Liberian problem is not referred to in your Note. Nevertheless His Majesty’s Government cannot lose sight of this matter, and are confident that the United States Government will be prepared to exert all possible efforts to secure a lasting and satisfactory settlement between President Barclay and the Kru leaders, a course in which they will be able to count on the full co-operation of His Majesty’s Government. With this end in view, Sir John Simon considers that pressure should jointly be brought to bear both on the Liberian Government and the Kru leaders, in particular Chief Nimley. Indeed it has already been suggested to His Majesty’s representative at Monrovia that he should explore the possibility of reaching some solution along these lines in collaboration with his United States colleague, and it seems to Sir John Simon that it should be possible for the representatives of the two Governments to bring the protagonists together and to arrange for negotiations between them. This is not to imply that either the Government of the United States or His Majesty’s Government could accept any responsibility for the fulfillment of any agreement that might be reached; but His Majesty’s Government are convinced that the fact that negotiations had been rendered possible through the good offices of the two Legations and carried out, so to speak, under their aegis, might serve both to allay the fears which Chief Nimley now entertains, and to moderate the conditions which the Liberian Government might otherwise be inclined to demand as the price of agreement. In this connexion, it will be recalled that the confiscation of arms from the Krus, which was carried out under the control of the League Commissioner in the summer of 1932 as an essential part of a truce on the Kru coast, has been shown by experience to have militated entirely against the interests of the tribesmen; it is even understood, for example, that the [Page 923] disarmed natives have had great difficulty in protecting not only their property, and livestock, but also their persons, against the attacks of wild animals. Any agreement which might be reached must thus necessarily entail a return to the tribes of at least a reasonable proportion of their arms.

With regard to the question of according recognition to the Liberian Government, Sir John Simon entirely agrees with your view that no such action can be contemplated unless, or until, it is seen that President Barclay’s acts correspond with his stated intentions; that his plan is put into effective operation; and that a definite settlement is reached upon the Kru problem.

I have [etc.]

R. C. Lindsay