882.01 Foreign Control/038

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

Mr. Wiggin, First Secretary of the British Embassy, telephoned to ask if I had any word with reference to the British note of January 17 on Liberia, as his pouch was leaving for London today. I called him later and told him that in general we were in agreement therewith, but did want to call attention to a certain difference of approach in the last paragraph of their note and the corresponding paragraph in our note. They had built up their case on the ground that they would not recognize Liberia until certain conditions had been met; we had emphasized our desire to consider the recognition of the Barclay regime as soon as it appeared that a faithful endeavor was being made to carry out the provisions of the Barclay Plan.9 The approach was thus somewhat different.

As far as the Kru situation was concerned, the British Government made it quite clear that they regarded this as their main preoccupation in Liberia. We did not view the problem in quite that light, as we held this matter to be only one element of the big problem, and our primary preoccupation was the welfare and rehabilitation of the country as a whole with reference to education, sanitation, economic development, et cetera, as well as the problems of hinterland administration under which the Kru dispute falls. None the less we did recognize that the settlement of the Kru problem was of considerable importance and we were prepared to cooperate with the British in so far as we could to that end. I had previously told Mr. Wiggin that Mr. Yapp and Mr. Hibbard (British and American Chargés at [Page 924] Monrovia) had apparently been working out some scheme of approach to which the Liberian Government did not object which involved recommending to Nimley, chief of one of the Kru tribes, that he submit to the Liberian authorities. We did not feel that this was practicable unless the British had obtained or could first obtain clemency for Nimley as we did not feel we could assume the responsibility of making any such recommendation to Nimley unless we knew he would not undergo danger after submission. As a matter of fact, I understood that the British were already discussing this phase of the matter with the Liberians.

I told Mr. Wiggin that, subject to the above, we were today telegraphing Mr. Hibbard authorizing him to cooperate with Mr. Yapp in an endeavor to clear away this problem. At the same time, I pointed out that whereas the British Government showed its interest in the nature and manner of the settlement, we were less interested in the details thereof than in the fact that a settlement might be concluded.

Mr. Wiggin said he understood our position and would be glad to send off a memorandum to London to that effect.

Pierrepont Moffat
  1. See memorandum from President Barclay to Mr. McBride, August 28, 1934, Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. ii, p. 815.