The Minister in Liberia (Walton) to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)
My Dear Mr. Murray: Your letter of July 30, relative to Liberia’s revocation of privileges to American missionaries of free entry for personal effects was received and read with interest. In accordance with instructions, I am taking up this matter with Secretary of State Simpson, acquainting him with the Department’s views and also arrangements in Syria to which you refer.
I sought to make clear in my despatch No. 86 of March 6, 1937, that at no time has it been the intention of the Liberian Government to extend missionaries privilege to receive their personal effects in this country duty free; and that for only a time in 1936, due to a misinterpretation of the new revenue act, was such consideration shown them by some Liberian customs collectors.[Page 818]
In former conversations with Liberian officials on behalf of American missionaries it was pointed out to me that the Liberian Government if disposed, could demand reimbursement of missionaries for what they termed “duty arrears” due the Government in 1936.
For quite a number of years I have been closely associated with my good friend, Dr. Thomas Jesse Jones of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, and members of the Advisory Committee on Education in Liberia. I am sincerely interested in doing all in my power to serve American missionaries in every way possible.
Unfortunately, high Liberian officials do not always share the same views as you and I with respect to the value of services rendered by missionaries. I am doing all I can to counteract this attitude.
May I take this opportunity to express the hope that the Republic of Liberia, now in your division, will continue to progress and live up to the expectation of our Government.