The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: During a recent detail to the Department, Mr. Lester A. Walton, our Minister to Liberia, mentioned the [Page 790] interest which you had displayed in the progress made by the Liberian Government in improving its economic position and in planning for the future welfare of the country. In discussing this general subject, Mr. Walton mentioned a conversation in which you had touched on the possibility of temporarily making available to the Liberian Government the services of United States Government experts who might be able to assist Liberia in its efforts at further internal development. Among the matters which particularly concern the Government of Liberia at this time are problems related to agriculture, public health and geology.

Although experts have from time to time been engaged in the United States to assist in the furtherance of Liberia’s progressive aims, the resources of the Government of Liberia for such purposes are extremely limited. The total budget, for example, is only a little more than one million dollars. The agricultural, mining and industrial exploitation of the country has scarcely begun, and no comprehensive survey has ever been made of its potential opportunities. Obviously, without expert advice, it is difficult to initiate any plan for economic betterment or productive enterprise.

Existing legislation in the United States contains no provision for the loan of American Government civilian employees to foreign governments, but a bill now pending in the House of Representatives has this specific object as concerns the American Republics and the Philippine Islands. H. R. 10193, a copy of which is attached for your convenient reference, was introduced by Congressman May on April 7, 1938, duly referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, and reported to the Committee of the Whole House on April 20. It extends and amplifies the legislation which was passed in 192619 to enable the President to detail Army, Navy and Marine Corps personnel to render assistance in military and naval matters to governments of the American Republics. Under the new bill, any person in the employ of the Government of the United States having special scientific or other technical or professional qualifications may be detailed for temporary service to the government of any other American Republic or the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands.

In view of the special relations which have always existed between the United States and Liberia, as well as the special needs of the latter country, I believe that the pending bill might appropriately be amended to include the Government of Liberia among those which may benefit by the assistance of civilian experts in the employ of this Government. If you approve of this proposal, I shall be glad to [Page 791] take up the matter in the proper quarters with a view to having such an amendment introduced at the first feasible opportunity.

Faithfully yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. Approved May 19, 1926; 44 Stat. 565.