Mr. Harry A. McBride, Special Representative of President Roosevelt in Liberia, to the Secretary of State
[Received February 18—11:07 a.m.]
29. Department’s No. 20, February 15, 4 p.m.9 Appreciate message. Hope 25 or 30 officers and men can be sent progressively by air with few machine guns so that steps in regard to Axis can be taken promptly. It is dangerous to leave them here.
As to credit, War Department’s letter of January 159 conditions this on granting of rights and not on completion of airport, and I so informed Barclay. Hope this credit can be made available promptly so that small quantities of steel and cement for bridges can be ordered at once as delay in arrival will be great in any event.
Credit should be arranged so that Liberia could contract with American firm to build roads and part of money would necessarily have to be used for local labor. Would urge that Panair accept such a contract at cost or little more using small part of personnel already here after airport completed. For local important reasons this should be Panair and not Firestone. Strongly advise Trippe to do this if possible. Roads immediately involved are completion Kakata–Dobli Island Road about 20 miles and extension interior road Memeta some 30 miles northward. All simple construction with 5 or 6 small bridges.
War Department’s letter January 15, rights granted include construction access roads. Hope present contractors, as part of airport project, can be instructed to do road from point where plantation meets Du River to Mount Barclay, 12 miles; widen road Mount Barclay to White Plains to Suehn, 25 miles; and build from Suehn to Fisherman Lake, 25 to 30 miles. Much of this is cleared, construction not difficult. Four or five small bridges and simple ferries over St. Paul and Loffa. This is highly important and urgent for our own defense purposes. If this can be done, credit to Liberia may be 800,000 dollars; if not, credit should be 1 million dollars so that Liberia can pay for these access roads.
Liberian Government feels that Firestone and Panair should begin operating separately and independently as soon as practicable.