Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Grew)8

I received yesterday Mr. Simpson, Vice President of Liberia, merely for a courtesy visit and today I asked him to come in again and had a short talk with him regarding affairs in Liberia. I sketched to the Vice President the active support which the United States had given to Liberia ever since its inception and spoke of the many ways in which we are aiding Liberia today, including the $12,500,000 for the building of a port at Monrovia, and also our assistance in connection with public health and in the economic life of the country. I said to the Vice President that in view of the active support we were giving to his country, it was only reasonable to expect that Liberia would put its own house in order in various respects so that his country could take its place among responsible democratic nations in the postwar world, and I said that we were greatly concerned over present conditions in Liberia. We feel very strongly that without political and legislative reform the desired economic, social and educational progress in Liberia cannot be obtained and we feel equally strongly that these serious obstacles to progres should be removed. I spoke especially of the need for reform in the administration of the Liberian hinterland and also reform in education, the economic and social life of the country, including agriculture, and in public health. I said that our Government is studying the best means of assisting Liberia’s carrying out such reforms and that we shall welcome suggestions from his Government regarding the type of assistance considered necessary. I urged upon the Vice President very earnestly that on returning to Monrovia, he should discuss these matters with his Government and tell both the President and his other associates of the improvements which we feel are essential if the desired progress and the justification of our assistance are to be attained. I added that I was speaking to him in a very intimate and friendly way and for that reason I had asked him to come to see me alone with nobody else present.

The Vice President appeared to take my remarks in a friendly way and said that it would be a great help to him if I would give him a memorandum of the points I had mentioned so that he could have it before him on his return to Monrovia. I said that I would be very glad to have such a memorandum prepared9 and to have it sent to him [Page 591] in New York before his departure from that city on July 10. Mr. Simpson admitted freely the need for improvement in various ways and he said that President Tubman had these matters very much in mind. He had in fact only recently traveled all over the country and the hinterland and in cases where administrative officials were found to be incompetent or cruel in their methods they were being immediately replaced. He spoke also of our missions10 there and of the important help they were giving. The Vice President gave every evidence of a genuine desire on the part of his Government to meet the views which I had expressed, and he thanked me for the time I had given him.

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Copies to the Secretary, Assistant Secretary Acheson, Assistant Secretary Dunn, Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, and the Division of African Affairs.
  2. Infra.
  3. i.e., the Economic Mission under the Foreign Economic Administration, and the Public Health Mission under the United States Public Health Service.