The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Davis ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1314

Sir: Adverting to my telegram No. 3043 of September 18, 1919,28 relative to the present negotiations for affording financial assistance to Liberia, and for the establishment of an American customs receivership in that country, I have the honor to transmit herewith, copies of a Note no. /24.A. of September 13, 1919, which has been received from the Foreign Office.

I have [etc.]

(For the Ambassador)
J. Butler Wright

The British Acting Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Curzon ) to the American Ambassador ( Davis )

No. /24.A.

Your Excellency: With reference to the Aide Memoire of September 10th. which was left at this Department this morning, relative to the present negotiations for affording financial assistance to Liberia and for the establishment of an American customs receivership [Page 485] in that country I have the honour to express to Your Excellency my regret that the final settlement of this question is still outstanding, a fact due to the necessity of transferring the negotiations from Paris to London and Washington.

His Majesty’s Government had already, however, in the course of the past month expressed to the British Peace Delegation at Paris their views on the matter; these I now have the honour briefly to recapitulate.

Subject to certain stipulations upon specific points, His Majesty’s Government are prepared to accept the proposals for the future administration of Liberia, embodied in the State Department’s Memorandum of June 27th. 1919. A copy of the final draft of that memorandum is transmitted herewith for convenience of reference.

The specific points to which it was thought desirable to call attention, and as to which His Majesty’s Government are fully confident that the Government of the United States will readily give their assurance that equality of treatment for all nationalities will be maintained, may be briefly summarized as follows:—

According to a system now in force in the Liberian customs administration, permits to exceed in certain respects the strict letter of the Customs regulations have hitherto been granted by the authorities equally to reputable traders of all nationalities when prompt handling of merchandise would be thereby facilitated. The necessity for such a system is occasioned, it is understood, largely, if not entirely, by the absence in Liberia of “bonded warehouses”, properly so-called. His Majesty’s Government, then, rely upon the continued observance under the new administration of strict impartiality in the issue of such permits to British traders.
His Majesty’s Government are confident that the Customs dues on all imports of British goods, as well as on exports of Liberian products of all descriptions without exception, to any part of the British Empire, will be levied at no higher rates than, and in an exactly similar manner as, on imports of United States merchandise into Liberia, and exports of produce from Liberia to the United States of America.
It is assumed that the United States Government in the special position which they are in future to occupy in Liberia, will support any representations which His Majesty’s Government might at any time be called upon to make to the Liberian Government, should the latter take any action to cancel, limit, or infringe the rights possessed by British subjects by virtue of the existing concessions in the country.
Two outstanding British claims against the Liberian Government have been traced. One for Two hundred and fifty pounds is preferred by certain Hindu traders of Sierra Leone; the other for Forty four pounds eighteen shillings and nine pence is made by Messrs Wayland and Son Limited of Liverpool against the Liberian Post Office. Both these debts have been admitted by the Liberian Government and their acknowledgment by the United States Government [Page 486] in their turn, should they not have been already discharged, is the last stipulation which His Majesty’s Government desire to make.

In the course of discussions upon this question between the United States and British Peace Delegations at Paris, the latter intimated that this Government would be glad, if possible, to effect with the United States a simultaneous settlement of certain questions relating to the Treaty rights of United States citizens at Zanzibar, under the United States–Muscat Treaty of 1833.30

Negotiations to this end are now in progress at Washington, and I have no reason to doubt but that they will be brought to an early and satisfactory conclusion.31

I have [etc.]

(For the Secretary of State)
J. A. C. Tilley

Memorandum Received from the Department of State June 27, 191932

The Republic of Liberia having requested the aid of the United States as its next friend in the necessary work of financial and general rehabilitation, the government of the United States has formulated the following plan with this end in view. The United States has established a credit of $5,000,000 for Liberia, which is to become available upon provision being made by Liberia for certain reforms and for effectively safeguarding the equality of economic opportunity to all states. These $5,000,000 are to be used for the following purposes.

All arrears of interest on the refunding loan of 1912 are to be paid and future payments are to be promptly met. Until the revenues of Liberia are sufficient to meet this charge, the necessary funds will be advanced by the United States from the loan credit of $5,000,000.
Payment is to be made of all unbonded legal claims, bills and arrears of the salaries against the Republic of Liberia or of [or the] receivership on the joint approval of the Secretary of the Treasury of Liberia and the financial advisor.
An American receivership of the customs and internal revenues is to be established and the revenues of Liberia are to be administered by the General Receiver and financial advisor designated by the President of the United States and appointed by the Government of Liberia with the aid of American assistants designated and appointed in like manner.
American citizens designated and appointed in like manner are to act as commissioners to establish and maintain a just and equitable administration in the hinterland and to preserve order therein.
An effective military police or constabulary is to be maintained by Liberia under American military officers designated and appointed in like manner. In view of the foregoing loan to be made by the United States to Liberia and the reform program outlined herein, Great Britain and France agree to withdraw from the customs receivership administration in Liberia, [and from] participation in the financial and other aid to be accorded to Liberia by the Government of the United States. Great Britain and France further agree to withdraw all officials nominated by them for appointment by Liberian Government as soon as the arrangements for the proposed loan to Liberia by the United States have been completed. These arrangements are to include whatever agreements, if any, may be legally necessary with the bankers and bondholders of the loan of 1912, and subject to the agreement of Liberia.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Miller, Treaties, vol. 3, pp. 789 ff.
  3. Negotiations were begun by the British Chargé (Lindsay) in his note No. 560, July 29, 1919 (File No. 711.48V2/5), and continued throughout the year 1919 and into 1920, but came to no conclusion.
  4. Presumably the memorandum transmitted by the Department in telegram No. 2432, June 26, 1919, 2 p.m., to the Commission to Negotiate Peace (File No. 763.72119/5372); telegram not printed.