Office of the Military Attache.
August 18, 1912.
Hon. Dr. Wm. D. Crum,
American Minister Resident,
In response to your request for my opinion as to the proposed
re-opening of the Franco-Liberian boundary question, I have the honor to
thank you for the privilege and to make reply as follows:-
I submit that Liberia can only lose by the proposed exchange,
as it means giving up good and desirable country, fitted for homes
and agriculture with its added prospects of mineral wealth, all situ-
ated in the famous Mandingo highlands, in return for a section of coun-
try without immediate productive or commercial possibilities. Very lit-
tle of this high grass country remains to Liberia, her two aggressive
neighbors on the north and east having filched by degrees the major
portion away on some pretext or other, and all similar to the one now
offered by France in this last proposal--that of uniting tribes who
desire (as the French officials say) the protection of that government
which seems to seek to clinch its proposal with a veiled threat of
reclamation for damages as yet undetermined and ex-parte.
I do not deny that Liberia may have to pay in the ultimate
whenthese claims have been proprly presented and mutually adjusted
by the representatives of both governments: for it can not be denied
that many of her officials on these frontiers have been ignorant,
dishonest and inefficient. But I submit that these claims should be
paid in money and not at the expense of alienating more of the ter-
ritory of Liberia, one third of which has already been lost to her thr
thru the covetousness and superior strength of the adjoining natio
Therefore I feel that Liberia should say no to these demands for
the reason above mentioned and for the following additional ones:-
1. The boundaries of Liberia along the large rivers of the fron-
tiers have been always fixed by her more powerful neighbors by their
taking the whole of the river and allowing Liberia to navigate the
river by sufferance only. This has made it inconvenient and at times
impossible to reach the frontier trade. Liberia owes it no her sur-
vival to henceforth guard against the cession ofany more lands fit-
ted for agriculture and located on or near the principal trade routes
of the interior or of thefrontier.
2. The present boundary was in the main fixed by the French Col-
onial authorities in 1907, and seemed to suit them admirably. Liberia
yielded, tho she felt the arrangement was not an equitable one, in
order to fix definitely and for all time thse limits. When the treat-
y was concluded, she thought that with the putting in place of the
permanent boundary marks that this would put an end to the difficul-
ties obtaining there in regard to metes and bounds.
The spirit of this is embodied in the treaty of 1907, Liberia
assuming with France at the same time the duty of policing this
frontier line. She allowed, in contributing to this end, the privilege
to France of occupying posts upon Liberian soil until Liberia could
get a force properly organized to do this policing alone. It would
seem, then, that anyindemnities claimed by French traders for tribal
disturbances are not in justice chargeable to Liberia until she has
stated her ability to cope with the situation unaided and has re-
quested the complete withdrawal of the French troops.
3. Liberia feels (and justly so) that any expenses that France has
been put to for quelling disturbances and maintaining peace between
the trbes has already been fully and even re-paid by the hold upon
Liberian lands let go and yielded to France in the treaty of 1907.
She is at present organizing with all possible haste a trained
forceto occupy the lines fixed by the last treaty, in order to relieve
France of this duty under the agreement.