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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa

Liberia,   pp. 785-857 PDF (27.0 MB)

Page 813

have meant: (1) Gifts to individual missionaries, regardless of use
to which they were to be put; (2) gifts to Missions, whether for
general use or for personal consumption by missionaries; (3) gifts by
Missions to Liberians in connection with schools, hospitals, et cetera.
  The Collector of Customs at the Port of Monrovia was of the
opinion that since salaries and all funds for missions are gifts from
churches and individuals, even though such funds come through a
Mission Board, all importations for missions and missionaries were
free of duty regardless of whether articles were for personal use or
for general mission purposes. This ruling, later declared too broad
tind inclusive, especially in the light of previous legislation on the
subject, occasioned much rejoicing among missionaries. At other
ports in the country. however, different interpretations were rendered
resulting in inevitable inequality of treatment.
  This lack of uniformity of interpretation created so much con-
fusion for all directly concerned that the Financial Adviser was
appealed to for clarification. In March 1936, he held that goods for
general mission purposes will be admitted free; that gifts to indi-
vidual missionaries would be admitted free, but that goods ordered
by individuals were dutiable and to be paid for from their personal
  This ruling was productive of numerous unforeseen complications
between Collectors of Customs and missionaries, and in December,
1936, the Acting Financial Adviser was called on for further eluci-
dation. His views, in the main, were similar to those of the Financial
Adviser. However, before issuing written instructions he deemed
it advisable to secure the approval of the President of Liberia, who
was implacable in his maintenance that all articles for personal use
of missionaries, whether gifts or purchases, should be dutiable.
  In conformity with the President's ruling, the Acting Financial
Adviser issued Administration Circular No. 5, which is enclosed
  The circular aroused a storm of protests from American mission-
aries, some of whom called on me and registered their emphatic dis-
approval. The head of one educational institution at Monrovia
threatened to resign, and I persuaded him, before taking such a step,
to communicate with his Board of Trustees in the United States,
and I gave assurance I would engage in conversations with the rep-
resentatives of the Liberian Government regarding the circular.
Another missionary pointed out to me that $94.62 had been recently
paid to the Collector of Customs at the Port of Monrovia for food-
stuffs received, of which amount $48.06 was for duty under Schedule
35 (d) and $46.56 for emergency tax; and that on a quilt sent as a
gift $6.40 had been paid.

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