The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

David Boyle, Assistant Director, British Mission,[1] to Gilbert E. A. Grindle,[2] Assistant Undersecretary of State, British Colonial Office

Dear Grindle,

In the course of my work here in the British Mission I have come across evidences of a movement among the negroes of this country to join with the more lawless American elements in fomenting a Race War in Africa. One of the chief points at which their attacks are to be directed is (through Liberia, of course) the conquered Colonies:—Togoland, for example, provides by its division between France and England all the seeds for discontent;[3] and, as I and many other juniors pointed out at the time, the tribal instincts being English, they will always feel a certain amount of Alsace Lorraine-ism[4] under French rule. This subject, to my surprise, is distinctly mentioned over here, and these very reasons for it.
Would you kindly advise me as to whom I or my Chief, Colonel N[orman] G. Thwaites,[5] may write in strict confidence to obtain information from the [Gold] Coast end. It is essential that such correspondence should not pass through the hands of the native clerks of the different Secretariats at Sierra Leone since from personal experience at Accra I know only too well how little secret any Secretariat papers are. I would suggest that we be put in touch with the Colonial Secretary himself at Sierra Leone, Accra, and Lagos, and that a letter should be sent to them from the Colonial Office explaining the importance and confidential nature of the enclosed correspondence.
In case you do not remember very much about me I am sending this through Sanger, who knows us both[.] Sincerely yours
[David Boyle][6] Assistant Director
NAN, CSO 1/36/9. TL, copy. Marked "Confidential."
[1] British Mission was the name often used for the office of the British provost marshal in New York, an important intelligence-gathering station for British military intelligence during and immediately after World War I. The office was used by British military intelligence to monitor investigations of alleged subversive activities in the U.S.; it was eventually closed in 1920 (Norman Graham Thwaites, Velvet and Vinegar: Autobiographical Reminiscences [London: Grayson and Grayson, 1932]).
[2] Sir Gilbert E. A. Grindle (1869–1934) was named British assistant undersecretary of state in 1916. He became deputy to the permanent undersecretary of state for the colonies in 1925, a position he held until his retirement in 1931 (DOCOL, 1931; W WW).
[3] Togoland, a small West African country, was a German colony prior to World War I. In 1914 the French and British occupied it, and the German colonists left within three weeks. Following the war all former German African territories (the "conquered Colonies" referred to in the document) were put under League of Nations mandates; Togoland, a class B mandate, was administered directly by the mandatory powers, in this case France and Britain. France controlled the capital of Lomé, most of the cocoa-producing areas, and the railways. From 1914 to 1922 French Togo was under direct military rule (Christopher M. Andrew and A. S. Kanya-Forstner, The Climax of French Imperial Expansion, 1914 – 1924 [Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1981], pp. 180–208; Patrick Manning, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, 1880 – 1985 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988], pp. 77–78; HDT).
[4] The region of Alsace-Lorraine in northeast France was a frequent theater for Franco-German rivalry. Ceded by France to Germany in 1871 following the Franco-Prussian War, the territory was returned to France in 1919 under provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Alsace-Lorraine was later occupied by Germany during World War II, and returned to France in 1945 (Cambridge Encyclopedia; EB).
[5] Lieutenant Colonel Norman Graham Thwaites (1872–1956) served in the South African War before becoming secretary to Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World, a position he held for ten years. During World War I he reentered military service, and in 1916 he was sent on a special mission to the United States. He became director of the British Mission, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, in 1918 (WWW).
[6]Little credence was given by Colonial Office officials to this report. Boyle was dismissed as a "disgruntled" former member of the Gold Coast administration whom the Foreign Office had "unfortunately employed" in New York and who was, it was believed, merely calling attention to himself (PRO, CO 96/619/282).