The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Elie Garcia,[1] UNIA Commissioner, Liberia, to C. D. B. King

Honorable President:

The U.N.I.A. and African Communities' League, Inc., is an organization with a membership of three millions scattered in the United States of America, South and Central America, the West Indies, Great Britain and Africa.
This organization was founded for the following purposes:
To establish a universal confraternity among the races; to promote the spirit of pride and love; to administrate to and assist the needy; to assist in civilizing the backward tribes of Africa; to assist in the development of Independent Negro Nations and Communities; to establish Commissionaries for the representation and protection of all Negroes irrespective of nationality; to promote a conscientious spiritual worship among the natives of Africa[;] to establish universities, colleges, and academies for the racial education and culture of the people; to conduct world-wide commercial and industrial intercourse for the good of the people; to work for better conditions in all Negro communities.[2]
The U.N.I.A. controls the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation, capitalized at 10 million dollars in the United States of America, as also the Negro Factories Corporation, capitalized at one million dollars under the laws of the United States.
For the successful accomplishment of the program, above outlined, the U.N.I.A. is extremely desirous to transfer its headquarters to the City of Monrovia or any other convenient township of Liberia.
Owing to rumors prevalent in the United States with respect to the unfriendly attitude of the people of Liberia to persons of other Negro communities, the statement which my organization had great reason to doubt, it was thought best to broach the Government of Liberia on the subject of lands before settling our future program.
Therefore, as Commissioner of the said organization, I beg on its behalf to [make the] following [re]quest: "That in case the objects as stated above are approved by the Liberian Government, which would mean a written assurance that it will afford us every facility for procuring lands for business, agricultural or industrial purposes and that the Government will do everything in its power to facilitate the work of the Association along these lines.["]
In return, it is the intention of the organization with its membership of three million members to lend financial and moral assistance in building and subsidizing institutions for the highest education of Liberia, for improving generally the international prestige of the country by organizing outside of the country, developing corporations backed by the entire membership of the U.N.I.A.
The U.N.I.A. would be prepared to do anything possible to help the Government of Liberia out of its economic plights and to raise subscriptions all over the world to help the country to liquidate its debts to foreign governments.
It is the intention of the U.N.I.A. to establish a trade route between America, the West Indies and Liberia through a line of steamships of the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation.
All these things will be unselfishly done in the interest of the people of Liberia and those who may seek future citizenship under her flag.
It is the intention of the U.N.I.A. to encourage immigration by Negroes from the United States of America, South and Central America and the West Indies to develop Liberia.
It is the intention also of the U.N.I.A. that the transfer of its headquarters to Liberia to bring with it a well-equipped medical and scientific unit for the development of higher science in Liberia, to build hospitals, sanitariums and other institutions for the benefit of the people of Liberia.
Trusting that Your Excellency will give due consideration to my request. I am, Your Excellency, Your most obedient servant,
Elie Garcia Commissioner U.N.I.A. & A.C.L. Inc.
DJ-FBI, 61–826. TLT.
[1] Elie Garcia, a BSL director and secretary, was the UNIA's official representative to Liberia in the spring and summer of 1920. Born in Haiti and educated there and in France, he visited the U.S. in 1916 and immigrated to New York in 1917. Moving to West Virginia, he worked with UNIA member Eliézer Cadet at a federal laboratory during the war. Garcia sold stock for the BSL in Philadelphia in August 1919 and was secretary of the Philadelphia division from June 1919 to April 1920. He was promoted to a BSL field position before becoming one of its directors and secretary in September 1920. He was also appointed auditor of the UNIA in August 1920, receiving the appointment while still in Liberia.
Garcia was indicted along with Garvey, O. M. Thompson, and George Tobias on mail-fraud charges in February 1922. Henry Lincoln Johnson defended Garcia in the mail-fraud trial. Garcia, Thompson, and Tobias were acquitted on all charges, while Garvey was found guilty. In March 1923 Garvey had Garcia prosecuted in two cases for theft and fraud. The first case, which was reviewed at the Washington Heights Court in New York City, was dismissed for lack of evidence; at the second, Garcia was convicted of forging a check, but he won an appeal on the grounds that the evidence was circumstantial (NW, 21 August 1920, 24 March 1923; MGP 2, 4, 5).
Elie Garcia
[2] For a full statement of the UNIA's aims and principles, see the preamble of the UNIA Constitution and Book of Laws (MGP 1:256).