The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Edwin Barclay,[1] Secretary of State, to Elie Garcia


The President directs me to say in reply to your letter of June 8th, setting forth the objects and purposes of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, that the Government of Liberia, appreciating as they do the aims of your organization as outlined by you, have no hesitancy in assuring you that they will afford the association every facility legally possible in effectuating in Liberia its industrial, agricultural and business projects. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
Edwin Barclay Secretary of State
DNA, RG 59, 882.5511/15. PD.
[1] Edwin Barclay (1882–1955), Liberian politician, was secretary of state from 1920 to 1930, and was president of Liberia from 1930 to 1944. Born in Brewerville, Liberia, he worked as an attorney and became a counselor to the Liberian Supreme Court in 1911. He was also a professor of mathematics at Liberia College. From 1910 to 1912 he was secretary of public instruction and in 1912 became a judge of the circuit court, before serving as Liberian attorney general from 1916 to 1920. Publicly known as the nephew of Liberian president Arthur Barclay, he was rumored instead to be his illegitimate son.
As secretary of state, Barclay became acting president of Liberia during President C. D. B. King's 1921 visit to the U.S. and Europe. He also acted on several occasions as the official liaison to the UNIA, and he published a lengthy exposé of the Garvey movement in Liberia (African World [London], August–September 1924). Barclay was also largely responsible for conducting the negotiations between the Liberian government and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company that resulted in the granting of large Liberian concessions to this U.S. corporation in exchange for a substantial loan to the Liberian government (PRO, FO 371/146SB; NW, 6 February 1925; Alfred Lief, The Firestone Story: A History of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company [New York: Whittlesey House, 1951], p. 151; Raph Uwechue, ed., Makers of Modern Africa: Profiles in History, 2d ed. [London: Africa Books, 1991]).