No. 318.
Mr. Westenberg to Mr. Fish.


Mr. Secretary of State: The relations between the government of the Netherlands and the empire of Atcheen, situated in the northern part of the island of Sumatra, in the Indian Archipelago, have for a longtime been growing more and more complicated.

The conventions which had been concluded were not observed by the government of Atcheen, which, in spite of all representations, gave constant evidence of bad faith.

The necessity of maintaining order and security in those regions, of caring for its own safety, of repressing the slave-trade, of protecting commerce and navigation against the depredations and acts of piracy which the Atchinese were incessantly committing, and of putting an end to a state of anarchy and disorder which, fomented by fanatical parties, threatened to become still more widely extended, and to jeopardize the internal peace of the possessions of the Netherlands and of the [Page 731] states in alliance with the same—all this, several times induced the government of the Netherlands to remonstrate with that of Atcheen, which not only paid no attention to this, but even continued to make or tolerate frequent incursions into those states which were in alliance with or tributary to the Netherlands.

As these acts of violence and piracy became constantly more frequent, the government of the Netherlands, after having exhausted all means of persuasion, found itself obliged, in the interest of its own security, as well as in the great interests of commerce and civilization, to have recourse to force. Before proceeding thereto, however, the government of the Netherlands once more asked explanations of the Sultan of Atcheen, and requested him to enter into a formal agreement to take care that acts calculated to disturb the peace and to endanger navigation and commerce, should no longer be committed. The government of Atcheen having refused to give any explanations, or to enter into any agreement, the government of the Netherlands was forced to a rupture of relations.

A Dutch squadron was sent to Atcheen, and the Dutch commissioner, Mr. Nieuwenhuygen, sent the manifesto of which I have the honor to inclose a translation, to the Sultan of Atcheen. Although I have already had the honor to inform your excellency of this verbally, I take the liberty to repeat it in writing now that I am able to transmit to you the text of the Dutch manifesto, above referred to, which I have just received, in the belief that it may seem interesting to the American Government.

The government of the Netherlands, highly appreciating the neutrality which has been so faithfully observed by the Government of the United States in this matter, on which, however, it relied in view of the friendly relations existing between it and the United States, has instructed me to offer its thanks therefor to your excellency, and to add the assurance which has already been given, that all American interests shall, in case of necessity, be the object of its particular solicitude, and receive its most efficient protection.

Be pleased, &c., &c.,


The commissioner of the government of the Dutch East Indies before Atcheen:

Whereas it is the duty of the government of the Dutch East Indies to protect the general interests of commerce and navigation in the Indian Archipelago; and

Whereas these interests suffer constant detriment from the depredations, the internal disorders, and the acts of hostility of the states which acknowledge the authority of the empire of Atcheen, some of which have sometimes even invoked the protection of the government of the Dutch East Indies; and

Whereas the repeated representations of the said government, tending to put a stop to these depredations and disorders, and to establish friendly and durable relations between it and Atcheen, have always proved unavailing in consequence of the unfriendly disposition and complete indifference of the government of Atcheen, and in consequence of its inability to maintain order and peace within the limits of its dominions; and

Whereas these efforts have even been met by the greatest duplicity, on a recent occasion, when the government of the Dutch East Indies, animated by the most friendly sentiments and with the most peaceful intentions, entered into more intimate relations with Atcheen; and

Whereas, when satisfactory explanations were asked for on this subject, on two occasions, by official communications from the commissioner, dated the 22d and 24th, the Sultan of Atcheen not only gave no explanations, but even offered no denial of the acts complained of, and, moreover, proceeded in the most open manner to prepare for [Page 732] war, so that there can no longer be the slightest doubt with regard to the desire of the Sultan to insult the government of the Dutch East Indies and to maintain the hostile attitude assumed by him; and Whereas by these acts the government of Atcheen has rendered itself guilty of a violation of the treaty of commerce, peace, and friendship, concluded between it and the government of the Dutch East Indies, March 30, 1857, and it therefore becomes evident that no dependence can be placed upon the good faith of the said government of Atcheen, and—

Whereas under these circumstances it is impossible for the government of the Dutch East Indies to secure, otherwise than by rigorous measures, order and tranquillity in the northern parts of Sumatra, as is required both by the general interests of commerce and its own security:

Therefore the aforesaid commissioner of the government of the Dutch East Indies does hereby, in virtue of the powers with which he has been invested by the said government, declare war against the Sultan of Atcheen, which fact, by the present manifesto, he brings to the knowledge of all whom it may concern, reminding all of the consequences which may arise therefrom, as well as of the obligations which exist during a state of war.