to Mr. Smyth.
Washington, February 28, 1881.
Sir: On the 14th instant, in a conference with me, the minister of Germany at this capital stated that in October last the German steamer Carlos, Capt. P. C. Nickelsen, with a cargo from Hamburg for Lagos, via Sasstown, fell into distress on the coast of Liberia; that the natives of the coast of the “Kronbah” tribe took advantage of the helpless condition of the vessel to plunder her of the greater part of her cargo, besides robbing and maltreating her crew, who sought to escape in the vessel’s life boats; and that the Liberian Government showed the sincerest wish to punish such proceedings, but declared itself unable to exert authority to that end over the lawless Kronbahs. Under these circumstances Mr. Von Schlözer said that the German Government had ordered the Victoria of the imperial navy to proceed to Liberia and there assist the government of that republic in the pursuit and punishment of the offenders, as a step in the general interest of all commercial nations. He at the same time asked that you might be informed of the occurrence and of the purpose of his government in the premises.
It is not understood that the coast-dwellers who committed this injury on a peaceable foreign vessel and her crew are unsubdued rebels to the Liberian Government, or pirates in the common international acceptation of the term; but it is inferred that they are simply lawless wreckers, outside of the prompt and efficacious control of the central government. In this view, and to the end of securing foreign life and property from inhospitable attacks on the coast in question, it is presumed that the Liberian Government would gladly avail itself of any proper and friendly aid from without in making its own laws and power felt within its own jurisdiction.
Should the Liberian minister of state consult with you on this point in view of the attitude of advisory friendliness which this government has constantly maintained toward that of Liberia, you are at liberty to express to him the view of the matter entertained here, adding that had the case affected an American vessel and crew this government would not have failed to consider in a proper spirit any request made to it by that of Liberia for aid such as Germany is now prepared to render.
It is not, however, needful for you to make any such statement in advance of the subject being brought to your attention.
I am, sir, &c.,