No. 38.

Mr. Bayard to Mr. Tree.

No. 5.]

Sir: Mr. Fish’s No. 349, of the 2d ultimo, transmits certain documents received through Count de Borchegrave d’Alténa, the King’s secretary, concerning the assumption by His Majesty King Leopold II of the sovereignty of the Independent State of the Congo, and the appointment of Mr. Edmond van Eetvelde as the medium of diplomatic communication on the part of that State with other Governments.

The President having been for some weeks absent from the seat of Government, it has not been practicable to convey to him, until his return hither, the autograph letter of His Majesty announcing the assumption of the title of Sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo. I have now the pleasure to transmit, herewith, the autograph reply of the President, with the request that you will cause the same to reach His Majesty’s hands through the proper channel, to which you will apply for that purpose. In this connection due notice is taken of the declaration that the relation between the new State and Belgium is “exclusively personal,” by which it is understood that His Majesty in assuming the sovereignty acts for himself alone, and not as creating a dependency of the State of the Congo upon the Crown of Belgium.

I also transmit my sealed reply to Mr. van Eetvelde’s letter, of 1st of August, announcing his appointment to be administrator general of the department of foreign affairs of the Independent State of the Congo. This reply operates as a full recognition of and entrance upon diplomatic relations with the new State as a member of the family of nations. An office copy of my letter is inclosed, of which you will retain a transcript on the files of your legation.

In addition to these, I transmit with office copy my letter in acknowledgement of the receipt of Mr. van Eetvelde’s notification of the neutrality and boundary limits of the said Independent State.

It is observed that Mr. van Eetvelde informs me that—

In conformity with the tenth article of the general act of the conference of Berlin, the Independent State of the Congo, by these presents, declares itself forever neutral, and that it claims the advantages guaranteed by the third chapter of the said act; at the same time assuming the obligations which pertain to neutrality [and further that]: The régime of neutrality will be applied to the territory of the Independent State of the Congo comprised within the boundaries which appear from the treaties successively concluded by the International Association [of the Congo] with Germany, France, and Portugal, and which treaties have been notified to the conference or Berlin and annexed to the protocols thereof.

Mr. van Eetvelde’s letter thereupon recites the boundaries in question.

As you are aware, the Government of the United States, in authorizing the attendance of Mr. Kasson as a delegate to the conference of Berlin, and of Mr. Sanford as an associate delegate, did so under expressed reservations, among which was the understanding that those gentlemen were without plenipotentiary powers, and that this Government, in its sovereign discretion, reserved wholly the right thereafter to accede or withhold its accession to the results of that conference.

It appears, however, that their signatures were attached to the general act in the same manner as those of the plenipotentiaries of other Governments, and that the United States are thus made to appear as signatories to a general international treaty, imposing on the signatories [Page 61]a common duty in respect of the conservation of the territorial integrity and neutrality of distant regions where this Government has no established interests or control of any kind.

This Government does not, however, regard its prior and entire reservation of liberty of action in the premises as at all thereby impaired. And until the United States shall, by subsequent accession and ratification of the general act of the conference of Berlin in the manner therein provided, and according to their constitutional forms, become a party to the stipulations thereof, it will be impossible to determine the due and proper weight to be given by this Government to the declaration and claim which is thus communicated by Mr. van Eetvelde on behalf of the Independent State of the Congo. But this reservation is wholly distinct from the recognition of the sovereign status of the Independent State of the Congo, which does not rest upon the conventional arrangements contemplated by the conference of Berlin.

I am, &c.,

T. F. BAYARD.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 5.]

President Cleveland to His Majesty King Leopold, Sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo.

Esteemed and Great Friend: I have had much pleasure in receiving your Majesty’s letter of the 1st or August last, announcing that the possessions of the International Association of the Congo will henceforth form the Independent State of the Congo, and that your Majesty, under the authorization of the Belgium Legislative Chambers, and in accord with the Association, has assumed the title of Sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo. I observe your Majesty’s further statement that the convention between Belgium and the new State is exclusively personal. This Government at the outset testified its lively interest in the well-being and future progress of the vast region now committed to your Majesty’s wise care, by being the first among the powers to recognize the flag of the International Association of the Congo as that of a friendly State; and now that the progress of events has brought with it the general recognition of the jurisdiction of the Association, and opened the way for its incorporation as an independent and sovereign State, I have great satisfaction in congratulating your Majesty on being called to the chief magistracy of the newly-formed Government. The Government and people of the United States, whose only concern lies in watching with benevolent expectation the growth of prosperity and peace among the communities to whom they are joined by ties of friendship, cannot doubt that under your Majesty’s good government the peoples of the Congo region will advance in the paths of civilization, and deserve the good will of all those states and peoples who may be brought into contact with them.

I am, my esteemed and great friend, your faithful friend,

GROVER CLEVELAND.

Done at Washington this 11th day of September, 1885.

By the President:

T. F. Bayard
,
Secretary of State.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 5.]

Mr. Bayard to Mr. van Eetvelde.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 1st ultimo, in which you are pleased to proffer, through me, to the Government of the United States of America an official guarantee of the neutrality of the newly-constituted Independent State of the Congo, and whereby you acquaint me with the boundary demarkation of the new State.

I observe that this proffered guarantee of neutrality is made by you in conformity with article 10 of the general act of the conference of Berlin.

[Page 62]

The Government of the United States having been represented by delegates in that conference under the expressed reservation of the right, in its sovereign discretion thereafter to accede or withhold its accession to the results of its deliberations, it will not be possible for me to determine the due and proper weight to be given by this Government to the declaration and territorial claim thus communicated by you on behalf of the Independent State of the Congo, so far as such declaration and claim rest on the provisions of the general act, until the United States shall, by subsequent accession and ratification of the said general act of the conference of Berlin, in the manner therein provided and according to their constitutional forms, become a party to the stipulations thereof.

The relationship of cordial recognition and earnest good will heretofore initiated by the Government of the United States toward the International Association of the Congo, and now confirmed and, I trust, perpetuated in respect of the new independent State which succeeds to that Association, is, however, complete of itself and apart from any conventional relationship flowing from or defined by the general act of the conference of Berlin, and the obligation to respect the precepts of neutrality and friendly intercourse is held by the Government of the United States to be as perfect toward the Sovereign and Independent State of the Congo as toward any and all sovereignties with which the United States maintain friendship and intercourse.

Accept, sir, &c.,

T. F. BAYARD.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 5.]

Mr. Bayard to Mr. van Eetvelde.

Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 1st ultimo, whereby you are pleased to inform me that His Majesty King Leopold, Sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo, has conferred upon you the office of administrator-general of the department of foreign affairs of that State.

In furtherance of the good will and amity which the Government has heretofore testified toward the organization of the independent tribes of the Congo Basin, under a common system of administration, and which it equally bears, now that the Government of the Independent State of the Congo has taken rank among the sovereign communities of the world, it will be my aim and my gratification to maintain and strengthen by all means in my power the most agreeable and lasting good relationship between the United States and the newly constituted State of the Congo.

I embrace, &c.,

T. F. BAYARD.