No. 477.

Mr. Richmond to Mr. Frelinghuysen .

No 12.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 15th instant of instruction No. 9, dated October 24, 1884, with inclosure relating to the expulsion of American missionaries from Bihé and Bailunda (Congo) and beg to inclose a copy of a note on the subject I have addressed to the minister of foreign affairs, which I trust will meet with the approval of the Department.

[Page 635]

In the note to the foreign office I was unable to give the names of the missionaries, as none were mentioned in either of the instructions 6 or 9, and the names referred to by Mr. Smith in his letter of the 17th of September are not those of missionaries who are known to have passed through Lisbon.

Mr. Smith’s letter of September 17, 1884, speaks of Mr. W. W. Bagster and Mr. W. H. Sanders.

On the register of the Hotel Durand, Lisbon, bound for Congo, appear the names of Frederick A. Walter and wife, July 15, 1881; Dr. F. Nichols and wife, September 1. The latter were accompanied by a Captain Semple, supposed to be an Englishman.

On the 19th of September, 1884, there arrived in Lisbon and left on the day following, having been driven out of Bihé, William E. Fay and Wesley M. Stover and wife.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 12.]

Mr. Richmond to Mr. da Bocage .

Your Excellency: I have the honor to bring to the notice of your excellency certain events of grave import to both the United States and Portugal which have recently taken place on the west coast of Africa.

It appears that at Bihé and Bailunda, two places under the control of the Portuguese Government, lying some 200 miles inland from Benguela, there have been for some years missionary stations established by the American Board of Foreign Missions; these posts were occupied by five missionaries, citizens of the United States, with their families, who had resided at these places for the past four years, and who, by the example of their daily life, and confining themselves to the peaceful discharge of their religious duties, had won the respect and confidence of the people among whom their labors were directed. Each of these missionaries held his passport as a citizen of the United States visaed by the Portuguese governor at Benguela, and two of them in addition to this had the “guia” of the Portuguese governor of Benguela.

Early in the last spring the missionaries became aware of the machinations, for some unknown object, of a Portuguese trader against them. His intrigues continued, and, fortified by false accusations, assumption of authority from the Portuguese governor of Benguela, by promises and by presents, were brought to bear upon the kings both of Bihé and Bailunda; with the former they were ineffectual, but with the latter, the more powerful of the two, the point was gained.

The King of Bailunda, regardless of the passports of the United States, the visa of the governor of Benguela and his “guia” ordered that the missionaries should at once leave the country, bearing with them only such of their goods as they could carry. With great difficulty one of the missionaries obtained permission to present himself to the King, but no hearing was granted him and he was ordered to leave the camp instantly.

On the 4th of July, 1884, the orders of the King of Bailunda were carried out, the homes of the missionaries were destroyed, their goods were plundered, and, taking with them what few effects they could carry, the fugitives with their wives and children began their painful journey of 200 miles to the coast, where, after encountering many perils and hardships, they finally arrived, with the loss, however, of their little remaining property. They at once reported themselves to the Portuguese governor of Benguela who received them with kindness, gave them permission to reside in Benguela and a promise that he would secure for them redress of their wrongs, and compel the King of Bailunda to return the property he had plundered. As to the trader above mentioned, he informed the missionaries that he had already summoned him before him to give an account of his actions.

At the latest accounts three of the missionaries with their families were still awaiting in Benguela the restitution of their rights, while the other two had returned to the United States.

It is not doubted that the governor of Benguela will have used his every endeavor to fulfill his promises made to these citizens of the United States, but, as much time [Page 636] has elapsed since the occurrence of the outrages and no intelligence has been received of restitution and redress obtained by their victims, it would appear probable that the aims of justice have not yet been accomplished, I therefore, as instructed, in presenting this case to your excellency, beg that it will receive the prompt attention of His Most Faithful Majesty’s Government, and that vigorous steps may be taken for the vindication of the rights of these citizens of the United States according to international obligations, for full restitution for the losses and injuries they have sustained and for their restoration to the places from which they have been driven.

As regards the authors of these atrocities, the King of Bailunda and his abettor, should it prove that justice has not yet been meted out to them, I have the honor to express the desire of the Government of the United States that they speedily be visited with such condign punishment, under the laws of Portugal, as shall cause the rights of American citizens, wherever peacefully residing in territory under Portuguese control, to be by all men respected and maintained.

I avail, &c.,