No. 482.

Mr. Porter to Mr. Lewis.

No. 6.]

Sir: I inclose a copy of a further letter from Mr. Smith, secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, touching the case of the missionaries, United States citizens, expelled from Bihé and Bailunda, Western Africa, also a copy of a report in the matter prepared by the law officer of the Department. You are referred to previous instructions in connection with the case.

The report succinctly outlines the subject and its proper mode of treatment, but is not, of course, to be communicated in extenso to the Portuguese Government.

I am, &c.,

Acting Secretary.
[Page 641]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 6.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Bayard.

Dear Sir: An important communication has just reached me from the missionaries of this board at Bailunda, in the Portuguese province of Angola, Western Africa. For the facts concerning the expulsion of these missionaries, and the state of the correspondence with the Portuguese Government concerning it, permit me to refer you to letters on file in your Department, written by me under the following dates: October 17, 1884, November 1, 1884, and November 19, 1884.

Mr. F. A. Walter, of this mission, now resident at Benguela, has been in correspondence with the governor-general at Loancla, and with Mr. Robert S. Newton, United States vice-consul at the same port, and valuable privileges have been granted to our missionaries by his excellency the governor-general, and assurances that the expulsion should be thoroughly examined into and justice impartially done according to the facts. Rev. W. H. Sanders, also of this mission, and now resident at Bailunda, has been in correspondence with the native Kings of Bailunda and Bihé. The communications just received, of which I send you three copies, designated A, B, and C, seem to show that the violation of the protection of which our missionaries had been officially assured by the Portuguese authorities at Loanda, and the loss of property accompanying the expulsion, were due to the direct instigation of a Portuguese trader, who was fully authorized in all he did by the Portuguese governor of Benguela.

These facts seem to warrant a call by our Government upon the Government at Lisbon for satisfactory explanations and full reparation for any damages sustained by American citizens through the neglect or bad faith of Portuguese officials.

Fully assured of your interest in the due protection of our fellow-citizens, and in the righting of so serious a wrong, and desiring that you will call upon me for further and more exact information, if needful,

I remain, &c.,

Secretary American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
[Inclosure A in inclosure 1 in No. 6.—Translation.]

Letter of Soba of Bihé to the governor-general of Angola, beginning after the enumeration of his titles.

The official note of your excellency of the 2d of January of the current year came to my hand by Reverend Arnot, and by it I learn that you gave an order commanding me to live with the missionaries in good feeling and peace, and to give them all the aid they may need. In this I inclose an official note from the governor of the district of Benguela, in reply to my No. 3 of the 19th of March of the past year, to whom I sent to know why these missionaries came without even presenting me an official note from the Government of Beng, for my government and responsibilities in whatever may happen to them and duty of seeing to their relations (?) with my subjects and to give them all needed aid; notwithstanding this (was?) only in consideration of the fact that this district of Bihé is under the rule of the flag of his most faithful Majesty, D. Luiz First, to whom we give obedience.

In March of the past year the citizen Edward, Braga came with the aim of getting his goods from those who had them, and nothing did he effect until he presented himself to me, speaking about the missionaries that they be robbed and expelled, (as to) which I opposed the citizen Braga that it was impossible that we should do such a barbarous cruelty, for the district of Bihé, since D. Soba Cangome came from Loanda, sent by his excellency the governor-general of the province, is not accustomed to practice such manners toward white Europeans who pass, as well as the traveler who crosses; therefore I am not willing to do your wish; I will fulfill the order only with an official note from the governor of the district; (as the command, so I will do;?) and in reply came this which I inclose. It is not from our spontaneous wish and greed (or ambition?) that we wished to do such base hostilities without having motives; nevertheless, since we are ignorant of the purposes of the aforementioned missionaries, therefore I wait to assure myself of the feelings of my Government. I judge that this (it is (?)) treachery against the missionaries. I suppose it will be because of business for it might be from hatred. I was authorized by the government of Benguela, the Soba of Bailunda, especially Mr. Edward Braga, who came to influence us to the deed, with the helpers or employés, who are Saraphim, Diamentino (the convict), [Page 642] and Freitas Catongone. The missionaries will tell you as to who are truly the instigators of the robbery which they suffered. Hence it is impossible that the government of Benguela and E. Braga place (evil) motives to the charge of my subjects and myself and to the (Soba) of Bailunda, and for your certainty I send the official note to your Government. I ask of your excellency that they may come and treat about their dwelling places and their affairs, assuring them that they are to measure out a monthly tribute because of the care I must take to give them the aid they may need; because of our peace and quiet, and when they shall not accept (the location I indicate (?)) they can take the heights which may be most convenient. I have to say that whatever they suffered is due to the government of Benguela and the citizen Braga—they are the ones who should confess it.

The reverend sirs (the priests) have not yet arrived here. As soon as they do I will let you know, and I promise that they shall be well received and hospitality; they are in Sambo (?) The aforementioned Americans may come without fear.

God keep your excellency.

District of Bihé, 16th of March, 1885.

The most excellent governor-general of the province of Angola.

From the vassal of the Portuguese flag, D. Soba, Peter 5th Cangombe, grandson,

[Inclosure B in inclosure 1 in No. 6.—Translation.]

Letter from the governor of Benguela to the King of Bihé.

Friend Sobba. In addition to your official note, which at this date I send you, I have to say that with reference to the missionaries the things which you mention in your official note of 19th of March, I know nothing about, and I consider it queer that they should not have presented themselves with a guia passed by this Government. At all events, while I shall not have most of the explanations that I desire to get, if there shall be need to decide any question whatever which may concern you or these people, you may on the subject consult the citizen Braga, who is qualified to decide it, and to counsel you in what shall be necessary, giving you all the explanations which you shall ask of him.

God protect you and have you in his holy keeping.


D. Pedro Cangombe Neto,
Sobba of Bihé.

[Inclosure C in inclosure 1 in No. 6.—Translation.]

Letter of the King of Bihé to Mr. Sanders.

Rev. W. Sanders:

Friend and Sir: By Mr. Arnot I received an official note from the governor of Benguela as well as from the governor-general of Loanda with positive orders to live with your excellencies, which I accept with good will. I have to say to you that Mr. Arnot carries to your excellency an official note in reply to that from the government of Loanda, which Mr. Arnot has read, and it is well written, and with it the official note from the government of Benguela, in which he gave me orders to have a fuss with you and to take your empty boxes or furniture, since you left no cloth except a small hale of poor riscado, and your provisions and books and iron ware. You, my friend, know that when you came here to live I received you very well. Whatever your excellency suffered, put to the charge of Mr. Braga and his employés Fretas, Catangone, and the convict Diamantino and Saraphim, and the governor of Benguela. If your excellency wishes the articles lost here, complain to the governor who commanded me to take from you whatever you had. But I am your much friend, and was already ready to put my sons in your charge to be taught to read, and Braga opposed me in it all.

But since I have an order from the governor-general, you can come to look after your works; but I claimed to the governor of Loanda that you, my friends, should give me a fixed sum by the month; but you can come when you please. The fault is [Page 643] not mine; it belongs to those of Benguela. Your excellency can make demands on the governor of Benguela and Braga, as your excellency is not ignorant about the matter. But I pass to say to you that your excellency has not become acquainted with my people, nor with the headmen and the sergeants. Yet these are the ones who will see that you get justice in case of any trouble. You, my friend, when in Bailunda were liberal to those who are greater robbers than we, yet when you shall come here to live give up this custom (of being close-listed with the Biheans). Come and see about your affairs, and when you shall come we will talk over the whole matter well.

If you wish to road my letter to the governor of Loanda, you can do so and seal it again in order to know whether your friend Gonçalves wrote well or not. And whatever white shall come in your company let him bring an official note in every case, or bis guia in order that I may receive him. Without it I will receive no one except my friends Sanders and Fay, persons whom I know.

Without more I desire you health, and I await you and your orders, and I am of your excellency, the friend and servant,


N. B.—If you shall need the medical book you can redeem it with one bale of 20 pieces, one gun, and one blanket.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 6.]

The correspondence on file in this Department shows the following facts relative to the expulsion of the American missionaries from the Kingdoms of Bailunda and Bihé, situated in the western portion of Africa, 200 miles from the coast, and under the suzerainty of Portugal.

In a letter dated October 17, 1884, Mr. Judson Smith, secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, narrates the story of the expulsion as follows:

“The mission had two stations in two adjoining kingdoms, Bihé and Bailunda. The kings had always shown themselves friendly and extended their patronage to their ‘whites,’ as they called these Americans, and the native population was pleased to have these men dwell among them. A Portuguese trader had for some time been jealous lest in some way these men should interfere with his business. This last spring his jealousy broke out into open opposition, and he seems to have set himself deliberately to effect their expulsion or destruction. He went to these native kings and plied them with gifts, with promises, with countless falsehoods against our men. He failed completely in Bihé, but at length succeeded in turning the King of Bailunda, who is much the more powerful of the two, to his own purpose. The decisive accusation was that these men were criminals, fugitives from justice in their own country, and that he (this trader) had been sent by the governor of Benguela to arrest them and bring them back to their own land. The King’s mind was thus completely won away, and he ordered the missionaries to leave his country immediately, and take of their goods only what they could carry. One member of the mission with great difficulty obtained an interview with the king, but was not suffered to make explanations, and was ordered to leave the camp instantly. In one respect this King showed great honor and manliness, namely, in refusing to take the lives of the missionaries, to which the trader was constantly urging him.

“July 4th the missionaries packed up the few goods they could carry, and in the middle of the devastation of their homes and the plundering of their goods, began a long and painful flight of two hundred miles to the coast, during which they were often brought to great extremities, and out of which they came with the loss of all they had, but happily without loss of life. They at once placed themselves under the protection of the Portuguese governor of Benguela, and made full representation to him of all the facts in the case, and obtained permission from him to reside in Benguela, and a promise that he would secure for them redress of wrongs and restitution of their property. He said he had already sent for the trader to give an account of himself, and that he would compel the King of Bailunda to restore everything he had plundered.”

On September 25, 1884, the Department addressed a note to the Portuguese minister in the United States, informing him of the occurrence of the expulsion of the missionaries, and asking that the case be represented to the Government of Portugal, “so that ample protection may be afforded.”

To this the minister replied, under date of November 17, 1884, that his Government had already received news of the occurrence, and that the governor of Benguela had been instructed fully to investigate the matter, and that as soon as this was done the [Page 644] Government would give a decision which would show its desire to let no wrong go unpunished.

Under date of October 24, 1885, the Department instructed the United States minister at Lisbon that “it appears that these gentlemen are American citizens duly provided with passports, visaed by the Portuguese officials, and two of them held in addition the ‘guia’ of the governor of Benguela.

“You will see that the case now presents a plain occasion for diplomatic action, and it is desired that you will immediately bring the facts to the attention of His Majesty’s Government.

“If, as is understood here, the King of Bailunda is a tributary dependent of Portugal, it is possible that he may have been already disciplined by His Majesty’s authorities in the premises; but should you learn that this correctional jurisdiction extends to the King of Bailunda, and he has not yet been visited by Portuguese justice, you will, while invoking protection for our citizens, under international obligations, and their restoration to the scenes from which they have been driven, as well as full restitution on account of the losses and injuries they have sustained, express the desire of this Government that any punitive laws of Portugal, pertinent to the case, may be carried out against the offenders, to the end of establishing the rights of American citizens peacefully residing in territory under Portuguese control.”

The letter from Mr. Smith, under date May 26, 1885, which brings up the subject anew, states that the governor-general of Loando gives assurances that the expulsion should be fully inquired into and justice impartially done. The same letter shows that one of the members of the mission has maintained a correspondence with the King of Bailunda and Bihé, copies of which are inclosed therein, tending to show that the wrong done the missionaries was “due to the direct instigation of the Portuguese trader, who was fully authorized in all he did by the Portuguese governor of Benguela,” and that in view of these facts it is believed that a call upon the Government of Portugal for satisfactory reparation is warranted.

The facts that are contained herein have been acted on in this Department, and instructions issued to our minister at Lisbon, under date of October 24, 1884, to present them to the Government of Portugal for the purpose of asking reparation to the parties whose injuries are thus detailed. It is unnecessary to do more now than to ask the renewed attention of the United States minister to Portugal to the importance of pressing the claim earnestly but courteously upon the Government of Portugal.

All of which is respectfully submitted.