No. 25.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Tree.

No. 90.]

Sir: I inclose herewith copy of a dispatch addressed to this Department by the United States consul at St. Paul de Loando, and of its inclosure, being a petition signed by the Rev. A. Billington, a representative of the American Baptist Missionary Union at Stanley Pool, in the Congo Free Sta te, setting forth certain arbitrary acts of the Congo [Page 25] authorities in seizing and diverting to their use a small steamer, the property of the said union, and employed in missionary work, and praying for protection and for the issuance of the papers necessary to enable that vessel to fly the Congo flag.

As the consul at St. Paul de Loando is not accredited to the Congo State, and the United States have at present no consular representative in that State, it becomes necessary to address the Congo Government through you.

The first ground of complaint is the attempt of Mr. H. M. Stanley to appropriate the vessel to his use in April last, an attempt, as would appear, so arbitrary and lawless that the chief of the Congo station at Stanley Pool was obliged to interfere to prevent Mr. Stanley from carrying out his purpose by force, whilst, however, aiding to accomplish the end in view, under the authority of the Congo State, by causing her to be handed over for the use of Mr. Stanley for forty-five days.

The second ground of complaint is even more serious, for it is alleged that, after having been kept by Mr. Stanley considerably beyond the forty-five days stipulated, and when returned by him and on its way back to the mission headquarters, the steamer was forcibly taken possession of, at Bangala, by armed soldiers of the Congo State under command of Lieutenant Vangele; and, up to the 3d of August last, was still held by the agents of the Congo State.

You will bring the allegations of Mr. Billington to the attention of the Congo Government, earnestly remonstrating against any such interference with the property rights of American citizens, and asking that steps be taken to restore the steamer in question to the agent of the American Baptist Missionary Union at Stanley Pool, and that a searching investigation be made of the arbitrary acts said to have been done in this regard by the Congo authorities, with prompt and effective reparation of any injury done to the owners by reason of the forcible seizure of the steamer.

No objects can be more legitimate or praiseworthy than those of the missionary laborers in Africa, and no missionaries are more entitled to considerate and just treatment at the hands of the Congo authorities than those who are citizens of the country that first recognized the Congo flag and has been unstinting in its expressions of sympathy and aid toward the establishment of civilized and liberal government in the Congo territories.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 90.]

Mr. Newton to Mr. Rives.

No. 33.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy of a petition drawn up by the Rev. A. Billington, of the American Baptist Missionary Union at Stanley Pool, and to ask for instructions with reference to the same. I doubt if any papers granted by me would be recognized by the Congo Free State, as I am not recoguized as consul for that district.

I am, etc.,

Robt. S. Newton,
[Page 26]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 90.]

Mr. Billington to Mr. Newton.

To the American Consul, St. Paul de Loanda:

Sir: The above society has a small steamer on the waters of the Upper Congo for the purpose of conveying missionaries and their goods to its stations. It did not occur to us to be necessary to have “papers” on our steamers till a few weeks ago. It has, however, recently become necessary. In the first place, for the protection of the mission property, and, in the second place, because that, after the 1st of September, 1887, we are compelled to fly the flag of the “Congo Free State,” but are not allowed to fly any other flag until we have the proper papers of our nationality on board.

In April last when Mr. H. M. Stanley arrived here he applied for the use of our steamer, but our circumstances were such that we could not do as he wished; he then attempted to take the steamer by force, by placing an armed band at the entrance of our mission station and another at the place where our steamer was at anchor, and then sent in a letter demanding the instant surrender of the steamer; in case of my not complying, his officers had orders to enforce the demand at any risk either to myself or those concerned.

Before anything was done, the chief of the station of the “Congo Free State” at this place protested against Mr. Stanley’s action in the name of the State, and the armed forces were withdrawn.

The chief of the station of the Free State then applied for the steamer, but our circumstances remaining unaltered we were obliged to refuse. It however became very clear to us, from conversation and correspondence, that the steamer would be taken, so that we ultimately handed her over to the Free State, under protest, for Mr. Stanley’s use, for the space of forty-five days. She was kept considerably beyond this time by Mr. Stanley, but after she had been sent away by him, to be returned to us, before reaching here she was seized by another officer of the Free State.

This seizure took place at the State station Bangala, by Lieutenant Vaugele. This officer first applied for the use of the steamer of the English Baptist Mission, she being there at the same time, but being refused he at once marched twenty armed soldiers on board the Henry Peed. His action was protested against by some of those in charge of the steamer, but without effect, and the steamer has not yet been returned to us.

It was only yesterday that we received the decree of the King respecting flags, and now at once write to ask if you will kindly arrange for us to get the “papers” as early as possible, that we may be able to use the American flag.

I inclose particulars of the steamer and hope they will meet all requirements.

I have the honor, etc.,

A. Billington,
Member of the American Baptist Missionary Union and in charge of the said steamer Henry Reed.