to Mr. Phelps.
Washington , March 1, 1888.
Sir: I have had the honor to receive, under date of the 8th ultimo, a note from Her Britannic Majesty’s minister at this capital, in relation to a case of criminal assault of a German upon a British subject at Apia, in which there was a contest between the German consul and the municipal court as to jurisdiction.
The defendant, named Marquardt, being a German, and the offense being a criminal assault, the Imperial German consul claimed the right to try the case as coming within his exclusive jurisdiction, and denied the right of the municipal judge, before whom the prosecution had been pending, to take further cognizance of it.
In October last the controversy above stated was brought by the German charge at this capital to the notice of the Department, the consul of the United States in Apia having as president of the municipal board taken the lead in asserting its jurisdiction. Upon an examination of the case, the Department came to the conclusion that the jurisdiction of the municipality was doubtful and instructed the American consul not to press the controversy further.
Her Majesty’s Government having learned the opinion of this Department, the British minister here was instructed to inquire whether, upon an examination of the facts which he communicated in his note above referred to, this Government still concurred in the views of the German Government from which Her Majesty’s Government dissented. Before receiving this note of the British minister the Department had received information which seemed to render superfluous any further discussion as to the jurisdiction of the municipal court.
For on the 14th of October last the German consul, with the assent of the British consul, declared the municipal government to be in abeyance because of an alleged refusal of the American consul to attend on that day a special meeting of the municipal board. As the Department is informed, the American consul was already near the place of meeting at the time the German consul took the course stated, and had accompanied the British consul three-fourths of the way to the court-house, when, recollecting some papers which he had intended to bring with him from his office, he returned thither for them and was thus delayed.
On the 27th ultimo the Department received a dispatch from the Americal consul, Mr. Sewall, dated January 28, 1888, copy of which is inclosed, in which he communicated to the Department copy of a note of the 18th of January from the German consul at Apia, declaring the formal withdrawal of the Imperial German Government from the municipality convention of the 2d of September, 1879, and offering to enter into negotiations with the American and British consuls for a division of the property of the municipality.
To this dispatch of the American consul a reply was made, copy of which is inclosed.
You are instructed to bring the matter to the attention of Her Majesty’s Government, and inquire whether they have accepted the notice of Germany’s withdrawal from the municipality convention, and if so, whether they have instructed their consular representative at Apia, as to the course he shall pursue in regard to the municipal property and funds.
I am, sir, etc.,