Mr. Bayard to Count von Arco-Valley.
Washington , January 12, 1889.
Sir: The instructions of your Government to make known to the Government of the United States their version of the late deplorable circumstances in the Samoan Islands were executed by your very kindly reading to me the following statement, which Ire-write literally as received from your verbal dictation on the 10th instant, and which was in substantial accord with your previous announcement of the same information:
The German forces were landed (in Samoa) after the German commander had given notice of his intention to the commanders of the American and British men-of-war, the reason for landing being that some German plantations were in danger.
Upon so landing the Germans were attacked by the Samoans, under the command of Klein, an American citizen, and lost fifty men killed and wounded. A state of war with Samoa is therefore announced by Germany, and as an American is alleged to have been in command of the attacking Samoan force, Count Arco is instructed to make complaint to the United States.
Count Arco is also ordered at the same time by his Government to say that the treaty rights of the United States shall be respected under all circumstances, and all the rights of the treaty powers.
The German Government also begs the United States to join them in an active way to restore calm and quiet in the island—equally for the three treaty powers.
In pursuance of the joint understanding under my proposition of June 1, 1886, for denned and cooperative action in Samoan affairs, which was formally accepted by Germany and Great Britain, I had the [Page 187] honor to transmit to you, by my personal note of the 5th instant, the reports on that day received from New Zealand, from the first lieutenant of the U. S. S. Nipsic, who had been sent by his commander from Apia to Auckland to communicate, in relation to Samoan affairs, by telegraph with this Government.
At the same time I informed you that I had at once transmitted the intelligence so received to our ministers at Berlin and London, and all this in order to maintain a clear and satisfactory understanding between the three treaty powers in relation to their respective intentions and proceedings in Samoa.
I at once stated to you, on becoming aware of the allegation that the armed force of Samoans, which so lately came into collision with the forces landed from the German ships of war, had been led or commanded by an American of the name of “Klein;” that I had no knowledge whatever, nor reason to believe, that the said Klein was a citizen of the United States, and that I was certain he was not, and never had been, in any way connected with its public service, nor acting under color or pretense of its authority.
The instructions given to officials of this Government at Samoa have never deviated from those made public, and which were well known to Germany and Great Britain, and in effect were scrupulously to maintain neutrality in Samoan affairs, and confine their action to good offices in the maintenance of peace and order in those regions, and securing protection for American citizens and their interests under treaty stipulations and the comity of civilized nations.
Before I had the honor of having read to me, on the 10th instant, the memorandum of instructions received by you, orders had been given by the President looking to the relief from danger of citizens of the United States resident in Samoa, and for the protection of their property; and it was with entire readiness that I accepted the invitation of your Government, as conveyed through your instructions, that the United States should “join in an active way to restore calm and quiet in those islands.”
I received also with expressed satisfaction your assurance of the intentions of your Government to maintain and carefully respect the treaty rights of this Government under all circumstances, and this, as I stated to you, necessarily included respect for the existence of Samoan autonomy and independence, which is the basis of the three treaties made with the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, the first-named being earliest in date.
The protocols of the conference on Samoan affairs, held in this city, in the summer of 1887, by the representatives of the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, will disclose that, although the conference did not produce an agreement as to a complete plan of government for that community, nevertheless on certain points all three Governments coincided; and one of these was the free election by the Samoans, according to their own will and custom, of a king. It would seem most opportune if such an election could now practically be held, and I feel assured that it would do much towards ending the turbulent and bitter discontent which has led to the shocking internecine warfare among these islanders, and finally involved them in a deeply regrettable conflict with German forces, which is sincerely deplored by the United States.
Rear-Admiral Kimberly, commanding our naval forces in the Pacific, has been ordered to proceed in his flag-ship, the Trenton, to Apia, and I have great confidence in his wisdom and benevolent discretion, as well as in that of the naval commanders of the other national vessels which [Page 188] have been sent by their respective Governments to the Samoan waters, to promote a satisfactory arrangement—and I take it for granted that the same spirit of comity and perception of the equal rights of all three treaty powers, which induced your Government to invite the active cooperation of the United States in restoring law and order in Samoa, will cause instructions embodying the same principles of friendly justice and considerate moderation in framing a plan of settlement to be sent to the German officers in command of the imperial naval forces in that region.
There is no obscurity in the several treaties, and none whatever in the understanding proposed by the United States, and first arrived at between the treaty powers in June, 1886, and since then from time to time set forth in their correspondence.
On January 17 last the views of this Government were fully conveyed to the Government of Germany by my instruction of that date to our minister at Berlin, and have since that time undergone no change, and no intimation of dissent therefrom by the Government of Germany has since that time been received.