Prince Bismarck to Count von Arco-Valley .*


I have already notified your excellency that, according to telegraphic communications from Apia on the 18th December of last year, a detachment of German naval forces which had landed, at the requisition of the imperial consul, for the protection of the German settlements which were endangered by the conflicts between the native parties there, was attacked by armed Samoans belonging to the party of Chief Mataafa. This unprovoked attack is said to have taken place under the leadership of an American named Klein. On this occasion more than fifty German soldiers and officers were killed and wounded.

In consequence of this we have been transplanted from the territory of mediatorial negotiations, by which the imperial consul in Apia was trying to reconcile the contending parties, and for which he had sought the co-operation of his English and American colleagues, into a state of war with the assailants, to our regret.

We shall carry on the contest which has been forced upon us by Mataafa and his followers, with the utmost consideration for English and American interests. Our military measures have in view only the punishment of the murderers of German soldiers and the protection of our countrymen and their property. As they, on their part, are at war with Tamasese, our interference will necessarily assume the character of assistance to Tamasese.

In the endeavor for the just punishment of a murderous crime we hope for the co-operation of the treaty powers in Samoa in friendship with us, and we ask the Government of the United States to be good enough to furnish the consuls, and the commanders of its ships of war in Samoa, with suitable instructions. Our armed forces there are instructed [Page 189] to avoid and to prevent all injury to neutral commerce and property, and to adopt measures of reprisal and destruction only against the followers of the party which initiated the contest against our troops by a murderous attack.

We shall, of course, abide by the agreements with America and England with respect to Samoa, and pay due regard under all circumstances to the rights of those powers as established by treaty.

I beg your excellency to bring this communication to Mr. Bayard’s knowledge by reading it to him, and to leave a copy of it with him, if he requests it.

von Bismarck.
  1. Left at the Department of State, January 28, 1889.