Mr. Bayard to Count von Arco-Valley.
Washington, January 18, 1889.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 15th instant, in which you are pleased to convey the approval by the Imperial German Government of the notes I addressed to you under date of November 21 and 26, 1888, touching the importance of preventing conflicts between subjects of the German Empire and American [Page 190] citizens in the Samoan Islands, and in which I communicated to you the instructions which the consul-general would carry on his return to Samoa, to observe neutrality in the unhappy conflict between the native factions and to provide protection for the property and interests of American citizens there when endangered.
I am glad to receive from your Government the gratifying assurance that it has, by repeated instructions, been made the duty of the Imperial German consul to settle, by means of amicable arrangements with his American and English colleagues, all differences that may arise relative to matters in which the interests of foreigners residing in Samoa are concerned. You add that—
This task has been rendered difficult by the fact that the officer in charge of the American consulate and the commander of the American war vessel have, during the present revolution on the Samoan Islands, openly taken part against Chief Tamasese, who is recognized by the Imperial Government, and have supported Chief Mataafa.
Since my notes above referred to, of the 21st and 26th of November, full reports of the situation in Samoa have been received from the American vice-consul in charge at Apia and from the United States naval commander in Samoan waters 5 from none of which can it be discovered that either of those officers has assumed, on behalf of the Government of the United States, to recognize Chief Mataafa, or to do any act contrary to the rival claims of Chief Tamasese other than to take necessary steps to protect Americans and their interests in those islands from any injurious acts of either of these chiefs or of their respective adherents.
My recent notes to you, and in particular my communication of the 12th instant, will establish the entire consistency of the course which for more than two years has been pursued by the Government of the United States regarding the deplorable internecine strife in Samoa. Ever since the principle of neutrality and concert between the three powers was advanced by the United States, and assented to by the Imperial Government in June, 1886, this Government has enjoined its agents in Samoa to abstain from any action recognitory of the de jure rights claimed by either chief, and has sincerely endeavored to obtain such peaceable expression of the will of the natives in a choice of their king as would insure the respect and command the cordial support of all three of the powers.
Deep as is the regret felt by this Government for the lamentable conflicts which have lately taken place between Germans and the adherents of one of the native factions in Samoa, and however sincere our hope that the unfortunate occurrence may be satisfactorily settled, this Government continues to feel it to be its duty to maintain its attitude of consistent neutrality, and not abandon the belief professed and acted upon for three years or more, that the best assurance of peace and guaranty for the equal protection of the rights of the three treaty powers in Samoa will be found in permitting and assisting the natives freely to choose their own king, who should be recognized by the three powers and assisted by them in the administration of good government.
The objection to Tamasese is wholly on the part of the preponderating number of his own countrymen who deny that he was ever chosen by popular will, or that he is acceptable to them; to insist therefore upon his rule is to substitute the will of foreigners for the Samoan native government for which the majority have manifested their strong desire and which the treaty powers had certainly agreed to respect.