Mr. Strobel to Mr. Bayard.

No. 247.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that immediately on the receipt of your No. 217 of the 2d instant, in reference to the general treatment of American missions in the Caroline Islands by the Spanish local authorities, and the arrest and imprisonment of the Rev. E. T. Doane, I addressed a note on the subject to the minister of state, a copy of which is inclosed. I thought it effective to quote verbatim the very full and explicit assurances of Señor Elduayen communicated to the legation in October, 1885, in reference to the future benevolent and [Page 405] fostering attitude of the Spanish. Government toward these very missions.

Señor Moret has been absent from Madrid since the early part of last month. At the first opportunity after his return I shall refer to the matter in conversation with him on the lines laid down in your instructions.

I have, etc.,

Edward H. Strobel,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
[Inclosure in No. 247.]

Mr. Strobel to Señor Moret.

Excellency: On the 22d of September, 1885, under instructions from my Government, I had the honor to address a note to your excellency’s distinguished predecessor, Señor Elduayen, giving a statement of the results accomplished in the Caroline Islands by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions during more than thirty years of labor in behalf of civilization and morality. In view, at that time, of the prospective occupation of those islands by the Spanish Government, the confident hope was expressed that the good work of the citizens of the United States, extending over so long a period, might not only not be disturbed, but be aided and protected.

To this appeal on the part of the United States Government in behalf of the humanizing efforts of its citizens, the reply of Señor Elduayen was all that could be desired. In the note of this legation, dated October 15, 1885, his excellency forecast the attitude of the Spanish Government towards the American missions in the following eloquent and explicit language:

“In respect to the hope expressed in your note that nothing will interfere with the operations of American citizens in the Carolines, but on the contrary their good work may be aided and protected, the Government of His Majesty will hasten to inform the Government of the United States that nothing is so far from its intention as the process of curtailing or embarrassing in the slightest degree the works of morality and instruction to which you refer. The present constitution of the Spanish state authorizes the Government of His Majesty to respect in all the regions of our territory the free religious exercise which the American Government desires, and, at the same time, the Spanish Government sees with the greatest satisfaction the results obtained by American citizens in what concerns civilization in general, and is disposed, in regard to this, to favor and augment as far as possible such results. It is to me a pleasing duty to give this affirmative and satisfactory reply to all the points contained in your note, in order that you may be good enough to transmit it to the Government of the United States.”

In the correspondence between the Secretary of State of the United States and the representative of Her Majesty in Washington, in February, March, and May, 1886, further assurances were given that the Government of Spain would guarantee to United States citizens in the Caroline Islands full rights and complete protection.

With this reference to the declarations of the Spanish Government, I will now beg to call attention to the following facts, and to submit them to the consideration of Her Majesty’s Government.

Ever since their arrival in Ponape, the Spanish officials have distinguished themselves by their unfriendly attitude towards the American missions. All the schools have been closed but one, one of the missionaries, by name Narcissus de Santas, has been forbidden to preach, service has been suppressed at some of the churches, and lands granted to the missions years ago by the native chiefs have been encroached upon or seized.

This series of hostile acts culminated in the arrest of Mr. E. T. Doane, a venerable missionary of almost 70 years of age, who had devoted the best years of his life to the instruction and enlightenment of the natives of the islands. The ostensible reason for the arrest of this gentleman was a letter addressed by him to the governor, protesting against the seizure of certain land belonging to the missions, in which letter he made use of the word “arbitrary.” This protest was not made until entreaty and appeal had failed. The reply made to the protest by the governor was an order for his arrest on April 14 last, and he was taken on board the steamship Manila. At the end of three days, during which he had not been permitted to hold communication with his friends, the governor sentenced him to fifteen [Page 406] days’ imprisonment for writing the protest. After the expiration of the fifteen days he was informed that he would be confined a still longer period, no reason being given for this additional imprisonment. After more than a month’s detention on the Manila he was removed to the man-of-war Maria de Molina, and finally on June 11, about two months after his original arrest, he was ordered to be sent to Manila and was taken to that port, where it is understood that he has at length been released.

By this ungenerous treatment of these missions, followed by the apparently harsh and unjustifiable arrest of an American citizen, the authorities of the island have inflicted a great wrong upon the interests of the peaceable American community—a community whose labors for nearly half a century have tended not to hinder but to promote the welfare of Her Majesty’s subjects.

In view of the heretofore unbroken friendship between the Governments, and their treaty relations, and more than all, in view of the unreserved and definite assurances in regard to these very missions to which I have referred, the Government of the United States has received information of these extraordinary measures and events with mingled pain and astonishment, and feels justified in asking that the Government of Her Majesty the Queen Regent will speedily restore these Ameriican interests to their former effective and beneficent position, and that due indemnity be made to the citizens of the United States in those islands who have suffered damages in person or loss of property by reason of the unwarrantable proceedings of the local authorities.

While expressing the hope and belief in behalf of the Government of the United States that the Government of Her Majesty only needs to be informed of these unfortunate incidents in order to take action in harmony with previous declarations and the wise and liberal policy which distinguishes it, I avail myself of this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.

Edward H. Strobel.