Mr. Blaine to Mr. Palmer.

No. 37.]

Sir: By reference to the files of your legation you will find correspondence which has passed between the Government of the United States and that of Spain in relation to the imprisonment and the deportation from Ponape, in the Caroline Islands, in the summer of 1887, of the Rev. E. T. Doane, an American missionary in the service of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. This proceeding, which took place under the direction of the Spanish governor resident at Ponape, was subsequently repudiated by his superior officer, the governor-general at Manila, and was also disapproved by the Spanish Government; and Mr. Doane was restored to the scene of his labors. When the matter was brought to the attention of the Spanish Government the expectation was expressed that due reparation would be offered for the wrong done to Mr. Doane and for the expenses and losses which attended and resulted from it, the ground for this expectation being the confessedly wrongful action of the Spanish officials. No reparation, however, has as yet been made. You are therefore instructed to bring the matter again to the attention of the Spanish Government, and to ask that suitable redress may be afforded.

As having relation to this subject, I inclose herewith, for your information, a copy of a letter of the 13th instant, from the Rev. Judson [Page 425] Smith, foreign secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. By this letter, which is accompanied with one from Mr. Doane to Mr. Smith, of the 23d of August last, copy of which is also inclosed, it appears that Mr. Doane is now threatened with deprivation of the lands which he has occupied in connection with his work for many years, and upon which expenditures have been made to a large amount. In this relation it is pertinent to call attention to the correspondence which took place between this Government and that of Spain in 1886 on the occasion of the submission to His Holiness the Pope, Leo XIII, of the question which arose between Spain and Germany in respect to the sovereignty of the former country over the archipelagos of the Caroline and Pelew islands. When information of the settlement of that question, through the mediation of His Holiness, was conveyed to this Government (February 10, 1886) by the Spanish minister at Washington, this Government made, on March 2, 1886, the following reply:

As your Government is aware, the citizens of the United States have been actively engaged in disseminating information among the inhabitants of that quarter, with a view to their prosperity; and it is not presumed that their treatment under the rule of Spain, which this arrangement recognizes and confirms as between Germany and Spain (and which has never been contested by the United States), will be any less favorable than that of Germans or other foreigners commorant therein.

On the 12th of March, 1886, the Spanish minister inclosed, in reply to the above note, as well as to more specific representations previously made by the United States to the Spanish Government through the American legation in Madrid, a copy of a communication from his Government bearing date February 16, 1886, in which specific assurance was given that the rights and privileges of citizens of the United States engaged in missionary or other work in the islands in question would in no manner be infringed or disturbed, but on the contrary, would be fully protected and secured. This correspondence maybe found on pages 831834 of the volume of Foreign Relations for 1886, a copy of which is sent to you herewith.

You are instructed to bring the matters mentioned in this communication to the attention of the Spanish Government, with an expression of the interest felt by this Government in the subject.

I am, etc.,

James G. Blaine.
[Inclosure in No. 37.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

Dear Sir: Recalling to your attention previous communications concerning the Spanish occupation of the Caroline Islands and its bearing upon the work of American missionaries representing this board long resident in these islands, and expressing anew satisfaction with the interest which our Government has shown in the protection of American interests in these islands, I beg leave to report the present state of affairs as brought to my attention by a letter just received from Rev. Edward T. Doane, the veteran missionary of the board in these regions. Mr. Doane is the gentleman who was so injuriously apprehended and imprisoned by the first Spanish governor resident at Ponape, in the summer of 1887, who was detained in custody for three months and deported to Manila upon wholly groundless charges. The action of the Spanish governor in this matter being repudiated by his superior, the governor-general resident at Manila, Mr. Doane was in due time returned to his work without [Page 426] trial or penalty. For the wrong thus inflicted upon Mr. Doane and for the injury done to American interests no suitable reparation has ever been made by the Spanish Government. At least no intimation of such reparation has ever reached Mr. Doane himself or the officers of this society. An expense, all told, amounting to nearly $2,000 was involved in this apprehension and removal of Mr. Doane from his residence and work. Nothing could be more just in itself or more likely to induce proper caution on the part of the Spanish authorities in the Caroline Islands in their dealing with American citizens engaged in Christian work in these islands than a dignified and firm insistence upon the payment of this indemnity. I am sure that I do not need urge upon your attention the importance of this step, both as an act of justice in itself and especially as a proper safeguard of the honor of the nation and of the American interests involved in the case.

The letter which I have just received from Mr. Doane shows that the Spanish authorities at Ponape need a reminder of the sort which I have intimated, with reference to their present and future relations to our work in these islands. I am sure I do not need to remind you that our Government, at the time when the question of the transfer of the Caroline Islands from German jurisdiction to Spanish jurisdiction was submitted to the arbitration of Pope Leo XIII, made an express stipulation that such transfer should work no detriment to American interests connected with our missionary work in these islands. Information of this has been communicated to us through the Department of State, and I only mention it as giving a just ground for present action on the part of our Government, which I trust will be taken without delay. When the character of the missionary work which for nearly forty years the American board has carried on in these islands is considered, its purely religious aim, free from all political motives or complications, its beneficent results, and its happy bearing upon the welfare of the islands and upon their prosperity, and when the fact is further recalled that our board carries on similar operations in the midst of the Turkish Empire, in China, and among many tribes of Africa, and everywhere enjoys the protection even of heathen kings and rulers, there seems no reason why, with all justice and right, the pledge of protection given by Spain when she assumed sovereignty in the islands should not be insisted upon in the fullest and most substantial manner.

The disposition of the present Spanish governor to ignore title to lands and property enjoyed by our missionaries for many years past is distinctly brought to view in the letter from Mr. Doane. You will not need to be told, I am sure, that our missionaries have no business interests in these islands. The lands and property referred to are simply such as are needful to give to the missionary work they carry on a footing and suitable surroundings, and the property is administered absolutely with reference to the welfare and progress of this missionary work. It yields no income of any sort to any person connected therewith. Should the present effort of the Spanish governor to dispossess our missionaries of the mission lands which they now occupy go on unchecked, the result would be the entire uprooting of our missionary work, and the necessary banishment of all our American laborers from these fields. That such a purpose should be allowed to forward to its fulfillment without a distinct protest, made effective if need be by the visit of an American man-of-war to the harbor of Ponape to express the purpose of our Government to protect its citizens and their lawful interests there, I am sure you will not for a moment consent to or permit. The remoteness of these islands, the defenseless position of our American citizens engaged in Christian work there, and the time required to communicate with these islands, alike make needful prompt and energetic action. When the Spanish Government and its representatives in these islands understand that the American Government stands behind the American citizens who reside there, and guards their welfare and their just claims with all its wealth and strength, justice will be done, and the devoted men and women there who look to this country with all confidence for protection will be assured that they have not looked in vain.

It seems to me important that you should have before you, in connection with what has been said above, a copy of the material parts of the letter from Mr. Doane, just received, which accordingly I inclose.

Assured that this representation will receive your prompt and efficient consideration, and assuring you of my highest personal esteem,

I am, etc.,

Judson Smith,
Foreign Secretary American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
[Page 427]

Mr. Doane to Mr. Smith.

Dear Brother: It is but a few days since I wrote you. Since then certain matters with the Spanish have come up which I think I need to record for your reading. Just now the governor has begun to meddle with the lands. I am surprised he has seen fit to do so; perhaps there was a necessity for it, as his time of office holding is soon to cease, and may call for it. He resigns, staying here only two years instead of three.

The point just now is the old Mejiniong and Kenan lands. As with Señor Possadillio (the first governor) he calls the high chief Lepen Not into his office; puts the question to him, “Did you pass to Mr. Doane the land known as Mejiniong? “He replies, “No.” Sad that there is that man’s name, Lepen Not, signed to the paper. As with Possadillio he has gone hack on his own word, given and written by me, nearly ten years since. This man is a high chief; a church member; has all along professed to be a warm friend of mine, but here he is going right back on his word, and for sympathy he takes another man, Kro Rue, with him, and both falsify their word, and that places me as a maker of false deeds. This, of course, will bring on me the ire of the governor, as it did that of Possadillio, and there is talk of my being sent to Manila again. I may say here this high chief is aided in his dark work by an Englishman of the lowest type, telling the chief by denying my title he will be taken into the favor of the governor, and no doubt receive some sum of money the governor will pay for the land.
I have stated the outline of the dark work respecting Mejiniong, given to the mission in 1880. I need here to say a word as to Kenan, a small piece of land, some 20 acres, given by another chief to the mission in 1870. To this paper there are, I think, four names signed; two of the witnesses are dead, myself and the deacon of the church are the only ones left. It would seem as to this small piece of land there could possibly be no mistake; but the governor puts the same question to Lepen Not, “Did you give Mr. Doane, Kenan.” He replies, “No, all the land he owns was where formerly his house stood.” This is true; Lepen did not give the Kenan land; that was done, as I have said, in 1870, long before Lepen Not secured his high title. It was given by another King, since dead, the transfer made by one Jouen Metip, a deacon in my church. He acted for the said King. The lines to this land we both ran. But the Spanish governor, not seeming to have taken in this fact, acts on Lepen Not’s assertion that he gave no land. And that piece of land, which the board has possessed for nearly twenty years, on which it has spent nearly $20,000 for missionary work, dwellings, schools, etc., is all taken from under us. We have no land at all in that region. Is this justice? It is difficult to feel other than that the Spanish are not what they should be. The effort seems to be to dispossess us of our lands, and then the workday totter to its fall. Now let me say here, thus tar I have taken no part in the matter, nor do I mean to do so. The whole thing is so one-sided, so wanting in true justice, I can do nothing. We make the whole matter a subject of prayer. And we will “stand still and see the salvation of God.” We have put the whole matter into His hands. There I will rest. I have narrated these facts that you may see on what tempestuous seas we are again sailing. If the board can do anything with the home government, action needs to be taken at once. * * *

We are kept walking amid hot fires. May we ever walk in the Lord’s fear.


E. T. Doane.