Mr. Blaine to Mr. Newberry.

No. 141.]

Sir: I inclose copy of a letter just received from the secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in which he refers to the disturbed condition of affairs at Ponape and points out the efforts of the missionaries to preserve the peace and improve the relations between the natives and the Spanish garrison.

The Department is informed that our recently appointed consul at Ponape will shortly proceed to his post. It is trusted that his efforts to promote good-will and to further peaceful relations of the American missionaries and the natives toward the Spanish authorities will receive the cordial support of the latter; and that the instructions of the home government to the governor of the Caroline Islands will tend to the same end. As this letter shows, the missionary organization has the interest of law and order very nearly at heart.

I am, etc.,

James G. Blaine.
[Inclosure in No. 141.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

Dear Sir: In view of the intelligence just received from our missionaries in the Caroline Islands, and especially from those at Ponape, the residence of the Spanish governor for these islands, I take this opportunity to report the same to you, and to ask such attention as the merits of the case seem to demand.

The letter which has reached me was written by one of the young women who is at present residing at Ponape, and describes an outbreak on the part of the natives against the Spaniards provoked as it seems by the conduct of the Spaniards. It seems that the Spanish authorities had made the attempt to erect buildings of their own very closely bordering on the premises occupied by our missionaries, and had Located a building intended for the Catholic priests within 6 feet of the door of the native church which had grown up there under the care of our missionaries. These things seem to have aroused the suspicion of the natives and to have been the occasion, though not, I suppose, the cause, of the outbreak. The cause is doubtless to be found in the memory of the grievous wrongs inflicted upon the natives some three years ago. Our missionaries upon learning the feelings of the natives did their utmost to hold them in check, to persuade them to give over their intention, and after the fighting began it was by their efforts alone that several of the priests and soldiers were rescued from imminent death and kept in hiding in our own mission houses until they could be gotten safely away.

Our missionaries have done their utmost to urge the natives to give over their opposition and submit themselves loyally to the Spanish authorities, but so far their efforts seem to have been in vain. Mr. Doane, the veteran missionary, who three years ago was so successful in persuading the natives to lay down their arms and quietly accept the conditions offered by the Spaniards, died some four months ago, and there is no one left who has the same power of persuasion over the natives which he possessed. We are informed that the Spanish governor has sent word to Manila for help, and that the probability is that when a man-of-war returns summary vengeance will be inflicted upon the natives; and there is no little hazard that the property of our missionaries and even their lives may suffer in consequence of these things. It is a great pity that the consul appointed by our Government for Ponape is not now on the spot. He is needed as he never has been before and may not soon be again. If anything can be done even to hasten his arrival and to provide him with the needed authority and means of guarding American interests there, I am sure it will be your purpose and pleasure to see that it is done.

I can but feel that the lives of our missionaries are in great peril, and the valuable work which has been carried on in that island for more than a generation is in great danger of being wholly destroyed. Permit me to suggest that there may be some [Page 436] advantage in direct communication with the Government at Madrid; that it may he understood there that our Government at Washington has its eye upon these distant points, and the interests of its subjects there; and thus an added guaranty to a just and righteous settlement be secured.

Anticipating action prompt and efficient according to the wont of our State Department,

I am, etc.,

Judson Smith,
Foreign Secretary American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.