Mr. Foster to Mr. Snowden.

No. 45.]

Sir: With reference to my instruction No. 25 of 3d instant, relative to American missionaries at Ponape in the Caroline Islands, I now desire to call your attention more specifically to the amount of indemnity which it is believed they are entitled to receive.

Accompanying Commander Taylor’s report, transmitted to the legation October 7, 1891, is a schedule (Appendix II) of mission property destroyed, and its value, amounting to $11,114. It is understood that Commander Taylor is personally cognizant of its reasonableness. Mr. Rand’s statement of the mission lands of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Ponape, for which reparation should also be made, accompanies the same report. (Appendix X.)

Commander Jewell, who visited the eastern Caroline group in 1887, states in his report of November 25 of that year (copy of which is herewith [Page 514] inclosed), that during his visit to Ponape the governor assured Mr. Doane that the question with regard to the land taken at Kenan should be settled to the latter’s satisfaction, but that he was not prepared to go into the matter at that time, and that Mr. Doane accepted the assurance of the governor as satisfactory. You will observe from Mr. Rand’s statement that an agreement was subsequently reached between Governor Cadarso and Mr. Doane, whereby the Spanish authorities were to pay $2,000 compensation for the Kenan land.

As regards the indemnity due for the personal injuries to Mr. Doane, you will see by reference to a letter of the secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to this Department, dated September 24, 1888, transmitted to the legation October 10, 1888, and a later letter of April 17, 1889 (copy of which is transmitted herewith), that the immediate pecuniary damage occasioned by Mr. Doane’s arrest and deportation is variously estimated at from $1,000 to $3,000. (See also generally letter of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions to the Department November 13, 1889, transmitted to the legation November 25 of that year.)

In view of all the facts it must be admitted that the sum of $25,000, which the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions ask in full remuneration of their pecuniary damage is very moderate. (Letter of January 23, 1891, copy inclosed herewith.) This society from the beginning has, according to its published reports, expended $733,843 in establishing and carrying on its missionary work in the Caroline Islands. (Letter of American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions to the Department March 18, 1891, transmitted to legation October 12, 1891.) The fruits of the expenditure of this immense sum have been, to a large degree, destroyed by the action of the Spanish authorities. The sum of $25,000, which the board now ask, would barely cover the actual property taken and destroyed, without taking into consideration the great injury done its mission work and interests. I trust that the sum proposed may commend itself to Her Majesty’s Government and be deemed to afford a reasonable basis upon which to settle the claim.

I am, etc.,

John W. Foster.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 45.]

Commander Jewell to Rear-Admiral Chandler.

No. 45.]

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the visit of this vessel to the island of Ponape, Eastern Caroline group, in obedience to your orders of October 8, 1887:

Upon my arrival at Jamestown Harbor (called the Spanish Santiago or Porto Santiago) on the 19th instant, I found the Spanish in quiet and peaceable possession of the island. The Spanish vessels of war San Quintin, Manila, and Lexo, and the hulk Maria de Molina, were at anchor in the harbor, and the gun vessel Cebu arrived there on the 2d instant.

A force of about 600 Spanish troops was encamped on the island. The new Spanish governor, Don Luis Cadarso, had arrived on the 1st instant.

The incidents referred to in your aforesaid order with regard to the arrest and confinement of the American missionary, the Rev. E. T. Doane, by the former governor of the island, Señor Posadillo, his deportation to Manila, and his subsequent return to the island in a Spanish war vessel by the governor-general at Manila, after an investigation of the charges preferred against him, I found, from interviews with Messrs. Doane and Rand (the latter Mr. Doane’s associate), to be entirely [Page 515] confirmed. The accounts of the massacre, however, have been much exaggerated. While it is difficult to obtain an exact narrative of the events, as all accounts come from the natives, it seems certain that not more than twenty or twenty-five of the Spanish were killed, including the governor and his secretary, and that the uprising and resistance of the natives was provoked by the arbitrary and injudicious action of the late governor.

From Messrs. Doane and Rand I learned that they had been reinstated in all their rights and privileges, so far as their missionary work was concerned. The schools and churches, which had been closed by the arbitrary action of the former governor, have been reestablished. The missionaries have been assured by the governor-general at Manila, and the assurance has been confirmed by the present governor of Ponape, Don Luis Cadarso, that their work should not again be interfered with, and that they should continue their teaching of the Protestant religion and the use of English in the schools without molestation. These gentlemen speak in the highest terms of the consideration shown them by the present governor, his affability and fairness in his dealings with them, and they describe his treatment of the natives as “magnanimous.” On the other hand, the governor took occasion repeatedly to express to me his appreciation of the great assistance he had received from Messrs. Doane and Rand in his adjustment of the difficulties with the natives, and stated that it had given him pleasure to bring the fact to the attention of his Government.

The good understanding between the missionaries and the governor seeming to be perfectly established, and learning from Mr. Doane that the question of indemnity for his imprisonment had been referred to the State Department, I saw no occasion for introducing the subject in my several conversations with the governor.

There was, so far as I could learn, but one point not entirely settled between the Spanish authorities and the missionaries. It is that of the occupation by the Spanish authorities of certain of the mission lands at Jamestown Harbor. These lands have been held for some years by the missionaries by virtue of deeds executed by the different chiefs of the natives conveying the lands to Mr. Doane for the purposes of the mission. One of these deeds, bearing date in 1870, conveyed a tract of some 20 acres, the other, dated in 1880, conveyed a considerably larger tract which included in its limits the former cession.

Upon the arrival of the Spanish in the early part of the present year, a portion of this land was resigned by Mr. Doane to the Spanish authorities, it being considered by them the only available location in the neighborhood for the camp and town they proposed to establish. The Spanish, however, have encroached upon the remaining portion of the land. The governor-general at Manila has assured Mr. Doane (see extract from a letter of Consul Voight, a copy of which is appended) that his title to land conveyed to him in good faith by the natives previous to the Spanish occupation would be confirmed, and it seems to be informally admitted that the Spanish works have encroached upon the mission lands. Mr. Doane finds now that the occupation of a part of this land depreciates to a great extent the value of the rest of it, for missionary purposes, and he desires that the Spanish shall take the whole of the tract at his (Mr. Doane’s) valuation. I offered my friendly services with the governor to Mr. Doane, but at the same time suggested that, as his relations with the governor were so cordial, and as my interference might produce some irritation, he should see the governor alone. He subsequently had an interview with the governor, who assured him that the questions with regard to the land should be settled to Mr. Doane’s satisfaction, but that he was not prepared to go into them at present. Mr. Doane stated to me that this assurance of the governor was entirely satisfactory.

There are, however, two features of the land question which I consider unfortunate, to say the least. Mr. Doane, in my opinion, is inclined to put a speculative price upon the land at Jamestown Harbor. While he did not name to me any specific sum as the value of the land, he suggested that if the mission was paid $5,000 he would consider that they (the missionaries) were indemnified for the damage they had sustained. His argument is that if they could have retained the land, they would not have parted with it at any price, and that as they are, so to say, compelled to part with it, they should be correspondingly indemnified. The other unfortunate point is, that another considerable tract of land at Oua, which has been occupied by the mission for some years, was conveyed to the missionaries by a written instrument dated but a few days prior to Spanish occupation of the island. I fear that the recent date of this conveyance, taken in connection with the excessive damages suggested for the land at Jamestown Harbor, will create the impression on the mind of the governor, however false such an impression may be, that the missionaries are endeavoring to overreach him and may tend to delay an equitable adjustment of the land titles, and so I advised them—I refrain from stating my own opinion as to the fact. There are in all but five missionaries at Ponape, two men and three women.

So far as any active interposition in the affairs of the missionaries is concerned, [Page 516] the visit of the ship to Ponape was entirely unnecessary. But I have no doubt that the moral effect of the visit will be to the advantage of the missionaries, both in increasing their influence with the natives and in causing greater consideration for them by the authorities of the island.

In conclusion, I beg to call particular attention to the extreme courtesy with which I was met on all occasions by the governor, Don Luis Cadarso, and his evident desire to promote friendly relations with myself as the representative of the United States.

Very respectfully,

  • Theo. F. Jewell,
    Commander, Commanding.
  • Rear-Admiral R. Chandler, U. S. Navy,
    Commanding United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station, Flagship Brooklyn.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 45.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

Sir: Permit me to call your attention to a state of affairs in connection with the missionary work of the American board among the islands of the Central Pacific which requires remedy, and such a remedy as it seems to lie quite within the power of our Government to provide.

For nearly two score years the American board has maintained a vigorous missionary work among the natives of three distinct but neighboring groups of islands, namely, the Caroline Islands, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands. The aim of this work is wholly Christian and benevolent, without the least admixture of political interests; the American missionaries to these parts have always been carefully enjoined to take no part in any political questions that might arise, and they have faithfully followed these instructions.

Where the first American missionaries found only pagans and savages, idle, thriftless, warlike, and degraded, to-day we are able to report nearly fifty Christian churches, with four thousand six hundred communicants, all under the care of native pastors and fully self-supporting; four training schools for young men and two boarding schools for girls, gathering nearly two hundred pupils who are in training as teachers and preachers to extend the work; forty-eight common schools, with two thousand six hundred pupils, all self-supporting; the Scriptures translated into the native dialects and circulating freely among the people, and many textbooks prepared for the use of the schools. Thrift and industry and peaceful ways of living have replaced the vices of former days, Christian homes are maintained, and a simple civilization is everywhere to be found.

The annexation of the Caroline Islands by the Spanish Government was attended by some acts of injustice toward the American citizens engaged in this work, at which full representation was made at the time by our Government to the court of Madrid. For some of these wrongs reparation has been made; for others no satisfaction has been given. Mr. Doane, the veteran of the mission, was most unjustly deprived of his liberty and carried away to the Philippine Islands for several months, exposing him to very considerable expense and his work to serious injury. Mission property on the island of Ponape of considerable value was taken possession of without compensation. For these several losses, and for the indignity shown to his person and liberty, Mr. Doane has as yet received no proper satisfaction, and I desire hereby to make fresh appeal to our Government vigorously to follow up this wrong and effectively to press this most just and needful claim upon the Spanish Government. It is not for me to fix the sum in which reparation should be made. Mr. Doane has named $2,000 as the least sum which would cover actual losses. I am sure that it will not be in vain that we make this fresh appeal to our Government for reparation of a wrong so unjustly inflicted on one of its citizens, engaged in a most humane and beneficent work.

One further fact I desire to bring to your attention. At an annual cost of about $15,000 the board maintains a missionary ship, the Morning Star, which plies between Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, and these several groups, and serves as the medium of conveying to the American laborers their mails, supplies, and the necessary materials for this varied missionary work. The German Government, which has recently annexed the Marshall Islands and set up its protectorate there, demands that this missionary [Page 517] ship, which is a great cost to the hoard and a source of revenue to no one, shall pay a port due of $500 annually before it is at liberty to go upon its missionary work among these islands. This has the effect of a direct tax upon the benevolent people of this country who sustain the missionary work in that group, and seems wholly out of keeping with the friendly attitude which exists between the Government at Berlin and our own Government. No reason for this exaction is known to exist. The officers of the Morning Star are forbidden to engage in the customary trade among these islands, and we have no reason for thinking that these restrictions have ever been violated. It is well understood that our Government can not exert itself in this matter beyond the sphere of persuasion and friendly influence, but it is believed that nothing more than this will be required in order to secure proper consideration at Berlin and suitable instructions thence to the Imperial commissioner resident in the Marshall Islands to remove this exaction.

Assured of your personal interest in the matters thus laid before you, and of your readiness in all appropriate official ways to guard American interests and maintain the dignity and fair fame of our Government, both in the eyes of its own subjects and before all foreign powers,

I have, etc.,

Judson Smith,
Foreign Secretary American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 45.]

Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

Dear Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your favor of the 14th instant, acquainting me with the reception of my previous voluminous communication, and assuring me of the immediate attention which it would receive. This is gratifying, and I heartily appreciate the readiness and good purpose of the Department.

The amount of indemnity which should be sought at the hands of the Government at Madrid has not been so fully presented in this correspondence, perhaps, as it ought to have been. There is a certain difficulty in measuring with accuracy the losses incurred by the unjust acts of the Spanish authorities at Ponape; but some things are clear. Since there never has been any satisfactory settlement of similar questions raised three years and more since, when the first troubles at Ponape occurred, it is important that the indemnity now asked for should be adequate to meet the situation in all its bearings. A pledge of $2,000 compensation for mission property taken for Government use, made by the Spanish Government to Mr. Doane, has never been fulfilled. No reparation to Mr. Doane for personal losses and injury in his arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, and deportation has ever been made. And now we have the enforced withdrawal of all our missionaries from Ponape and the breaking up of all their work there; the destruction of the mission houses at Oua, to replace which at least $10,000 would be required, a loss of mission books valued at $2,000, burned at the same time; and the appropriation of mission land at Oua to the purposes of the Spanish Government without compensation. These things together make up such a case as clearly warrants our Government in demanding of the Government at Madrid compensation in a sum of at least $25,000, together with the restoration of our missionaries to their work in Ponape and ample security for their peaceful prosecution of that work hereafter.

From the numerous utterances of the press on this outrage it is clear that the sentiment of the Christian public, and indeed of the public in the country at large, not only heartily favors but strongly demands of our Government prompt and decisive action in the direction which has been indicated in the previous correspondence from these rooms. We have every reason to expect that our Government will heed this demand of the public and will right the wrong which has been inflicted upon American citizens in Ponape, reparation for which can not be unduly delayed without great loss, not so much to this board and its missionaries as to the repute and fair name of the nation we love and honor.

I am, etc.,

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