Mr. Snowden to Mr. Foster.
Madrid, January 14, 1893. (Received January 30.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the arrival of Commander Taylor I wrote to the Secretary of State, as promised in my note of the 6th instant, informing him of the fact and requesting that he indicate an early day to receive us and enter into an examination of the Ponapé incident. No reply coming within a reasonable time, I requested an interview, at which the minister informed me that he had been so much occupied with the Morocco incident that he could not indicate a time at which he could take up the case. He added that the Morocco affair was about closed, and he would give immediate attention to my request.
I took occasion to point out to him the very serious view taken of the Ponapé incident in America, of the President’s having referred to it in his annual message to Congress, and the great importance attaching to an early settlement. I suggested as a preliminary to our consideration of the case, as to the injury inflicted upon the persons and property of the missionaries, that his Government give orders authorizing their return to the island, in which for nearly forty years they had exercised their educating and Christianizing efforts. He answered by saying that he feared the return of the missionaries to the island was the most difficult point in the whole case, as public opinion had been inflamed by the belief that their presence was the cause of the death of so many Spanish officers and soldiers.
I answered that national obligations must be observed in spite popular prejudice; that in the case under consideration Spain has given unqualified guaranties as to protecting the rights of the missionaries before and after its formal occupation of the islands, and that the missionaries had given no occasion for any change of policy, nor [Page 563] for the prejudice he referred to as existing against them. On the contrary, their efforts had been exerted for the maintenance of peace between the natives and the Spanish authorities, of which there was abundant evidence; that they were in every sense entitled to their good will and kindly protection, instead of which they were made to suffer the greatest injuries.
I waived a further discussion at the time by saying that for his convenience I would submit at our next meeting a statement giving without argument a narration of events from the arrival of the missionaries at Ponapé in 1852 until the day they were forced to leave.
It was my intention, and I think I succeeded in impressing the minister with the importance our Government attaches to an early and honorable settlement of this most unfortunate incident.
Unless I hear from him to-morrow I shall again request an audience, at which I will present Commander Taylor and press the case with vigor.
I have, etc.,