Mr. Snowden to Mr. Foster.
Madrid , January 25, 1893 . (Received February 13.)
Sir: I have the honor to append, on the overleaf, copy of a cable sent to the Department, giving the substance of an interview with the Marquis of Vega de Armijo, minister of state, in relation to the Carolines incident. In several previous interviews I referred in general terms to the facts in the case, as briefly outlined in my communication of January 6, and as previously presented to the Spanish Government through this legation.
My general purpose in these interviews was to hasten consideration by indicating the deep solicitude manifested by the President and Department in the early settlement of this case, a solicitude which, I pressed upon the minister, was shared by a large and influential class of our countrymen. At these interviews he pleaded the pressure of the Morocco and other important matters as intervening to prevent his giving the attention he desired to bestow to the study of the case.
It must be admitted that the pressure upon the new government, owing to diplomatic changes and other important questions has been very great. I, however, persisted and, at length, named the 24th instant, the day following the King’s name day, as a favorable time for presenting Commander Taylor and seriously taking up the case.[Page 564]
The minister in assenting smilingly referred to my persistency in pressing the case and added that he would take all the time he could spare in the two intervening days for a careful study of the question. At the time named I was at the palace, accompanied by Commander Taylor, whom I presented to the minister and immediately proceeded to a discussion of the case by requesting permission to have read a carefully prepared chronological statement of events transpiring in Ponapé from 1852, when the missionaries first landed there, until 1890, when they were forced to abandon the island. After concluding the reading of this paper, which was a simple statement of facts, I requested Commander Taylor to give an account of his experience and observations on the island and of the evidence he had collected to disprove the charges made by the authorities of the island that the missionaries had instigated the natives to rebellion against the Spanish Government. At the conclusion of Commander Taylor’s interesting recital, in which I developed by questions all the material and vital points of the case, the minister of state said that he was much interested in the very clear presentation of the case which I had presented in my communications of January 3, and in the memorandum submitted as well as in the statement of Commander Taylor, but with all due respect to our honest opinion he must say that the evidence on file in his office, given by the Spanish authorities, was sadly at variance with that submitted as to the conduct of the missionaries in influencing the natives to revolt.
The evidence in his possession seemed clearly to indicate, whether so intended or not, that the presence of missionaries acted as a stimulant to revolt and bloodshed. That since they had voluntarily retired there had been no disturbance on the island, and that, therefore, His Majesty’s Government was of opinion that their presence at Ponapé had stimulated to a disturbance of the peace, and as they had voluntarily left, it was a grave question whether with an earnest desire to meet the wishes of our Government, it would be prudent to allow them to return. I replied that as the testimony in my possession clearly disproved the charge that the missionaries had ever done anything to cause the revolt—indeed, on the contrary, that they had exerted themselves to induce the natives to submit peacefully to Spanish rule, and as the only objection to their return, on the part of his Government, was that they might cause a disturbance of the peace, I would suggest that they be permitted to return, on giving sufficient guaranties of their future loyalty to the Spanish Government. That this would be cheerfully given, as the missionaries claimed always to have given loyal adhesion to the authorities, and would meet the objections raised against their return by securing their future good conduct.
I again referred to the return of the missionaries to the island, under the condition I had mentioned. He said he would open immediate communication with the Governor-General of the Philippines, and obtain his views as to the propriety of such action; that if the missionaries could be returned without endangering the peace of the island, he would be pleased to meet my wishes. Thus closed this interview, the importance of which you are fully able to estimate.
I have reopened the case and will forward copy of my letter addressed to minister of state.
I shall call again tomorrow upon the secretary of state for a further conference.
I have, etc.