Mr. Snowden to Mr. Gresham.
Madrid , April 17, 1893 . (Received May 20.)
Sir: I have the honor to append on the overleaf copy of a cable for warded after an important interview with Señor Moret, minister of state ad interim.
In this interview I received the direct and positive assurance of the [Page 581] minister of state that the missionaries would be permitted to return to Ponapé and a reasonable indemnity paid for property, etc. The minister said this had been agreed upon and that as soon as the governor-general reached Manila, under an understanding had before his departure a cable would be received from him upon which the authority for the return of the missionaries would be based. This cable was expected within forty or fifty days from the date of the departure of the governor-general from Madrid. In giving this assurance he said he spoke for the prime minister, Señor Sagasta.
This action of the prime minister and minister of state was a compromise between my request that an agreement for the return of the missionaries be reached before the departure of the governor-general to Manila and the determined purpose of the late minister of state and the minister of the colonies that all action looking to a final adjustment of the case be postponed until the governor-general could make a personal examination of the facts and report to the home Government on the same, which would consume at least six or eight months.
The conclusion thus happily reached will save at least four months of time in reaching a settlement, not to speak of the probability that, during this protracted period, other occasions or excuses for further delay would be found in a change of ministry or through the machinations of those who have labored without ceasing, and often with most unworthy weapons, to defeat my efforts for the return of the missionaries to Ponapé.
At the earliest possible moment I shall endeavor to arrive at an agreement as to the amount of indemnity to be paid. To this end I am endeavoring to arrange an early meeting with the minister of state and the minister of the colonies. The amount of indemnity to be paid is, in my judgment, of small importance in comparison with the conceded return of the missionaries—which to some extent involved our national prestige and self-respect, as well as the suspension of the beneficent work on the island and the consequent return of the natives to that barbarous condition from which they were being rescued after long years of patient Christian work by the self-sacrificing efforts of the missionaries.
I have, etc.,