Mr. Taylor to Mr. Gresham.

No. 33.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 27th ultimo (No. 26),* touching the Caroline incident, in one of [Page 585] the inclosures of which you say, “that the conclusion of the matter devolves upon Mr. Taylor, the new minister, whose instructions on file are ample for his guidance in obtaining proper guarantees for the returning missionaries.” In anticipation of such a communication I have made it my business to make this incident the subject of a careful investigation, which has included the reading of every paper on file touching the subject. In the light of the instructions given to my predecessors, coupled with the intimation which you have given me for my guidance, I have addressed to the Spanish Government a note, of which the following is a copy:

Madrid, August 18, 1893.

Excellency: I have the honor to inform you that, in a recent dispatch, I have been specially instructed by the Department of State to address myself to the final adjustment of the painful incident, so long pending between the two countries, which arose out of the expulsion of the American missionaries from the island of Ponape.

The correspondence on file discloses the fact that there is a lack of exact agreement as to the terms of the settlement which has been virtually reached, through the interview which took place on the 27th of May last, between the minister of ultramar and yourself on the one hand and Mr. Snowden, my predecessor, on the other. On the 31st of May Mr. Snowden addressed you a note in which he set forth his understanding of what had occurred on the 27th. On the 2d of June you replied, setting forth your understanding of what had occurred on that occasion. These two clear and explicit statements eliminate every matter but one from future controversy. Mr. Snowden and yourself both agree that it was understood and settled (1) that the missionaries should return to the island of Ponapé; (2) that a pecuniary compensation of $17,500 should be paid for the injuries inflicted upon all of them. The only matter which you say was left unadjusted was as to the exact point of time when their return should take place, as you have expressed it. “It is therefore definitely understood that the Government reserves the right of fixing the moment when the above referred to missionaries may return to the island of Ponapé; and that if they should return before that moment the Spanish Government rejects all responsibility for the dangers which may be run by their persons and property.

It is as to the prompt and final settlement of this one unadjusted question that I now address your excellency.

After years of waiting the missionaries are anxious to return, and they have asked the Government of the United States to inform them as to the time at which and the circumstances under which they may return. It therefore becomes my duty to request your excellency to indicate to me an early day at which the missionaries may return to the island of Ponape, and also to indicate the circumstances under which their return may be effected. After that question has been settled the Government of the United States will be happy to receive the pecuniary indemnity agreed upon.

I seize this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.

This note embodies what I understand to have been the contention of the Government of the United States from the beginning and the conclusion upon which it now insists.

The note which I have just addressed as to the Caroline incident reduces that matter to the single issue of payment and performance as concurrent acts.

I would be happy, therefore, to receive an intimation as to the attitude which you desire I should assume as to these matters, whenever it may become necessary for me to take personal action at all. If replies do not come within the usual time shall I press for them! Is it your desire that I should, at the proper time, have personal interviews as to these matters with the minister of state?

I have, etc.

Hannis Taylor.
  1. Not printed.