Lord Gough to Mr. Adee.
Newport, September 17, 1895.
Sir: It will be within your recollection that in the month of September last a verbal arrangement was made between the consuls of the three powers and the chief officers of the men-of-war stationed at Apia, under which all trading vessels, regardless of flag, arriving in Samoan waters should be searched, in order to prevent the smuggling of arms and ammunition.
The question of continuing the above arrangement was again discussed by the consular representatives, at Apia, of the three Powers in June last, and it appears that they have agreed to maintain the general right of search pending reference of the matter to their Governments for subsequent sanction.
In the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government, there can be no doubt of the practical utility of the measure, having regard to the danger arising to the white population from the smuggling of arms and explosives, and in view of the fact that the Samoan Government has no forcible means of preventing such traffic.
As there are scarcely ever warships of all three treaty Powers at the same time in Samoa, Her Majesty’s Government hold that it is most desirable that the warships of one nation should be allowed to search vessels sailing under a different flag. This plan seems to be the more justified inasmuch as the men-of-war are not stationed at Samoa solely in the interest of one power, but in the interest of the subjects of all the treaty powers, and as in case of need all white inhabitants, regardless of their nationality, would enjoy the protection of the men-of-war who happened to be at the island.
The arrangement by which the consul of the nationality to which the suspected vessel belongs is, if circumstances permit, to be informed of the intended search appears to Her Majesty’s Government sufficient to prevent from the outset any abuse of the power thus accorded to the naval commanders.
The Imperial German Government has expressed its approval of the proposed maintenance of the common right of search accorded to the naval commanders by the joint agreement on the part of the consuls of [Page 1155] the treaty Powers, and I am now instructed by Her Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign affairs to express the hope of Her Majesty’s Government that the Government of the United States will also give its sanction to the continuance of the joint agreement in question.
I have, etc.,