Baron von Thielmann to Mr. Olney.
Washington, March 23, 1896.
Mr. Secretary of State: The Imperial consul at Apia has, in his recent reports, referred to the delays, which are constantly increasing, in the payment of the taxes which, by the provisions of the Samoa act, are made payable to the Samoan Government by persons residing outside of the municipal district. The total amount of these arrearages, i. e., of those considered collectible, is estimated at $1,100.
In this connection, reference is made to the fact that the foreign taxpayers are constantly becoming more disinclined to be the sole contributors to the support of a government which is unable to collect a tax from its own subjects, and which makes no return to them for their payments into its treasury.
It is quite evident, from the statements of the Imperial consul, that the discontent with the present system of taxation among the foreign [Page 533]settlers is universal, and that the necessity of devising some means to afford speedy relief is felt as much by the parties interested as by the consuls of the three treaty powers.
As is known, the conclusion of the Berlin treaty was based upon an (estimated) annual revenue of from $60,000 to $90,000, and the arrangements in the Samoa act were likewise based upon such a revenue.
The nonpayment of the native tax has completely upset these estimates. It is true that the tax was paid at the outset with more or less regularity, and that, finally, in the year 1893, after the Mataafa insurrection was ended, the sum of about $2,000 was collected by the consuls. Since that time, however, that source of Government revenue has wholly failed, and the arrearages in the payment of the native tax are said to amount to upwards of $100,000, for the collection of which there is no prospect whatever.
As the feeling which has arisen among the foreign taxpayers at Apia, owing to this discouraging state of affairs, has undoubtedly been reported to the Department of State by the United States consul-general at Samoa, I am instructed to invite your excellency’s attention to the state of things above described, and to solicit a statement of the intentions of the United States Government as regards the adoption of any measures that may afford relief.
I avail, etc.,