Mr. Olney to Baron von Thielmann. 1

No. 169.]

Excellency: I have the honor to apprise you of the receipt of a dispatch from Mr. Blacklock, vice-consul-general of the United States at Apia, No. 117, of April 21, 1896, inclosing copies of the financial statement of the municipality and of the Samoan Government for the quarter ending December 31, 1895; also that of the Samoan Government for the first quarter of 1896, that of the municipality for the latter period not having yet reached Mr. Blacklock. I do not inclose copies of these statements, presuming your Government to have already received them from its consular representative.

Mr. Blacklock, however, makes certain observations touching these accounts that it seems to me should, in justice to the financial condition of the Samoan Government, receive the serious consideration of the treaty powers. For example, he points out, according to the December municipal statement, that it costs $1,246.80 to collect $4,789.52, and says concerning the item of $180 for “secretary to council and tide-waiter,” that the person drawing this salary has never done any tide-waiting, and that his work as secretary to the council consists of having been present at monthly meetings and an occasional special meeting to take the minutes. This, he adds, is a mere matter of form, since the “president always keeps the minutes himself and forwards them in his own handwriting to the consular board.” Another item to which Mr. Blacklock adverts is $111 for “extra tidewaiters.” This expenditure, he charges, is “to pay for the work which should be done by the $180 man.”

Mr. Blacklock further observes:

We have four steamers here per month, and an occasional sailing vessel, and as there are no native taxes being paid to give extra work, the custom-house force is certainly quite large. Our post-office is a private enterprise from which neither the municipality nor the Samoan Government receives one cent. This is certainly wrong, and there is no reason why it should not be amalgamated with the customs department and become a source of revenue to the Government, and even then the custom-house could be run at less expense.

The item “clerk and messenger,” who is paid $150, covers one and the same person.

Adverting to the Samoan Government’s statement for the fourth quarter of 1895, Mr. Blacklock remarks that the King has to be contented [Page 543] with his salary in installments, or, as Mr. Schmidt calls it, an “allowance.” Accordingly, for October, November, and December His Majesty was paid $48.70 per month and given a further sum of $194.42 as “arrears of allowance in full to August 31, 1895.”

Referring to the Samoan Government’s statement for the quarter ended March 31, 1896, it will be seen that the King was granted an “allowance “for January and February of $48.70 per month, but nothing for the month of March. It is also to be noted that the Government’s share of the customs proceeds has not been credited for that quarter as required by the treaty amendments. “Consequently,” concludes Mr. Blacklock, “the statement is incorrect and misleading, and instead of the balance to the credit of the Samoan Government being $113.56, as made to appear by President Schmidt, it is in reality $2,113.56.”

I cordially invite such consideration of these facts as His Majesty’s Government may deem them to merit, and shall gladly unite with the German and British Governments in applying a remedy, in the interest of an economical and proper husbanding of the limited resources of the Samoan Government. I am not disposed to cavil at any just, reasonable, or necessary expenses in the administration of the finances of those islands as contemplated by the Berlin general act, but I feel confident you will agree with me that the three Governments concerned can not be too careful to see that the financial administration is kept within just and reasonable bounds.

I invite such suggestions on the subject as His Majesty’s Government may be willing to offer.

Accept, etc.,

Richard Olney.
  1. Sent also mutatis mutandis to the British ambassador, June 9, 1896.