Mr. Tripp to Mr. Hay.

No. 6.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that since my last dispatch, bearing date of July 4, 1899, the commission has visited the islands of Savaii, Manono, Apolima, and the different districts of Upolu, holding nine large meetings, or fonos, one in each district of the separate islands. The meetings were very largely attended and reconciliation was made between the followers of Malietoa and Mataafa, which seemed to be sincere and genuine. At these meetings all the high and common chiefs met the commissioners at their fono, or meeting places, addressed them in long Samoan speeches eloquent with gratitude for their restoration of peace, the abolition of the kingship, and the preparation for them of a good government.

At these meetings the commission took occasion to explain the reasons for the proposed abolition of the kingship; that the election of a king had always brought them war; in the past some portion of the islands has always been in rebellion against the King; that a strong government is necessary in these islands to protect the interests of the natives as well as those of the white men, and therefore the commission believed it better that there should be no king, but that some good white man should be sent to take his place. To this the chiefs almost unanimously responded that they were glad this troublesome question was at an end; that Samoans were born chiefs, not kings, but that kings had to be made by the chiefs; that all the great chiefs wanted to be king and war must always inevitably result, for only the chief who proved himself most powerful in war could finally be king. It was better, therefore, that the chiefs should rule, as they were born to rule, in their districts, and that the white man’s government should protect them against other nations and against themselves. The meetings were very interesting and the commission had much opportunity to observe the native as he is—in his village and at his home. They are an amiable, simple people, confiding yet suspicious and jealous, emotional yet subtle and diplomatic, excitable yet crafty and cunning. They are contradictory, unlike others and unlike themselves. Their behavior at times takes on the appearance of treachery, but this phase of conduct it is believed arises from the kaleidoscopic side of their character—their passionate, emotional nature, which prompts to change of purpose and action—than a predetermined intention to violate faith or solemn promises. Their thought bursts into action like dynamite from any sudden cause, and they become again gentle and mild when the excitement once has passed, harboring no malice and exhibiting no feelings of resentment or revenge. They are reconciled as quickly as they are angered. The government of such people must be a strong and active one. A quick rather than a powerful restraint is necessary to maintain order and inspire confidence among them. We have called [Page 636] a meeting of all the important chiefs of the island to meet here to-morrow, at which time we shall explain fully to them all the changes proposed in the government under the treaty of Berlin and obtain from them a sanction to the changes so proposed. If the meeting is satisfactory and everything succeeding the meeting indicates a continuance of peace, as would now appear most probable, the commission intends to leave here on Monday or Tuesday, July 17 or 18, for San Francisco and home.

The commission, as I wrote you in my last, has agreed upon all the essential matters of difference existing here. The causes of the hostilities in existence at the time of our arrival here have also been stated by the commission in their joint report. These causes will be amplified and perhaps qualified by the individual commissioners in their separate reports to their own Governments. The joint report is now agreed upon and will be extended, signed, and forwarded to you by the next mail, and my individual report will follow at the earliest moment possible.

The guns taken from the natives we are obliged to take with us to San Francisco. We do not dare to leave them on shore for fear they might, in case of an outbreak, be seized by the natives again, and the knowledge that they were so stored might be an incentive to insurrection. We tried to get the three war vessels in the harbor to take them, but they have no room on board; so we have concluded to take them to San Francisco and leave them at Mare Island until their disposition is determined upon by the powers. We have taken the precaution to have these arms appraised by officers detailed by the three powers, and I will send you the number of guns, which amounts approximately to 3,400, and their value as appraised, in my final report.

I have, etc.,

Bartlett Tripp.