Mr. Choate to Mr. May.
London, September 22, 1899.
Sir: I have the honor to report that, in an interview to-day with Her Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign affairs, I endeavored to ascertain his views on the proposition of the German Government for the partition of the Samoan Islands, the United States to retain Tutuila and the adjacent islands and England and Germany to divide the rest, as directed in your cipher telegram received September 8, 1899.
The German ambassador, by the way, had called upon me on the 6th instant, and was evidently possessed of the exact terms of that telegram, and expressed himself as very anxious that the United States Government should press the British Government to consent.
Lord Salisbury had no hesitation in saying that the present mode of governing the Samoan Islands could not succeed, and that he was inclined to favor the partition as the only means of securing good government there, if the details could be satisfactorily arranged, and that he was perfectly willing to give me the present state of the negotiations with Germany, which is that, assuming that the United States would be entirely satisfied with Tutuila, they had got so far as to agree that the terms on which they should divide the rest should be arranged by some sort of arbitration; that the King of Sweden should be the arbitrator; but that upon what rules and principles the arbitration should proceed they had not yet been able to agree.
He said further that the fundamental difficulty was that there were three parties to divide and really only two islands to be divided; that after setting apart Tutuila for us the only other island of any value is that in which Apia is situated. Of course they consider that the United States is to be in no way a party to or concerned in the proposed arbitration.
The main result so far is that both Germany and Great Britain seemed to be convinced that it is impracticable to continue to govern the islands by the present tripartite method—as he said the late commission reported would probably be the case—and the welfare of the islands required a change.
I have, etc.,