Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.


Visited Belgian minister for foreign affairs in company with Sir Arthur H. Hardinge and made representation in accordance with our several instructions.

I introduced the subject of our visit by saying that public opinion in the United States was deeply concerned over conditions in the Kongo region, alleged to be in violation of the act of Brussels, 1890 and that my Government was very solicitous at this moment of the possible taking over of the Kongo by Belgium; that important reforms should be instituted, especially in the carrying into effect of article 2 of the Brussels act. I said, moreover, that we are not concerned with the commercial or territorial aspects of the Kongo question, but that we reserved our right of approval of annexation until assured that the same would provide for the carrying into effect of the humanitarian provisions of the Berlin act, as reenforced and emphasized in the Brussels act of 1890. In conclusion, I expressed the hope that the treaty of annexation might [provide?] such safeguards for the execution of the Brussels act as would be satisfactory to international opinion and public opinion in the United States.

Sir Arthur H. Hardinge defined his Government’s position at much greater length, but the substance of what he said was that the British Government, while not desirous of influencing the attitude of the Belgian Parliament, found it incumbent nevertheless to make known the fact that it reserved its right as a signatory to the Berlin act, in view of the possibility of the annexation of the Kongo not being carried out in conformity with its spirit.

Belgian minister for foreign affairs made no comment whatsoever upon the observations we offered, confining himself to simple questions, having for their object an exact knowledge of the two Governments’ attitude.