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The Origins of International Rivalry in Samoa: 1845–1884

Chapter VII — The Problem of The Government of Samoa, 1878–81

page 150

Chapter VII
The Problem of The Government of Samoa, 1878–81

The last chapter recounted the events that led to the conclusion of treaties between the various factions that governed Samoa and the United States, Germany, and Great Britain respectively. These treaties rendered impossible what had before been improbable, i.e. the establishment of peace on a permanent basis in Samoa. "One cannot help noticing," wrote Maudslay in a memorandum,1 "that no representative of a foreign Power ever misses an opportunity of telling the natives that there is nothing that his Government desires to see more than the establishment of a strong and independent Government in Samoa, yet some of the stipulations of the treaties are such that even if the Samoans had the highest capacity for government, the formation of a strong and independent Government is rendered impossible."

All three treaties had certain points in common.2 Each had a "most favoured nation" clause, so that the privileges of one could be claimed by all. Each had a clause for the acquisition of a naval station. America established her right to use Pago-Pago—the consummation of Meade's unauthorized treaty of 1872. German warships had already seized Saluafata prior to the treaty, so this harbour was conceded to Germany as a naval station. Great Britain, not to be outdone, but also not requiring a harbour, was content with the right to establish a naval station in any harbour

1 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, November 19, 1886. Encl. memo. by A. P. Maudslay, October 20, 1880.

2 For terms of the treaties see: American, B.F.S.P., vol. 69, p. 76; German, B.F.S.P., vol. 70, p. 241; British, B.F.S.P., vol. 70, p. 133. Also Appendix.

page 151other than Pago-Pago, Saluafata, or Apia. But she took no advantage of this privilege. By the right of establishing naval stations, the three Powers had secured a firm footing upon the islands. America, to bear witness to her rights, sent a cargo of coal to Pago-Pago in 1880,1 but it was not until 1899 that the station there was constructed. Apia was of much greater importance than Saluafata, so the latter port never came to be of particular importance.

All three Powers, further, claimed freedom from import and export duties. Great Britain and Germany supplemented this clause with another giving them full freedom of "commerce, trade, and agriculture." Whatever Samoan Government, therefore, was established, it would have to obtain its revenue from sources other than customs. There would be, indeed, little hope of any native Government being established on a sound financial basis. The Great Powers snatched the benefits and expected the Samoans to manage.

Another clause effectually dispelling hope of an autonomous native Government is in the German treaty. Article VIII lays down that "all laws and regulations which German subjects will have to submit to … shall only come into force after obtaining the confirmation of the German Government." It is true exception is made with regard to municipal arrangements in Apia for police, quarantine, harbour, prohibition, sale and supply of spirits to Samoans, which regulations were to be observed by German subjects so long as the German Government has not refused confirmation. Excluding these exceptions, then, if the "most favoured nation" clause in each treaty were to be regarded, every law affecting foreigners would have to be confirmed in Washington, Berlin, and London—truly an impossible situation! On the one hand the Powers insisted on Samoan independence, on the other they claimed the

1 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, March 10, 1880. Encl. 1, dispatch Thornton to Salisbury, February 16, 1880.

page 152right to interfere in every legislative act that might affect foreigners.

It is, therefore, little wonder that Malietoa and the chiefs writing to Queen Victoria, the German Emperor, and the United States President appealed for protection and help, and says that "these treaties have apparently been framed for the purpose of protecting your own people, and that only. This indeed is right; but it is only we who are in trouble, because our Government is of no account; we have no influence; it is as though our hands were tied through these treaties."1

The most elaborate of the three treaties was the German. The articles were lengthy, and the Samoans were accorded rights in Germany similar to those granted to Germans in Samoa!2 Germans were guaranteed "peaceable possession of all lands in Samoa which they have hitherto bought from Samoans in a regular manner and according to the custom of the time" [sufficiently vague phrases to be useful], "and all further interference with regard to such lands is therefore excluded by this confirmation by the Samoan Government of the ownership of the German subjects." A similar article in the British treaty confirmed British landholders in their Samoan lands.3 German and British both obtained a clause granting exemption "from the occupation of houses, lands, and plantations by war parties."

The American treaty differed from the other two in offering more and obtaining less. The chief advantages they gained were Pago-Pago harbour and the freedom from customs duties. Article V further reads thus: "If, unhappily, any differences have arisen, or shall hereafter arise, between

1 F.O. 244/331. Salisbury to Lord O. Russell, December 2, 1879. Encl. 2. Malietoa to Queen Victoria, August 31, 1879.

2 E.g. exemption from military service and religious toleration.

3 See Map III, pp. 80–81, for extent of German, British, and American lands, 1883. Most of the German lands were acquired prior to this treaty of 1879.

page 153the Samoan Government and any other Government in amity with the United States, the Government of the latter will employ its good offices for the purpose of adjusting those differences upon a satisfactory and solid foundation." This promise was sufficiently vague to make it seem possible that the treaty might be the foundation of a protectorate,1 but the United States disclaimed any such intention. The drastic action of the Germans in seizing the harbours of Saluafata and Falealili, and so obtaining a similar treaty, further dispelled any such idea.
That a large number of Samoans wished for the annexation of Samoa by Great Britain or the United States there can be no doubt. The treaty with America was indeed the result of an appeal for protection. The United States were unwilling to assume any such responsibility, particularly as it would have involved the abandonment of a long-established policy. The treaty effectually committed the Government to an interest in and responsibility for Samoa, but the United States Government were unwilling to co-operate whole-heartedly with Germany and England. Condominium was not what America wished, and throughout 1879, 1880, and 1881, when there was accord between the German and British Consuls, the American maintained an aloof policy of non-interference. When joint action was imperative, the United States Consul, it is true, joined somewhat grudgingly with his fellow Consuls.2 The British and German men-of-war co-operated in attempts to bring about peace, but the Americans, while friendly, took no active part in these efforts. With regard to the Municipal Convention, Evarts, the United States Secretary of State, was very reluctant to

1 F.O. 244/314. Pauncefote to Russell, February 27, 1878. Encl. from Thornton to Derby, February 4, 1878.

2 E.g. in 1879, in the formation of the Municipal Government for Apia. He co-operated also in issuing proclamations to the war party, and in an attempted conciliation of the war parties, December 1879, on board the Bismarck. His grudging attitude is described by Acting Consul-General Maudslay in The Pacific Fifty Tears Ago, pp. 252–53.

page 154commit himself. Thornton wrote that Mr. Evarts "shows great disinclination to informing me the views of the Government with regard to Samoa."1 He was "far from being pleased with Mr. Dawson2 [the United States Consul] for having joined with his German and British colleagues in signing the Convention for the establishment of a Municipal Board." Evarts further declared "that the United States Government will be very averse to using force for the support of King Malietoa and still more so to co-operating with European Powers in the employment of force."3 The United States had "not entered into the course which has hitherto been followed [by Great Britain and Germany] with the same freedom from reserve which has characterized the conduct of the German Government…. Though the vessels of the United States Navy have at intervals visited Samoa, it has apparently been rather with the object of inquiry into the state of affairs, and of supporting individual American traders than of affording a hearty co-operation in any scheme for the general welfare and development of the trade of the islands, and a similar abstinence that may, therefore, result [from a tripartite government] would be that the onus of government would fall on England and Germany, while the United States Government would reap the benefit in question where individual citizens were concerned."4
The United States Government thus wished to steer clear of any part in tripartite condominium in the islands. Yet, having won advantages and an excellent harbour reputed to be the best in that part of the ocean, they effectively

1 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, February 13, 1880. Encl. 1. Thornton to Salisbury, January 26, 1880.

2 Dawson's deportment won him the nickname from Maudslay of "Dismal Jimmy" (Maudslay, op. cit., p. 252).

3 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, March 10, 1880. Encl. 1. Thornton to Salisbury, February 16,1880. Also F.O. 244/341. F.O. to Russell, April 8, 1880. Encl. 2. Thornton to Salisbury, March 16, 1880.

4 F.O. 244/341. Granville to Russell, September 7, 1880. Encl. Granville to Drummond, September 7, 1880.

page 155barred any arrangement that might otherwise have been made for the protection of the islands by any other single Power.

The year 1880 proved to be an important one in defining the attitude of Germany toward Samoa, and this was inevitably reflected in the action of the German agents and officials in Samoa. Between 1877–79 the attitude of Germans in Samoa had changed from aggression to conciliation and co-operation.1 This change reflects in some measure the feeling of the German Government. By 1879 German trading concerns were established in a number of Pacific islands. In Samoa a second German firm, that of Ruge & Hedemann, had begun trading in 1875. But of all trading concerns, by far the most active, the wealthiest, the most widespread was still the Godeffroy firm.

In the years immediately preceding 1880 they enlarged the extent of their trade2 and the number of their ships.3 The Government support accorded them enhanced German prestige. Trade treaties were made with Samoa, Tonga, and island peoples in Micronesia and Melanesia (1876–81). Further, the establishment of two German men-of-war in the Pacific (1877), and the appointment of an Imperial Consul-General (1879), strengthened the position of German traders in the Pacific and raised hopes for yet greater extension of German protection. Alarm in the Pacific on the part of other Powers4 was thus produced lest Germany should embark on a policy of territorial settlement. The dispatches from British Consuls and officials in the South Seas suggest a growing alarm at the activity of German merchants.5

1 E.g. action in seizing the harbours, while in 1879 they co-operated in every act with the British. This was, of course, partly due to a real desire for peace, and also to the new German Consul-General, Zembsch.

2 For extent of trade of the Godeffroy firm, 1880, see Map V, p. 157.

3 See Fig. 2, p. 64, for increase of shipping.

4 F.O. 244/402. Derby to Russell. Confidential, November 26, 1877. Also F.O. 244/341. Pauncefote to Russell (No. 7), January 28, 1880. Encl. Layard to Salisbury, November 11, 1879.

5 Ibid.

page 156Not merely was trade and shipping increasing in volume, but individual Germans were by their aggressive manner persuading residents of other nations that there was an immediate prospect of the wholesale annexation of various of the South Sea islands to Germany. Sir Arthur Gordon pointed this out to Granville. "I believe," he wrote, "the Government at Berlin has no wish either to embarrass us or to increase its own responsibilities in the South Seas … but it will undoubtedly be due to the Germans and of course it is not easy out here to establish the distinction…. I may say in confidence that whilst Captain Zembsch, the Consul-General, appears to me a right-minded man, anxious to follow the same line as ourselves, there is not a single German naval officer on the station who is not working eagerly for the annexation of Samoa and Tonga."1
Besides the conduct of individual Germans, three lines of action between 1875–79 indicated German official interest in the Pacific. The first, of less apparent importance, was the action of the German Government in registering protests against interference by other nations. Amongst these were the protests of German planters against their deprivation of lands in Fiji after British annexation in 1874.2 Secondly, there was the conclusion of trade treaties with various islands where German trade flourished. In 1875 the H.I.M.S. Gazelle was dispatched to the Pacific to report upon German trade. In 1876 the Hertha concluded a trade treaty with Tonga. This was followed by treaties with the Ellice and Gilbert Islands (1878), Marshall and Ratack Islands where they acquired Jaluit as a coaling station, the Duke of York Islands, New Britain (1878) where they acquired the harbours of Mioko and Makada. The final

1 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, October 25, 1880. Encl. from Gordon to Granville, August 3, 1880. Confidential.

2 See supra, chap. iii. Also Townsend, E. M., The Origin of Modern German Colonialism, p. 63.

page 157
Map V.—Sketch Map Illustrtating the Extensive Trade of the Deutsche Handels Und Plantagen Gesellschaft(Trading stations of the Company are given in italics)

Map V.—Sketch Map Illustrtating the Extensive Trade of the Deutsche Handels Und Plantagen Gesellschaft
(Trading stations of the Company are given in italics)

page 158Samoan treaty with the right to the harbour of Saluafata was in 1879, and in April of that year a treaty drawn up with the Queen of Huahine. In Raiatea and Borabora treaties were refused.1

This very wide network of rights was regarded as the prelude to widespread acquisition. Yet Lord Odo Russell, writing at this time to Derby, represents Bismarck as emphasizing the impossibility of maintaining a colonial empire without a fleet. "Later on, no doubt," wrote Russell (1877), "his successors will have to yield to the pressure of public opinion in regard to the establishment of German Colonies in the Pacific and elsewhere—a contingency we may look forward to some fifteen to twenty years hence."2 The truer explanation of the treaties seems to be not that Germany wished to acquire South Sea islands, but that she wished to prevent others from doing so.3 In his preamble to the Samoan treaty Bismarck states this expressly: "Should the Empire continue its policy of refusing the acquisition of colonies, which has been followed heretofore, it would be all the more imperative for it to preserve the neutrality of its overseas settlements, and, at the same time, to establish the complete equality of opportunity for Germany with all other nations."4 The complaints of restrictions that followed the cession of Fiji made this policy the more pressing.

A third signal of recognition of the importance of German interests in the Pacific was the decision to station two warships permanently in the Pacific Islands for the protection of German trade (1877). The cost of this measure was no

1 For extent of Godeffroy trade see Map V, p. 157.

2 F.O. 244/305. Russell to Derby. No. 44.0. Confidential, December 6, 1877.

3 F.O. 244/331. Russell to Salisbury. No. 43, June 17, 1879. Encl. extracts from speeches by Kusserov and Bülow, emphasizing this point of view.

4 Townsend, op. cit., p. 65, quoted from Hahn Wippermann, Fürst Bismarck, Sammlung der Reden (Berlin, 1878–91), vol. iii, pp. 714–15.

page 159less than 700,000 marks1 a year. Büllow explained the need for this to M. de Sainte Vallier, the French Ambassador in Berlin, "par la nécessité de defendre contre des aventuriers californiens les intérêts des négociants de Hambourg, installéd à Samoa,"2 and he went on to explain that it was the absence of a fleet that forbade further extension. Büllow, he wrote, "ne m'avait pas caché la ferme volonté de son Gouvernement de ne pas tolérer plus longtemps les agressions d'aventuriers americains, s'intitulant colonels ou generaux des Etats-Unis, contre les factoreries allemandes, pour la défense desquelles deux navires de guerre venaient d'être dirigés sur Samoa."3 Considering that Colonel Steinberger—evidently referred to in the preceding passage—was on the best of terms with the German Consul Poppe, had in his pocket an agreement to promote German trade, was indicted by his own Consul, and deported in a British man-of-war—the need to defend German trade against a like occurrence by means of two German men-of-war seems a little overdrawn! Indeed, the French Ambassador himself was unconvinced. He wrote that the circumstances left him no doubt as to the desire of the Imperial Government for "le prochain établissement d'un Protectorat allemand aux îles Samoa et Tonga."4 The Samoan treaty was put before the Reichstag for ratification on June 13, 1879. Büllow emphatically declared that Germany wanted equal rights for all. "Germany wants neither to found colonies nor to have a monopoly, only equal rights for navigation and trade."5 The treaty was ratified without opposition.

1 Zimmermann, Geschichte Deutsche Kolonialpolitik, p. 17.

2 Documents Diplomatiques Français, 1871–1914, 1re Serie 2, No. 362, p. 402. M. de Sainte Vallier à M. de Waddington (Conf.), Nov. 21, 1878,

3 Ibid., No. 418, p. 487. M. de Sainte Vallier à M. de Waddington, May 5, 1879.

4 Ibid., No. 424, p. 494. M. de Sainte Vallier à M. de Waddington, May 19, 1879.

5 Koschitzky, Deutsche Kolonialgeschichte, pt. 2, p. 13. Also F.O. 244/331. Russell to Salisbury (Cons., No. 43), June 17, 1879. Encl. Bülow's speech in the Reichstag, June 13, 1879.

page 160

Early in 1880 came a more crucial test of popular feeling on the matter of Government support to the extension of German interests in the Pacific. For some years the Hamburg firm of J. C. Godeffroy & Son had become involved in financial difficulties owing to unsuccessful investments in Europe. In 1878 the South Sea business, the most successful portion of the firm's activities, was consolidated into a stock company—Die Deutsche Handels und Plantaeng Gesellschaft der Südsee Inseln zu Hamburg—but the majority of shares remained in the hands of Godeffroy & Son.1 On the failure of certain mining speculations in Europe, ruin seemed imminent. This was, however, postponed for a year by a loan from Baring Bros. of London. The Godeffroy shares in the Deutsche Handels und Plantagen Gesellschaft, and the firm's holdings in Samoa, amounting to about 160,000 Prussian acres, were given as security. The failure of the House of Godeffroy in December 1879, therefore, threatened to throw into English hands the greater part of German interests in Samoa.

At this juncture Bismarck was approached by Geheimrat von Hansemann. He suggested that the South Sea Company might be revived under Government auspices. Its work in the Pacific had been commercially successful in the past. It was on the way to becoming a political power in building up for Germany a colonial empire in the Pacific. The plan for supporting the company would "not only rescue German trade but expand German colonial interests in the South Seas."2 By January 1, 1880, Bismarck manifested his approval.

It was proposed that the Government should guarantee to the company an annual subsidization of 4 per cent of its total capital of 10,000,000 marks for twenty years, or not more than a total of 300,000 marks. This should be repaid

1 Townsend, The Origins of Modern German Colonialism (1871–85), p. 113, chap, vi, "The Test."

2 Ibid., p. 115.

page 161as soon as the company's dividends exceeded a specified per cent.1

The proposal, embodied in a Bill which passed the Bundesrat on April 14, 1880, came up for discussion in the Reichstag on April 22nd and April 27th. The Bill was then defeated by 128 to 112 votes. This seemed to show that the feeling in the country was opposed to or at least unprepared for a colonial policy. The debates, however, do not justify this assumption. The chief arguments brought against the Bill were: (a) that the firm must be unsound to collapse at all; (b) that it was bad policy to support a private firm; (c) that it would be unfair to other German trading firms if the Government were to lend support to one in particular; (d) that as Germany had no fleet, this would lead to disputes and war with other countries. The arguments, all but the last, clearly are not against colonies but against the support of a private firm.2 Therefore, though immediately the defeat of the "Samoan Subsidy Bill" was a set-back to German trade, in the long run it served to give just that necessary pause before she was able to launch effectively, with popular backing, on a new course of territorial expansion.

The South Sea interests were saved from Baring Bros. by the hasty formation of a board of directors, who assumed the debts of Godeffroy & Son.3 The new company—the Deutsche Handels und Plantagen Gesellschaft der Süd-See Inselnzu Hamburg, "in practice shortened to the D.H. & P.G., the 'Old Firm,' the 'German Firm,' 'the Firm,' and (among humorists) the 'Long Handle Firm,'"4 carried on the traditions, methods, and policy of its forerunner.

1 Townsend, The Origins of Modern German Colonialism (1871–85), p. 117, quoted from Anlagen des Deutschen Reichstages, 1880. Aktenstück, No. 101, p. 720.

2 Townsend, op. cit., pp. 121–24.

3 Russell, indeed, suggested that if Great Britain wished to annex Samoa she must act immediately on the failure of the Bill. F.O. 244/341. Russell to Granville, No. 17. Confidential and Immediate, May 14, 1880.

4 Stevenson, A Footnote to History, p. 86.

page 162

The immediate importance to Samoa of the rejection of the Bill was that it became impossible for Germany to take any greater part than her rivals in the affairs of the islands.1 No question of annexation or protection of Samoa could be put before the Reichstag after this rebuff. Hence the German Consul in Samoa was instructed to strive primarily to secure peace in the islands.

Having considered the treaties, and the attitude of the United States and of Germany in 1880, it remains to define the situation in the islands that the three Treaty Powers had to face. The British policy is revealed in her decision as to the Government of Samoa which she proposed to support.

In 1880 it was abundantly clear that something must be done about Samoa. Each of the three Powers had made treaties with Malietoa.2 The representatives of all three had given him support (1879). The anarchy, if not due to white men, had certainly been enhanced by their sale of ammunition and guns, and meddling in native affairs. The chaos was ruining trade and planting, and making life and property insecure. The Convention for the Municipal Government of Apia of September 2, 1879, certainly seemed to ensure neutrality and self-government for Apia. But it was concluded with Malietoa, and therefore depended upon his establishment as king. There was no reason to suppose that every faction would observe it, unless the white men unitedly were prepared to defend and enforce their convention. Having committed themselves to ratifying the establishment of a municipality in Apia, the three Powers were involved in the setting up of a central authority that would assure its regard by Samoans.

1 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, January 24, 1880. Encl. Münster to Salisbury, January 20, 1880. "Germany," said Münster, "does not want to strive for exclusive rights on her own account."

2 Germany and the United States made their treaties with the Taimua and Faipule, but they had been confirmed by Malietoa when he drove the other party from Mulinuu (June 1879).

page 163

The immediate problem in 1879–81 was the form that this central government should take. There were three apparent alternatives: (a) annexation, or at least control by one of the Treaty Powers; (b) a tripartite government; (c) the restoration and support of a purely native Government.

Annexation was the solution proposed and supported by all authorities on the spot. In November 1880, Sir Arthur Gordon noted that even Zembsch and Dawson, who had hitherto "deprecated annexation of Samoa by England or any other Power," were now in favour of it.1 Earlier in the year Gordon had written that "nothing but external authority can preserve the country and its people from utter ruin."2 Further, there was a conviction among natives "of their inability to manage their own affairs, and of the necessity for intervention on the part of some Great Power."3 The Consul, Graves, reiterates this in 1881,4 and Maudslay, in a memorandum which he presented to the Foreign Office in 1880 after his official connection with it had ceased,5 states the position with vehemence:

"Matters may be left to drift for a few years yet," he wrote, "and we shall hear of more native disturbances, for it is always worth while to encourage a native dispute when it creates a demand for muskets, and lowers the price of land: the taste for gin will increase, and when the natives have become hopelessly demoralized and have lost all claim to their lands, and a misled Government have succeeded in involving the country in debt, there will be an outcry from

1 F.O. 244/341. Pauncefote to Walsham, No. 41, November 22, 1880. Encl. Gordon to Granville, September 13, 1880.

2 F. O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, April 8, 1880. Encl. 1. Gordon to Salisbury, February 2, 1880.

3 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, May 12, 1880. Encl. Gordon to Salisbury, March 1, 1880.

4 F.O. 58/177. Graves to Granville, November 18, 1881.

5 Maudslay returned from the Pacific in 1880, and in the succeeding decades won a reputation for his archaeological discoveries of Maya remains in Guatemala.

page 164the 'owners of the soil' against native depredations and a demand for Chinamen and Indian coolies, and the large estates and interests of Germans and Englishmen will be urged as a strong reason for foreign interference and annexation. It does seem to be a misfortune that England or Germany cannot take possession before matters have gone so far…. Has either Power sufficient reason to wish to prevent the other accepting the cession of the islands? … If annexed before a mixed Government has had charge of its finances, Samoa would have the advantage of coming to us unburdened with debt."1 He goes on to say that English interests were not sufficient to debar German annexation, but that the general feeling among the natives was strongly in favour of English annexation.

Foremost among the natives to desire annexation by any Power—preferably England—was the king, Malietoa himself. He begged Sir Arthur Gordon that Queen Victoria should annex Samoa. He had "no chance of the establishment of permanent peace in Samoa unless its future rule were undertaken by a civilized Power. He said that this was the general feeling of all natives, that the presence of so many foreigners in the country made it impossible for Samoans to carry on the government in their own way, while they were wholly unable to do so in a more civilized fashion."2

Unfortunately for the distraught country and king, this was too insignificant a Gordian knot to be worth the trouble of disentanglement. Great Britain, Germany, and the United States were content to feel assured of co-equal footing for themselves, and they were satisfied to let it rest there. The United States showed no desire to interfere, and her interests

1 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, November 19, 1880. Encl. memo. by A. P. Maudslay, October 20, 1880.

2 F.O. 244/331. Pauncefote to Russell, December 2, 1879. Encl. Gordon to Salisbury. Confidential, September 15, 1879.

page 165were least. The Germans, who in Samoa had been anxious to obtain some control of the Government, had received a rebuff in the failure of the Samoan Subsidy Bill, and they realized that they could not expect Government support. Granville continued the wonted policy of Great Britain in disclaiming any desire for the responsibility of protection. The Government were indeed disinclined to embark on the negotiations that would have been involved in a readjustment of the treaties.
Unwilling to annex, there was also a reluctance on the part of Great Britain to withdraw. "While the Colonial Office feared the former, the Fijian Government the latter."1 The proximity2 and intercourse between Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa led to alarm lest foreign influence in Samoa should be detrimental to Fijian prosperity. Gordon, indeed, feared that if Samoa became German, the Germans would withdraw all their interests to Samoa and thus "a blow would be dealt at the rising prosperity of Fiji from which it would not, I fear, recover."3 By the end of the year, however, Gordon had changed his opinion. In August 1880 he wrote to Granville: "Let the Germans annex what they please, and exercise influence where they please, except in Tonga, for that is practically to annex and exercise influence over a large part of Fiji."4 Earlier in the year Gordon had proposed a commission to discuss annexation, but this had been bluntly answered. "H.M. Government consider that it is not expedient to entertain the question of annexation of Samoa to this country."5 But apart from the fear of

1 F.O. 58/169. Minute by Lister to letter from Graves to Secretary of State, June 28, 1880.

2 See Map IV, p. 107.

3 Quoted by Maudslay in his memorandum. F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, November 19, 1880. Memo. by Maudslay, October 20, 1880.

4 F.O. 244/341. Lister to Russell, October 25, 1880. Encl. Gordon to Granville. Private and Confidential, August 3, 1880.

5 F.O. 244/231. Lister to Russell, May 12, 1880. Encl. Granville to Gordon, May 27, 1880.

page 166
Map VI.—Map of Municipal and Neutral Territory of Apia, 1879

Map VI.—Map of Municipal and Neutral Territory of Apia, 1879

page 167endangering Fijian interests by withdrawing, there was a feeling that Great Britain owed support to Malietoa in finding a solution to the problem of governing his kingdom.1

A final set-back to any consideration of annexation of the islands by any single Power was given by France. In December, Lord Lyons wrote to Salisbury from Paris that, though France had no interest in the Samoan islands, "it is nevertheless probable that she would look with dissatisfaction on their being annexed to any one of those Powers without her being consulted…. It is possible she might be led to retaliate by taking possession herself of the New Hebrides or of some other island conveniently situated with regard to New Caledonia."2

The unhappy situation, as described by Sir Arthur Gordon, is recorded in the minutes of a meeting of Consuls held at Mulinuu in 1880. "His Excellency, the Consul-General of Germany, and the Consuls of the United States and Great Britain desired to record their unanimous opinion that the establishment of permanent peace and tranquillity in Samoa was in the highest degree improbable, if not altogether impossible, unless a more active part by one or more Great Powers was undertaken, and that the alternative which the future presented was that of chronic anarchy and bloodshed, or the avowed or virtual annexation by one of the Great Powers, either by an assumption of sovereignty or the establishment of a protectorate involving the entire control of the affairs of the whites…. Sir Arthur Gordon desired to add that he saw no probability of such a conclusion to the present state of affairs. The Government of the United States would not assume the sovereignty of the islands, that of H.I.M. the Emperor of Germany was

1 F.O. 58/169. Minute by Lister to dispatch Graves to F.O., June 28, 1880. "I don't see," he wrote, "howwe can throw over King Malietoa."

2 F.O. 244/331. Pauncefote to Russell (Cons., No. 59), December 18, 1879. Encl. Lyons to Salisbury, December 8, 1879.

page 168equally resolved to avoid the onerous responsibilities involved by such a step and that of Great Britain was firmly determined not to undertake such a task as that proposed…."

"This determination was not prompted by any apprehension of national jealousies, but it was a deliberate resolve on the part of H.M. Government altogether to refuse duties and responsibilities which it did not feel called upon to undertake, even if it were unanimously desired (which it is not) by the Samoans themselves, and were it not (which it is) inconsistent with the provisions of Treaty engagements solemnly entered into by the Samoan Government."1

As a solution, then, annexation, protection, or participation in the native Government by any single Power was passed over—not because it was not the best solution, but because it involved most trouble at the time. The Great Powers determined to temporize.

Meanwhile, on the scene of action the cordial relations of the three Consuls in 1879 were leading them into a resolve to establish a tripartite government for Samoa. A council of three members, each the nominee of one Consul, was to aid Malietoa in his government. Before it could be properly organized the scheme was rejected in Europe. The British Foreign Office regarded it with disfavour. "Tripartite government," ran a Foreign Office minute, "can only lead to two things, failure with immediate ruin to the natives, and bad blood among ourselves, or success, involving future rivalry for the possession of the islands."2 Granville informed Baron Brincken that H.M. Government were prepared to co-operate heartily in the re-establishment of order, but they considered tripartite government inexpedient. Such a coun-

1 F.O. 58/169. Graves to Granville. Minutes of a meeting held at Samoa, August 28, 1880.

2 F.O. 58/169. Minute by C. H. Hill to dispatch. Graves to Granville, June 28, 1880.

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as was proposed "would exercise so preponderating an influence over the affairs of Samoa as practically to throw the government of the islands upon the Governments who would be represented."1 The United States agreed with Great Britain on the impracticability of tripartite government on the grounds that tripartite government of Samoa was "too small an affair for three nations."2

Consequently the only remaining alternative was autonomous native government. The Powers determined to establish Malietoa's position and see what he could do. "That is," said Maudslay, "we are still to rely upon the impossible…. No one knows better than Malietoa himself that his recognition as king is not in the least likely to lead to the formation of a strong and independent Government."3

Gordon's comment is little more encouraging: "Although," he wrote, "I believe nothing short of a far more active intervention than any of the three Powers interested are prepared to undertake would restore order to Samoa, I, at the same time, am of opinion that the supremacy of Malietoa affords a prospect of rather less disorder than would otherwise probably prevail…. I think, therefore, that the retention of power by the present king is slightly preferable to his overthrow."4

With such encouraging words the reign of peace was inaugurated. From 1881 to December 1884 there was a sullen peace among the natives, a peace whose disorder dissatisfied natives and whites alike.

1 F.O. 244/231. Granville to Russell, September 7, 1880. Encl. account of conversation between Granville and Brincken.

2 F.O. 244/341. Pauncefote to Russell, December 27, 1879. Encl. Thornton to Salisbury, December 8, 1879.

3 Ibid., memo. by Maudslay. F.O. 244/341, loc. cit.

4 F.O. 244/341. Pauncefote to Walsham, December 1, 1880. Encl. 3. Gordon to Granville, September 13, 1880.