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The Origins of International Rivalry in Samoa: 1845–1884

v. A Résumé of the Years 1885–99

v. A Résumé of the Years 1885–99

In Samoa, meanwhile, affairs had moved fast. After his submission to the Germans in November 1884, Malietoa was no longer of any account with either Samoans or whites. In January (January 23, 1885) Stuebel hoisted the German flag at Mulinuu, and it remained flying despite the protests of the American and British Consuls. In December (December 31, 1885) Stuebel proceeded to haul down the Samoan flag. A climax was reached when the Germans accorded their whole-hearted support to Tamasese, the vice-king, who was a puppet in their hands, and declared war on Malietoa. For the sake of his people, and to prevent civil strife, Malietoa magnanimously gave himself up to the Germans, and was deported. Tamasese was installed as king, but with little native support. This, however, did not lead to peace. Another scion of the Malietoa family, Mataafa, won the support of a large party in Samoa, and civil war continued in 1887–88 and the beginning of 1889. It seems probable that but for the German support to Tamasese, Mataafa might have established himself. As it was, the Americans and British lent Mataafa moral if not material support, while German marines openly fought for the German nominee. At this stage, in March 1889, when the harbour was filled with the hostile warships, American, German, and British, a hurricane swept down like an avenging power upon the harbour, and of the seven men-of-war, the British ship, the Calliope, alone escaped by steaming out into the open ocean in the teeth of the gale.

This disaster sobered hotheads in Samoa and politicians page 193in Europe and America. The magnitude of the losses in men and shipping was out of all proportion to the value attached to the islands. The delegates at the Berlin Conference (April–June 1889) were consequently sincere in their desire to come to a reasonable and just settlement for Samoa. All the same the arrangements made at the Berlin Conference of 1889 were unsatisfactory. Autonomous government was no longer considered possible, and that certainly showed an advance on previous discussions. But annexation by a single Power was precluded. So Samoa was for ten years under an arrangement by which the two principal officials should be neither German nor British nor American, but appointed by the King of Sweden. For ten years Samoa laboured under this unsatisfactory government. Further serious outbreaks of hostilities (1898–99) led to the much more satisfactory arrangement of 1899 when Western Samoa (Savaii and Upolu) fell to the lot of Germany and Eastern Samoa (Tutuila, Manua, and Rose Island) to America.1 And only then did the distraught islands have peace.

1 The events of the years 1884–94 in Samoa, told sympathetically from the native point of view, are in R. L. Stevenson's Vailima Letters and A Footnote to History. Other outline sources for the events of these years are: Scholefield, The Pacific; Watson, R. L., A History of Samoa; Henderson, American Diplomatic Questions on Samoa.