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The Origins of International Rivalry in Samoa: 1845–1884

Chapter VIII — The Experiment of Native Autonomy Proves a Failure. July 1881–November 1884 1

page 170

Chapter VIII
The Experiment of Native Autonomy Proves a Failure. July 1881–November 1884 1

1 July 12, 1881—date of Lackawanna agreement when Malietoa was acknowledged by all Samoan parties. November 10, 1884—date of German-Samoan agreement described in the course of this chapter.

The events of the years 1881–84 justified Gordon's and Maudslay's scepticism as to Malietoa's power to govern Samoa. By 1884 Samoan affairs had again fallen into an inextricable tangle. The situation had, however, changed on all sides. No longer was it possible to patch up a peace locally on the spot. After 1884 Samoa became a subject of dispute between Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, a situation which neither her commercial value nor her strategic position and harbours warranted.

The year 1884 is indeed the end of one period, just as it is the beginning of another. By the end of 1884 the British Foreign Office was willing to acknowledge that independent native rule was impossible as well as impracticable. It was impracticable because the natives showed themselves incapable of ruling themselves, let alone foreigners. It was impossible because there was constant interference by Europeans, either as individuals or as representing a body of opinion,2 so that the government, whether good or bad, was not a native government. By 1884 the British Government admitted that Malietoa's rule had proved a failure.3 There was, however, no longer any question of unwillingness on the part of the Powers to annex Samoa. In the intervening page 171years (1881–84) the situation for the three Powers concerned had changed. By the end of 1884 Germany had manifested her intention of embarking upon a colonial policy.1 The Australasian Colonies, also, had vehemently revived schemes for the neutralization if not the direct absorption of the Western Pacific Islands.2 The matter had, in fact, become international. Once the ideal of native autonomy was effectually exploded, the ultimate annexation of Samoa by one or other of the Great Powers was inevitable. The unquiet years that followed the collapse of Malietoa's government (1884–89) were due primarily to a realization of this by the Great Powers and their agents in Samoa. Each Power wished to claim ascendancy and rights over the other two.3 Events in Samoa became of secondary importance to negotiations in Europe and America. The Samoan islands became a pawn in the diplomatic game, their value assessed and exchangeable for rights, privileges, and territory elsewhere.

This part of Samoan history is outside the story of this book. The collapse of Malietoa Laupepa was virtually (though not actually) in November 1884.4 The events to be narrated in this chapter, then, deal with the cause of that final failure of native government of 1881–84, and the effects upon Samoa of the changed attitude of the Great Powers towards annexation.5

2 Either adventurers who influenced the king, e.g. a certain J. Hunt, 1881, Bartlett, 1879, and others, or the representatives of German interference—e.g. Weber or, to some extent, Steinberger.

3 F.O. 58/199. Bramston to Under-Secretary of State. F.O., May 27, 1884.

1 E.g. by her annexation of New Guinea and her share in the Africa Conference, 1884–85.

2 New Guinea and Tonga, see infra. Inter-Col. Convention.

3 With Great Britain it was not on her own account, but out of consideration for the strong feeling on this matter that existed in New Zealand.

4 In signing the German-Samoan agreement the Samoan Government was under German control. Malietoa lost prestige among his own people. In 1887 he was deported by the Germans.

5 Particularly the change in Germany and in the Australasian Colonies.

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i. Samoa

The general acknowledgment of Malietoa, by the Lackawanna agreement of July 12, 1881, and a widespread desire for peace, produced a temporary lull in Samoa. It had been hoped that a suitable white man might be found to help Malietoa in his task of governing—a disinterested protagonist of native rights who would become a Samoan Pooh-Bah1 and assume every onerous duty of government—adviser-inchief, treasurer, head of police, of native troops, interpreter— in fact, all the tasks that Samoans appeared unable to do adequately. He would hold his position at the caprice of the natives, with no guarantee, or even mention of emolument. Sooner or later he would inevitably fall foul of either Samoans or whites, so that the risk was of murder or deportation.

Sir Arthur Gordon offered this position to W. B Churchward in 1881. Churchward indeed went to Apia to inquire further, but on learning the nature of his duties declined the position. So Malietoa, who was disgusted at Churchward's refusal, was left unwillingly to conduct the affairs of his kingdom unaided. He acknowledged that his invitations to become Prime Minister had never before been refused, but all previously had been rogues.2

The principal activity of the native Government during these years was the production in 1882 of a code of laws. These were approved by Des Voeux, the British High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, who succeeded Gordon, as "generally unobjectionable,"3 and it seems that they were also generally unenforced. By 1883 Churchward was able

1 Churchward, My Consulate in Samoa.

2 E.g. Hunt, Woods, Bartlett. Churchward became H.B.M. Acting-Consul in March 1882, when Graves went on furlough to England. He retained this position until 1885. Throughout a difficult period (1884–85) his action was wise and conciliatory.

3 F.O. 58/177. Churchward to Des Voeux, F.S., July 5, 1882.

page 173to say that "all warlike feeling toward the present King and Government has subsided into a sullen opposition in council."1 The islands seemed quiet and new native houses were being built—always an indication in Samoa of native expectation of peace.2 It was, indeed, the foreigners by their intrigues who, when the time came, unloosed the dogs of war.
A further change in the condition of Samoa was wrought by the Municipal Government within Apia. Before its establishment in 18793 Apia had a reputation as "the Hell of the Pacific!"4 It had a population of some hundred or more half-castes, and many of the white men were the riffraff from the Australasian Colonies and Fiji who upon the establishment of law and order in those parts had fled to Samoa. The urgency of the need was well recognized by all the more respectable white inhabitants, and these combined to improve the state of the township. The Municipal Board raised some $5,000 a year by rates, licences, and fines. Regulations for the health, cleanliness, the safety and convenience of residents were issued and carried through, and Apia emerged "into a well-ordered district, with a community particularly jealous of the maintenance of law and order; where property and persons were as safe as they would be anywhere in England, and whose criminal record would compare most favourably, in proportion to its inhabitants, with any seaport town in the world."5 Sale of alcohol to natives was strictly forbidden,6 and the sale of arms regulated. Some light is thrown upon the difficulty of this task by an account by Churchward of an incident in Apia. Some months after this regulation came into force an

1 F.O. 58/182. Churchward to Granville, May 6, 1883.

2 Churchward, My Consulate in Samoa, p. 164.

3 See chap. vi.

4 Churchward, op. cit., p. 71.

5 Churchward, op. cit., p. 75.

6 This was difficult to carry out, as half-castes—themselves European subjects—often supplied drink to their native relatives.

page 174inspection of a store "brought to light over 600 breechloading rifles, 63,000 rounds of ball cartridges, 3 tons of powder, and a large quantity of cast bullets!"1

Such regulations were only carried through amidst a scorching fire of criticisms from the disgruntled "beach." The success of the Municipal Government was possible only so long as the Consuls acted in unison. The departure of the German Consul, Stuebel, from this common accord in 1884. effectively dislocated the Municipality.

1 Churchward, op. cit., p. 75.

ii. New Zealand Intrigue

Special blame for this cannot be thrust upon the Germans, though in the later part of the story (October-November 1884 onwards) much attaches to them. Trouble came inevitably upon Samoa. Peace increased the prosperity of the islands, and prosperity brought more traders, from 1880 onwards.

The warning rumble of further upheavals came in 1883. In September of that year there came to the islands a certain Mr. Lundon, a New Zealand ex-M.P.2 His private purpose was to claim back the lands of a notorious New Zealand landowner, Cornwall by name. Failing in his endeavour to get Cornwall's land, he began a series of intrigues with natives to get them to appeal to New Zealand and Great Britain for annexation. "He was a man, as I was informed," writes Bates, United States Commissioner in 1886 to Samoa, "of the class who make continual trouble among the South Sea natives."3 He entirely failed to realize that this was a

2 John Lundon's activities are described in: (a) F.O. 58/199. Dispatches by Acting-Consul Churchward for 1884. (b) United States Papers, 50 Congress 1. Hse. Ex. Doc. No. 238. Appendix A. Report by Bates. New Zealand annexation projects, pp. 158–67. (c) Mention also in Churchward, My Consulate in Samoa, pp. 275–77.

3 50 Congress 1. Hse. Ex. Doc. No. 238. Report of Bates, p. 167.

page 175task of no little difficulty, as Samoan chiefs had appealed to Great Britain for annexation intermittently since 1845. The occasion for his action was, however, well chosen. In that same year Sir George Grey, now old and somewhat embittered, had recalled his dream of forty years before. He brought forward a Federation Act by which New Zealand should be enabled to "take steps for the establishment of its rule over such islands in the Pacific as are not already occupied by, or under the protection of, a foreign Power, and the occupation of which by any foreign Power would be detrimental to the interests of Australasia."
It was while this Bill was before the House of Representatives that Lundon began his Samoan intrigues. He sent articles to the New Zealand Herald calculated to stir up the popular feeling in New Zealand.1 Moreover, under his influence Malietoa once again petitioned Great Britain for annexation.2 Malietoa was, however, suspicious of Lundon personally, and asked Churchward for advice as to how to be rid of him.3 The petition expressed rather a general and long-standing wish to be annexed to Great Britain than any new growth of feeling.4 A Samoan resident writing anonymously to the New Zealand papers declared that at no time was there any unanimous or even widespread desire in Samoa to be annexed by New Zealand, and that Lundon's articles in the papers were wilful misinterpretations.5 Had Lundon been disinterested in his efforts, he would have realized that the problem was not in getting the natives to petition Great Britain, but in understanding the position of

1 New Zealand Herald, September 17 and 18, 1883.

2 F.O. 58/199. Malietoa to Her Most Gracious Majesty, November 19, 1883. This petition was never answered—Lord Derby preferred to "shelve the question," and the F.O. only heard of it a year later when another petition (November 5, 1884) arrived.

3 Churchward, op. cit., pp. 275–77.

4 F.O. 58/199. Des Voeux to Derby. Confidential, November 19, 1883. Encl. Malietoa to Queen Victoria, November 19, 1883.

5 New Zealand Herald and Daily Southern Cross, August 8, 1884.

page 176the Germans and in persuading the British Colonial and Foreign Offices that there was occasion to act. Des Voeux, the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific, valiantly attempted to make this clear to the New Zealand Government, while he appealed to them to check this movement in Samoa:

"Whether the annexation of Samoa to New Zealand be desirable or not," he wrote, "it is to be borne in mind that it would not probably be sanctioned without the previous consent of Germany, which has interests in the islands considerably greater than those of any other Power, and which deserves special consideration as having afforded for years past the principal protection to all white settlers by keeping ships of war almost continually in Samoan waters. As Germany is not a colonizing Power, it is not impossible that her Government might regard with favour the annexation of these islands by England, on the assurance that the possession of the private property of German subjects would be thereby guaranteed. But however this may be, a disposition of this kind is not likely to be induced by an agitation which places in immediate peril interests which have hitherto been preserved at so heavy a sacrifice"1 (October 26, 1883).

The British Government indicated its line of policy by withholding its assent to Grey's Act. It had undoubtedly been framed to enable the New Zealand Government to annex Samoa.2 New Zealand did not in the least appreciate the immediate difficulties that arose with Germany and the United States when she began an aggressive line of action in Samoa.

In the same year (1883) the question of the annexation of Pacific Islands to the Australasian Colonies came into

1 P.P., c. 3863, quoted in Scholefield, The Pacific, p. 153.

2 In 1885 the Samoan native Government passed an Act annexing themselves to New Zealand. Had Grey's Act been law this would have caused a difficult situation with Germany.

page 177prominence, through the Inter-Colonial Convention held in Sydney (November 28-December 6, 1883). Chester's abortive act of annexing New Guinea on behalf of the Queensland Government, and the repudiation of that Act by Great Britain, had caused irritation and bitterness in the Australasian Colonies. It was felt that the British Government was not only unsympathetic to the demands of Colonies, but also blind to dangers that in the Pacific seemed very real— the dangers of German aggression. The Prime Minister of Queensland, McIlwraith, wrote to the other Australasian Colonies to test their feelings in this matter.1 The Colonies also felt that while they were independent and separate their opinion carried less weight with the Home Government than if they had been a single federated unit. It was suggested that the Convention should discuss Federation as well as the annexation of Pacific Islands. The Convention accordingly met in Sydney in November 1883.2 Representatives from all the Australasian Colonies and from New Zealand took part, and Sir William Des Voeux, Governor of Fiji (and High Commissioner of the Western Pacific), who was in Sydney at the time, was invited to attend as representative for Fiji.
The avowed purpose in proposing the annexation of Pacific Islands was to exclude the possibility of foreign Powers, in occupation of adjacent islands, proving a menace or inconvenience to the Colonies. The two points uppermost in the minds of Australian Ministers were (a) the possible occupation of New Guinea by Germany, (b) the great inconvenience caused by the French convict settlements in New Caledonia and the immediate likelihood of French

1 Victoria 2nd Session, 1883. Papers presented to Parliament, vol. 3. Correspondence relating to the Australasian Convention of Annexation of adjacent islands and the Federation of Australasia.

2 N.S.W. Parliament. Votes and Proceedings, 1883–84, vol. 9. Proceedings of the Inter-Colonial Convention, November 28–December 6, 1883.

page 178transportation of habitual criminals to New Hebrides. The former point was keenly pressed by Queensland, the latter by New South Wales and Victoria. The question of Samoa did not directly come up. The resolutions were framed to apply only to islands, unoccupied by any European Power, south of the Equator, and where there were no treaty limitations. Sir William des Voeux contributed an important memorandum upon this.1 He threw a new light upon the matter by emphasizing the small value of the islands. Tropical products, especially sugar, could be grown in a small and concentrated area. The demand for copra was diminishing.2 His earnest hope, however, was that by absorption into the Empire of the Pacific Islands the native races might be preserved from exploitation. This, he said, "is the only rational hope that they will, in centuries to come, prove of any substantial benefit to the world at large." First and foremost, he recommended the discouragement of settlers and of the buying of native land. Here, indeed, at the end of our period we find in a representative of the British Crown the same spirit as permeated the Aborigines Committee of 1837, that the work of the British in the Pacific should be to protect and preserve the weaker races.

The importance of the Convention lay in the unanimity with which all the Colonies supported this measure, and in their offer to "defray, in proportion to the population, such share of the cost … as Her Majesty's Government, having reasonable regard to the importance of Imperial and Australasian interests, may deem fair and reasonable."3

1 N.S.W. Parliament. N.S.W. Papers, 1883–84, vol. 9, p. 177. Memo. by Des Voeux.

2 This was not the case. There was a slight falling off in its importation in Great Britain, but since then the import of copra has steadily risen. The estimates are inaccurate and based only upon knowledge of sugar culture in the West Indies and Fiji. Nevertheless, the report is interesting as illustrating a new point of view.

3 N.S.W. Parliament. First day proceedings, November 28, 1883.

page 179

The importance of the Convention in Samoan affairs was not direct. It had, however, an immediate influence upon German opinion and activity.1 Further, it may also safely be inferred that the British Colonial Office, with Lord Derby as Secretary of State for Colonies, realizing that the feeling in the Colonies was undoubtedly genuine, became more sympathetic to their demands, and in succeeding discussions upon the fate of Samoa the feeling in the Australasian Colonies was put forward as a bar to German annexation of Samoa.2

1 E.g. the Consuls at Apia and Sydney protested against the Australian proposals in their Home dispatches, and Weber and Hanshem pressed the claims of their trading establishments. See German Weissbuch (Auswartiges Amt.), 1885, pt. 2, pp. 95–185. Deutsche Interessen in der Süd See.

2 F.O. 58/199. Branston to Under-Secretary of State. F.O., February 23, 1884. Derby put the case of the Colonies in such a way as to preclude Granville's assent to Germany obtaining preponderating influence in the islands. Granville, therefore, proposed what in 1881 had been rejected as a solution, i.e. tripartite government.

iii. The Change in German Attitude

The intrigues of Lundon gave rise to counter-intrigues by Germans—Weber, Ruge, and even the Consul Stuebel. By 1884 German patriots began to see hope of State support— which in 1880 had not been accorded to their endeavours.

Opinion in Germany was, between 1880–85, undergoing a powerful change. In 1880 the defeat of the Samoan Subsidy Bill had seemed a fatal blow to colonial enterprise. Actually the effect was the reverse. Enthusiasts were stimulated to win popular support. Between 1880 and 1882, for example, no less than forty books and pamphlets were published for this purpose.3 In 1882 the Kolonial Verein, a society for promoting German colonization, was formed (December 6, 1882). The chief promoters in Germany were

3 Townsend, Origins of Modern German Colonialism, p. 86.

page 180
Fig. 5.—German, British, and American Imports and Exports of Samoa, 1884(From U.S. Monthly Consular Reports, July 1885, No. 54)

Fig. 5.—German, British, and American Imports and Exports of
Samoa, 1884

(From U.S. Monthly Consular Reports, July 1885, No. 54)

page 181
Fig. 6.—Foreign Imports and Exports of Samoa, 1880–84(From the report of the German Consulate in Samoa, 1883, in "Parliamentary Papers," 1889. Figures for 1884 from U.S. Monthly Consular Reports, July 1885, No. 56 (except German Imports, 1884), Vol. 86, c. 5672. U.S. Consular Reports give higher figures for Germany's export and lower for her import trade)

Fig. 6.—Foreign Imports and Exports of Samoa, 1880–84
(From the report of the German Consulate in Samoa, 1883, in "Parliamentary Papers," 1889. Figures for 1884 from U.S. Monthly Consular Reports, July 1885, No. 56 (except German Imports, 1884), Vol. 86, c. 5672. U.S. Consular Reports give higher figures for Germany's export and lower for her import trade)

page 182von Maltzan, a celebrated African traveller, von der Brüggen, and Prince Hohenlohe Langenberg. The avowed objects were: "To extend to a larger circle the realization of the necessity of applying national energy to the field of colonization. To form a central organization for the hitherto scattered efforts for expansion—and to create some method for the practical solution of the question."1 By December 31, 1883, there were 3,345 members, and by 1884 numbers had risen 300 per cent to 10,275. It was decided to issue a journal. The aim and appeal of this periodical, Die Deutsche Kolonial Zeitung, was national not political. It was to consolidate the work of German traders. It was affirmed that "it was better to work for a place in the world2 than to complain of illfortune or the Chancellor."3 In the Zeitung, Samoa figured prominently. Long accounts of the islands were given—descriptive, historical, and commercial. There were also frequent short entries and extracts "from a correspondent in Samoa," which served to keep in people's minds the importance of the group to Germans.4 No opportunity was lost to impress the public in Germany with the attractions of the islands and the extent of German interest, and the aggressive and hampering action of the British. The English, ran one article, "might as well say straight out, 'in whatever part of the world there is no acknowledged settlement by a civilized Power, that do we take, and it belongs to us English.'"5
Indeed, the feeling for colonialism became to some extent an anti-English feeling. The field for expansion had been narrowed chiefly by England. The Anglo-French agreement

1 Townsend, op. cit., pp. 140–44.

2 "Frisch einen Griff in der Welt zu thun."

3 Kolonial Zeitung, vol. i, p. 2.

4 E.g. in vol. i; in vol. ii, 1885, there are five articles on Samoa and Pacific trade; in vol. iii, 1886, there are four articles on Samoa and Pacific trade; in vol. iv, 1887, there are six articles on Samoa and Pacific trade.

5 Kolonial Zeitung.

page 183of 1882 was construed as an unfriendly action, and the tardy settlement of the Fiji claims was a further grievance.

The Australasian Inter-Colonial Convention of 1883 further stirred German feelings of anxiety, particularly in the Pacific, lest British colonists and traders should be enabled—by the absence of German State support to German enterprise—to forestall Germany in New Guinea, and perhaps even to secure Samoa. Moreover, England's apparent unwillingness to allow other claims, while she herself was unwilling to undertake annexation,1 had the effect of promoting popular support for a colonial policy. Lord Ampthill, indeed, warned Granville that Bismarck was being driven, "contrary to his convictions and will, into the inauguration of the colonial policy he had hitherto denounced as detrimental to the concentration of German strength and power."2 When Great Britain protested against the Samoan-German agreement of November 10, 1884, Bismarck complained to Malet "that at every point at which Germany had endeavoured to found a colony, England had closed in, making new acquisitions so as to restrict Germany's power of expansion."3 Further: "The Imperial Government intended to place under the direct protection of the Empire, as had been done in West Africa, so now also in the South Seas, those districts in which German commerce had become predominant, or to which expeditions were about to be undertaken."4

Although these extracts belong to the period of diplomatic negotiation (1885–89) that followed the collapse of Malietoa's independent government, they illustrate the support that Bismarck accorded Stuebel in his action of forcing the

1 E.g. at Angra Pequeña in Africa. See Townsend, op. cit., p. 168.

2 Fitzmaurice, Lord E., Life of Lord Granville, vol. ii, p. 355, quoted in Scholefield, The Pacific, p. 291.

3 B.F.S.P., vol. 76, p. 786. Malet to Granville, January 24, 1885.

4 Ibid., p. 789. Count Münster to Granville, January 28, 1885.

page 184agreement of November 1884 upon Malietoa.1 We may, therefore, assume that it was the realization of the change in German popular feeling and Government policy that led Stuebel into taking this action. The Germans in Samoa were, indeed, sanguine that Samoa would shortly be annexed by Germany.2 Further, in his book Churchward declared that had Malietoa's request for annexation by New Zealand been granted, the New Zealanders "would not have had the pleasure of seeing their flag flying over the islands, for on the first report of their arrival in the neighbourhood, the Germans were quite determined formally to annex the whole group, and very glad they would have been of the excuse."3

In this atmosphere, when the Germans saw at last the shaping of a policy of State protection to the trader by annexation of those parts where he had acquired interests, it is hardly surprising that Germans should have looked with irritation upon Lundon's intrigues. The manifest preference of Samoans for English made the annoyance greater.4 So, with hopes for support from Berlin, intrigue was devised to counter intrigue.

Weber's first step in obtaining control of the native government was when he succeeded—to the sorrow of Samoans and to the alarm of the British—in acquiring Mulinuu, the Samoan native capital and seat of government (December 6, 1883). This step gave him indirect control over the Government. "In the event of Malietoa taking any steps that he may consider inimical to his national or private

1 See p. 187, infra.

2 F.O. 58/199. Churchward to Granville, October 28, 1884.

3 Churchward, My Consulate in Samoa, p. 275.

4 This became, at times, somewhat glaring. For example, the Samoans cultivated a habit of wearing the Union Jack as a lava-lava (or waist cloth), an act which certain British residents considered disrespectful. Their attempts to suppress this only made matters worse, and a culminating point was reached when a Samoan gentleman walked the length of the town draped in the Royal Standard. He was, however, run in.

page 185interests," wrote Thurston, "he [Weber] would not hesitate in turning him off the point and putting his opponents in possession,1 thus virtually giving them the traditional right of rule over all Samoa."2

Weber's avowed motive in bullying the Samoan Government was to secure what had for long been a grievance, the due punishment of plantation thieves.3 The Municipal Government had control only over Apia. Neutral territory extended only a little way beyond the bounds of the Municipality. Despite the cessation of war, depredations on German plantations had continued because the Samoan Government was too weak to stop thieves and too lenient to punish offenders.

But though this was Weber's avowed and immediate aim, his general actions as reported by the Consuls leave no doubt that he desired the real and effective control of the islands by Germany. Indeed, it is difficult to say where his efforts for the German commercial firm ended and where his work for the honour and glory of Germany began. To add to the efficiency and power of the firm was to add to the efficiency and power of Germany in the islands. "In such an atmosphere," wrote Stevenson, "commercial sharpness has an air of patriotism."4 Thus, ostensibly for the benefit of the wide plantations of the Deutsche Handels und Plantagen Gesellschaft, Weber set his plans.

According to Churchward's dispatches,5 feeling in Apia was running high by the end of the year 1884. The Germans suspected the British of intrigue for annexation, partly justified and partly because the natives were loud in expressing their wish for British protection. In October, Weber picked a quarrel with Samoans over Mulinuu Point, which

1 An action taken by Weber two years later.

2 A full account of Weber's method of obtaining possession is given in F.O. 58/188. Thurston to Granville January 28, 1884.

3 See chap. vi.

4 Stevenson, A Footnote to History.

5 F.O. 58/199. Churchward to Granville, October 28, 1884.

page 186he had acquired the previous December. The natives had grumbled over his successful acquisition, and he called upon the Samoan Government to vacate or redeem the property. The opinion of a Samoan was "that the Germans wished to pick a quarrel with their Government for annexation purposes. This, they said, was made clear by speeches to them, by the man-of-war placing flags on various parts of their coast,1 and also by planting coconuts on the reef islands…. There can be no doubt," wrote Churchward, "that the natives are really alarmed at the many reports of German annexation, and as a body resent the idea. The increasingly loud talk of German importance impressed upon them every day of their lives, backed up by newspaper reports of German desire for land acquisition, all of which in a more or less distorted condition they obtain knowledge of and formally discuss, naturally cause them to think very seriously of the matter." Churchward further reported rumours current of German annexation. He wrote of the head of the second German firm of Ruge, Hedeman & Co.: "Mr. Ruge spares no opportunity of publicly stating that a German protectorate has been decided upon and will be established very shortly in spite of all opposition."2 The fear of this was further enhanced by the arrival of the German corvette Marie (October 31, 1884) and the expected arrival of H.I.M.S. Elizabeth. Churchward feared that the Samoans would hoist the British flag on their own initiative!
Meanwhile, King Malietoa on the advice of his chiefs wrote another appeal to Great Britain and to the Government of New Zealand for protection (November 5, 1884). In the stress of the moment he appealed to the Governor of New Zealand to cable his petition to England.3 Weak,

1 Probably, surveying flags.

2 F.O. 58/199. Churchward to Granville, November 11, 1884.

3 F.O. 58/199. Churchward to Granville (No. 23), November 11, 1884. Encl. Malietoa to Queen Victoria and to Governor of New Zealand, November 5, 1884.

page 187indecisive, the king hoped to shuffle the burden of government to other shoulders. The petition, he still optimistically hoped, might be answered and his difficulties solved. The next day, after dispatching the petition, he publicly performed before the German Consulate the most severe abasement permitted by Samoan custom, but he let it be known that it was only in atonement for sins committed, and not as a sign of any wish to belong to Germany.1 He hoped, indeed, by this implied submission to deceive Weber as to his real hopes.

Weber, however, wished for a more definite assurance. Four days later, on November 10, 1884, he forced Malietoa and Tamasese the vice-king to sign an agreement for the future regulation of the government of Samoa. Malietoa submitted for the sake of peace, but the next day appealed again to England. "Your Majesty," he wrote to Queen Victoria, "we are in distress on account of the Government of Germany lest they should take our islands. Therefore we have accepted another treaty with Germany. I wish to make clear to Your Majesty in consequence that I have accepted the treaty against my will, likewise against the will of my Government, but I have accepted it on account of my fear, for I have thought that if your Government should be set up in these islands, then that treaty will be of no effect."2

Unfortunately for Malietoa the Germans heard of this. Churchward recounts that a scribe sold the document to them for $30.3 "The Germans may have been wrong before; they were now in the right to be angry. They had been publicly, solemnly and elaborately fooled."4 From that moment Malietoa was of no account to them. From that incident dates the confusion into which Samoan affairs were

1 Churchward, My Consulate in Samoa, p. 373.

2 F.O. 58/199. Churchward to Granville (No. 24). Encl. No. 2. Malietoa to Queen Victoria, November 17, 1884.

3 Churchward, op. cit., p. 378.

4 Stevenson, p. 96.

page 188plunged. The agreement to which the unwilling Malietoa had assented (November 16, 1884) virtually handed the control of the Samoan Government to Germany. There was to be a Samoan-German Council consisting of the German Consul and two Germans (appointed by him) and two Samoans (appointed one by Malietoa and one by Tamasese—therefore from opposite parties). Arrangements were made for the punishment of Samoans committing injuries to German life and property. An adequate and well-guarded prison was to be built to receive such offenders. There was to be a German Secretary and advisor to the king, who would also possess magisterial powers and be able to punish for any term up to two years.1
The strife which arose in Samoa as the result of this document, and the reception which it received by the British and American Governments, placed Samoan affairs on a new footing. Indeed, by the end of 1884 the British Government was forced into an awkward position. In 1881, unwilling to be driven into too great concern in the islands and feeling safe in their assured neutrality, Granville had refused to entertain the idea of a tripartite condominium. Now in 1884 Germany had suddenly shown a willingness to annex on the grounds of interests which were indubitably preponderant. This was particularly awkward as New Zealand had manifested a great anxiety to annex Samoa since 1883,2 and had made an offer to share in the expenses that might be involved. Further, native autonomy, the British standby during the century, had proved in Samoa

1 F.O. 58/199. Churchward to Granville (No. 14), November 19, 1884.

2 November 19, 1884. Jervois telegraphed New Zealand Ministers, hoping Great Britain would claim Samoa and Tonga in the negotiations that were proceeding with Germany (F.O. 58/199. Telegram. Jervois to Derby, November 19, 1884). The attitude of the C.O. is illustrated by a memo. by Herbert that "as far as the C.O. were concerned, they would not be sorry if Germany took Samoa, and perhaps Tonga also" (F.O. 58/199. Memo, for F.O., C.L.H., December 16, 1884).

page 189an acknowledged failure. The aggrieved tone of the Australasian Colonies over German annexation of Northern New Guinea was only a foretaste of what the bitterness in New Zealand would be if Germany annexed Samoa. England, therefore, had to resort to reciprocal assurances with Germany that both would regard the integrity of Samoa,1 a solution that satisfied neither Germany nor New Zealand nor Samoa, but it saved England the unpleasantness of either annexing or allowing Germany to do so.2

1 F.O. 58/199. Granville to Malet. Cons. 29, December 2, 1884. On the receipt of assurances from Berlin, Derby cabled to New Zealand that "foreign interests in the islands precluded H.M. Government from accepting the cession of the Navigator Islands" (F.O. 58/199. F.O. to C.O., December 11, 1884).

2 This had been strongly urged by Des Voeux. "It would be far better for the interests not only of British subjects but of the Samoans, that the country should be altogether taken by Germany rather than that the government should be carried on under the conditions indicated in the agreement, which attaches to Germans all the advantages without the corresponding responsibilities of annexation" (F.O. 58/199. Des Voeux to Granville, No. 23, December 10, 1884).

iv. The American Standpoint — A further
bar to Settlement

Even supposing the British Government, acknowledging that native autonomy was impracticable, had agreed to German annexation, there was yet the third Treaty Power to consider. America had in the years 1880–84 developed her interests in the islands. That President Hayes considered America had future interests in the Pacific Islands is implied by him in 1880.3 "It would be well," he wrote, "if the consular jurisdiction of our representative at Apia were increased in extent and importance so as to guard American interests in the surrounding and outlying islands of Oceana." Here is a clear indication of United States interests in Samoa

3 Richardson, J. D., Messages of Presidents, vol. viii, p. 64, December 6, 1880.

page 190as a focus for further activity. In the Samoa Conference of 1887 the United States further showed that she considered Samoa of prime strategic importance. As it was in this Conference that the United States first clearly showed her attitude to the problem of the ultimate fate of Samoa, it deserves a brief consideration here, even though it is outside the period immediately under discussion.

The climax in Samoa at the end of 1884 and in 1885 led to an Anglo-German Commission to find a solution to the vexed question of Samoan government. The two Commissioners (the British, Sir J. Thurston and Herr Krauel, the German) presented annexation by a single Power as the only solution. The matter was dropped in view of the Anglo-German negotiations of April 1886 for the division of the Pacific into spheres of influence. In 1886, however, a Commission of American, German, and British representatives was appointed to report upon the situation in Samoa and upon "how to compass an autonomous government in the islands."1 Travers, the German Commissioner, was clear in his assertion that this was not practicable. He recommended annexation by Germany as she had the greatest interests. Bates, the United States Commissioner, recommended annexation by America as she had fewest interests. Thurston did not consider annexation by a single Power permissible as a solution within the scope of his instructions, but he implied its desirability.

On the basis of these reports a conference was called at Washington, June–July 1887. The German delegate, Baron von Alvensleben, suggested that a five-year mandate for the government of Samoa should be given to the Power with preponderant interests. This would, of course, be Germany, but if at the end of five years another Power should have

1 50–51 Hse. Ex. Doc. No. 238: Travers' Report, p. 261, Appendix B; Thurston's Report, p. 268, Appendix C; Bates' Report, p. 137, Appendix A.

page 191acquired as great interests, the government should be transferred. This, as a solution, was welcomed by Sir Lionel West, the British delegate. Though it would probably have been unpalatable to New Zealand, it would have been a settlement on a just and reasonable basis. This proposal was, however, firmly rejected by Bayard, the United States Secretary of State. He flatly declined to consider what he implied would be the eventual absorption of the islands by Germany. His reasons lay bare the United States interest in the group. Their importance, he said, "is mainly because of their geographical position. They lie in the pathway of a commerce that is just being developed. The opening of the north-west coast of North America to civilization and commerce by means of the trans-continental railways had given to this group of islands an interest which they had never had before…. Moreover," he continued, "we all hope for the penetration of the isthmus in some way or other. If that occurs a new feature of interest will be added to them…. There is something beyond the mere material present value of the land and products, and it is for that reason that the United States desires to see that group of islands maintained for the common use of all nations."1

This, it may be added, was not the German interpretation of American action. "By the Monroe Doctrine," said Count Herbert Bismarck to Salisbury, "they seem to wish the Pacific Ocean to become an American lake. They not only want Hawaii (where England has no interests) under their influence, but also Samoa and Tonga as stations on a route through a future Panama Canal to Australia; there are, indeed, Americans who dream of a future republican union and federation of the various Australasian Colonies with the United States."2

1 B.F.S.P., vol. 79. Protocols of Conferences between Great Britain, Germany, and the United States.

2 Die Grosse Politik, vol. iv, p. 175. H. Bismarck to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, August 24, 1887.

page 192

Whatever arrière-pensée Bayard may have had in the Washington Conference, his refusal to consider the proposed mandatory government postponed the solution of the Samoan problem until 1889.

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.