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As soon as the funeral ceremonies were at an end, deliberation and discussion among the Chiefs ensued. There were, in the first instance, several candidates for the succession. Their number was eventually reduced to two:
1. Malietoa Tanu, the son of the late King: 2. The High Chief Mataafa.
This Chief had been in rebellion against Malietoa Laupepa, but had suffered defeat, and with other Chiefs had been deported, by agreement with the three Powers, to the Marshall Islands. On the recommendation of the Consular officers at Apia, the Powers, in July 1898, consented to his return, the condition being his signature of a Protocol in the following terms :
“I, Mataafa, now held at the Island of Jaluit, do solemnly promise, agree, and declare: That if I am permitted to return to Apia, Samoa, and there remain, I will at all times be and remain loyal to the Government of Samoa as established under the Berlin Final Act as concluded on the 14th June, 1889, and the Government as heretofore existing under King Malietoa Laupepa, and to the successor of the said King Malietoa when chosen ; that I will remain at Mulinuu, the present seat of the Samoan Government, and will not depart therefrom without the written consent of the Consuls of the three Treaty Powers ; that I will not encourage or participate in any hostile action against the Government, nor will I permit my relatives or adherents to engage in any hostile action against the Government; and that I will, to the best of my ability, uphold, aid, and support the Government as now established under the Treaty ; and that I will use my influence to promote the peace of Samoa, and to strengthen the loyalty of the people towards the Government; and I
agree that my return to Samoa and continued residence there shall depend upon my faithful performance of the conditions above named, and the wilful disregard of the conditions above named shall be sufficient cause for my removal from Samoa, or for other punishment."
On the 19th September, Mataafa and the other exiled Chiefs landed in Samoa. It does not appear that he took any overt steps to claim the vacant throne; but a section of the natives pronounced in his favour, and announced on the 12th November to the Consuls and to the Chief Justice that he had been duly elected King.
On the 13th November the opposing faction declared that the real election of a King had not taken place, and on the following day announced that their choice had fallen upon Malietoa Tanu.
Both parties appealed to Mr. Chambers, the Chief Justice, who considered bimself then in a position to take cognizance of the matter, according to the provisions of the Final Act, a question
having arisen "in Samoa respecting the rightful election or appointment of King.”
Communications with the Chiefs on either side occasioned some further delay, and it was not until the 19th December that the investigation was opened. Both condidates were represented by European Counsel, and witnesses on either side were exhaustively examined-in-chief and cross-examined. Oral argument followed, each party being permitted all the time requested by them.
On the last day but one of the trial a copy of the Protocols and Final Act of the Berlin Conference was submitted in evidence for the purpose of proving that Mataafa was excluded from the Kingship as long as the Act was in force and unchanged.
This contention was based on the statement made by Count Bismarck, at the fifth sitting of the Conference, that, while accepting the principle that the Samoans should have the right of freely electing their King, he was bound to make one exception, in the person of Mataafa, on account of the outrages committed by his people, and under his authority, upon dead and wounded German sailors lying on the field of action.
The outrages to which Count Bismarck made allusion occurred in December 1888, during hostilities between the two rival factions in Samoa. A detachment of marines from the Imperial ship “Olga," wbich had been landed to protect the German plantations, was on that occasion attacked, and more than fifty officers and men were killed and wounded.
The decision of the Chief Justice was given on the 31st December. Referring to the veto placed upon Mataạfa in 1889, he stated :
“Had this question arisen in the first stages of the investigation, and it had been thought wise to make a decision thereon, much time and labour might have been saved; but it would not have been decided at any time before the conclusion of the case as originally outlined, for the good reasons
“1. That the defeated contestant and his followers would have justly felt that they had not been permitted the investigation that they asked for, and which had been promised them by the Chief Justice; and
“2. Because the contest presented the first, possibly the last, and unquestionably the most favourable opportunity for a thorough inquiry and judicial ascertainment of the laws and custonis of Samoa relating to the choice of a King.
“No question or doubt as to the eligibility of Mataafa to the Kingship of Samoa had been entertained until after the beginning of this investigation, and it was not seriously considered until it formally arose during the last two days of the investigation."
In conclusion, he declored :
"As the Judicial Officer, nominated by the three Signatory Powers, agreed to and commissioned by the Government of Samoa, and thus designated by them all to decide this question and appealed to by the contestants, I cannot throw off the obligation to obey the plain and emphatic declaration of the framers of the Treaty when they declare that one exception must be made amongst all the people of Samoa from eligibility to the Kingship. It is plainly stated by one of the Powers represented in the Conference, as a condition precedent to its consent to the principle of the election of a King, that there must be one exception. That exception is mentioned in the person of Mataafa. Reasons were given for making the exception which not only commended themselves to the other Plenipotentiaries and commanded their assent, but appealed to the highest instincts of universal humanity.
“As long as this condition remains in the Protocol, and until it is stricken out or altered by the same Powers that placed it there, a Judicial Officer, whose right to exercise the functions of his office depends upon the same Treaty and Protocols, cannot give any interpretation to Article I than that so manifestly and mandatorily stated in the Protocols of the fifth session of the Conference.
" It is therefore decided that Mataafa, because of his ineligibility, has not been rightfully elected or appointed King of Samoa conformably to the provisions of the Berlin Treaty; it is therefore unnecessary to discuss at this time whether there has been a compliance with the laws and customs of Samoa not in conflict therewith in connection with his alleged election.
“ It is furthermore decided that Malietoa Tanumafili, being the only candidate for the Kingship eligible thereto, whose election has been reported to the Chief Justice, and who is the contestant and claimant in this proceeding for the office, is elected King of Samoa, and this decision is made in writing conformably to the provisions of the Berlin Act, and to the laws and customs of Samoa not in conflict therewith."
The adherents of Mataafa refused to accept the decision of the Chief Justice, and a serious conflict, involving loss of life, occurred. The followers of Malietoa Tanu were defeated, a large number sought the protection of Her Majesty's ship Porpoise which, together with the Imperial German vessel of war Falke was, and had been for some time previously, lying in the harbour of Apia. Malietoa Tanu himself, Tamasese, his principal supporter, and Mr. Chambers, the Chief Justice, were granted asylum on board Her Majesty's ship.
Much destruction and pillage of native property is reported to
bave taken place, and some damage to the property of Europeans also occurred.
Repeated conferences were held between the Consuls of the three Powers, the Naval Commanders, and the Chief Justice, and the President of the Municipal Council of Apia.
On the 4th January it was decided to establish a Provisional Government, and the following Proclamation was issued :
“Owing to the events of the last days, and to the urgent necessity to establish a strong Provisional Government of Samoa, we, the undersigned Consular Representatives of the three Treaty Powers, declare as follows:
"1. The Mataafa party, represented by the High Chief Mataafa and the following thirteen Chiefs: Leniana, Morfaano, Lanaki, Toelupe, Molioo, Fue, Laufa, Antagavaia, Asiata, Leiatana, Tufuga, Leiato, and Suatele, wbo lately acted on behalf of said party, and who are now in de facto possession of the Samoan Government, are recognized to be the Provisional Government of Samoa pending instructions from the three Treaty Powers;
"2. The President to be the Executive Head Officer of the said Provisional Government;
“Nothing in this Proclamation shall be taken as modifying or abrogating the rights and privileges of the three Treaty Powers in Samoa, either individually or collectively, or of their Consular Representatives as now existing. “Given at A pia, this 4th day of January, 1899.
Rose, Imperial German Consul-General. “ L. W. OSBORN, United States' Consul-General, ERNEST G. B. Maxse, Her Britannic Majesty's
Owing to the grave position of affairs Her Majesty's ship Royalist was ordered to proceed to Apia, and on the 6th March the United States' ship Philadelphia carrying the flag of Admiral Kautz, arrived there.
Further disturbances have unfortunately occurred. The intelligence having only been received by telegraph from Her Maje:ty's Consul, full details are wanting ; but the serious character of the outbreak is evident from the fact that Apia was bombarded by the Philadelphia, Her Majesty's steam - ships Porpoise and Royalist joining, that parties landed from thoso vessels came into collision with the natives, and that three British sailors and one American lost their lives.
It has thus become evident that, from whatever cause, the local officials have for the time become incapable of restraining the native population, that the institutions founded on the Berlin Act are (1899-1900. xcii.]
threatened, and that the interests of the European residents, no less than those of the natives, are imperilled.
The difficulty of arriving at any definite solution is greatly enhanced by the conflicting evidence wbich such events not unusually elicit, and by the fact that in consequence of the absence of direct telegraphic communication with Samoa it is impossible to make timely provision for the various contingencies as they arise. Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of Germany and the United States, considering it imperative to adopt prompt measures to remedy the disorder which prevails and to prevent, if possible, any recurrence of conflict, have therefore determined to send Commissioners at once to Samoa for that purpose ; and I bave to inform you that, with the Queen's approval, you have been selected to be British Commissioner, and I inclose Her Majesty's commissiou appointing you in that capacity.
I inclose to you a copy of a Memorandum which has been accepted by the three Powers, and which will sufficiently indicate to you the nature of the duties you will have to perform, and the extent of the authority under which you will act.
Her Majesty's Consul at A pia will be informed of the decision taken by the Powers, and will be instructed during your Mission to consider himself subordinate to you.
I am, &c., C. N. E. Eliot, Esq.
In view of the troubles which have recently taken place in Samoa, and for the purpose of restoring tranquillity and order therein, the three Powers, parties to the Conference of Berlin, have appointed a Commission to undertake the provisional government of the islands.
For this purpose they shall exercise supreme authority in the islands. Every other person or persons exercising authority therein, whether acting under the Final Act of Berlin or otherwise, shall obey their orders; and the three Powers will instruct their Consular and Naval officers to render similar obedience. No action taken by the Commissioners in pursuance of the above authority shall be valid unless it is assented to by all three Commissiouers.
It will fall within the attributions of the Commissioners to consider the provisions which they may think necessary for the future government of the islands, or for the modification of the Final Act of Berlin, and to report to their Governments the conclusions to which they may come.