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[. . .]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

[Telegram. -- Paraphrase.]

American Legation, Brussels, January 10, 1908.

Your telegram January 9 just received. The death of Prime Minister de Trooz has very much altered the situation relative to the annexation of the Kongo. I am informed that Minister Schollaert, on taking office insisted on such changes in the treaty of annexation as would lead to the absolute suppression of the so-called Domain of the Crown, which is the source of the greatest complaint, and the free and unrestricted exercise of Belgian sovereignty in every part of the Kongo. The new minister has just taken office this day, and all questions of policy are supposed to be in a state of transition.

Immediately on receipt of the department's telegram I submitted to the British minister, Sir Arthur Hardinge, a copy. He emphatically expressed the opinion that any action at the present time of transition would be unfair and ill considered. He stated also that he had as yet no definite instructions to act; that his instructions did not contemplate an urgent representation, but simply a private and informal hint.

As the spirit of the department's prior instructions, as well as the fact that we are not signatory to the Berlin act , would indicate that in concerted action with the British minister my role should be one of support and in some sense secondary, I am obliged to ask whether the department now desires me to make an immediate and independent representation based on its instructions to American Ambassador Reid and its telegram of December 16.

Wilson.

 
[. . .]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

[Telegram.]

American Legation, Brussels, January 23, 1908.

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

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

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

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

Wilson.

 
[. . .]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

[Extract.]

American Legation, Brussels, January 31, 1908.

Sir: I have the honor to confirm my cablegram of January 30. As therein stated, Mr. Davignon, the Belgian minister for foreign affairs, called at the legation on the 29th and left with me for copy and return a memorandum, copy and translation of which are inclosed, relative to the interview which the British minister, Sir Arthur Hardinge, and I had with him on January 23.

The department will note that the memorandum is addressed more particularly to the representations made by the British minister than to those which, under instructions from the department, I briefly submitted. This is accounted for by two circumstances: First, as a natural resultant of my indication to Mr. Davignon, as reported in my No. 285, that on account of our purely humanitarian interests in the Kongo question and the greater and more complicated interests of Great Britain, I preferred to have my British colleague present our case in extenso, and confined my own remarks to a brief but literal representation of the department's views; second, to the fact that Sir Arthur Hardinge, subsequently to our interview, permitted the secretary of Mr. Davignon to take a copy of his written statement, thus making the same the basis of the discussion. I was not asked for a memorandum of my brief observations and I sup- pose that Mr. Davignon —- perhaps properly —- assumed that in voluntarily surrendering the principal role to my colleague I had also assigned to him the right to receive a direct reply.

The essential point, however, of my representation is noted in Mr. Davignon's memorandum, and there is no doubt whatsoever that our position was clearly expressed and clearly understood.

In the meantime I shall carefully watch the course of events here and report the same to the department.

I have the honor, etc.,
Henry Lane Wilson.

[Inclosure. -- Translation.]

Nota Pro Memoria, January 29, 1908.

Sir A. Hardinge, in accord with his colleague of the United States, has brought to our knowledge that the annexation of the Kongo to Belgium was considered by their Governments as the best solution under the circumstances.

The Belgian Government notes with satisfaction the opinion of the cabinets at London and at Washington regarding the joining of the Kongo to Belgium. Since these two countries have the same sovereign and the same obligations. it is therefore merely a question, from an international standpoint, of a simple transfer by which the advantages of the parliamentary régime enjoyed by the mother country will be conferred upon the colony.

The Belgian Government, when transmitting to the Chambers the papers in the transfer, could not fail to recall to them that in 1895 the project of annexation did not elicit observations from abroad. This Is a well-known fact, to which it has not on this occasion added any commentaries.

The treaty of cession not having as yet been approved, and the colonial law not having been voted, the form of interior administration which will be effected by annexation is at this moment under examination and discussion is Parliament in the full exercise of the supreme authority of legislative right, and Sir A. Hardinge has thought it proper to indicate that the British Government was anxious to avoid all intrusion therein.

Sir A. Hardinge has insisted, however, that no doubt should remain in the mind of the Belgian cabinet regarding the capital importance which the two Governments attach to the application by Belgium, if she should take the place of the Independent State of the Kongo, of the provisions of the international agreements regarding the absolute freedom of commerce, of the rights of Christian missionaries, and of the humane and equitable treatment of the native population. The minister of the United States has particularly insisted upon the importance which his Government attaches to the enforcement of the provisions of article 2 of the general act of Brussels concerning the treatment of the native races.

The treaty of cession, now before the Chambers, declares In Its first article that Belgium. in accepting the cession, assumes as its own the obligations established by treaties which the Kongo State has concluded with foreign powers. The Government of the King will observe in the execution of its engagements the same care and the same loyalty it applies, in spirit and in letter, to the convention, of whatever nature, which to-day bind Belgium with the Government of His Britannic Majesty and of all other powers.

Regarding that which particularly concerns the provisions of the general act of Berlin of February 26, 1885, and of that of Brussels of July 2, 1890, concerning the conventional basin of the Kongo, it might be well to recall that Belgium is a directly contracting party to these international acts, and that her plenipotentiaries took a part therein, which is a sure guaranty of the intentions which to-day inspire the Belgian Government.

In making this reply to Sir A. Hardinge and to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Davignon animated by the same sentiments which have called forth the unofficial communication of their excellencies, and he attaches to it the same friendly and private character.

 
 
[. . .]

Chargéé Carter to the Secretary of State.

American Embassy, London, February 28, 1908.

Sir: Sir Edward Grey sent for me this morning to come to the foreign office, as he wished to add a few explanations to you after the debate of this week in the House of Lords and the House of Commons on the subject of the Kongo, and to define his position more clearly.

He said that it was his purpose now to wait and to do nothing more until the proposals of the Belgian Government were laid before the Belgian Parliament, and it entirely depended upon the nature of these proposals what his future action would be. If they were unsatisfactory: in their nature and not in accordance with the views of His Majesty's Government, which were practically the same as ours, he would consider it necessary to make further representations to the Belgian Government on the basis of the reports of our consuls in the Kongo, and this he hoped would be a joint representation of both our Governments, and to that end he would duly inform you of the line he proposed to take, so that the representations in question might be identical.

He said he welcomed the fact of our working together in this matter, and that the amount of good we were able to do in the Kongo was vastly increased and far greater than their isolated action would be —- our action being disinterested was open to no suspicion in any quarter —- and that he was prepared to go with us as far as we would wish.

I have, etc.,
John Ridgely Carter.

 
[. . .]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

American Legation, Brussels, March 10, 1908.

SIR: Referring to my No. 306, with which are transmitted copies and translations of the amended treaty of annexation of the Kongo, the "exposé des motifs" of the ministry, and the royal decree suppressing the Foundation of the Crown, I have the honor to advise the department that the results secured. through the conclusion of this convention would appear to be such as should satisfy international opinion and allay the opposition which existed in Belgium to the project of annexation as conceived by the original treaty.

The celebration of this treaty and its subsequent ratification by the Belgian Parliament will assure two definite and important results, which stand out clearly in the foreground.

First, the Domain or Foundation of the Crown—which is only another name for the regime implanted by the King in the Kongo, which, it is alleged, is responsible for the conditions which have provoked international protest and action —- is suppressed, and the Sovereign's autocratic rule of these regions, through a system of secret bureaucracy, is ended.

Second, the Government of the Kongo, through a responsible ministry with parliamentary control of the budget, in accordance with a colonial law framed under the pressure of an active and vigilant Belgian, as well as international opinion, should make it certain that these regions, with the native population and vast natural resources, will be ruled and administered in harmony with the beneficent prescriptions of the Berlin and Brussels acts.

Assuming that the treaty of annexation will be approved by Parliament, the first of these objects has been attained, and from the constitution of the committee of seventeen, and the evident temper of the dominant majority in Parliament —- which has doubtless been quickened in its conscience by the influence of public opinion in America and England —- the second will not be long delayed.

It does not appear to me that the terms upon which Belgium acquires the Kongo are of great importance from an international standpoint.

These are considerations which it would appear have to do only with Belgian interests. Our interest in the Kongo question being purely humanitarian in character, we have been concerned only in the abolition of the regime which is held to be responsible for conditions repugnant to civilization and to the humanitarian spirit of this age, and in the substitution therefor of constitutional government to be interpreted and executed in a spirit of benevolence and humanity.

There was some dissatisfaction with the treaty when it was first laid before Parliament, owing to the apparent intention to give the King absolute control of the expenditure of the $10,000,000 voted to him in recognition of his work in the Kongo.

This objection, however, was met by a declaration of the prime minister that each annual installment of this sum was to be approved upon by Parliament, in accordance with the Belgian constitution.

I am of the opinion that the treaty, as now submitted, will receive a substantial majority in Parliament, and that future consideration of the Kongo question will relate to the character of the colonial law.

I have, etc.,
Henry Lane Wilson.

 
[. . .]

Consul General Smith to the Acting Secretary of State.

American Consulate General, Boma, March 21, 1908.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a report on the political conditions of the upper Ituri district.

In reference to this report, and for your further information, I beg to say the upper Ituri district is comprised within the region situated to the northeast of Stanleyville and west of Lake Albert in the basin of the Ituri and Aruwimi Rivers.

In this region, which is exploited directly by the State, the Fondation de la Couronne has reserved to itself the rich mining district in the basin of the Aruwimi, where are located the gold mines of Kilo. Other mines are located at Panga in the same district, the gold being mostly alluvial. Exportations of gold from here in 1906 amounted to about $165,000, all of which would be for the account of the Fondation de la Couronne; or, in other words, for the King.

I have the honor to call your particular attention to the conditions brought about by the excessive rubber tax imposed on the unfortunate natives in this district. The similarity between these conditions and those existing in the region visited by myself are worthy of note. It is no uncommon thing for the rubber gatherers to be eaten by leopards, which abound in many regions of the State, and I well recall the case of a native who had been thus eaten and whose remains —- what was left of them -- were brought to the State post at Yambata while I was there. The so-called police expeditions mentioned in the report are nothing more than armed raids for nonpayment of rubber taxes and for the purpose of securing laborers to work on the railroad from Kindu south to Portes d'Enfer.

I would further call your attention to that part of the report regarding the working of the Kilo mines by forced labor. This system is plainly contrary to the law, which provides (decree 3d June, 1906) for the recruitment of workmen for works decreed as being of public utility. I fail to see how the development of a gold mine for the personal benefit of the King can properly be called a work of public utility. The protest of the States attorney, however, as is noted in the report, did not meet with the approval of the higher authorities at Boma, and the practical enslavement of the native continues.

In forwarding this report I have the honor to say that the information given therein was communicated confidentially to the ---- consul general here, and by him in the same manner to me. Our informant, ---- ----, expects to return to the Kongo at the expiration of his leave, and the information he gives is not, therefore, for publication, but solely for your information. ---- ---- is described ass serious, intelligent, and well-balanced man, and his information, consequently, worthy of full faith and confidence.

I have, etc.,
Jas. A. Smith, Consul General.

[Inclosure.]

Information on Political Conditions in the Upper Ituri District.

The territory to the north of the line Medje, Nepoko, Kilo, as far as Uele River, has never been subdued. It is inhabited by the belligerent tribes of the Mokudu, and Bafuasoma, who have never paid, nor do now, taxes to the State. This territory, however, has never been placed under the "regime militaire" (martial law), but, in accordance with the terms of the decree of June 3, 1906, so-called police expeditions are constantly being made into the district by the authorities. These expeditions, in some of which ---- ---- was present, are conducted with the greatest energy; entire villages are burned and the few prisoners taken are chained together by the neck and sent to forced labor on the railroad now building south from Kindu to Portes d'Enfer.

The rest of the region comprised in the upper Ituri district, and which formerly paid taxes in rubber to the State, has revolted, the natives refusing to gather any more rubber. The tax on rubber has been a collective one, the villages furnishing a given quantity monthly, based upon the number of inhabitants.

The remuneration granted by the State to the natives for the rubber delivered is 25 centimes (5 cents) per kilogram and paid in Turkish fez. During all the time of his stay in this district ---- ---- saw no other merchandise distributed among the natives and the State posts had no other class of goods.

To furnish the monthly rubber tax imposed by the State the natives in this district are obliged to work the entire month. They are frequently obliged to go a distance of 15 days' march from their villages to find it. No time remains for the native to attend to the cultivation of his garden.

The revolt is a pacific one, being limited to a refusal on the part of the natives to gather rubber. Some of the natives interrogated by ---- ---- as to their reason for refusing to pay their taxes replied as follows;

"To pay the monthly impost we must go into the forest and work almost the entire month. Leaving for the forest with 50 men, we return with only 25 or 30; the others die of hunger or are eaten by leopards. Our women must bring us our food; no one remains to work our gardens. Upon our return we are at once obliged to leave again for the forest. Therefore, to die of hunger working or die from a shot from an Albini Is the same. Let the soldiers come and kill us, but we will no longer gather rubber."

Profiting by the terms of the decree of June 3, 1906, this region has been declared to be under the "régime militaire," which is renewed every three months by proclamation. This condition, of which no information has up to the present been allowed to escape, has lasted for nearly a year. Justice is In the hands of the military authorities and the region thus left without any control. The Mambuti (pygmies), a most warlike people, patrol the region seeking to create an armed uprising of the other natives, but with little or no success. Besides being most impressive, said ---- ----, this peaceful revolt is truly pitiful. It is a people living continually in a state of slavery, not daring to rise in arms, but, tired of suffering, preferring death rather than life without hope.

In the upper Ituri the work of paddling is not forced and the canoe crews are volunteers. Porterage to Arakubi is done freely by the population; in the other localities it is forced on the people by requisitioning the necessary men from the villages. During the march, arriving at the end of the day's journey, the porters are imprisoned within a stockade with a sentinel at the gate to prevent flight. These porters are paid at the rate of 20 centimes a day, with 5 centimes added for rations; total 25 centimes (5 cents); so that at the end of a day's work twelve porters, to whom would be due 8 francs (60 cents), are given a "doti" (2 fathoms) of white cotton cloth.

The gold mines of Kilo are worked by forced labor. The State, profiting by small revolts, secures the laborers in the Manyema district to the south, and transports them chained together by the neck to Kilo. They are paid, it is true, one "doti " (2 fathoms) of cloth per month, besides food, but every liberty is denied them and they can not abandon their work.

The substitut procureur (assistant state's attorney), de Lichterwalde, arriving at Kilo at the end of 1906, received the, protest of all the laborers because they had no contract as the law provides and were kept at forced labor. Mr. de Lichterwalde complained to the district commissioner that this system was contrary to law, and informed him that if, within three months, the condition of the laborers was not bettered, he would proceed against him in the courts. From Boma, however, arrived an order to the procureur to suspend all action regarding the work at Kilo. Mr. de Lichterwalde left shortly afterwards for Europe on leave and has not returned. To-day the condition of the laborers at Kilo is the same as in 1906.

Jas. A. Smith, Consul General.

Boma, March 19, 1908.

 
 

The British Ambassador to the Secretary of State.

British Embassy, Washington, March 23, 1908.

Sir: I duly forwarded to His Majesty's Government the copy of the report on conditions in the Kongo State by the American consul general at Boma kindly supplied by the United States Government in response to the request of this embassy.

I am now directed by His Majesty's Government to inform you that they are very sensible of the advantages attaching to the cooperation of the United States Government in their efforts to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs in the Kongo, and I am to add an expression of their cordial thanks for the communication of Mr. Smith's report and the consent given to the publication of extracts from it in the papers to be submitted to Parliament.

I have, etc.,
James Bryce.

 
[. . .]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

American Legation, Brussels, April 1, 1908.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith the following correspondence exchanged between this legation and the Kongo foreign office relative to the right of American Christian missionaries to purchase or lease lands in the Kongo State territories for missionary or school sites:

1. Copy of my note of March 16, sent after the receipt of the department's cablegram of March 12.
2. Copy of reply thereto, dated March 18.
3. Translation of No. 2.
4. Copy of my reply to No. 2.

I also transmit (inclosure 5) a copy of the simultaneous note addressed to the Kongo foreign office by the British minister upon the same date with my inclosure No. 1, and a copy of the reply thereto (inclosure No. 6).

The British minister has not yet made his reply to Mr. de Cuvelier's note of March 28, but if I am furnished a copy later it will be transmitted to the department.

The department will note that the language of the correspondence exchanged between this legation and the Kongo foreign office is decidedly vigorous and emphatic, but I believed it necessary to let it be known that we felt a just indignation over the disposition of the Kongo government to evade or postpone the performance of its treaty obligations upon pleas of a frivolous character, and to say in a direct and forcible manner that we can not tolerate the suspension or evasion of the execution of treaty stipulations upon pretexts invented by bureaucratic jurists.

I have, etc.,
Henry Lane Wilson.

[Inclosure 1.]

Minister Wilson to the Chevalier de Cuvelier, Secretary General of the Kongo, March 16, 1908.

Mr. Secretary General: I duly transmitted to Washington your esteemed note of February 7, and am just in receipt of an expression of my Government's views thereon.

My Government was not aware, until its attention was called by the correspondence between your department and this legation, that the right of any class of American Christian missionaries to purchase lands for missionary sites and schools in the Belgian Kongo had ever been questioned, denied, or limited, and it regrets that such clear and definite rights, secured by solemn treaties, must be made the subject of diplomatic correspondence.

The rights of American Christian missionaries are fully set forth and described in the language of articles 2 and 4 of our treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation of 1891 , and the guaranties therein contained can not be abrogated, suspended, or delayed.

While I am sensible that our rights, under the existing treaties, will be fully recognized by Belgium, and while I appreciate in some measure the difficulties of affording a satisfactory solution at this period of transition, when the Kongo government is possibly on the eve of being transferred to another power, I must nevertheless beg you to be good enough to give me the formal assurance that in the event the annexation bill now pending before Parliament shall fail of adoption during the present session the consideration and settlement of this question will not be further postponed.

I will be greatly pleased, Mr. Secretary General, to have a reply to this note at as early a date as convenient.

I avail myself, etc.,
Henry Lane Wilson.

 

[Inclosure 2. -- Translation.]

Chevalier de Cuvelier to Minister Wilson.

Mr. Minister: By your letter of March 16, replying to my letter of February 7, your excellency has kindly requested to be clearly informed relative to the intentions of the Government of the Kongo in the matter of the sale of lands belonging to the State, in the event that the treaty of annexation at present pending before the Belgian Parliament should not be adopted during the present session.

I have the honor to advise your excellency that if events should occur as you anticipate the Government of the Independent State of the Kongo would consider that the circumstances to which I referred in my letter of February 7 would be modified, and it would naturally have to examine the measures to be taken that the decrees of June 3, 1906, providing for the sale or lease of lands belonging to the State should be executed without delay.

Your excellency will permit me to add that the diplomatic correspondence which I had the honor to exchange with the legation of the United States has never put in question, nor contested or limited, the rights of American citizens in the Independent State of the Kongo, as stipulated by the treaty of January 24, 1891 , and particularly by articles 2 and 4, and that the Government of the Kongo State does not intend to evade any of its international obligations, either in their tenor or bearing.

I avail, etc.,
Che. de Cuvelier.

 

[Inclosure 3.]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary General of the Independent State of the Kongo, March 31, 1908.

Mr. Secretary General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed letter of March 28, No. 784-2068, and note with pleasure the declaration contained therein that in the event of the failure of the Kongo annexation bill now pending before Parliament to receive legislative approval, the Government of the Independent State of the Kongo will immediately address itself to the execution of the decrees providing for the sale or lease of lands belonging to the State.

I must add, however, Mr. Secretary General, that the interpretation placed by you upon the correspondence of this legation with the Independent State of the Kongo seems to me at variance with the facts. In no correspondence which I have had the honor to exchange with you has it been either stated or intimated that the Kongo foreign office had placed in question treaty rights of American citizens guaranteed by the convention of 1891.

I may, however, be permitted to call your attention to the fact that the convention of 1891 has now been in force for more than 16 years, and yet there is undisputed evidence that the agents of the Kongo Government have refused —- and still continue to refuse -— to sell or lease lands to American missionaries for mission or school sites.

As the State is practically the exclusive proprietor of Kongo lands, the refusal of its agents to sell or lease the same to a class of persons specifically mentioned in articles 2 and 4 of the convention constitutes in itself a virtual abrogation of the stipulations therein contained.

My Government is not seeking special privileges at the hands of the Kongo Government. It is simply asking for the performance of treaty obligations without reservations or delays.

I avail myself, etc.,
Henry Lane Wilson.

 

[Inclosure 4.]

The British Minister to the Independent State of the Kongo.

Brussels, March 16, 1908.

Monsieur le Chevalier: I duly transmitted to His Majesty's secretary of state for foreign affairs the note which you did me the honor to address to me on the 21st ultimo respecting sites for British Christian missions in the Independent Kongo State, and I reported to him the verbal exchange of views which had taken place between us on this question.

Sir Edward Grey has approved of the stress laid by me on the rights to the acquisition of landed property in the Kongo State guaranteed by it to British subjects under article 2 of the convention of 1884 between Great Britain and the International Association of the Kongo; but In view of the considerations set forth by you he has merely instructed me to require from the Kongo Government a formal assurance that if the annexation bill now before the Belgian Parliament is not passed before the close of its session in May next that Government will without further delay sell to the British missionary societies concerned sites in or near the localities which they have Indicated.

I should be grateful, Monsieur le Chevalier, for a reply at your earliest convenience to this note, to which I have the honor to annex a translation, and I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you the assurance of my high consideration.

A. H. Hardinge.

 

[Inclosure 5. —- Translation.]

Independent State of the Kongo to the British Minister.

Brussels, March 28, 1908.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the letter which your excellency has been good enough to address me relative to the intentions of the Government of the Independent State of the Kongo in the matter of the sale or lease of domain lands in the event that the annexation bill, at present pending before the Belgian Parliament, should not be adopted before the close of its session in the month of May next.

During our former Interviews, when your excellency referred to the postponement of annexation, I answered spontaneously that, in case the event should occur in that way, the Kongo Government, finding the present situation altered, would naturally have to examine the measures to be taken that the decrees of June 3, 1906, providing for thee sale or lease of domain lands, should be executed without new delay.

I ought, Mr. Minister, to make reserves upon the interpretation given in your letter to the treaty of 1884 between Great Britain and the Kongo International Association, that article 2, in stipulating for British subjects "the right of residence and establishment" in the territories of the association, as also the right to buy and lease lands, edifices, mines, and forests, does not impose upon the State the obligation of selling to private persons whatsoever lands they may find it convenient to select.

I have, etc.,
Chev. de Cuvelier.

 
 
[. . .]

Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

American Legation, Brussels, April 7, 1908.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in compliance with the instructions contained in the department's cablegram of April 1, I to-day called at the foreign office and left with M. Davignon a memorandum (copy inclosed) somewhat upon the lines of the British instructions, but differing in some important particulars.

I have called attention to the objects to which, in the opinion of our Government, reforms should be directed, but have carefully avoided the suggestion of the modus operandi for carrying these reforms into execution.

In delivering the memorandum to M. Davignon I said to him that it was not to be understood as a new expression of our views, but rather as an ampler and clearer statement of those which I had the honor to verbally make known to him upon the occasion of the interview which he had accorded me in company with the British minister.

I have, etc., Henry Lane Wilson.

[Inclosure.]

Memorandum.

The nota pro memoria, re the attitude of Belgium in the event of the annexation of the Kongo, handed this legation on January 29 by His Excellency M. Davignon, was duly transmitted to Washington, and the assurances therein contained of the earnest purpose of the Belgian Government, in the event that the government and administration of the Kongo should be transferred to it, to fully carry out the stipulations and beneficent prescriptions of the acts of Berlin and Brussels , were noted with lively satisfaction.

In the entirely amicable and unofficial representation preceding, and which gave occasion to the note pro memoria, it was not the intention of the Government of the United States to in any way call into question the high and disinterested purposes which, it is satisfied, govern Belgium in the consideration of the question of the annexation of the Kongo territories. On the contrary, the Government of the United States, finding that much is left to be desired in the present administration of the Kongo from the standpoint of the acts of Brussels and Berlin, gladly welcomes annexation, and is firmly convinced that the assumption of the government of these regions by Belgium will be followed by improvement in the condition of the native races, by the development and civilization of the country, and by the liberation of trade and commerce from harmful restrictions.

The Government of the United States, however, feels that as a signatory to the Brussels act it has assumed certain well-defined obligations, which may not be lightly evaded and which at this moment of transition, when the government of the Kongo territories is about to be transferred from one power to another, make imperative a clear, though brief, expression of its views.

The dissatisfaction with the present administration of the Kongo has grown very largely out of its policy toward the native races—a policy which was doubtless not intentionally cruel nor purposely at variance with the acts of Brussels and Berlin, but which, in the opinion of competent investigators, is enslaving, degrading, and decimating the native population. It may be admitted that there has been much exaggeration of the true condition of affairs and that many charges have been refuted, but the fact nevertheless remains that conditions prevail which were neither contemplated nor anticipated when the Independent Kongo State was called into existence by the powers.

The Government of the United States believes that whatsoever power assumes dominion over the Kongo should address itself with reasonable dispatch to carrying into practical execution, in letter and in spirit, the prescriptions of the Brussels and Berlin acts.

In the opinion of the Government of the United States the reforms to be accomplished in the Kongo should have for their object:

1. The exemption of the native population from excessive taxation.
2. The inhibition of forced labor.
3. The possibility of the natives becoming holders, in permanent tenancy, of tracts of land sufficiently large to afford sustenance.
4. To make It possible for traders and settlers of all nationalities to secure unoccupied tracts of land, needed for the prosecution and development of peaceful commerce, at reasonable prices, in any part of the Kongo.
5. The procurement and guaranty of equal and exact justice to all inhabitants of the Kongo through the establishment and maintenance of an independent judiciary.

In calling attention to what, in its opinion, should be the objects of reform in the Kongo, the Government of the United States may be permitted to add, on its own account, that, relying on the stipulations of articles 2 and 4 of the treaty of 1891 , it would be especially pleased to see the right accorded to American Christian missionaries to secure reasonable sized tracts of land, when not occupied by the State, in permanent holding, to be used for missionary sites and schools.

The Government of the United States confines itself in this memorandum to pointing out the direction in which, in its judgment, radical reforms and changes are needed. It does not believe that it is incumbent upon it to indicate or suggest to the Belgian Government the modus operandi for carrying these reforms into execution, well knowing the difficulties that must be surmounted and being fully cognizant of the unselfish purposes of the annexing power. Its representations are conceived and made in an entirely friendly spirit and it is hoped that they will receive that measure of consideration from the Belgian Government to which they are entitled by their disinterestedness and by the long and traditional friendship which has existed between the two countries.

 
 
[. . .]

Consul General Smith, to the Assistant Secretary of State.

American Consulate General, Boma, April 9, 1908.

Sir: I have the honor to send you herewith a report in duplicate on the land legislation in the Kongo in its relation to the commercial policy of the State.

In the report which I had the honor to send you on November 20 last I referred to the Government of the Kongo Free State as being essentially a commercial organization and not, in the true sense of the term, an administrative one. The conditions existing in that part of the country which I visited all went to prove the truth of the conclusion reached. The extent to which the State has succeeded in its efforts to create for itself a vast monopoly of all the natural resources of the territory placed under its control by the signatory powers to the Berlin act , and without regard for the material well-being of the natives or the rights of other powers to carry on a free and unrestricted commerce with the inhabitants of such territory, can perhaps best be appreciated by an explanation of the manner in which the entire country is at present divided among a few large concessionary or proprietary companies, in which the State holds in most cases a direct interest or is exploited en regie by the State itself, and a brief review of the principal decrees which have brought about the conditions as they exist at present, conditions which I do not hesitate to say are essentially opposed to every intelligent conception of what a humane and civilizing administration of a colony peopled by a subject race should aim at creating. As has been well said by my colleague, Mr. Armstrong, the British vice consul at Leopoldville; in a report to his Government on the result of his observations in the Lake Leopold II district:

I saw nothing which led me to view the occupation of this country in the light of an administration. The undertakings of the Government are solely commercial, with a sufficient administrative power to insure the safety of its personnel and the success of its enterprise. The natives have no time or opportunity to raise or to discuss questions which in normal conditions require the presence and careful consideration of administrators, and therefore the State appears to treat them as negligible quantities.

I have, etc.,
Jas. A. Smith, Consul General.

[Inclosure.]

Land Legislation in the Kongo and Its Relation to the Commercial Policy of the Administration.

The history of the legislation in reference to the lands comprised within the territory of the State dates back to 1885. On the 1st of July of that year an ordinance issued by the administrator general declared that no one had the right without title to occupy the vacant lands, nor to dispossess the natives of the land occupied by them; the vacant lands were considered as belonging to the State. This ordinance was followed by the royal decrees of September 14, 1886, which declared that the territory occupied by the natives, under the authority of their chiefs, would continue to be governed in accordance with local usages and customs, and by that of June 8, 1888, establishing the rights of the natives to continue to exploit for their own benefit the mines situated upon land occupied by them. Although the text of the above ordinance and decrees did not define what was to be considered as vacant land, nor that occupied by the natives, a liberal interpretation appears to have been given the provisions contained therein, with the result that the natives suffered practically no curtailment of their rights over their lands and the products thereof. Capital was attracted to the country and Europeans were allowed to take possession of unoccupied lands without previous authorization, becoming full proprietors of the same to the extent of 10 hectares (25 acres) by the small payment of approximately $20. The policy of the State at that period seemed to aim at the encouragement of free and unrestricted trade with the natives; it limited the extent of land sold or leased to individuals or companies in such manner that competition would result and the native derive a material benefit therefrom.

In 1891, however, the State decided to exploit its own territory—that is, the vacant lands which it had declared in 1885 were the property of the State. A royal decree of the 21st of September of that year, which was not made public, charged the commissioners of certain districts to take urgent and necessary measures to "conserver à la disposition de l'État" the products of its domain, notably rubber and ivory. This decree would doubtless have been valueless to the State from a pecuniary standpoint without its inevitable consequence—the forced labor of the native to gather the products of the territory. The almost immediate result was the issuance of three circulars by the commissioners of certain districts, as follows: That of the commissioner of the district of Ubangi-Uele (Bangala, 15th December, 1891), which forbade the natives to hunt the elephant unless the ivory was brought to the State; that of the commissioner of the Equator district (Basankusu, 8th May, 1892), prohibiting the natives from gathering rubber unless they delivered the same to the State; and finally that of the commander of an expedition to the upper Ubangi River (Yakusu, 14th February, 1892). forbidding the natives to sell or divert to their own profit any part of the ivory or rubber, products of the domain. This circular further provided that any trader who bought of the natives these products, of which the State only authorized the gathering on condition that they were delivered to itself, would render himself liable as a receiver of stolen goods and be denounced as such before the judicial authorities. No sooner did these circulars appear than the trading companies already established in the Kongo protested against this flagrant violation of the Berlin act , the State responding by invoking the principle of its proprietorship over the vacant lands and its absolute right to dispose of the products of its own domain as it saw fit. In substance, this contention is the main line of defense put forward by the State to-day as a justification of its commercial policy. The result, however, of the protest of the trading companies was the withdrawal of the circulars and the issuance of the decree of October 30, 1892, which practically divided the State into three grand zones. In the first the State reserved to itself the exclusive right to exploit the rubber. By the decree of December 5, 1892, it was declared that this portion was to constitute the Domaine Privé of the State and be exploited en régie. In reality it formed only a part of the Domaine Privé The ordinance of July 1, 1885, already alluded to, having declared that all the vacant lands were to be considered as belonging to the State, the portion thus set aside for exclusive exploitation can properly be described as the " Domaine Privé stricto sensu." This is the definition given by Prof. Cattier, professor of the University at Brussels, in his work "Droit et Administration de l'État Independant du Congo." To avoid confusion, and understand the manner in which the territory of the State is at present partitioned, it is necessary to have this definition in mind.

Another portion, the immense territory formed by the basins of the Kongo-Lualaba and upper Lomami Rivers, was provisionally reserved, but a part was later absorbed into the "domaine privé stricto sensu" and remains closed to private traders and the balance conceded to the comité de Katanga. In the third zone, comprising the balance of the vacant lands, the gathering of rubber by private parties was authorized. Apparently this provision opened up a large section of the territory in which private parties could everywhere trade freely with the natives in the products of the soil. By the terms of the decree, however, the authorization to exploit rubber was subjected to the rights already acquired by third parties, or which might be acquired by them in future through purchase or lease of the domainal lands, provision being made that those who thus acquired lands should be granted the right to exploit rubber within a maximum radius of 30 kilometers around their establishments. On the face of it this provision was designed to encourage the founding of numerous trading houses with limited areas of land at their disposal for exploitation. In reality, and as events have proved, it was but a mere artifice which did more credit to the business foresight of the Sovereign than to honesty of purpose. No mention was made in the decree of concessions, and, in an official circular issued under date of December 5, 1898, the governor general was careful to impress upon those interested the distinction necessary to make between the rights of exploitation on purchased or leased lands and those on lands granted in concession. Thus, on the former these rights extended over a maximum of 30 kilometers only, but on the latter they were limited only by the boundaries of such concession, the area of which might be fixed as best suited the purposes of the State. In the section thus set aside for exploitation by private parties was included, notably, the immense Kasai district and the territory to the east of it known as the Kwango district, together with a large part of what is now the domaine de la Couronne. This domaine, which was established later on (1896), reduced the free-trade zone very materially, in that the exploitation of rubber and ivory in the whole of its immense territory is reserved exclusively for the benefit of the Crown. In the Kasai district a number of trading houses (14 in all) acquired small parcels of land and commenced trading with the natives, under, however, a veiled system of coercion which it is unnecessary to detail here. In any case the result was a competition which, although beneficial to the native, did not correspond evidently to the royal intention to monopolize to the fullest extent the trade in every product of commercial value. For this reason the State provoked the consolidation of the various trading houses and organized the well-known Kasai Co., in which it retains a half interest, with exclusive rights of exploitation of the rubber, ivory, etc., in the immense territory comprised within the Kasai and in portions of the Lake Leopold II district. Other immense monopolistic concessions, always with the State receiving a large interest in the enterprise, were granted.

At the present time the entire territory of the State may be, for the sake of a clear understanding of the existing situation, divided into six sections: (1) Domaine public, (2) domaine privé, (3) domaine national, (4) domaine de la Couronne, (5) land acquired by nonnatives (individuals, trading companies, and missions), (6) lands occupied by natives.

1. The domaine public comprises the navigable waterways and their banks to a depth of 10 meters (33 feet) from high-water mark, highways, railways, property affected to the public service, fortresses, etc. No part of this domaine is subject to private ownership.

2. The domaine privé included at the beginning all of the territory within the boundaries of the State. The State at various times has alienated or conceded large areas of its territories to proprietary or concessionary companies for their exclusive exploitation of the products of the soil, and, notably, to the Fondation de la Couronne. In June, 1906, a royal decree provided that all the mines not already conceded and all the lands administered en régie (domaine privé stricto sensu) should constitute the domaine national. The domaine privé at present includes, therefore, only the vacant lands not exploited en régie or which have not been alienated or conceded.

3. The domaine national, in accordance with the June, 1906, decree, comprises all the mines and all the lands exploited en régie and all the mines not already given in concession.

4. The domain de In Couronne is an immense section of territory alienated from the former domaine privé. It is the property of the Fondation de la Couronne.

5. Lands acquired by nonnatives are those which have been at one time or another detached from the domaine privé and sold, rented, or conceded by the State to individuals, companies, or missionary societies.

6. Lands occupied by the natives comprise only those actually occupied by their villages, or are under cultivation or exploited by them. A decree of June 3, 1906, provided that these lands should be delimitated and an area three times the extent of same be granted to the natives for the extension of their cultures. They can not, however, be disposed of to third parties without the express authorization of the governor general. As a matter of fact, the boundaries have, in rare cases only, been fixed, the delimitation, according to the best authorities, having been made of only about 150 villages in all. To the native, therefore, simply remains the right to occupy the land in his village and to cultivate his surrounding gardens. All the rest of the land, and the products of any commercial value thereof, belong to the State, the Fondation de la Couronne, and the proprietary or concessionary companies.

On the map annexed to this report the various divisions of the territory are very clearly shown. It is, I am assured, as accurate as any similar map which. in the absence of precise delimitations of river basins,, etc., can at present be prepared. I have outlined in blue pencil the district in which the Fondation de la Couronne has reserved the exclusive mining privileges.

As has been stated, the domaine privé comprises at present only the lands not exploited by the State, or which have not in one way or another been alienated. These, according to the best authorities, comprise only an infinitesimal portion of the territory of the State. In a recent conversation which Mr. Armstrong, the British vice consul at Leopoldville, had with Dr. Briart, the director of the Societe Anonyme Beige (S. A. B.), the latter illustrated by means of a map how much of the Kongo was given over to concessionary companies or formed part of the domaine national exploited by the State, and from this illustration the only part of the country accessible to private individuals was a small strip of country along the north bank of the Kongo River, between, roughly speaking, Nouvelle Anvers and Stanley Falls. Dr. Briart, who has been in the Kongo some 12 or 15 years, then described how he had been driven out of various parts of the Kongo by the Government, where he had been, in most cases, the first to attempt to trade. He was the first trader to visit the Lake Leopold II country, where be carried on operations for some time -— Ubangi, Stanley Falls, Kasai, etc.; and having been ordered to leave each of these districts manu militari, he was eventually allotted the Busira and Juapa Rivers, where he is still working. I may mention here that the S. A. B. Co., of which Dr. Briart is director, is part proprietor of the section of territory marked No. 1 on the map. This land was granted outright, and I believe very properly, to the builders of the railroad from Matadi to Leopoldville in return for their enterprise in the construction of the road. Here, at least, the State could not invoke its right to the products of the soil and order off the people who desired to purchase them from the natives.

I have attempted in the foregoing to explain as clearly as possible the system of land legislation in its relation to the State's commercial policy from the foundation of the State up to the present time. The subject is a somewhat difficult and complicated one, but the decrees cited are, I believe, the most important and those upon which the land regime of the State is based to-day. The principal points to which I would call your special attention are as follows: The intimate connection between the land legislation and the commercial policy of the State. In a successful attempt to effectually monopolize every product of commercial value, the interpretation given to the decree of July 1, 1885, regarding vacant and occupied lands has resulted in depriving the native of every right to the products of the soil outside of his own village, and under the thin guise of taxation he is forced to deliver these products to the State. Incidentally, it may be said here that even the product of his manioc garden (his daily bread) does not really belong to him. He must furnish it as a tax whenever and wherever the State demands it. (See my report of November 20 regarding kwanga tax at various places.) It seems an absurd proposition to deprive an individual of everything of any value which he possesses and then heavily tax him on what has been taken from him, and yet this is what actually occurs in the Kongo. It is called a tax in labor ; in effect it amounts to the enslavement of the greater part of the entire population, male and female. With practically the entire territory of the State given over to concessionary or proprietary companies for exclusive exploitation, the domaine de la Couronne and the domaine national exploited by the State itself, it is clear that under present conditions no opportunity remains for any independent business house to carry on a trade with the natives in the only products of commercial value which the country produces, viz, rubber and ivory. The rights granted to concessionary companies to exploit huge sections of the country mean simply the right to exploit the native. Until such time as the latter is granted the privilege, and without being forced, to freely dispose of the products of the soil to whom and under such conditions as he pleases, no such thing as free trade can exist in the Kongo. This is, I firmly believe, the crucial point in the whole commercial situation. I may add that this privilege must necessarily be accompanied by the right of prospective commercial houses to acquire sufficient land for the establishment of trading centers, stores, warehouses, etc. The privilege of acquiring lands for such purposes has been persistently and systematically refused by the State for many years, evidently because -— it being impossible to trace the exact place of origin of the rubber or ivory —- the State fears its exclusive monopoly, and that of the concessionary companies in which it is interested, might suffer.

I recently addressed to the governor general here a letter in which I asked a series of questions with the object of ascertaining if It would be possible for an American company to establish itself in various districts of the State for the purpose of carrying on a trade direct with the natives in rubber and ivory, and, if so, if the State would sell sufficient land to permit of the erection of warehouses, stores, etc., in order to enable it to do so. The governor's reply was a vague one, in which he carefully avoided a direct answer to my questions, citing a lot of decrees, etc., with which I was already familiar. In effect, he told me nothing I did not know before. As regards the purchase of land he simply refers me to the decree of June 8, 1906, "Terres domaniales -— Vente et location," in which it is provided that all sales or leases of land outside the domaine national must take place by public auction, a list of such lands placed on sale or for lease to be published annually by the secretary of state at Brussels. No such list has up to the present time been published, and past experience is sufficient to prove that in every case where it has been desired to secure land for commercial purposes the application has been systematically refused.

Jas. A. Smith, Consul General.

Boma, April 9, 1908.

 
 
[. . .]

Handed to the Acting Secretary of State by the Belgian Minister, July 24, 1908.

[Translation.]

On April 16 [See Minister Wilson's dispatch, No. 829, April 17, 1908, p. 568.] last the King's Government received, through the United States minister at Brussels, the second memorandum addressed to it by the American Government regarding the forthcoming annexation of the Independent State of the Kongo by Belgium. The document had been drawn up by the Cabinet of Washington after an exchange of views with the Government of His Britannic Majesty, which had asked it to support near the Belgian Government two propositions it intended to submit to the last-named Government—the first concerning the abolition of forced labor within the territories of the Kongo after they became Belgian; the second relative to recourse to arbitration for the settlement of the disputes arising from purely commercial questions.

These propositions were to be brought before the Government of the King simultaneously by the two Governments; so the Cabinet of Brussels deemed it preferable to defer its answer until it should have received from the British Government a request similar to that contained in the second American memorandum. This view was made known to Mr. H. Lane Wilson by the minister for foreign affairs as early as the 16th of April, and it was agreed that the second American memorandum would not be made public until after the English memorandum setting forth the same propositions had been received at Brussels. The memorandum was handed to the minister for foreign affairs on June 25.

The Belgian Government now answers the two Governments of the United States and of Great Britain.

In its answer, dated April 24, to the first American memorandum, the King's Government gave very clear explanations touching the question of forced labor, otherwise known as the labor tax. It declared that native labor was to be free and voluntary in the Kongo, and that the principal of personal freedom, laid down in the colonial law, would suffer but one exception, that of the labor tax to be collected from people who were unable to pay it in currency. This mode of taxation is legitimate; no government ever hesitated to demand it in its colonies, but it constitutes a merely temporary and provisional measure, which shall be entirely removed as the natives grow more familiar with the use of currency, which is beginning to spread in certain districts of the Kongo.

It is unfortunately impossible to fix at this time a date for the entire and final suppression of the labor tax in the future colonies. The Government of His Britannic Majesty itself realizes this impossibility, as it intimates in its second memorandum. The civilization which Belgium will unceasingly endeavor to propagate in the regions of Central Africa which are to form its colonial domains will gradually substitute the currency tax for the labor tax, but in the meantime the latter tax shall be collected in a humane and moderate manner.

As regards the general application to the native races of the provisions of articles 2 and 5 of the Brussels act in which the American Government is concerned, the cabinet of Brussels can but repeat as strongly its former declarations. The improvement of physical and moral conditions of the natives engrosses its best attention. It will, as soon as the chambers shall have voted the annexation treaty and the colonial law, take shape in the swifter progress made in the inquiry prescribed by the decree of June 3, 1906, in all villages, with a view to determining the area of land required by the needs of the inhabitants. As a result of this inquiry much more land will be allotted to the natives for their farming and commerce. The Government will see that the concessionary companies do not transgress the engagements taken by it and respect the freedom of labor as well as the right of the natives freely to dispose of the products of the soil on the land allotted to them.

The second proposition formulated by the Government of the United States relates to the reference to compulsory arbitration of all commercial and economic questions that would occasion a dispute, the settlement of which could not be reached through the ordinary diplomatic channels. The Cabinet at Washington urges the Belgian Government to accept a proposition so entirely in accordance with the rapidly growing practice of civilized nations. This would prove a sufficient reason for the Belgian Government to examine this proposition with the most earnest attention, if it were not equally impelled thereto by its desire to leave no apprehension in regard to the observation of the act of Berlin in its future colony.

The strong inclination of the Government of the King toward recourse to arbitration for the settlement of international disputes is well known; it was notably affirmed through the conclusion with several States of arbitration treaties, which public sentiment in Belgium viewed no less favorably than the Parliament. Yet in spite of its pronounced predilection for this procedure destined to force itself upon peaceful nations as a happy means of bringing their controversies to an end, the cabinet of Brussels finds it very difficult to admit that Belgium alone among the powers holding possessions in the conventional basin of the Kongo should enter upon an engagement as general in its character as that of compulsory recourse to arbitration, while under article 12 of the act of Berlin arbitration remains optional for the other powers signatory to the act.

But the Belgium Government finds no difficulty in declaring that if, after annexation, it were invited to refer to the tribunal of The Hague, as a last resort, a difference arising from a divergence of appreciation in the interpretion of the treaties which bind the States of the Kongo, it would examine the proposition with special benevolence and be inspired by the broad views which guided it in the drafting of the arbitration conventions concluded by Belgium.

It should, however, in such a case give attention to harmonizing the resort to arbitral procedure with the enforcement of article 84 of the act of The Hague conference to which it is a signatory. That article requires the contesting parties, when the question affects the interpretation of a treaty to which other powers are parties, to give timely notice to all the powers that have signed it. Every one of them has the right to become a party to the litigation; if that right be availed of by one or more, the interpretation contained in the sentence is equally obligatory upon them. Now, the Berlin act is such a treaty—a collective treaty. How many objections, how many difficulties, may arise from a different application of the clauses of that treaty in the various territories comprised in the conventional basin of the Kongo? Therefore, in order to avoid any difficulty, it should be understood that recourse to arbitration should be had only when the other powers holding possessions in said basin have agreed to become parties to the litigation or to accept the interpretation given by the arbitral award.

The Government would further be bound to conform to the rules laid down in article 68 of the constitution before it can make use of the arbitration procedure. "Treaties of commerce," reads that article, " and those that may lay a burden upon the State or bind Belgians individually only go into effect after receiving the assent of the chambers." So that the adoption of a compromis referring to arbitration a question of a commercial character or whose settlement should involve the State treasury or the personal interests of Belgian subjects would remain subject to parliametary approval. To the mind of the King's Government there is a better means than recourse to arbitration as advocated by the United States to bring about the settlement of disputes in the conventional basin of the Kongo; it would be a direct understanding after annexation among all the powers holding territories in that region. It does not conceal its preference for resorting to this method, which would offer the immense advantage of insuring a general observation of the clauses of the Berlin act.

In the closing part of its memorandum the American Government says that, relying upon the rights secured to it by existing treaties, it expects to obtain all the privileges, commercial and otherwise, accorded in the Kongo to other nations. When it annexes the possessions of the Independent State, Belgium will inherit its obligations as well as its rights; it will be able to fulfill all the engagements made with the United States by the declarations of April 22, 1884.

Declarations exchanged between the United States of America and the International Association of the Congo.

The International Association of the Congo hereby declares that by Treaties with the legitimate Sovereigns in the basin of the Congo and that of the Niadi-Kialun and in adjacent territories upon the Atlantic there has been ceded to it territory for the use and benefit of Free States established and being established under the care and supervision of the said Association in the said basins and adjacent territories, to which cession the said Free States of right succeed.

That the said International Association has adopted for itself and for the said Free States, as their standard, the flag of the International African Association, being a blue flag with a golden star in the center.

That the said Association and the said States have resolved to levy no customhouse duties upon goods or articles of merchandise imported into their territories or brought by the route which has been constructed around the Congo cataracts; this they have done with a view to enabling commerce to penetrate into Equatorial Africa.

That they guarantee to foreigners settling in their territories the right to purchase, sell, or lease lands and buildings situated therein; to establish commercial houses, and to carry on trade upon the sole condition that they shall obey the laws. They pledge themselves, moreover, never to grant to the citizens of one nation any advantages without immediately extending the same to the citizens of all other nations, and to do all in their power to prevent the Slave Trade.

In testimony whereof, Henry S. Sanford, duly empowered therefor by the said Association, acting for itself and for the said Free States, has hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal this 22d day of April, 1884, in the city of Washington.

[L. S.] (Signed) H. S. Sanford.

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State, duly empowered therefor by the President of the United States of America and pursuant to the advice and consent of the Senate, heretofore given, acknowledges the receipt of the foregoing notification from the International Association of the Congo, and declares that, in harmony with the traditional policy of the United States, which enjoins a proper regard for the commercial interests of their citizens, while at the same time avoiding interference with controversies between other Powers as well as alliances with foreign nations, the Government of the United States announces its sympathy with, and approval of, the humane and benevolent purposes of the International Association .of the Congo, administering, as it does, the interests of the Free States there established, and will order the officers of the United States, both on land and sea, to recognize the flag of the International African Association as the flag of a friendly Government.

In testimony whereof he has hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal this 22d day of April, A. D. 1884, In the city of Washington.

[L. S.] (Signed) Frederick T. Frelinghuysen.

The foregoing explanation will prove to the American Government that the expression of its views was received by the cabinet of Brussels with an attention that was as benevolent as it was merited.

Dated July 12, 1908.

 
[. . .]

Consul General Handley to the Secretary of State.

American Consulate General, Boma, November 24, 1908.

Sir: I have the honor to report that Mr. W. Thesiger, British consul at Boma, returned from his trip of investigation of conditions in the Kasai district, particularly that of the Kasai Co., on September 9, after spending four months in the interior. The latter part of the month he sent to his Government an exhaustive report on the conditions as he found them in that district. I have been able to secure from him considerable information relative to the present state of affairs in that part of the Kongo, and herewith submit, for the information of the department, a summary of the information obtained:

The Kasai Co. came into existence in December, 1901, by a convention or agreement between the directors of the company and the Independent State of the Kongo, its object being to gather rubber, gum copal, and all other vegetable products in the enormous district known as " the Kasai." This privilege was granted for a term of 30 years, and it is, I believe, the largest and most important of the concessionary companies now doing business in the Kongo Free State.

Mr. Thesiger found that in the company's dealings with the native population they habitually disregard the State regulations for the prevention of willful waste of the rubber resources of the country and cast aside every restriction imposed upon them for the purpose of safeguarding the native rights. That this systematic violation of the Kongo Free State laws can not be carried on without the knowledge of the directors of the company and that it would be impossible but for the willful blindness, if not actual connivance, of the State officials themselves.

He declares that in all the country through which he passed, where this company has established posts, their agents have issued orders that the vines are to be cut and not tapped, as in the past, the quantity of rubber procurable from the latter method not being sufficiently large to satisfy the greed of the company.

There are stringent laws against this cutting of the rubber vines and State forest inspectors who are supposed to report to the authorities all cases which come under their notice.

Referring to the wholesale destruction of the vines now going on unchecked he says: "In the 31 villages which I visited in the Bakuba district they sent in monthly 173,000 balls of rubber, weighing on an average from 22 to 28 pounds per 1,000, and that experience shows that it takes from 20 to 40 feet of vine to make 10 balls."

Although the Kasai Co. claims that all their rubber is made by voluntary labor; that it is in no way a tax, and that their agents have neither the right nor the power to force the native to bring it in, the consul claims that "each village is taxed at so many balls a month and that any shortage is punished by imprisonment, fines, or chicotte [flogging], while the amount fixed is so high that the natives, especially the Bakuba, have no time to cultivate their fields, repair their houses, hunt, or fish."

While the company also deny the employment of armed sentries, he declares " they have in every village or group of villages one or more capitas [Native corporals], who are, with few exceptions, all armed with cap guns. It may be mentioned that the villagers have to supply gratis to these capitas food, palm wine, a house, and a woman."

The Free State law prohibits the carrying of cap guns by the capitas or native agents of companies who have to deal with the natives in commercial matters.

No trader or commercial agent has any right to punish a native by imprisonment or by flogging. In this regard the consul says "that the Kasai Co. agents not only punish the natives in these and other ways for any shortage in the month's supply of rubber but allow their native capitas to usurp the same powers in the fullest measure in the villages under their charge. I heard of three cases in which these capitas imprisoned women in order to bring pressure upon the men."

Referring to the military raids to enforce the collection of rubber, Mr. Thesiger states that " the company forces Lukengu, a powerful king of the Bakubas, to carry out these raids for them with his native soldiers, who, to the number of some 300 or more, are all armed with cap guns; these soldiers can be met with all over the Bakuba territory, scouring the country for the purpose of enforcing the rubber tax, making prisoners and collecting fines for the benefit of the Kasai Co." He mentions two incidents of these raids. Summarizing the foregoing it will thus be seen that in five different ways —- (1) by cutting the vines, (2) by imposing taxes for the benefit of the company, (3) by employing armed sentries, (4) by punishing natives without legal authority, (5) by causing military raids to be made to force the natives to make rubber —- the Kasai Co. is, for the sake of profit, deliberately breaking the laws of the State; the laws of humanity are still less regarded.

In the Bakuba country he found everywhere, except in the villages exempt for some special reason, that the rubber tax was so heavy that the villagers had no time to attend to the necessities of life, and many of the capitas told him that they had orders not to allow the natives to clear the ground for cultivation, to hunt, or to fish, as it took up time which should be spent in making rubber. Even so, in some cases, the natives can only comply with the demands made on them by utilizing the labor of the women and children. In consequence their huts are falling to ruin, their fields are uncultivated and are fast being overgrown by brush, and the people are short of food.

This district was formerly so rich in corn and millet and other foodstuffs that the mission of Luebo used in the old days to send there and buy maize for their workmen; now, as regards cultivation, he says, " It is almost a desert and my carriers often had difficulty in procuring sufficient food. The rainy season was approaching and everywhere the complaint was made that the men were not allowed to utilize the few remaining weeks in clearing new ground for the sowing of next year's crop. This means that in the coming year there will be an increased shortage of food."

With regard to the position of the Government in reference to these abuses, he states: They must either confess their utter incompetency to enforce their own laws, so far as these companies are concerned, or confess their complicity in these practices."

The consul met several of the younger officials who, he thinks, would willingly use what power they have to put an end to this state of things, but they are to a large extent powerless in the face of the central authority, which does not overlook the fact that it holds 50 per cent of the shares in the Kasai Co., which is, under its present methods, making a profit of some 8,000,000 francs yearly.

Much credit is taken by the State and company for the abolition of the tax in "croisettes," [small copper crosses used in the Kasai district in payment for rubber] "but this tax," the consul affirms, "has been supplanted by still more unjustifiable methods of extortion, and I have no hesitation in affirming that the Kasai Co., even if judged by Kongo Free State law, has justly forfeited every right to the privileges granted them by the Government in December, 1901, and that no methods of reform or change of administration will be of any real benefit to the people of this district unless it includes the entire abolition of this company, which has so long been held up as a model of what a concessionary company should be."

It is impossible in this short summary to deal at any length with the question of domestic slavery, which is generally known to prevail throughout the Kasai district. Suffice it to say that the State is taking no real measures to insure its extinction within a reasonable time. Under the pretext that slavery being abolished by decree there can be no slaves in the Kongo, they will not take any measures to insure to the slave the power of redeeming himself and refuse to acknowledge any written certificate of redemption to have any legal value. Slaves who have purchased their redemption are therefore always liable to recapture, and this recapture is made easy for the owner by the chefferie law, under which State agents and State soldiers are employed, as in a recent case in Luebo, to assist native chiefs in capturing any man whom they may declare to belong to them.

Domestic slavery is distinctly profitable to the State and to employers of labor, as, so long as a tribe is well provided with slaves, their chiefs will always be ready to respond to any demand made to them with the authority of the local official for carriers or workmen. It is also profitable to the owner, who receives a large percentage of the wages earned by the slaves thus hired out.

One way to insure the gradual extinction of this evil would be to recognize openly its existence and to provide every facility to the native to redeem himself at a fixed moderate price and to give him an official certificate that he has purchased his freedom.

Many of the violations of law and abuses that the consul has referred to in the foregoing report have been the subject of correspondence between this consulate general and the American missionaries who are stationed at Luebo. Other consular officers here have reported to their governments the prevailing conditions existing in the Kasai district, and some of the missionaries have vigorously protested to the vice governor general at Boma, yet the prevailing opinion is that no special consideration, arriving at a thorough and unbiased investigation of these conditions, has been manifested by the authorities. I have the honor to be, sir,

Your obedient servant,
Wm. W. Handley, American Consul General.

 
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