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therefore recommend that all the necessary legal steps be taken to enable a new organisation to be formed in London, ample powers being given by this Company to transfer all their lands, rights,' etc.
COLONEL STEINBERGER'S GOVERNMENT.
TOWARDS the end of 1872 Mr. Stewart was in London, but failed to float the proposed Samoan Company, though a pamphlet giving some account of the islands, and his dealings with them (quoted in the last chapter), was published by Messrs. Laurie and Co., and extensively circulated in financial quarters.
After a great deal of fighting, the first Samoan Constitution was formed by the natives in November, 1873, with the consent and assistance of the foreign Consuls. This constitution provided for a governing body of seven Taimua (literally, those who go before to show the way'), who, with the help of the consuls, had the supreme power in the country. There was no king, but all authority over the natives was vested in this committee of seven. They started a national flag of a very different appearance from the parody of the Stars and Stripes saluted by Commodore Meade, and this was saluted in November, 1873, by Commodore Goodenough, commanding H.M.S. Pearl. In January, 1875, the constitution was amended by declaring Malietoa Laupepa, of the great family of Malietoa, and Pulepule, of the family of Tupua, joint kings, and increasing the Taimua from seven to fourteen in number.
From the formation of the first constitution in 1873 until April, 1875, peace prevailed in Samoa. The old interference of native councils with the free-trade of the whites was dying out, and no laws were made in any way affecting them without the approval of the Consuls.
It will have been observed that Mr. James Stewart stated he was in Washington in the summer of 1872, and by the middle of 1873 Mr. A. B. Steinberger, who Stewart told a friend of mine had been a clerk of his in San Francisco calling himself a colonel, arrived at Samoa as a United States Commissioner to report on the resources of the group. There can be no doubt that he induced the natives to believe it was the wish of the United States that the islands should become connected with them, under the form of a protectorate, and added that he was a personal friend of President Grant. The colonel left in October, 1873, bearing a letter from the Samoans to the President, praying for assistance in forming a government, and that he (Steinberger) might be appointed first governor, or commissioner.
On the 1st April, 1875, the United States s.s. Tuscarora anchored in Apia Harbour with the colonel on board, who at once stated that the United States Government had sent him down to organise a new government, and that the war-ship was there to support him. He also presented to the natives four pieces of cannon and one Gatling gun, which he told the Samoans were presents from the Washington
Government. A constitution was now drawn up, Malietoa Laupepa was enthroned as king, and the colonel, as “ premier,' was virtually dictator. In all these proceedings the foreign Consuls were never consulted. The Tuscarora sailed, a new era was entered upon, and the colonel, so to speak, came out of his shell. He armed an American schooner, the Peerless, with guns, shot, shells, and powder, and declared his intention of putting a stop to a disturbance which existed in the island of Tutuila. But there was no resistance, and Steinberger having inflicted fines and imprisonments on the natives, returned to Apia, where, to use the words of a resident at Samoa during the whole of his proceedings, 'all the respectable white residents had closed their doors against him.'
Dispute after dispute arose, till H.M.S. Barracouta, Captain Stevens in command, appeared on the scene on the 12th December. Troubles began in real earnest, and interesting as the subsequent proceedings are, I must condense as much as possible to avoid wearying the reader with an over-dose of politics.
Colonel Steinberger at once waited on Captain Stevens, and told him he was the American special agent for Samoa, and he would show his credentials privately. To this Captain Stevens replied that they should be shown to the consuls, and he did not want to see them if there was any secrecy about them. Foiled in this way, the Colonel caused reports to be spread that the Barracouta had come for the purpose of hoisting the British flag, and seizing the lands of the natives, and that he alone, backed up as he was by the Government of the United States, could save them from the slavery which (as in the case of Fiji), invariably followed British annexation. These reports were of course denied in a proclamation issued by the British Consul and Captain Stevens. A few days later these gentlemen, accompanied by two others, were stopped by armed men and peremptorily ordered back.
On the 17th December, the United States Consul (Mr. Foster), who had all along protested against the proceedings of the soi-disant "military' politician, seized the schooner Peerless for a breach of the Neutrality Laws, she being an armed vessel under the American flag without a license.
This schooner was purchased in San Francisco by Steinberger.
Captain Stevens having had occasion to press for certain British claims disregarded by the Samoan Government, a meeting was held to confer on the subject, at which the King, the British, American Consuls, and the captain of a German man-of-war just arrived in port, attended. There were also present, Mr. E. L. Layard, C. M. G., and the Rev. Dr. G. A. Turner of the London Missionary Society, who acted as interpreter. Captain Stevens was proceeding to show that he had not seized the Peerless, as stated by Steinberger, when the latter said the vessel was his private property, which statement was at once confronted by a letter of his dated the 20th December, saying that the vessel was the property of the Samoan Government. Being asked for his credentials, he said at last that he was possessed of 'credentials 'he would show to no one.
The unhappy King, placed between two fires (for