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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90
(1888-1889)

Belgium,   pp. 24-50 PDF (11.1 MB)


Page 31


31
BELGIUM.
-State by officials of the State, and especially in the case of the unselfish
and-self-sacri-
ficing men who, braving the dangers of climate and the privations incident
to a sav-
age and unsettled country, have posted themselves there as aids of humanity
and re-
ligion. No settlers could be more valuable to the government of the new country
in
its efforts to spread the blessings of civilization, or are entitled to greater
protection
and more tender consideration at the hands of the governmental authorities,
than the
brave and single-minded men and women who are occupying the field of the
Congo
State as missionaries, and no missionaries more than these who go from America.
They go from and are citizens of a country whose Government was the first
to recog-
nize the Congo flag, and which has been unfaltering in its sympathy and aid
towards
the establishing of a liberal and civilized government in that remote quarter
of the
world.
   I am instructed to ask that the Government of the Independent State of
the Congo
 will immediatel' take steps to cause the restoration of the steamer in question
to
 her legitimate owners, the American Baptist Union, at Stanley Pool, and
that th"
 Government will cause a searching investigation to be made of the arbitrary
acts said
 to have been done in this regard by the authorities of the State.
   Also that a prompt and effective reparation be made for any injury done
to the
 owners by reason of the forcible seizure of the steamer.
       I avail, etc.,
                                                                LAMBERT TREE.
                           LInclosure 2 in No. 289.-Translation.]
                           Mr. Van Eetvelde to Mr. Tree.
                                    INDEPENDENT STATE OF THE CONGO,
                                         DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
                                                      Brussels, December
'31, 1887.
   Mr. MINISTER: You have kindly, in your letter of the 23d of this month,
addressed
 me a complaint of which your Government had been notified by missionaries
of the
 American Baptist Missionary Union, concerning the detention in the waters
of the
 Congo of their boat, the Henry Reed.
   I hope by some explanations to be able to show in some measure, Mr. Minister,
that
 the facts to which you call my attention constitute much less a well-founded
point of
 grievance against my Government, as they were produced under circumstances
en-
 tirely exceptional, and as the injury to which they gave rise has been already
repaired
 to the satisfaction of the complainants.
   It will not be useless to recall, in the first instance, that Mr. Stanley
undertook his
 last journey to Africa, not as representing the State of the Congo, but
as chief of an
 expeditiofA organized by an English committee with a view of carrying succor
to
 Emin Pasha, whose position in the Soudan had awakened the sympathies of
the
 civilized world.
   By reason of the philanthropic and urgent character of his mission, the
explorer
 had the right to count on the active co-operation of our authorities. Thus
you will
 not be surprised, Mr. Minister, that when on its arrival at Stanley Pool
the expedi-
 tion found itself in the face of difficulties, the commissaire of the diatrict,
Mr.
 Liebrechts, felt himself obliged to lend his good offices. And these difficulties
were
 grave-a famine reigned'in the district. The provisions there scarcely sufficed
for
 the ordinary needs of the population, and the only means of saving a disaster
to the
 numerous caravan of Mr. Stanley-nearly a thousand men-was to put him in
the
 way of continuing sooner his journey. In the presence of this situation,
Mr. Stanley
 was obliged to endeavor to procure all the means of transport then available
at the
 Pool.
    No aid was refused to him; the Baptist Mission alone did not accord the
use of its
  boat although its refusal was of a nature to put in danger numerous human-lives
and
  to compromise the fate of the enterprise. Perhaps in view of this consideration
it is
  permitted to judge with less rigor the arbitrary proceedings to which your
country-
  man had instant recourse in order to arrive at his ends. My Government
does not for
  an instant approve them, nor still less share the responsibility. Its agent,
far from
  having favored or tolerated them, put an end to them as soon as they had
been
  brought to his knowledge. On this point we have the satisfactory testimony
of the
  complainants themselves.
    The matter was finished by a contract signed at the intervention of the
authority
  according the use of the boat for a term of forty-five days. Mr. Billington
claims, it
  is true, now, to have subscribed to this act only because of the ambiguous
attitude of
  the commissaire of the district, and in order to avoid graver disagreements.


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