America's Foreign Relations - Vol. 2

By Willis Fletcher Johnson | Go to book overview

XXVII
EMBROILMENT AT SAMOA

SAMOA is a small country, but American dealings with it loom large in the history of our foreign relations, chiefly as an example of maladroit departure from sound principles and of blundering which narrowly escaped disastrous results. Our relations with those islands involved from the beginning direct violation of two of the oldest and best principles of our foreign policy, namely, that the United States should refrain from intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations, unless, of course, in the necessitous emergency of its own self-protection; and that it should avoid entangling alliances with other and particularly with European powers. In the Samoan episode it did intervene in the affairs of another nation, and it entered into an entangling alliance with two rival European powers; and it did both without justification.

The little group of Samoan Islands, in the South Pacific, became at an early date an object of interest to the traders of several nations, including the United States. The beauty of the islands, their wealth of natural products, the intelligence and amiability of their inhabitants, their location with respect to trade routes across the Pacific, and the capacity and security of at least one of their harbors, that of Pago-Pago, attracted attention and excited cupidity. But, as in the case of Hawaii, the rival interests of several powers served as counterpoises and for many years protected the islands from seizure or control by any one. Unhappily, there was no protection of the islanders from the malign influences of dishonest and immoral traders, and there soon appeared the characteristic corruption which too often results from the contact of selfish civilization with unsophisticated primitive society. The Samoans were by no means savages when Americans and Europeans first visited them. They were a primitive people of superb physical development, of excellent mental capacity, of good morals, and of a singu-

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America's Foreign Relations - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents of Volume II iii
  • Portraits in Volume II ix
  • Xxi the Civil War--Neutrality 3
  • Xxii the Civil War--Intervention 28
  • Xxiii Some North American Complications 51
  • Xxiv British Relations 75
  • Xxv Dealings with British America 95
  • Xxvi Some Diplomatic Miscellany 116
  • Xxvii Embroilment at Samoa 136
  • Xxviii the Annexation of Hawaii 161
  • Xxix Latin-American Neighbors 185
  • Xxx Dealings with the Far East 211
  • Xxxi the War with Spain 237
  • Xxxii Results of the War 259
  • Xxxiii Later Relations with the Far East 281
  • Xxxiv the Isthmian Canal 306
  • Chapter XXXV Settlements and Unsettlements 327
  • Xxxvi War and Peace 353
  • Appendices 381
  • Index 453
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