United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 188-191 online

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cisco, to which shipments are beginning to be made, ^10 by steam and from
$6 to $S by sail, when the few opportunities occur. From Ceylon and places
similarly situated, charters can be had for at least half these rates. In the
era of high prices, ^25 and ^30 per ton carriage was freely paid, and the
price paid i>y traders in Apia was 2)4 to 2^ cents per pound in buying.

But since 1878, seventeen years have elapsed. During all these years,
thousands of trees then not planted have come to maturity and are bearing,
and thousands of those then in early bearing have greatly increased their
yield. As has been said, the crop of last year was the largest in the history
of the islands, amounting in all, as stated, to 6,214 tons, and yet an official
rejxjrt made to the United States Government in 1878 gives the export for
that year as 6,775 tons, when in fact it could have been not greatly in excess
of half that quantity. The same report estimates the cotton crop at 2,300
bales. Such is a sample of the unreliability of the statistics which have so
misinformed the world as to this group; upon such unstable foundations rest
so many of the roseate theories as to their future.

In the light of the figures given, in that of the fund of information to be
had from the tables hereinafter presented, in that of the seventeen years of
misrule, stagnation, and disturbance, of promises unredeemed, visions un-
realized, it is difficult to believe that in a serious paper such a paragraph
as the following could find a place:

The capacity of the islands for sustaining a very large population is remarkable and will
l)ear comparison with any locality of its area in the known world. This will readily be per-
ceived by an investigation into its resources. There is a grand opportunity here presented
for honest immigration, directed and supported by capital, which is absolutely necessary to
gather new materials and develop new industries. The bonanza is vegetable, not mineral.
The mere adventurer, filibusterer, or purposeless man would only swell the long list of beach
combers now frittering away an existence. In other words, no individual should go lo
Samoa without an aim, a conception of the situation, and a purse supplied to meet possible

In the not improbable event of the advent of planters opening up the country in sugar,
cotion, cocoanut, and cofTee plantations, there would be good opportunities for overseers,
mechanics, and matmfacturers' employees •

The advent of the prospective planters has not as yet been realized; the
'* good opportunities for overseers, mechanics, and manufacturers' employees"
have in consequence not followed. But the indisputable advantage of **a
purse supplied to meet the possible contingencies '* is as clearly beyond ques-
tion to-day in Samoa — and even in other countries — as it was when that dis-
covery dawned upon a philosophic economist half a lifetime ago.

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Insects, especially mosquitoes, are very prevalent, and the latter amount
to almost a plague, the sting being very irritating. In addition, there are
cockroaches, spiders (both of large size), centipedes, and scorpions. Red
and white ants are so abundant as to constitute a pest. None of these can
be said to be deadly. Persons are frequently bitten by centipedes, but I
have never heard of a fatal result from any bite or sting of any kind. From
accounts, I much doubt if the bite of the centipede is more serious than the
sting of the bumblebee. Cockroaches are very destructive to bookbinding
and articles of light leather. The country is singularly free of house flies.
Honey bees have been largely introduced, but have not fulflUed- reasonable
expectations. They soon lose their habits of industry, the uniformity of the
climate being such that they find no need to provide against a season of


The varieties of fish are very limited and the quality poor. As a matter
of fact, if there is not a scarcity, there is certainly no abundance. There
are no fresh- water fish. The best of the sea fish is one called a mullet, very
similar to the white salmon of the great lakes, but slenderer and with a more
delicate head. It is rarely seen over 18 inches in length; but all others,
which are in size such as are termed pan fish, are soft and lack flavor.
Shrimps are plentiful in the streams.

There is, in eff'ect, no game. Rarely a duck is shot on one of the small
lakes in the mountains of the interior. The only game, in fact, is a wild
pigeon to be found in the thick bush of the interior, but it is scarcely in
such abundance as to be spoken of as game at all. It is found In such inac-
cessible places in the gloom of the lofty forest that it is safe from any other
than native hunters, who manage to kill them in small numbers for sale.


There are but few reptiles, and none of them are poisonous. They are
said never to exceed 6 feet in length, and are much more plentiful on Savaii
than on any of the islands, but some are seen on Upolu. They can not be
plentiful, from all accounts, and I have never seen one in the entire term of
my residence. There are persons whom I should regard as reliable, who
stoutly maintain the existence in these islands of a very large serpent, which
gives out a noise somewhat like the crowing of a cock — a serpent which I
have heard spoken of as a crowing snake. Other persons of long residence
speak of it as a myth. A party of laborers at work in a clearing near this
town, not long since, were scattered by the appearance of a large serpent,
which swung itself from the branch of one tree to that of another. The
men united in the assertion that it made a crowing sound, was of enormous
size, and moved with great rapidity. I vouch for none of these assertions,
but give them for what they are worth; but the existence of the crowing
No. 191 8.

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snake is by some held to as firmly in Samoa as it is by others abroad believed
to belong in these islands.


Cattle, sheep, and hogs are imported from New Zealand, as that country,
being largely a grazing one, offers a cheap market, and from its proximity
possesses the advantage in point of freight. They are brought chiefly in the
island steamers I have referred to, in frequent small lots for early slaughter.
The numbers thus imported are surprisingly large for so small a place, but
this is accounted for by the considerable supplies of fresh meat required by
the men-of-war. There are generally from one to three war ships in this
harbor, and these consume more fresh meat than the resident iK)pulation.

Natives do not patronize the butchers, but use exclusively canned meats
in considerable quantities, being very fond of it, buying as liberally as their
means will permit. Canned meats, however, hold a very inferior place in
their esteem to canned salmon, of which they are very fond.

Hogs are very abundant in the country and every native village abounds
with them. They are not killed to supply a regular article of diet, but arc
reserved for slaughter, one at a time, or in large numbers when guests ap-
pear, or to be contributed, baked whole in the native oven of heated stones,
to set forth the many and abundant feasts which Samoan custom demands
and which make up so great a part of Samoan life.

Native hogs fatten rapidly and thrive on cocoanuts, upon which they
are fed, exclusively so when penned. The flesh is unpalatable, even unbear-
able, being of such strong and rancid taste and smell, as a result of the
feeding. As a consequence, while domestic hogs of good breed are abun-
dant, all butchering stock is imported.

There are no sheep save those imported for slaughter. The climate is
too warm and damp. Cattle are owned to some extent by natives for milk-
ing purposes. They all appear of good type, thrive and fatten rapidly on
the abundant plants and tender branches of the bush, which amply supple-
ments the grass. Yet, it is found that to afford a supply of fresh meat to so
small a community, constant importations are necessary. I am at a loss to
account for the scarcity of cattle in a land of abundant grazing, unless it be
that from climatic influences breeding is restricted. The liability of calves
to disease and death in the wet season, to which I have adverted, doubtless
also exerts an influence in restricting production ; at all events, there is a
cause lying behind this which prevents Samoa from becoming a breeding
country. Cattle were introduced half a century ago and if the conditions
were favorable the stock of the islands should now certainly be suflScient
for mere domestic consumption. As far back as the early eigthties one
concern here owned as many as 1,600 head of cattle, a number far more
than sufficient to have stocked the whole country were it adapted to cattle



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In this connection, it may not be out of place to say that the canned
meats of the Australasian colonies are inferior to the American article, and
yet not only in Samoa, but in all the islands of the South Pacific, find a
great market to the substantial exclusion of American goods. Freight rates,
of course, cut a considerable figure in this, but do not appear to be a satis-
factory explanation. No doubt New Zealand can grow meat more cheaply
than can the United States, and then comes in the advantage of water car-
riage. American tinned meats in addition have to bear the high freight of
transcontinental railway rates from the packing centers to San Francisco,
but with all this dealers say the difference is not considerable. As it is,
however, a hundred or perhaps three hundred cans of New Zealand beef
are sold to one of American brand.

The colonial article is invariably put up in round, fiat cans, while the
American is somewhat square in shape. A native will buy the round tin
when he would not take half a dozen of the square ones for the same price.
It is a round tin or none.

Of course, this is all a matter of prejudice. He is prejudiced against the
square can, for what reason he does not know, but he is prejudiced against
it nevertheless, and this small, unreasoning bias of the individual swells into
an enormous trade, to the loss of a market to American manufacturers.

American meats once held all these markets ; now they are excluded.
They can win them back again, first, by the necessary effort to largely extend,
and then packing the meats in the round tin to meet a mere notion.

Our British competitors, who are never at a loss to misrepresent every-
thing American, are, in some way, behind all this. They can be relied
upon to find means to keep alive the prejudice. It is said that years ago,
the story was started — as a mere joke, of course, it is claimed — that cheap
American canned meats were composed in part of human flesh, secured in the
process of preparing the bones of Chinese for shipment to the Celestial
Empire. This story undoubtedly was circulated broadly in Samoa and laid
the foundation of a prejudice. That prejudice grew, still exists, and has an
important bearing on business, dictating the purchases of consumers who
are ignorant of its origin or foundation.


The steam service of Apia is both excellent and frequent for so small a
port. This is due to the fact that this, like Honolulu, is a port of call for
the steamships of the Oceanic Line plying between San Francisco and Sydney.
All the ships of this line also touch at Auckland, New Zealand. The service
of the Oceanic Line, aside from one vessel employed wholly between San
Francisco and Honolulu, is performed by two American steamers and one
British, leased from the Union Steamship Company, of New Zealand. The
schedule time, rarely varied from, and then only in the rainy season, is
twenty-five days between the extreme points — San Francisco and Sydney —

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lying 7,224 miles aimrt. By this line, Apia is fifteen days distant from the
former city, ten from the last named, and five from Auckland. One steamer
calls every twenty-eight days, inward and outward, from San Francisco, the
steamer going north following one week after that passing south. In addi-
tion, two steamers of the Union Steamship Company, plying exclusively in
the island trade, arrive every two weeks. These latter alternate in their
trips, that sailing from Sydney, after touching at Apia, Tonga, and Fiji,
returning to Auckland, while the steamer sailing from the port last named,
after touching at the same island groups, terminates her circuit at Sydney,

The comparative frequency of this service, the shorter distance of these
colonial cities from Samoa than is San Francisco, consequently a consider-
ably less freight rate, are the chief influences combining to deliver over the
business of Samoa, in common with that of the other islands mentioned, as
well as of a great many others in the southern Pacific, not here named, to
the two chief distributing points of the Australasian colonies, consequently
to English control. This amounts well-nigh to the exclusion of American

One of the annexed tables presents in compendious form the statistics of
the shipping of this port, giving the number of vessels, the class to which
they belong, tonnage, and nationality. It should be borne in mind that the
favorable presentation made by American shipping is due to the comparative
frequency of the calls of the two vessels of the Oceanic Company. Again,
the gross tonnage, it should be remarked, would mislead, if one lost sight
of the fact that, although the steamer of respectable size is accounted for
her full tonnage, she may frequently bring in or take out a small quantity
of freight. Apia is a call, not a home, port.

From the table, it will be seen that a total of 164 vessels entered and
cleared at this port in 1894, 84 entering and 80 clearing. Of the 84 which
entered, 44 were steam and 40 sailing vessels ; of the 80 which cleared, 42
were steam and ^8 sailing vessels. The total inward tonnage w'as 75,484
tons, while the outward amounted to 74,365 tons.

The complete dependence of Samoa on the regular lines for steam serv-
ice is illustrated by the fact that all the steam tonnage belonged to the reg-
ular lines.

The preponderance of the steam tonnage in making up the totals is
shown, that of the inward tonnage — 75,484 tons — all was steam, except
6,912 tons sailing; of the 74,365 outward, all was steam, save 9,260 tons

The American tonnage exceeded that of any other nationality, leading
the British by 606 tons. This advantage was due to the chance circum-
stances that, in the working of the time-tables, the American steamers
happened to count a trip or two more within the year. The American ton-
nage for 1894 increased over that of the year before to the extent of 435
tons only, while the British tonnage showed an increase for the last year, a:-
compared with the preceding, of 6,572 tons.

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The German tonnage declined from 9,432 tons in 1893 to 509 tons last
year, a decrease of 8,923 tons — a sharp falling off. This may be partially
explained by the fact that the export, as stated, being one that can ill afford
to pay any other than a low rate, the shippers of copra, both the two most
extensive being German, have been compelled to take advantage of the low
freights offered by Danish and Norwegian vessels.

Ten American sailing vessels entered in the past year, as against four the
previous year, a very flattering increase, but, unfortunately, one not likely to
be maintained, for, while nearly six months of the present year have at this
writing passed away, no American sailing ship of any class has come into
this harbor. In the statistics of tonnage, the interisland craft plying between
the islands of this group are not taken into account.

Pagopago lies 70 miles to the east of Apia, in the island of Tutuila. Apia
is distant from San Francisco 4,260 miles; from Levuka, Fiji, about 600
miles; from Auckland, N. Z., 1,500 miles; Sydney, 2,350 miles; Melbourne,
2,800 miles; Panama, 5,600 miles. These distances tell severely against
Samoa in its competition with other countries of like production.

N^ationalUy\ num'oer^ and ionnai^e of vessels entered ami cleared at the port of Apia ^ Samoa ^

durins^ the year i8g4.





No. Tons. No

British 27 32,909


United States„ I 17 I 32*963

Danish ' !

Norwegian and Swedbh

French '

Total 44 65,87a


Tons. No. Tons. No. Tons. I No.











34, »03


9,6x3 84 75.484 42 65,105


















The titles to lands in Samoa, which in the past were so vague and which
brought so much of the misfortune this little country has endured, may be
considered as practically settled, although some hundreds of claims are yet
pending, on appeal, in the supreme court, and several hundred have been
settled by compromise and otherwise in the same court since the final ad-
journment of the land commission.

That commission, consisting of a member appointed by each of the treaty
powers (Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States), was in
existence for nearly four years, finally expiring on the ist of January last.
During its existence the natives had the benefit of the assistance of an officer,
known as the »atives' advocate, whose duty it was to resist the claims of all
foreigners and protect the rights of the native Samoans.

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Under the requirements, all foreign claimants were required to present
their claims and title papers for investigation, the burden being placed
upon them to establish title. The duties of the natives* attorney were per-
formed by two gentlemen, in succession, both able to speak the Samoan
language, who appear to have faithfully discharged their functions, but it
is to be regretted that neither of them was a lawyer, while in the larger
number of claims they were opposed by gentlemen in active practice of the

The entire expenses of the commission, including salaries of the mem-
bers — $300 each per month — and all incidental expenses, except the salary
of the natives* attorney, were borne by the three treaty powers in equal
proportion, amounting in all to a sum which I am without the requisite data
to state, but which must have amounted to something like f 100,000.

During the existence of the land commission, the United States was rep-
resented by three different gentlemen, two retiring by resignation ; Germany
was, in succession, represented by two gentlemen, while the English mem-
ber served throughout the whole term of the commission.

According to the final report of the commission, a total of 3,942 claims
were filed before it, presenting claim to 1,691,893 acres — several hundred
thousand acres in excess of the entire area of the whole group. Of these,
2,311 were confirmed under some one of the several provisions of the Berlin
treaty governing the matter of land titles, representing 85,677 acres; while
311 claims to 153,460 acres were confirmed to the extent of a part of the
lands claimed.

Claims numbering 324 to 14,991 acres were withdrawn by claimants from
the commission, after having been presented, and 977 claims to 1,432,760
acres were rejected in toto.

Germans claimed in all 134,419 acres; Americans, 302,746 acres; French,
2,307 acres; other nationalities, in all, 2,151 acres, while British subjects
presented claim to 1,250,270 acres. It is estimated that the claims con-
firmed cover an area of 135,300 acres, but this is little to be relied upon.

Germans secured confirmation to an estimated 56 per cent of their entire
claims, Americans to about 7 per cent, and the English to about 3 percent.
The great acreage claimed by British subjects is made up in far the greater
part by the claims of an enterprising Scotchman— one Cornwall — lately
deceased, who presented claims to lands in the island of Savaii — the largest
of the group — in excess of the entire acreage of the island. It was the re-
jection of much the greater part, if not all, of his claims, that reduces the
British percentage to the low figure given. In a certain sense, this small
ratio of recovery is misleading, for very many of his claims were in faci
iiot entitled to consideration, although it was his privilege to file them.
In this sense, as a matter of fact, the percentage of British confirmation^
was much greater than 3 per cent — greater, indeed, than that of the Ameri-
cans, who really take place at the bottom of the list, while the Cyermans
hold the first place.

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The great preponderance of American claims were presented by a Cali-
fornia corporation, called the Central Polynesian Land Company. Its lands
were bought many years ago by agents, who, as they had nothing at stake,
if the titles should in time prove worthless, were perhaps no more scrupulous
than others.

While no ascertained data can be had for comparison, it is likely that
this American company, as I have already said, paid as much actual value for
their lands, but a remnant of which they received, as did the Germans
for the domain they hold in possession. Still, as their lands were in great
part held on agreements to purchase — that is, on options — which the treaty
directed to be treated as void, it was compulsory upon the commission so
to hold them.


The population of these islands was never known with certainty, and is
now as far from being ascertained as ever. All data upon this subject has
l)een approximate, based upon missionary estimates. There never was an
official census. The last general effort to ascertain the population of the
entire group was made some ten years ago and resulted in fixing the total at
35,000 in round numbers. The general belief among the missionaries, who
have the best opportunities for estimates, is that the population has slowly
declined. An epidemic of measles in 1893 was believed, from the inability
of the natives to properly treat it, as it was an unknown disease to them, to
have caused the death of fully 1,000 persons of all ages. This, taken into
account in connection with the apparent decline noticed in particular vil-
lages and districts, leads one having the best opportunities for information
to fix the present population at 32,000.

As opposed to this and coming somewhat as a surprise, a recent fairly
complete census made by missionaries has shown an actual increase in the
island of Tutuila. This island has, perhaps from its isolation, not been
subject to the same extent to the influences affecting the other islands; and
yet there has been nothing apparent there likely to produce difference in
this regard. These facts, taken in connection, lead to the conclusion that
there has really been but little change in the matter of total population in
the past decade.


There is practically no such thing as a heathen in the group; in fact,
not one is known. All are Christians after a fashion; that is, so far as the
profession and observance of the outward forms of Christianity are concerned.
In this general sense, it is not too much to say that they are more universally
Christians than are the English or Americans, for all profess its doctrines.
The Sabbath day is rigorously observed, attendance at church is general,
while morning and evening prayers and hymns are omitted in no household.

A gentle, tractable people, naturally inclined to be devotional, with many
traditions bearing striking similarity to the Mosaic account of creation.

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720 SAMOA: Government, commerce, people, etc.

possessed of a language made up of and conducing to the employment of
figurative expressions, they readily embraced Christianity, and its introduc-
tion was more a work of patience than difficulty.

Naturally, little sensible of the serious appreciation of responsibility,

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 188-191 → online text (page 92 of 102)