National Geographic : 1900 Nov
THE SAMOAN ISLANDS Over a docile and tractable folk, as most of the Samoans are, it should not be difficult to create a permanent form of government that would be acceptable to them. It should be strong enough to be respected, simple enough to be easily understood, and sufficiently economical not to impose too heavy a burden either upon the natives or upon us, who will be held accountable in the event of failure. The form proposed by the Samoan Commission and explained at length by the American commissioner in his report to the Secretary of State, printed as Senate Document No. 51, embodies these princi ples. In place of the kingship, the commissioners recommended a system of native government, with an executive officer at the head. whom they designated an Administrator, and to whom as the center of authority they gave real powers of administration. The islands were to be divided into certain administrative districts (correspond ing as nearly as possible to those recognized by Samoan usage), for each of which a chief was to be responsible, and these chiefs were to meet annually in a native council to discuss such matters as inter ested them and make recommendations to the Administrator and his cabinet. Native courts were to be allowed to punish minor crimes according to native law and customs, and every provision was to be made to secure to the Samoan population the complete enjoyment of civil and political rights. It was only after a tour of ten days through the islands, during which, at a series of meetings in the principal villages of each dis trict, the views of the chiefs on government were ascertained, that the commissioners agreed upon the recommendations just cited. Their aim in formulating them was to leave to the native the largest liberty within the district and.to teach him self-government through the local assembly until he should be able to take his part in the government of the islands with an intelligence equal to that of the white man. At the same time they all recognized that tripartite rule was impracticable, and that an arrangement like that since agreed upon between the three protecting powers was the only practicable one. In their joint report they strongly advised it, and no one re joices more than they that it has gone into effect.