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At the meeting of the Harvard Union last evening, the question for debate was-"Resolved, That the United States should maintain the independence and autonomy of the Samoan Islands." The debate was opened by Mr. G. B. Schulte, L. S., who gave an account of the political affairs of the Islands. He described some encroachments of the Germans upon the rights of American citizens. Not only are we bound to protect our commerce, but we ought to secure a naval station in the South Sea. We must soon have an increased navy and trading fleet, and will need a port in the southern waters.
The next speaker, Mr. H. A. Davis, '91, argued for the negative. He declared that the interests of the Americans were insignificant in Samoa. What commerce there is carried on by Germans. A stronger government is needed to secure life and property there, for the natives are acknowledged to be incapable. There is no good reason why the country having the greatest commercial interests in the islands should not establish a firm rule there. Our treaty interests would not be infringed nor would our coaling station be lost.
Mr. C. T. R. Bates, '92, continued the debate for the affirmative. He claimed that the Germans were not acting in good faith; they were only trying to acquire more property. The lives and property of Americans are not safe, but have been outraged by the Germans. The speaker took an opposite view of the importance and character of the islands from that of his predecessor. He related several incidents showing the violent and unjust actions of the Germans, and declared that such outrages should be stopped by the United States.
The last of the principal disputants was Mr. L. McK. Garrison, L. S. He said that the right to a coaling-station was of so little importance that it had not yet been used. The islands are too far distant to need to be taken under the government of the United States, If our country undertakes to maintain the independence of Samoa, she must be ready to go as far as war. This would be disastrous, and for such an insignificant cause, would be infamous.
The votes were as follows: On the merits of the question, affirmative, 40, negative, 12; principal disputants, affirmative, 31; negative, 30.
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