Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/81

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57
SAMOAN HISTORY.

Tupua family. They were, however, conquered by a successor of Malietoa, who reigned as king of the whole group till 1840, since which period a ceaseless strife has been waged between the contending factions. These became aggravated in 1869 by a split in the Malietoa camp, when, on the death of the reigning chief, his two sons contested the succession. The chiefs of Savaii supported the claims of the elder brother, while those of the isle Monono elected the second, justly believing that the chiefs of Apia were becoming mere tools in the hands of the foreigners.

This double civil war, fomented as usual by the whites, raged till 1872, when the United States assumed a sort of protectorate over the group, and in the following year a republic was declared, the supreme power being vested in the hands of a representative body of seven high chiefs. These were called the Taimuai.e., the "Pioneers."

I must tell you that the great nobles of Samoa are called Alii, and the greatest care is taken to preserve their line in direct lineal descent from the ancient chiefs. It is not necessary that the title should descend from father to son, only that it should be bestowed on a member of the family, who can trace back his clear pedigree to the true source. Therefore, on the death of a high chief, the minor chiefs of the tribe elect the member of the principal family, whom they will henceforth acknowledge as their political head, reserving to themselves the power of deposing him should he prove unsatisfactory.

These minor chiefs also hold their title as head of the family by election—a son being often passed over in favour of a cousin, and sometimes even of one who is no blood relation, but is adopted for some political reason. These head men are the Faipule, who act as local magistrates in each village, the affairs of which they discuss in solemn conclave. They have the name of being great orators, and much eloquence flows in these legislative assemblies. The great chiefs never speak in public, that office being deputed to their official spokesman. In a general way the Samoan isles have divided themselves into ten districts, each of which has its distinct fono or parliament, and no action is taken in any matter