The United States began to interact with what is now Samoa during the first half of the 19th century, when U.S. merchants stopped at the islands on their trips across the Pacific Ocean. Formal relations did not begin until after Samoan independence in the early 1960s.
U.S. Recognition of Western Samoa, 1962.The United States recognized the independence of the State of Western Samoa on January 1, 1962, when Senator Oren Long delivered a congratulatory message from President John F. Kennedy to Their Excellencies, Tupua Tamesese Mea’ole and Malietoa Tanumafili II, Head of State of Western Samoa. Western Samoa previously had been a Trust Territory administered by New Zealand. Western Samoa changed its official name to the Independent State of Samoa in 1997.
Establishment of Consular Relations, 1856.The United States established its first consulate in what is now Samoa at Apia when Jonathan S. Jenkins took up the post of Consul there on May 17, 1856. He had been appointed on December 31, 1855. Prior to this, the United States had a Commercial Agent at Apia as early as 1844. This office closed on September 23, 1927.
Establishment of Consular Posts.The United States also sent a Commercial Agent to Pago Pago in 1878, and a Consular Agent to Leone in 1879.
Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1971.The United States and Samoa established diplomatic relations when Ambassador Kenneth Franzheim IIpresented his credentials to the Government of Samoa at Apia on July 14, 1971. Since that time the U.S. Ambassador to Samoa has also been accredited to New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga, and has remained resident at Wellington, New Zealand.
Establishment of U.S. Embassy in Apia, 1988.The United States established an Embassy in Apia on November 15, 1988. However, the Ambassador has always remained resident at Wellington, and the Embassy has been under the leadership of a Chargé d’Affaires.