Mr. Burlingame to Mr. Seward.

No. 12.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that receiving notice last month from Messrs. Olypr ant & Co., depositaries of claims at Hong Kong, that there was a sufficient sum in their hands to pay all that was due on the awards made by the commissioners of claims, I directed Mr. Williams to superintend the payment of same to the claimants. This he did to the amount of $37,176 15, leaving a balance in the hands of the depositaries of $5,471 93. The entire amount of the awards was $489,694 78, which has been rateably paid to the claimants, in five instalments, within less than two years.

As to the disposition of the balance in hand, with that yet to be derived from the Chinese government through customs received at the port of Canton alone, [Page 840] probably within two or three years, I will take the liberty in an early despatch of making such suggestions as shall occur to me.

The rebellion still rages, but as yet it has made no direct assault upon Shanghai. Since the 2d of February, six battles have been fought within thirty miles of this place, with great loss to the rebels. This is the order in which they occurred: Yankin-dong, Tai-mosan, Kon-jon, Seo-dong, Suk-kein, and Chuk-kein. At Kon-jon the English and French participated, acting as a reserve to Colonel Ward. They were commanded by Admirals Hope and Protet. Chuk-kein was fought by her Majesty’s gunboat Flamer. Without giving you all the details of these battles, I will write, in general terms, that while there were not more than twelve hundred men at any one time on the side of the imperialists, there were said to be from five to twenty thousand men on the side of the rebels; and while the rebels are superior to the imperial soldiers in this part of the empire, and nearly always beat them when the imperialists are led by native officers, they are unequal to the Chinese trained and led by Europeans or Americans. They were beaten in every battle with great slaughter.

Admiral Hope informs me that he was astonished at the courage of the Chinese, led by Colonel Ward at Kon-jon. It is thought by many that they are superior to the sepoys, and that they, when properly instructed, will not only be capable of defending themselves, but equal to aggressive war. I send you a copy of a communication, marked A, received from Sieh, lieutenant governor of the province of Kiang-see, informing me that the imperialists propose to attack Ning-po, now in the hands of the rebels, and requesting me to give notice to my countrymen, so that they may avoid the “flying balls,” and find means of escape, lest “pearls and stones” may be destroyed together. I am happy to call your attention to another communication from Sieh, containing the gratifying information that the Emperor, on the 21st of the first moon, (February 19,) gave his consent that the ports of Tung-chow and New-chang should be open for the export of beans and bean-cakes. The trade in these is very large and important to our shipping interests, and by the 5th article of the supplementary treaty was not permitted to foreigners.

I have appointed Franklin B. Forbes acting consul at Tein-Tsin. This nearly completes the appointments necessary for the conducting of our business at the treaty ports. I have taken great care to recommend no one to the government who was not strongly recommended and thought to be worthy of the place for which he was selected. It is quite difficult to get men without pay to take those places, and yet our increasing trade renders it highly important that we should have consuls at all the treaty ports, and that these should not be mere adventurers.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


Sieh, lieutenant governor of the province of Kiang-see, hereby begs to inform your excellency that he has received a despatch from his government, through the minister of foreign affairs, in reference to the occupation of Ningpo, in the province of Cheh Kiang, by robbers; and I am ordered at once to raise troops for the purpose of hemming them in and destroying them. This renders necessary for the foreign merchants, resident at Ningpo, to remove to a distance in order to secure their own safety. A communication has been addressed to the [Page 841] representative of England requesting him to give instructions to the English consul at Ningpo to take necessary measures to secure this object.

I am also instructed to furnish your excellency with a copy of that communication, that you also may take such measures as are necessary on this account.

Ningpo being in the hands of the robbers, it is necessary that the imperial armies should immediately take means for their destruction. Merchants and others of your. honorable countrymen residing there should act in accordance with the suggestion of the Chinese minister of foreign affairs, in the communication referred to, and remove, at once, to a distance, in order that they may secure their own safety. I therefore enclose herewith a copy of the communication to the English minister, in order that your excellency may issue such instructions as you may think proper to the consul at Ningpo, so that the American residents there may remove to a distance.

I shall be glad to receive an early reply.

Communication from the minister of foreign affairs to the British minister.

The minister of foreign affairs would inform the English minister that information has been received of the occupation of the city of Ningpo by robbers. It may be difficult to prevent them from extending their power and collecting vessels so as to obtain possession of other ports on the sea-coast. It will therefore be necessary to guard with the greatest vigilance the ports in the vicinity of Ningpo, and the officers in command of the imperial troops are to collect their forces and station them in such places as may be necessary to repel the robbers.

The vessels of foreign countries therefore cannot enter and depart. Ningpo being already in the hands of the robbers, it is all the more necessary to exterminate them; therefore military officers cannot but endeavor to accomplish it to the utmost of their power.

It is therefore inconvenient, on many accounts, for vessels of your honorable country to frequent this port. Hereafter, if our soldiers should come together in clouds and engage the robbers, there would be great danger of these vessels being injured by the flying balls. If notice should be given beforehand of the approach of an attacking force, it might come to the knowledge of the robbers and put them on their guard against it. Should I not give previous notice to the merchants, then the vessels might not at the time of the attack be able to find means of escape, so that pearls and stones might be burnt up together, i. e. good and [bad] men be alike destroyed. The merchants have brought their property from a great distance. Would it not be lamentable if they should be involved in such calamity? Out of regard for the interests of the merchants I make this communication to your excellency, in order that you may communicate with the consul, and take such measures as you deem proper to enable the merchants to escape to a distance in good time.

I should be glad of an early reply.


Sieh, lieutenant governor of the province of Kiangsu, has received a communication from the minister of foreign affairs to the following effect:

According to the fifth article of the treaty foreign vessels are not permitted ot load at the ports of Tung-chow and New-chang with beans and bean-cakes; [Page 842] the object of the prohibition being to protect the native trader from, and prevent a deficiency of food in, those districts. It appears, however, that the number of foreign vessels frequenting those ports is very great; they bring foreign goods, and as those districts can give nothing in exchange but the beans and bean-cakes, the exportation of which is prohibited, those vessels are, for the most part, obliged to leave without any return cargo. But considering that we have been long at peace with foreign nations, if the prohibition in respect to the beans and bean-cakes at the above-mentioned places be removed, the native traders will not be embarrassed, and foreign vessels will be much benefited, a memorial therefore was presented to the Emperor to permit foreign vessels to export beans and bean-cakes from the ports of Tung-chow and New-chang, and on the 21st of the 1st moon (February 19) he gave his consent.

It has been determined, in reference to this article, that an export duty is to be paid in full when the vessel receives her cargo. On entering another port an import duty of half the amount of the former is to be paid. If, after this, the merchant wishes to re-export it by sea, it is to be placed on the same footing with other articles exported to foreign countries, and the custom-house of the port will give a drawback chop as evidence that the duty has already been paid. Further, according to the regulations already determined upon, goods which have paid the half export duty at the port of shipment, and also the half import duty at the port of entry, if they are afterwards taken into the interior, either by foreign or native merchants, shall be liable, in addition, to the usual duty at each custom-house, and also to a further tax of one per cent. at each custom-house station. The same rule shall be observed with respect to beans.

Having received the above communication, I at once inform your excellency, that you may communicate the fact to the consuls at the several ports, that they may give notice that hereafter foreign vessels are permitted to export beans and bean-cakes from the ports of Tung-chow and New-chang.