Mr. Pruyn to the Gorogio
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellencies’ letter declining to pay the indemnities I have demanded pursuant to the instructions of the President of the United States.
I cannot refrain from the expression of my surprise, as well as regret, that you should, without any consultation with the undersigned, thus have closed the door to their amicable adjustment. Nor is the ground on which such refusal is based tenable. No nation is subjected to indignity or disgrace when it acts justly; and it is difficult to reconcile such sensitiveness in the present case with your payment of the indemnity for the murder of the guards at the British legation. Such payment does not necessarily involve the idea, in either case, of the complicity of the government in these lamentable occurrences.
I had transmitted to the President copies of the testimony taken by order of your excellencies, and of the explanations made by your government. What you term my suspicions must, therefore, be regarded as the deliberate convictions of the President of the United States in view of that testimony and those explanations, and of the public and regretable events which have, within the past year, occurred in Japan, and the action of the government connected therewith and consequent thereon. As the decision of the President has been made after due deliberation, it will not be modified or abandoned.
It is my duty, also, to say to you that the President of the United States has confided to me the settlement of these questions, and that diplomatic usage does not sanction your proposed summary transfer of the negotiations to Washington, even if grave objections did not exist thereto independent of such usage, growing out of the great delay which would thereby be occasioned.[Page 478]
I advise your excellencies to send no embassy to the United States until the relations of the two governments shall assume a more satisfactory position than that in which your excellencies’ letter has placed them.
It is also my duty to say to you that, should your excellencies, notwithstanding this advice, send your embassy to the United States, after having disposed of its business in Europe, it will have no influence in delaying such measures as I shall be instructed to institute to enforce these demands. Nor shall I await these instructions if events in Japan shall render the use of force necessary for the maintenance of the national dignity and of the rights of our citizens; but I shall consider it my duty, under the full powers I now possess, to use, in any such case, the force now in the Chinese waters and such additional force as may arrive in advance of further instructions.
The government of the United States has carefully observed every treaty stipulation, and has abstained from every act which would have a tendency to impair the friendly relations which have hitherto existed between the two governments. The President, therefore, had reason to believe that his demands would be met in the friendly spirit with which they were made; and that his abstaining from sending a strong naval force simultaneously with their presentation would be appreciated by the government of his Majesty the Tycoon. Such course would have redounded to the honor of Japan, as well as secured its true interests by demonstrating that the government of his Majesty the Tycoon was prepared to do justice without the necessity of resorting to coercive measures, or even threatening them. An additional proof is afforded by your present refusal that the foreign powers cannot expect justice to their citizens and subjects, nor any weight to attach to the representations of their ministers, unless they shall keep in the ports of Japan a permanent and strong naval force.
I must also remind your excellencies that the government of the United States has not yet given its consent to the postponement of the opening of the city of Osacca and the ports of Hiogo and Nee-e-gata to foreign trade and residence, and that now it will be fully justified in withholding such consent altogether, and in notifying the treaty powers that it regards such city and ports as now open under its treaty with Japan.
With respect and esteem,
Their Excellencies Midsumo Idsumi-no-kami, Itakura Suwo-no-kami, Inowuye Kawatsi-no-kami, arima totomi-no-kami, Members of the Gorogio, &c., &c., &c., Yedo.