No. 158.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Davis.

No. 764.]

Sir: The telegram which I had the honor to dispatch to you on the 8th instant was sent at the earliest moment after I had received positive information that Mr. Cassel was in the service of the Japanese. It now appears that Dr. Williams had an earlier intimation of this fact from Mr. Bingham, and he has acted in the matter in such manner as to indicate that I am not singular in my opinion that Cassel should be withdrawn from the expedition. In order that you may see exactly what Dr. Williams’s view is, I transmit herewith a copy of two dispatches of his, dated, respectively, the 5th and 8th of June; the former to Mr. Henderson, the other to myself.

I have transmitted the substance of Dr. Williams’s dispatch to Mr. Henderson by telegraph.

I have not received an answer from you to my telegram of the 8th [Page 319] instant, If such shall come, instructing Mr. Oassel to withdraw, it will save all questions with him and be a source of gratification to the Chinese. If it shall not come, Dr. Williams’s instructions will probably accomplish all that is necessary.

There is no late news from Formosa. The most interesting matter since I last addressed you is contained in the inclosed translation of a dispatch from the imperial commissioner at Foo-Chow to the officer commanding the Japanese expedition.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 764.]

Fukien, Viceroy, to Japanese General.

[Newspaper extract from North China Daily News of June 14.]

A dispatch from the viceroy of Chekiang and Fukien to the general in command of the Japanese forces in Formosa.

In reply to your dispatch, informing me that you had received imperial orders to land an army to admonish and punish the Seng Fan (unreclaimed ahorgines) of Formosa, I had some time since the honor to reply thereto, requesting that you would withdraw your troops, bringing forward citations from international law in support of my demand.

Subsequently, on the 12th day of the 4th moon, I received information from the military intendant that the troops under your command had encamped themselves in the neighborhood of the stockade-town of Lang-chian-chai, in Fung-shan-hsien, and had engaged in a fight with the unreclaimed aborigines dwelling on Chinese soil. The intendant had deputed the “peace-reclaiming” Lieutenant-General Chen-chun-pang and the acting “Formosa-defense” Prefect Chwan-i-li, and others, to repair with all speed to the scene. On the 8th they had an interview with you, inquiring as to whether my first dispatch had reached you or not. You replied in the affirmative, and, further, mentioned that the expedition was based on the agreement made last year between the Fuh-Tan, minister of your great country, (So-ee-si-ma,) and the Tsung-li Yamen; also that an ambassador was at present being sent to Peking, to deliberate specially on the matter. That when instructions came from the capital a reply would be given; in the meanwhile the troops could not be withdrawn.

Further, on the 7th day of the 4th moon I received information that the consul for your honorable country at Amoy had visited the above-named military intendant, and personally informed him that the army would proceed to Lang-chian, for purposes of observation, and that your vessels of war would not be permitted to interfere with or give trouble to Chinese subjects, in order that the friendly relations of the two countries might be maintained. The intendant inquired as to the cause of this military movement, to which the consul replied that it was intended merely to give a slight admonitory warning and punishment to the aborigines, and that no violence would be done to Chinese soil.

The writer, on receipt of this information, was deeply impressed with the solicitude of your government to preserve the harmony of the two countries and to strengthen the bond of friendship previously existing. On hearing also that your sovereign’s orders were couched in cordial terms toward China, being anxious by sinking all petty differences, to preserve the eternal friendship of the two nations, he (the writer) was further overjoyed beyond expression. Other reflections, however, compel me to convey to you intimations of a different character.

The treaty established between your honored country and my own is of recent date, and it was hoped that it would lead to amicable relations between us as limitless as the heavens and the earth. But in regard to this expedition, you are instructed by your sovereign to lead an army on territory under the dominion of China, and on soil subject to my government; while no instructions whatever have reached me from Tsung-li Yamen in regard to the matter. The movement on your part proceeds purely from lightly believing floating reports, and wrongly considering that the “Seng-fan” are not subject to Chinese control. Your action is in breach of international law, and in dereliction of the amicable treaty just established. The public opinion of China and foreign countries will necessarily proclaim you in the wrong.

Besides sending a copy of my first dispatch, I have now the honor to bring forward various unmistakable proofs, the result of investigation; firstly, of China’s title to the [Page 320] territory in question, and secondly, of the breach of international law and treaty stipulations of which you are guilty.

That the “Lang-chian” tribe—people, property and land—are under the control of China, there are various and incontrovertible proofs. I bring forward three.

Eighteen tribes of Southern Lang-chian have heretofore been tributary to the Fung-shan-shien. They pay each year “Fan” taxes to the extent of over 20 Tes, as the records of Fung-shan will show.
In Formosa are established two prefects of the north and south divisions with the sole duty of administering the “Fan” affairs. These officers each year repair to the interior and reward the Seng Fan with salt, cloth, and other articles.
Stockade City (Lang-chian) is also termed “Fuh-an-chieh;” in it is erected a monumental temple to the Minister and Duke Fuh-Kung Kang of our dynasty.

The proofs are numerous and irrefragible; the only thing is that, in consequence of difference of habits, our country has not yet been able thoroughly to bring the people within the pale of the law.

In reference to the treaty entered into between our countries, clause No. 3 says: The government affairs and laws of both countries have similarities and differences. Each nation is independent, and must not encroach upon or interfere with the affairs of the other. Now in regard to Formosa, “Seng Fans,” they have been long tributary to China; that they have not been completely brought within the pale of the law is a question of administration; but according to treaty it is for China to regulate it, and your honorable country is not justified in interfering. Moreover, clause No. 1 states that the territories subject to each country shall not be encroached upon by the one or the other, but must be maintained inviolate by each respectively. Again clause 14 runs as follows: “Certain ports are laid down (for trade.) Japan shall not fight “with her enemies at these ports, or in the adjacent seas.” Since you are not permitted to fight with enemies in seas adjacent to China, your fighting actually on our territory and with our tributary tribes, would be naturally the more unjustifiable.

By disembarking and encamping, as you now have done, your troops in the neighborhood of Lang-chian, “Chai” town, where we have established border outports, and by engaging in warfare with the “Fan” people, who have been in the habit of paying taxes to us, you are at variance, from beginning to end, with every article of the treaty. Presuming that another country were, in imitation of the example now started by your honored country, without previous consultation, to deliberately and suddenly order its generals to lead their armies, seize your soil, and kill your people, would your honorable country, I would ask, quietly submit to the act without question? If you will but only reflect you will, I am convinced, at once see the error of your ways.

According to information obtained from the military intendant of Formosa, I learn that you (the general in command) and the diplomatic-agent, Chin-Cheng, state that, at an interview between your ambassador and the Tsung-li-Yamen at Peking last year, it was mentioned that the “Seng Fan” were not tributary to China, that this expedition was then discussed, and is now being carried out in accordance thereto. It will be found that in the case of all treaties hitherto established between China and other countries high ministers and ambassadors, each accredited with full powers, have, in accordance with their respective imperial instructions, arranged the terms of the treaty containing a special article making known the accredited powers held by each. The ministers on both sides affix their seals and signatures to the covenant, but not until the imperial signatures of both countries are added is the treaty finally published, or does the same come into force. Now, in respect to the assertion that the matter had already been agreed to by the Tsung-li-Yamen, was an agreement or treaty drawn up in accordance with the rules established in such matters? Were the seals affixed thereto, or have you no official letter, a proclamation, or any interchange whatever in writing, by which to attest your statements? On my part, I have received no intimation of any kind from the Tsung-li-Yamen, but I presume that you, when receiving-orders to conduct a distant campaign, must have been instructed minutely on all subjects. If, therefore, a covenant was really entered into at the time mentioned, I beg that you will give me a draft-copy of the stipulations entered into, and it will then be my duty to allow you to act in accordance thereto. But if at the period named no written proof of a satisfaction was drawn up, it becomes my duty to request that you will withdraw your troops, return to your country, and no longer encamp your soldiers on territory under the sway of China, in order that treaty obligations be conformed to.

It would appear that your government, in consequence of the “Seng-Fan” having on two occasions killed and molested subjects under distress, has therefore ordered this expedition to enter the Fan country, to execute the parties implicated, and thus to insure a non-repetition of former atrocities. In regard to the first, it is a case of subjects of our own tributary county of Chung Shaou (comprising Sin-Chin) meeting with disaster at sea and being murdered by the Seng-Fan. This is a matter concerning the writer, whose duty it is to order the mandarins of the locality to deal severely with the case; there is no necessity for you to interfere. In regard to the other four subjects, Lipah and others of your province of Peichung, who were merely robbed and not [Page 321] murdered, this is also a case for me to deal with, according to the eighth article of the treaty, stating that cases of robbery, &c., are to be inquired into and judged by the local authorities. Strict injunctions will be given to the said officers to apprehend and punish the guilty parties with the same equity as if Chinese had been the victims. The officers will be open to censure in the event of remissness, and no fear need be entertained of their trifling with instructions. There is, therefore, no necessity for your troops to weary themselves, and entail expense by a protracted stay in Formosa.

In thus addressing you again, expounding in incisive terms the obligations of treaty stipulations, I am influenced by a desire to preserve the harmony of our two nations.

Your present action, considered from the light of ambassadors of all foreign countries residing at Peking, down to the public opinion of the people of China and foreign countries, will be condemned as unjustifiable, and I feel convinced that with the interest of your country at heart, you will, when aware of the error committed, at once change your schemes and withdraw your soldiers to your own country, in order to avoid the censure of the world and to preserve amity between our countries. An important dispatch.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 764.]

Mr. Williams to Mr. Henderso.

Sir: I have been credibly informed that two American citizens, Douglas Cassel and James R. Wasson, reported to me also as holding commissions in our navy and army, are actually engaged in an armed expedition sent by the Japanese government to punish certain acts of violence committed some time since by the aborigines living in the island of Formosa, upon the crew of a vessel under the Japanese flag; and that both of them have left Japan to aid in the purpose thus openly declared of landing in Formosa.

So far as I can ascertain the consent of the Chinese government has never been formally asked or obtained by the Japanese government to land anywhere in the island of Formosa for the purpose of punishing the aborigines, a region which is claimed by the Chinese as an integral portion of their dominions, and has been so acknowledged by all nations.

I have just heard that part at least of the expedition put in at Amoy for supplies, and after remaining awhile sailed for the southern end of Formosa, where an unopposed landing was effected. Some acts of violence were, it is said, committed by the Japanese upon the unoffending inhabitants or aborigines in that region, which, it is admitted, is not the part of the island where the alleged outrage on the shipwrecked crew was perpetrated.

However this may be, for my information is not precise, this enterprise of the Japanese within the territory of the Emperor of China is one which is not recognized by this Government, and therefore one which no citizen of the United States can lawfully aid, as it is in violation of the peace which now exists between this and his own government. Even if these two men are employed in the military service of the Japanese, that does not permit them to engage in what must now be regarded as an unlawful proceeding, even if it is not really a filibustering expedition.

This being the case, as far as I am now informed, I wish you, as soon as you can, to warn Mr. Cassel and Mr. Wasson that they are doing acts in violation of the peace existing between the United States and China, and require them to desist immediately, and retire from the expedition, under penalty of arrest and trial for those acts. They will not pretend that they have the consent of their own government, or any of its officers, to aid in hostilities with China, but it may be they have been told that the expedition is not really against China, because she does not exercise jurisdiction over the whole of Formosa, and these aborigines always have been quite independent of her control, and it is in their territory only that the Japanese intend to land. These ideas cannot now be alleged in excuse, if it be true that the Japanese government has itself countermanded the expedition for reasons best known to itself.

The appointment of Chin Pao-ching as imperial commissioner to go to Formosa to arrange this affair will, I hope, be a wise selection, and that he will adjust all difficulties; but you will give this warning to Mr. Cassel and Mr. Wasson, and to any other Americans who may be connected actively with the expedition, if they are within your jurisdiction.

I am, &c.,

[Page 322]
[Inclosure 3 in No. 164.]

Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward.

Sir: I have received your dispatch of the 30th ultimo, No. 368, with inclosures of copies of a letter from Minister Bingham, and your circular letter to the southern consuls, both relating to the Japanese expedition to Formosa.

I received a letter from Mr. Bingham of the same date as yours, and have informed the foreign office of his action in stopping the steamer New York, and urging the Japanese government to detach the American officers engaged in the expedition. The information respecting this whole affair in their possession was somewhat erroneous, and they were under the impression that the New York was a man-of-war, and Messrs. Le Gendre, Cassel, and Wasson were the leaders and commanders of the expedition.

I inclose a dispatch for Mr. Henderson, of Amoy, which may strengthen your circular in showing that the enterprise Mr. Cassel and Mr. Wasson are engaged in, is one which they cannot lawfully aid. I trust they will have already left it before the dispatch reaches Amoy.

The Chinese government will be much re-assured to learn that the United States authorities are determined to take all proper measures to restrain Americans from assisting this Japanese invasion of Formosa, consistent with treaty obligations; but they have exhibited so much hesitation in their action that they have missed the full effects it would have had upon the local officials at the ports, if these latter had early been informed how the expedition was regarded.

I think their own want of precise information had something to do with their inaction, and I made it a reason for urging them to set up a telegraph-wire between the capital and southern provinces, by which they could learn such things sooner. It will be the most intelligible argument to them for encouraging the telegraph, when they begin to see their awkward position in an affair like this, because they have it not.

I am, &c.,