to Mr. Evarts
February 8, 1878.
(Received April 19.)
Sir: I have the honor to recur to the matter
mentioned in my dispatch No. 394, of the demand of the authorities at
Shanghai for the removal of the Shanghai-Woosung telegraph, and to hand you
herewith a copy of the letter from the intendant at that port to the Danish
consul, advancing the demand.
This matter has been formally presented to the diplomatic body by Mr. Butzow,
minister of Russia, who is charged with the care of Danish interests in this
empire, and the several ministers agreed to write to their consuls as
indicated in a letter which I am sending to our officer, a copy of which I
You will notice upon perusal of the letter that I recite to the
consul-general briefly the facts as I understand them, and request him to
aid his Danish colleague in efforts to continue the status
quo until the business has been disposed, of by the parties
I have, &c.,
[Inclosure 1 in No.
Intendant Lin to
the Danish Consul.
Lin, superintendent of the Kianghan customs and intendant of Soo-Lung
circuit, &c., makes this pressing communication in accordance with
His excellency, Shen, the superintendent of trade for the southern ports,
has sent me an order to the following effect: “The Great Northern
Telegraph Company having (without permission) put up telegraph posts on
the land from Woosung right up to Shanghai, orders were sent in August
and September, 1874, to the Tao-t’ai to press the consul to prohibit it.
A communication has subsequently been received from the board of foreign
affairs, and the Tao-t’ai was again ordered to act accordingly.
“Several years have now elapsed, and the Danish consul has not yet
removed the telegraph posts, which is unreasonable delay.
“The Tao-t’ai is ordered accordingly to press the Danish consul to pull
up and remove the telegraph posts quickly, and report in reply.”
On receipt of the preceding it behooves me to make this communication to
the honorable consul, and request that you would, in accordance
therewith, order the telegraph company to pull up and remove the
telegraph posts with haste, and still await your reply, so that I may
report on the matter.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 401.]
Mr. Seward to Mr.
Sir: I have learned from the Russian minister,
who is charged with the care of Danish interests, that the Chinese
authorities at your post demand the removal of the Great Northern
Telegraph Company’s wires between Woosung and Shanghai.
The Woosung-Shanghai telegraph was constructed several years ago to
connect the company’s sea-cable with their office at Shanghai.
Objections were raised by the Chinese authorities at the time, but it
ceased upon representations made to them that the poles stood on
foreign-.owned ground (that of the Woosung Road Company, over which the
railway was afterward constructed); that the line was of much utility
and concern to foreigners; was used by their own government, &c.
It is understood that the railway company, in selling their property,
made no reservation of privileges in favor of the telegraph company.
The Danish consul, in responding to the demand made upon him, seems to
have rested his argument upon the fact that the Chinese Government
informed the Danish minister, General Raasloff, in 1875, that they would
request their provincial officers to protect the lines of the company.
It would appear, however, that this intimation had reference to the
company’s cables, which alone were the subject of discussion.
My colleagues and I, in considering this matter at the request of the
Russian minister, have not failed to take a lively interest in it. The
given telegraph forms, with its connection, the only line which unites
the great port of Shanghai with South China, Japan, and western
countries generally. Refusal to allow the wires to be carried over the
given route between Shanghai and Woosung would seem to imply refusal to
allow it to be carried over any other route between the same places, and
to condemn the company to put down a cable in the river, which, owing to
the shallowness of the stream, and its constant use by vessels of all
kinds, would be subject to frequent interruptions. It is not known that
the Danish company has failed to deal liberally with any interest, or
that any political objections to its operations have been raised.
You are authorized, therefore, to consult about the matter with your
colleagues, whenever called upon by your colleague the Danish consul,
with a view to preserve the status quo of the
line until the questions involved can be disposed of in the course of
negotiations, which will be undertaken, doubtless, by those charged with
the care of Danish interests.
I am, &c.,