No. 83.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Evarts.

No. 412.]

Sir: Recurring to the representation made by the Chamber of Commerce at Shanghai, in August of last year, to the foreign ministers resident at this capital in regard to the dangers which are threatening the port of Shanghai in consequence of changes which are taking place in the approaches to the port, and at the port, and to my dispatches, numbered 364, 371, 402, and 411, I have now to hand you a copy of a dispatch which I am addressing to the consulate-general. Upon perusal of this letter, you will observe that it gives to Mr. Stahel the result reached by the diplomatic body in our discussion of the memorandum dated February 23, which I transmitted to you in my last-mentioned dispatch. This was an agreement in effect to request the consuls at Shanghai to report further on the matter of the condition of the approaches [Page 108] to Shanghai, after consultation with the harbor-master, and to send to the respective governments data in regard to the same matter, with a request that these be submitted to competent engineers for their opinions on the question whether the apprehensions felt at Shanghai have a real basis.

I have instructed Mr. Stahel in the sense of this agreement, asking him at the same time to transmit to you the report made by certain Dutch engineers to the consular body about two years ago. This report, with charts and other papers available to the Navy Department, or such other department as the matter may be referred to, will enable the officers chosen for the duty to give an intelligent opinion upon the question submitted.

I trust that you will be disposed to make the necessary reference of the matter. The subject is one of great importance to commercial interests in this part of the world, and I imagine that the engineers consulted will find no difficulty in declaring that the situation calls for the prompt attention of this government.

I trust also that in such case you will instruct me to proceed with my colleagues to place the matter in its proper light before this government.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 412.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. Stahel.

No. 115.]

Sir: I beg leave to hand to you herewith a memorandum which I submitted to my colleagues a few days since. It had reference to the letter transmitted to the several foreign representatives here, on the 7th of last August, by the chairman of the chamber of commerce at your port. Those parts of the letter which relate more particularly to the condition of the harbor proper having already received attention, I advanced the memorandum in order to bring forward the questions regarding the approaches to Shanghai raised by the chamber.

Since placing the memorandum in the hands of my colleagues, I have discussed with them the situation at Shanghai, and have agreed to the following propositions:

That the consuls shall be reminded of the tenor of the seventh rule of the code of harbor regulations recently sent to you, and requested to concert measures with the harbor-master looking to a representation to the high authorities here, of the danger that is threatening the port in consequence of the deterioration of the approaches to it.
To transmit to our several governments all available data in regard to the approaches to the port, in order that they may be submitted for the opinion of competent engineers, with a view to determine whether the condition of the river is such as to call for a vigorous representation to this government.

I beg leave, therefore, to ask you to place yourself in communication with your colleagues for the purpose indicated tinder the first head. I may say to you, however, that I doubt whether any action can be taken in this way, which will add much weight to the very full representations heretofore sent up, and that, while expecting that you will give to the subject your best attention, I shall be satisfied if I receive from you a statement that after consultation with your colleagues and the harbor-master, you agree in the opinion advanced by the chamber of commerce, that there is danger “that the narrowing and shallowing of the river is tending to render Shanghai inaccessible from the sea”; that the questions involved properly concern this government, and that it should appoint special functionaries, whose business it would be to decide upon and provide the most efficient means of protecting the navigable channels of the port, and maintaining free access to it for vessels of all draughts.

I have to ask you, also, to procure and transmit to the Department, making reference in doing so to the number of this dispatch, a copy of Messrs. Escher and De Ryke’s “Report upon the Woosung Bar,” published at the North China Herald Office, in 1876. Various charts and documents are referred to in this report. I do not think it necessary to forward any of these, but I shall feel obliged if you will examine the register of my correspondence from Shanghai with the State Department, and give [Page 109] the numbers of all dispatches which deal with questions of river conservation, the bar, &c. If, however, an examination of these dispatches and of the subject generally, leads you to think that any charts or papers necessary to an intelligent examination of it are available to you which may not be available at Washington, please be so good as to forward such.

I am, &c.,