No. 105.
Mr. Holcombe to Mr. Evarts.

No. 91.]

Sir: In my dispatch No. 76, of the 23d ultimo, I reported to you the details of a complaint made to me by our consul at Hankow, that the local authorities in Szchuen had refused to recognize certain transit-passes taken out by Mr. M. A. Jenkins, whose goods were, in consequence, detained in the interior of that province, I also forwarded a a copy of a dispatch in the business which I had addressed to Prince Kung.

[Page 209]

Upon the 28th ultimo a response was received from the prince, a translation of which I now have the honor to inclose. As indicated only the usual routine reference of the subject to the provincial authorities of Szchuen, which would involve further and indefinite delay, I addressed the foreign office again, upon the 6th instant, objecting to this procedure as unnecessary, inasmuch as the language used by the Chung King magistrate, in his order warning Mr. Jenkins not to make use of the passes, not only failed to indicate any irregularity in the action of the merchant, but, in itself, condemned the course of the official as a manifest violation of treaty. I objected to the farther delay made necessary by this reference as involving my countryman in additional hardship and loss, and urged Prince Kung to issue peremptory orders that the transit passes should be respected and the produce passed to Hankow. I inclose a copy of this dispatch.

In order to leave no effort untried by which relief for Mr. Jenkins might be obtained, I visited the foreign office upon the 10th instant and spoke personally with the ministers in the case, reiterating the arguments and renewing the request contained in my dispatch. The ministers promised to instruct the magistrate peremptorily that, in case the transit passes, and the produce covered by them were in order,, he should allow Mr. Jenkins to take his goods to Hankow at once. And I am now in receipt of the inclosed dispatch from Prince Kung, informing me that orders have been issued as promised. I have thanked him for his prompt and satisfactory action.

Awaiting your approval of my course in this business,

I have &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 91.]

Prince Kung, chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, herewith makes a communication in reply.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 21st instant, stating that you had received a communication from the United States consul at Hankow, informing you that Mr. M. A. Jenkins, an American merchant of that port, had taken out ten transit passes for the purpose of bringing out native produce from the interior of Szchuen. The Chung King magistrate refused to recognize these passes and warned Mr. Jenkins that if he brought his goods to the tax station at Kweichow dues would be levied upon them the same as though unprotected by transit passes, &c.

You refer to an arrangement made in the early part of this year by which transit passes for Szchuen produce may be taken out at Hankow, and the dues paid there. You inclose a copy of the order issued by the magistrate named and request me to issue such instructions as will secure compliance with the arrangement mentioned above, &c.

I have requested the southern superintendent of trade, and the viceroys of Szchuen and Hukwang to instruct the intendants concerned to examine into and report upon, this business at once. Upon receipt of their replies I shall again address you.

Chester Holcombe, Esq., &c., &c., &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 91.]

Mr. Holcombe to Prince Kung.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Imperial Highness’s dispatch of the 28th ultimo in response to mine of 21st, which requested your attention to the refusal of the Chinese authorities at Chung King, in Szcnuen, to recognize certain transit passes taken out by M. A. Jenkins, an American merchant, and beg leave to express my thanks for the promptness with which your Imperial Highness ordered an inquiry into the business.

[Page 210]

I address you again upon it from no lack of appreciation of your desire to protect the interests of my countrymen, and to secure obedience on the part of your officials to the provisions of the treaties. This case, however, is one of peculiar hardship and injustice, and I cannot refrain from requesting your Imperial Highness’s attention again to certain features of it, with the hope that you will be able to afford Mr. Jenkins some more speedy relief than seems likely to come in the ordinary course.

The transit passes in question were taken out by Mr. Jenkins upon the 27th of last July, and were sent at once to Szchuen, where the produce covered by them was shortly afterward purchased and prepared for shipment to Hankow. Upon the 4th of October Mr. Jenkins was warned not to use the passes held by him, as they would not be recognized by the tax officers at Kwei-Chow.

It thus appears that the merchandise covered by these passes has already been detained in the interior of Szchuen some three or four months, to the serious inconvenience and loss of its owner. If, now, it must further be detained until the instruction recently issued by your Imperial Highness can reach the capital of Szchuen, the viceroy can issue his orders to the delinquent local authorities for a report; until they see lit to make the report, and until these replies can reach your Imperial Highness, receive consideration by you, and fresh instructions go hence to Szchuen—if this delay must arise, then it is evident that some six or Seven months more must elapse before the merchandise can be released from detention, and further serious loss to the owner must arise, if indeed, the produce is not entirely ruined.

I freely admit that this argument on behalf of the merchant would not hold good were there reason to accuse him of any violation of the treaties or trade regulations in connection with the export of his merchandise; but the transit passes were taken out regularly, and conformed in every respect to the requirements of treaty, and no charge is made of any conduct on the part of the merchaut which would justify the detention or seizure of the goods. This detention is based on the simple assertion that because of the use of transit passes in Szchuen, the local tax office at Kwei-Chow has suffered a loss of more than two hundred thousand taels, and that if these passes are respected the officials at Kwei-Chow can collect nothing from the owner of the produce covered by them. The detention of Mr. Jenkins’s property by the official named was therefore, by his own showing, an offensive violation of a solemn treaty engagement, and of that good faith between our governments which I am sure your Imperial Highness desires zealously to maintain, and which should be faithfully respected by all classes of officials in both countries.

As there appears, therefore, from the showing of the Chung King magistrate himself, to have been absolutely no reason whatever for the detention of Mr. Jenkins’s property, I venture to place this business before your Imperial Highness again, and most earnestly to request, in the interest of good feeling between the two governments, that you will not subject my country man to further delay and loss, but will at once instruct the local authorities concerned to respect the transit passes held by him, and to allow the merchandise which they cover to be taken to its destination.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure No. 3 in No. 91.]

Prince Kung, chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, herewith makes a communication in reply.

Upon the 6th instant I had the honor to receive a dispatch from you in the matter of the transit passes taken out by Mr. M. A. Jenkins, to cover native produce brought from the interior of Szchuen, in which you remarked that if the export of the produce must further be delayed until the receipt by me of reports from the several parties to whom I had sent instructions, a farther detention of six or seven months must arise before the merchandise could be moved, and you requested me to issue imperative orders to the local authorities concerned to respect the transit passes, and to allow Mr. Jenkins to transport his merchandise to Hankow at once, &c.

Upon the 10th instant you called at the foreign office and again requested that orders be sent to the viceroy of Szchuen to give this case immediate attention, &c.

Upon receipt of your earlier dispatch in this business, I instructed the viceroy of Szchuen without delay to direct his subordinates to examine into and effect a satisfactory disposition in the premises at once.

Being now in receipt of your later favor, as above recited, he viceroy of Szchuen has bet again instructed by this office to see to it that the local officers concerned make at once the usual examination of the merchandise referred to, and if no irregularities are discovered to allow it to proceed, and to report the fact to me directly, in order 1 hat I may inform you, and so the case be speedily disposed of.

Chkster Holcombe, Esq.,
&c., &c., &c.

[Page 211]
[Inclosure 4, in No. 91.]

Mr. Holcombe to Prince Kung.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt this moment of your Imperial Highness’s dispatch of this date in matter of the transit passes for Szchuen produce taken out by Mr. M. A. Jenkins, in which your Imperial Highness informs me that you have instructed the viceroy of Szchuen to see to it that the local officers concerned make at once the usual examination of the merchandise, and if no irregularities are discovered, to allow it to proceed, &c., &c.

I beg to present my most sincere thanks to your Imperial Highness for this very prompt and satisfactory action.

I have, &c.,