to Mr. Evarts.
Peking , November 3, 1880.
Sir: Our dispatch. No. 8, of October 23, 1880, brought the history of our negotiation down to the inverview of that day with the Chinese commissioners, and briefly summarized its result. We now have the honor to inclose a full précis of the conversation on that occasion.
When that précis was submitted to the Chinese commissioners, we asked for an interview (which was appointed for the 31st ultimo), in a note, a copy of which will be found inclosed.
The conference was held on the day appointed, and at its opening the Chinese commissioners submitted to us the project of a treaty, a translation of which will be found herewith. This being in Chinese, we could only gather its general purport from a rapid translation by Mr. Holcombe. Mr. Trescot, on behalf of the commissioners, informed the Chinese commissioners that we would take it into consideration, but that we could and ought to say at once that there were some points which were inadmissible, and could not be received by us even for consideration. [Page 183] The first was the limitation of the provisions of the treaty to Chinese immigration into California. To this the Chinese commissioners replied that such was not their intention, but as they had been led to suppose, from all they heard, that objection to such immigration existed chiefly, if not only, in California, they had suggested this form in order that its discussion might lead to a better understanding.
The second point was the provision that the limitation of such immigration should be confined only to the prevention of the entry of Chinese labor, and should not impose penalties or disabilities of any kind upon such immigrants. Mr. Trescot said that this provision was too obscure, and seemed to involve questions not within the scope of the present discussion. The right to prevent immigration, without the use of such means as the Government of the United States might deem judicious and necessary to enforce the prevention, was scarcely worth considering.
To this objection the reply of the Chinese was not precise enough for accurate report, but their apprehension seemed to be that such power of prevention might be made to justify or excuse unfavorable legislation by the States against such Chinese immigrants as might be found within their borders.
Another point was the exclusion of “artisans” from the class of Chinese labor whose immigration was forbiddon by the proposed provisions. In reference to this, Mr. Trescot stated that it was an inadmissible limitation upon that definition of Chinese labor which had been suggested by the United States commissioners.
It was deemed best by the United States commissioners not to do more at this interview than signify their great disappointment at the scope and tenor of the Chinese project, and to reserve a full review of its provisions until it had been translated.
After full consideration, the United States commissioners drafted a counter project with observations, which they sent to the Chinese commissioners by Mr. Holcombe, as secretary of the commission. This was accompanied by a note of instruction to Mr. Holcombe, a copy of which will be found inclosed. The result of his interview was the appointment of a meeting, to be held at an early day, the language of the members of the Yamen being such as to indicate the prospect of a satisfactory conclusion.
It may be well to state here that, in all our conferences, there have been present, besides the two commissioners, other members of the Yamen, making the Chinese representation never less than four and oftener six. The discussions, as far as they had practical point, were conducted to a large degree by Shen, a member of the privy council and one of the oldest and most influential of the Yamen, and Wang, who, although the youngest member, has the reputation of being one of the most distinguished statesmen of the country.
The discussions were, however, often very general, and participated in by all those present.
We have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servants,
- JAMES B. ANGELL.
- JOHN F. SWIFT.
- WM. HENRY TRESCOT.