to Mr. Frelinghuysen
Séoul , May 24, 1883. (Received July 5.)
Sir: I have the honor to report that I arrived at Nagasaki from Yokohama on the evening of the 6th instant, and left that port on the morning of the 8th in the U. S. S. Monocacy, arriving at the open port of Chi-Mul-Poo on the evening of the 13th, having been detained two days by stress of weather at the island of Fukuye. Upon our arrival two Corean officials came on board, asking the name and nationality of our vessel, and the object of our coming.
On the following morning the governor of the district of Tu-Chun came to pay his respects and to offer me the hospitalities of his house. He said that his Government expected me, and that on the evening previous he had dispatched a messenger to the capital to announce my arrival. On the morning of the 15th Mr. Hon-Yew-Sik, a vice president of the foreign office, and Mr. Kim-Sa Chol, a secretary of the same board, came off to the Monocacy, bringing to me a dispatch from his excellency, Min-Yon-Mok, president of the foreign office, inviting me to come to the capital with the view of exchanging the ratifications at that place. Upon the arrival of these gentlemen, the Corean flag, which had been prepared at the suggestion of Commander Cotton, was hoisted at the fore, and saluted with twenty-one guns, the first salute ever tendered to the Corean ensign.
With these officials I had a long conference, conversing with them through the medium of my interpreters without difficulty. I found them intelligent and well versed in matters pertaining to other countries. They said that a decided change had taken place within a few months in the disposition of their own people, and they hoped for happy results from these new and friendly relations with the United States. They seemed to understand and appreciate our policy in the East. Through them I accepted the invitation of the minister of foreign relations to proceed at once to the capital.
Sedan chairs and small Corean ponies with a guard were furnished us, and on the morning of the 17th, accompanied by Mr. Scudder, my secretary, my interpreters, Captain Cotton, and eight officers of the Monocacy, I left Chi-Mul-Poo, the port, for the capital. The road traverses ranges of hills with intervening valleys, and although a public highway, is little more than a bridle path. We passed many hamlets and villages. The wall of the houses are constructed of stones and mud, with thatched roofs. * * * The women fled at our approach, but the men and children remained to gaze at us, manifesting much curiosity but no animosity. They were clothed in robes of white cotton cloth, differing in shape from either the Chinese or Japanese modes, and wore upon their heads conical shaped hats made of horse-hair.
They seem to be of marked Mongolian characteristics, but unless I am deceived by their methods of dress, they are a more stalwart race than [Page 242] the Chinese. I observed that the valleys were passably well tilled, and noticed fields of wheat, rice and millet. I saw a few groves of stunted fir or pine trees growing upon the hill sides, and a few willows along the water-courses.
Of the domestic animals the horses are exceedingly small, but the oxen and cows are large and well formed, and are used as beasts of burden.
Including frequent stoppages we were ten hours in reaching the capital, crossing the Yung-Wha-Chin River about four miles from the city, where we were met by the governor of the district, and one of the officials of the foreign office. From thence to the city, the wayside was literally lined with people. Thousands were congregated upon the hillsides to watch our approach. I learned that they understood the purpose of our visit, and were somewhat divided in their opinions as to its good results. They treated us, however, with the utmost civility, perhaps because we were accompanied by officials and surrounded by guarrds. Long before we reached the gates of the city proper, we were passing through narrow, filthy streets, and after entering the city the same conditions seemed to prevail. The most imposing structures I saw were the gateways. There are four, called the north, south, east and west gates, from whence two broad streets cross each other at right angles. The houses are of one story, with mud walls and thatched roofs. Little attention seems to be paid to drainage. * * * The shops are small and insignificant, and while there are some things which show skill in handicraft, the majority of the wares are rude and coarse in texture.
We were escorted to two houses which had been prepared for us, the one where I remained being the house of Mr. Möllendorff, a German gentleman who holds the position of assistant secretary of foreign affairs, and who is organizing that office as well as the customs service. We were made comfortable in these houses of the better class, and every attention was shown to us.
During the evening his excellency Min-Yon-Mok, the secretary of foreign affairs, with other officials, called upon me and expressed gratification that the Government of the United States had sent its representative to exchange the ratifications of the treaty. These gentlemen were polite and intelligent, deprecating their own condition, and seemingly well versed as to the condition of other countries. Upon the following day the minister of foreign affairs called again, and I then arranged with him that a conference with a view to the exchange of the ratifications should take place the next day at 2 o’clock p.m.
At the appointed hour, with my secretary and interpreters, and accompanied by Captain Cotton and officers of the Monocacy in full dress, I went to the foreign offices, where I met his excellency, Min-Yong-Mok, minister of foreign affairs, and the presidents, as they are designated, of the four departments, political, postal, industrial, and revenue, with their secretaries.
Mr. Min informed me that he had been appointed commissioner plenipotentiary to exchange the ratifications. After an exhibition of our respective powers, I called attention to the modification made to Article VI of the treaty by the resolution of the Senate. The commissioner assenting to this, I prepared an addendum, which being duly signed in quadruplicate, the exchange of ratifications was formally made.
I have, &c.,