Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 4, 1883
to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Peking, August 30, 1883. (Received October 20.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose certain correspondence with the consul at Canton in reference to a recent disturbance in that city arising: out of the folly of some Europeans, which unhappily led to loss of life.
The Department will not fail to note the forbearance shown by the Chinese authorities, and the promptitude with which the viceroy intervened to preserve order and secure the interests and safety of the foreign settlement.
I have, &c.,
Mr. Seymour to Mr. Young.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that Canton has been considerably stirred up for the past three days and nights, over a disturbance that occurred early on the morning of Sunday, 12th instant, when three Europeans, in the employ of the imperial maritime customs service, after a night of dissipation, caused a row in the streets on the Honan (south) side or division of the city of Canton, that resulted irk the death of a Chinese boy and the wounding of a Chinaman and a Chinawoman.
Matters assumed a serious aspect, with threats of revenge against foreigners, until rigorous measures were adopted by the Chinese authorities to maintain order and re-establish tranquillity among the natives, who would not permit the dead to be removed from the place where he fell until to-day; and would not permit the wounded woman to remain at the hospital in care of the “barbarian devils,” and refused, to allow “Europeans” or foreigners to land on that side of the river, and threatened extermination generally.
Admonitions sent to several of the consulates by professed and doubtless real friends led to a conference of and a consultation by the consular corps on Monday afternoon, 13th instant, when, in reference to demands from foreigners of various nationalities, upon their consuls for protection, it was deemed best, for prudential reasons, to bring the facts before the viceroy, and request his attention to the emergency.
Herewith please find copy of a dispatch, prepared by request of my colleagues, addressed to the viceroy, and signed by the consuls. Also please find the concluding: paragraphs of the viceroy’s prompt reply, of this date, conveying satisfactory assurance of vigorous efforts to preserve order.
At present indications decidedly testify to the viceroy’s efficiency and success, and no further trouble is anticipated.
I am, &c.,
Consular body to Viceroy Tseng.
Sir: Your excellency’s attention is respectfully called to the propriety and necessity of some effective means being employed to preserve order and to allay excitement on the Honan side of the Canton River, on account of a deplorable disturbance which occurred in that portion of the city, at an early hour on the morning of Sunday, 12th instant, between some Chinese residents and three Europeans, resulting, unfortunately, in the death of a Chinese boy and the wounding of a Chinawoman and Chinaman, from the use of fire-arms in resisting a mob.
The three Europeans, one of whom is a native of Great Britain, another a native of Russia, and the third a native of Norway, have been arrested, and are now confined in the jail of the British consulate, to await examination according to treaty [Page 210]stipulations and requirements. In the mean time the excitement and feelings of the populace, in the vicinity referred to, have assumed such a threatening character as to demand vigorous and prompt measures on the part of the Chinese authorities to prevent further atrocities.
Wherefore your excellency is respectfully informed of the facts and requested to cause such measures to he immediately adopted as will prevent any further disturbance.
Hoping that your excellency will promptly give effect to a compliance with this request in which we unitedly concur,
We have, &c.,
- CHARLES SEYMOUR,
United States Consul.
- P. RISTELHUEBER,
Consul de France.
- Pro. O. F. VON MOLLENDORFF,
Acting Consul for Germany.
- Baron KETTLER.
- F. B. CUNNINGHAM,
Vice-Consul for Sweden and Norway.
- CHARLES VON BOSE,
Consul for the Netherlands.
- R. W. H. WOOD,
Acting Consul for Denmark.
Memorandum.—The British consul having sent dispatches to the Chinese authorities before the preparation of this dispatch, his signature is omitted.
Tseng, acting viceroy, in reply.
I, the viceroy, have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a joint dispatch on 13th August, 1883 (here the consuls’ joint dispatch quoted in full).
Upon examination the viceroy would state that he has just received a communication from the acting English consul, Hance, concerning the same subject. Consequently the viceroy has already sent instructions to the poon yü (magistrate) and the kwang hi (the colonel) to dispatch some soldiers and police to proceed to Honan and to properly preserve order and to disperse the crowd.
Now, upon receipt of the foregoing dispatch, the viceroy has to repeat his order, with instruction that these officials should pay strict attention to maintain order, disperse the crowd, and not to allow any persons to avail themselves of this occurrence to create disturbance. The viceroy has also instructed the provincial judge to inquire, upon a compliance therewith.
It is proper that the viceroy should send this reply to the information of their honors the consuls.
Mr. Young to Mr. Seymour.
Sir: I am in receipt of your dispatch No. 29, in reference to the disturbances in Canton. The measures taken by you to preserve order were prompt and salutary. It is a pleasure to know that the viceroy was so willing to answer your demands, and also to learn that no Americans were concerned in what seems to have been a wanton and foolish outrage upon Chinese society.
I am, &c.,