No. 102.

Mr. Young to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 574.]

Sir: A conspicuous incident of the affair at Foochow was the gallantry shown by several of the young Chinese students who had been educated in the United States and were afterwards assigned to duty in various branches of the Government service. Five were, as is reported, on the Chinese gunboats during the action at Foochow, and one of them lost his life.

The Department will have learned from my dispatch No. 148, dated March 13, 1883, of the interest which the legation has taken in the fortunes of the young men who studied in the United States, and my deep [Page 145] regrets at the cessation of that educational experiment, whenever occasion served, and it could be done in a becoming manner. I have expressed this regret to the prince and the viceroy, in the hope that I might revive an interest in the subject and persuade the Government to send more students and perhaps establish the system on a permanent basis.

The main objection to the education of the young Chinese in America was the allegation that they became denationalized; they forgot the customs and even the language of their own country, and returned Americans in feeling and not Chinamen. This was an argument that I could not answer, except by the general assertion of my belief that the more thoroughly acquainted Chinamen became with the literature, science, arts, and laws of the United States the better it would be for China.

When it appeared, therefore, at Foochow, that these “denationalized” students had shown conspicuous bravery and patriotism; that an education in America had really made them able to render their country an essential service, I brought the matter again to the attention of the prince and the viceroy in an informal conversation. His highness saw the force of the illustration, which events made it in my power to advance, and gave me to understand that the question of reviving the educational system in America would, as soon as French affairs were adjusted, have his careful and most favorable consideration.

After the conversation I addressed his highness an informal note, in order that the subject may be a matter of record in the legation for the convenience of my successors who may care to revive it. This and the reply of the prince will be found as inclosures to this dispatch.

Trusting that my action will meet with your approval,

I have. &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 574.]

Mr. Young to the foreign office.

Your Imperial Highness and Your Excellencies: The American minister presents his compliments to his imperial highness the prince and their excellencies the ministers of the yamên, and begs to state that he has noticed an account in the foreign newspapers to the effect that in the fight which occurred between the Chinese and the French forces at Foochow the Chinese displayed bravery in fighting for their country, and conspicuous among those who distinguished themselves were five of the students who were educated in America and who were serving on board the Yung Wu. These students showed ability in firing their guns and fought to the very last, fearless of death, and they did not leave the vessel until she commenced to sink, when they jumped into the water and swam for their lives. One of the students, nephew of Mr. Yung Wing, late assistant minister of China to the United States, was killed.

The American minister desires to express to his imperial highness and ministers of the yamên his deep sense of regard for the bravery of these young men. It has been stated that it was to be feared that these students in undergoing a system of foreign studies would not prove of any great service to their country, but judging from these recent acts above recited it is manifestly evident that they have done great service to China, and that their education in the United States has not proved fruitless. They have fully shown themselves not only worthy of their country’s favor, but they have also shown themselves brave.

It cannot, therefore, be said that they are of no service to their country. It is the hope of the American minister that the Government will, in future, at the proper time, [Page 146] again favorably consider the question of sending another group of students to America, as events have confirmed the opinion he has expressed to your highness that the education they would receive would be of benefit to China.

In sending this note the American minister hopes that it will receive the favorable consideration of his imperial highness and their excellencies the ministers of the yamên.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 574.—Informal.]

The foreign office to Mr. Young.

Your Excellency: On the 2d September we received a note from your excellency wherein you stated that you had read an account in the foreign newspapers to effect that five of the Chinese students (who were educated in America) serving on board of the Chinese vessel Yung Wu had displayed themselves in firing the guns of that vessel during the fight which ensued between the Chinese and French forces at Pagoda Anchorage; that they showed courage, and were not afraid to die for the cause they espoused; that one of the students was killed in the battle; and that it was manifestly apparent that these students were thoroughly patriotic, and that the education they acquired in the United States had not proved fruitless. And it was your hope that China would again, at stated periods, send boys abroad to be educated.

In answer, we would state that the object of sending students abroad to study is to prepare them for being of service to China, when called upon.

The prince and ministers feel very much grieved at the loss of one of the students who fought for his country at Foochow.

In regard to the educational mission to America, the question has been laid before the throne and is on record. As to whether or not students are to be sent abroad in future, it will be necessary to first have the sanction and permission of the Emperor, and then action can be taken in the premises.

Cards and compliments.