Mr. Bayard to Mr. Cheng Tsao
Washington, February 18, 1886.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the very interesting and important communication which you addressed to me on the 30th of November last touching the treatment of Chinese subjects in the United States.
The subject to which your note relates has already received the most earnest and careful consideration of the President, in whose annual message to the Houses of Congress in December last you cannot have failed to note very impressive recommendations fully recognizing the responsibility of this Government to observe, in letter and in spirit, the duties of benignity and friendship to which your note refers, as set forth in the treaties of 1868 and 1880, between the United States and China. And, although my formal reply to your note has been somewhat delayed, owing to causes beyond my control and in part painfully personal to myself, you will doubtless have observed, or at least conjectured, the influence of your communication is the following reference of the President to the condition and treatment of Chinese subjects resorting to this country:
In the application of the acts lately passed to execute the treaty of 1880, restrictive of the immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States, individual cases of hardship have occurred beyond the power of the Executive to remedy, and calling for judicial determination.
The condition of the Chinese question in the Western States and Territories is, despite this restrictive legislation, far from being satisfactory. The recent outbreak in Wyoming Territory, where numbers of unoffending Chinamen, indisputably within the protection of the treaties and the law, were murdered by a mob, and the still more recent threatened outbreak of the same character in Washington Territory, are fresh in the minds of all, and there is apprehension lest the bitterness of feeling against the Mongolian race on the Pacific slope may find vent in similar lawless demonstrations. [Page 159] All the power of this Government should he exerted to maintain the amplest good faith toward China in the treatment of these men: and the inflexible sternness of the law in bringing the wrong-doer to justice should be insisted upon.
Every effort has been made by this Government to prevent these violent outbreaks and to aid the representatives of China in their investigation of these outrages; and it is but just to say that they are traceable to the lawlessness of men not citizens of the United States engaged in competition with Chinese laborers.
Race prejudice is the chief factor in originating these disturbances, and it exists in a large part of our domain, jeopardizing our domestic peace and the good relationship we strive to maintain with China.
The President’s unambiguous and frank declarations stated have anticipated, for the most part, the tenor of my delayed reply to your note.
You and your Government are so well aware of the sincerity with which this Government professes its desire and intention to carry out in the fullest good faith all obligations springing from international comity, and inspired by the especial amity which finds expression in the several treaties between the United States and China, that it may, perhaps, be superfluous for me to reiterate assurances of our sorrow and abhorrence caused by the lawless and cruel outrages of which so many of your countrymen were unhappily made the victims in September last at Rock Springs, in the Territory of Wyoming, and which have been fully and truthfully recited in your note and in the accompanying documents.
Let me assure you, however, that I but speak the voice of honest and true American citizens throughout this country, and of the Government, founded on their will, when I denounce with feeling and indignation the bloody outrages and shocking wrongs which were there inflicted upon a body of your countrymen. There is nothing to extenuate such offenses against humanity and law, and not the least of the outrages upon the good name of the law was the wretched travesty of the forms of justice by a certain local officer acting as coroner, and pretending to give a legal account of the manner in which the victims met their death.
It appears from your statements and the reports transmitted in support thereof—the accuracy of which I do not question—that twenty-eight of your countrymen were killed outright at Rock Springs, fifteen were wounded, and many more driven from their homes, while the property of Chinese subjects to the value of upwards of $147,000 was either destroyed or pillaged by the rioters.
My sense of humanity is no less aroused than yours to strong feelings of indignation and commiseration; but, besides this common sentiment, I feel with equal poignancy deep mortification that such a blot should have been cast upon the record of our Government of laws.
To aid in weighing the responsibility for these occurrences and to attain a clearer comprehension of the wrong, its origin, its progress, and its proper remedies, I will ask your attention to a few of the main admitted facts, as stated by yourself and as disclosed by the investigation, in which, as you justly say, your official agents were importantly assisted by the presence of officers of the United States Army specially assigned for that purpose.
The region in which this outbreak occurred is not within the borders of any State of the United States, but is within the limits of Wyoming Territory. You make the point that this Territory is directly under the control of the Federal Government, and that the acts of Territorial officers are in that degree those of the United States in the national capacity, not those of a distinct sovereignty. In this you approximately state a broad proposition, but do not accurately give it specific application. By its enabling and organic law the Territory of Wyoming enjoys local self-government, with a full equipment of officials in every [Page 160] branch known to our republican forms, who are invested with full authority to maintain law and order and administer justice to all inhabitants. This Territorial government contains the usual framework of the other republics which combine to form this Union. It comprises an executive, a legislative, and a judicial branch. In the centers of population this government is as competent to discharge its administrative obligations as is the government of any State, and is responsible in the same way. Recent occurrences at Seattle, in the Territory of Washington, show this. Blood has been shed there lately under the authority of Territorial officials in successful defense and assertion of the right of certain of your countrymen to peaceable and law observant residence.
The scene of the lamentable occurrences at Bock Springs was, however, remote from any center of population, and was marked by all the customary features of a newly and scantily settled locality. It consisted of a scattered assemblage of dwellings near a railway station and in the vicinity of some coal mines. The population was made up of men of all races, migratory in their habits; some engaged as laborers in mining, while others were employed in furnishing their supplies. Of formal recognized authority there were few representatives, and little or no attempt at organized police. It was, in short, a rude commencement of a community on the outposts of civilization, and, like all such beginnings, largely dependent for stability and order on the congruity of the elements of which it was composed.
To this remote and unprotected region your countrymen voluntarily resorted in large numbers. The attack upon them, as your note truly states, was made suddenly by a lawless band of about 150 armed men, who had given no previous intimation of their criminal intent. These men were discontented mining laborers, who had previously sought to induce the Chinese to join with them in a concerted strike for higher wages, and their overtures being rejected, they became angered on that account. This, I believe, is the only motive for the assault discernible and alleged in the reported evidence.
On neither side, among assailants or assailed, was there any representative of the Government of China or of the United States or of the Territory of Wyoming. There was, therefore, as there could be, no official insult or wrong. Whatever occurred was between private individuals wholly devoid of official character. It was, moreover, absolutely without national character. The domestic element of an ordinary civil disturbance was wanting. The assailants, equally with the assailed, were strangers in our land. In strict truth, the hospitality of a friendly country, no less than the rights of peaceable sojourners therein, may be said to have been outraged by a body of aliens, who, being permitted by the generosity of our laws to enter our borders and roam unchecked and at will throughout its jurisdiction, freely and profitably selecting their places of abode and finding occupation therein, have abused the privileges thus accorded to them and committed gross breaches of the public peace, suddenly and doubtless with the knowledge that nowhere within summons could any police organization be found in sufficient force to stay their criminal hands.
As you are aware, in the States of the Union, and also in the organized Territories and in the District of Columbia, where the Government of the nation has its Federal seat, the conservation of the public peace is committed to the local authorities, and crimes of violence involving the lives and safety of the property of individuals are held to be in violation of the peace, and in derogation of the local laws and jurisdiction. This violation constitutes the criminality which the police of the community [Page 161] seeks to prevent by all rational precautions and which the law is intended to punish.
Violent assaults and homicides in all newly-settled countries are very frequent; and in proportion as the social elements are incongruous and the organization of police and judiciary is inchoate and imperfect.
The Government of the United States, opening its vast domain so freely to actual settlers, has extended the scope and power of the Constitution and laws over the Territories, by confiding to their local legislatures and government the duty and power of maintaing order, preserving the public peace, and punishing infractions thereof. In this respect the local authority and responsibility is in practice as self-contained in a Territory as in a State.
Moreover, this local authority and responsibility is applied to and affects all inhabitants alike. Before the law alien and native are equal. Your note, however, intimated, rather than argues, the existence of special and peculiar responsibility in respect of the Chinese in our midst. By argument and analogy you seek to show that a singular and exceptional obligation rests upon the United States toward Chinamen, correspondent and reciprocal to the contractual obligations of China in respect of citizens of the United States resorting thither.
An examination of the treaty stipulations becomes, therefore, most important towards an understanding of this quesiton as stated by you. I am, of course, not unaware that your argument is essentially ad hominem; that it appeals to the sense of justice and fair play innate in the human breast; that it alleges that the Golden Rule “to do to others as they would have others do to them” is recited approvingly in Article XXIX of the treaty of 1858 between the two nations; and that it advances the assumption that “if the view” heretofore taken in an analogous, case, “as to the obligation of the United States to make indemnity for injuries to private individuals from mob violence, should be insisted upon and adhered to by” the United States, “China should in due reciprocity and international comity accept and practice the same principle.” But, before this ad hominem argument can be duly weighed, we must know where the conventional argument actually places us, and the measure of protection and redress they actually and necessarily contemplate in the respective countries.
The conventional stipulations between the United States and China, to which you have referred, are, as you state, and as appears from their face, in no wise reciprocal. Under the respective system and nature of the two Governments they could not have been made reciprocal, nor were they intended to be so. The frankness which animates your note will, I think, lead you to agree with me, after considering the very different organizations and policies of the Governments of our respective countries which find frequent recognition in the terms of the sundry treaties between them, that the privileges and immunities of Chinese subjects now within the jurisdiction of the United States are vastly greater than ever were or are extended to American citizens who, under the restrictions of the treaties, are allowed to reside and transact business in China.
The several treaties of 1814, 1858, 1868, and 1880 are acts in pari materia, and no subsequent one of them abrogates those which are prior in date. There have been successive modifications, extensions, or substitutions as to special subjects, but always in express revival and renewal of pre-existing treaties; and, unless abrogated in express terms or repealed impliedly by the adoption of new and inconsistent features, they all remain in force. Upon those premises, and passing all the [Page 162] personal and residential stipulations in review, we find restrictions expressly recognized throughout all the treaties which prove the inability to provide reciprocity, by reason of the totally variant basis on which the administrative functions and powers of the two countries are conducted.
Until 1868 no right of emigration of Chinese subjects to the United States was ever formally extended. None was, perhaps, needed, for, under our free, popular Government, and in the absence of any restrictive legislation, our territory was and is equally open to all aliens. It was altogether different in China. That country was closed to alien residence as by a wall. A specific right had to be conventionally created before this exclusion could be modified. To certain classes of citizens of the United States the treaty of 1844 granted carefully restricted rights to visit and sojourn in China, but in every one of the articles which treats of transient or permanent right of residence appears the qualification that it is for the purposes of trade.
Article I applies to our citizens “resorting to China for the purposes of commerce.”
Article III permits Americans to frequent certain specified ports, “and to reside with their families and trade there.”
Article IV relates to “citizens of the United States doing business at the said” ports.
Article V refers to “citizens of the United States lawfully engaged in commerce.” The important Article XIX, in regard to protection, speaks of “citizens of the United States in China peaceably attending to their affairs,” and by “their affairs” we may regard the “lawful” commerce elsewhere spoken of in the treaty as having been uppermost in the minds of the negotiators. Not merely was the purpose of their sojourn restricted, but citizens of the United States could not, under Article XVII, lawfully transgress certain residential limits. Even within those limits they were not free to select the sites for their “houses and places of business, and also hospitals, churches, and cemeteries.” The “merchants” of the United States were not to unreasonably insist on particular spots for those objects. Their residence was expressly conditioned on its being acceptable to the native inhabitants. The treaty says, and I am sure you will recognize the force of this provision:
The local authorities of the two Governments shall select in concert the sites for the foregoing object, having due regard for the feelings of the people in the location thereof.
And of that found at the close of the same Article XVII:
And in order to the preservation of the public peace, the local officers of the Government at each of the five ports shall, in concert with the consuls, define the limits beyond which it shall not be lawful for citizens of the United States to go.
The impracticability of maintaining efficient police protection in many portions of every widely extended domain was recognized by the Chinese Government when they expressly guarded against liability in the closing paragraph of Article XXIV of the treaty of 1844, as follows:
But if, by reason of the extent of territory and numerous population of China, it should in any case happen that the robbers cannot be apprehended or the property only in part recovered, then the law will take its course in regard to the local authorities, but the Chinese Government will not make indemnity for the goods lost.
Article XII of the treaty of 1858 is a substantial reaffirmation of these conditions. And it is to be noted that this treaty of 1858, while re-enacting many of the provisions of that of 1841, and passing over others, in no place intimates any enlargement of the residential class of unofficial American citizens to include others than merchants and their families within the narrow limits aforesaid. Ten years later we find the [Page 163] Burlingame treaty opening with the significant declaration that the object of preceding treaties has been to give aliens certain restricted privileges of resort and residence in particular localities “for purposes of trade.” Article V appears to extend the purposes of residence and resort by including “curiosity” as a motive; but even this extension is incidental to the enunciation of a principle, so that laws may be passed, not to guarantee “free migration and emigration” without limit, but to prohibit involuntary emigration—in other words, to suppress the labor and cooly traffic.
Article VII permits Americans to establish schools in China, and by implication includes American teachers in the classes admitted to restricted residence. In this, as in the other treaties, there is nothing to offset the idea of continued restriction, for Article VI, which gives to citizens of the United States visiting or residing in China “the same privileges, immunities, or exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation,” neither creates nor extends any right of alien sojourn, but rather confirms the announced determination of China to reserve all such rights not expressly granted.
To sum up, as the treaties stand, American citizens not of diplomatic or consular office may resort to China for trade, for curiosity, or as teachers, and then only to certain carefully limited localities, “having due regard to the feelings of the people in the location thereof.” If the citizens or subjects of any other power should be granted other or greater privileges, then the citizens of the United States will have equal treatment.
On the other hand, Chinese subjects were at all times free between 1844 and 1868 to come to the United States and travel or sojourn therein, pursuing whatever lawful occupation they might see fit to engage in, without the need of treaty guarantee. The sixth article of the Burlingame treaty created no privilege in their behalf; it simply recorded an existing fact; for the Chinese were then as free to visit and sojourn in the United States as any other aliens were, and no law of regulation or inhibition was upon our statute-books.
There was, therefore, in all these years no reciprocity of treatment of the citizens or subjects of the one country within the jurisdiction of the other. There could not be, for the Chinese Government so restricted and hedged about its conceded and carefully limited privileges as to make reciprocity impossible on the part of the United States, unless taking the form of retaliation, which our system of laws makes impracticable.
The treaty of 1880 is absolutely unilateral. It conveys no hint of reciprocity. Its second article gives to Chinese teachers, students, merchants, and those actuated by motives of curiosity, and also to the Chinese laborers then (1880) in the United States, the right to “go and come of their own free will and accord,” and, in addition to this, the same treatment as the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. I refrain from asking you to point out to me any responsive position hi any of our treaties with China which guarantees to American teachers, students, merchants, curiosity-seekers, and laborers the right to “go and come of their own free will and accord” throughout the length and breadth of China, “without regard to the feelings of the people” in the localities whither they may resort. I likewise refrain from invoking the argumentum ad hominem, as you have done, and from inquiring whether, in thus restricting the resort and residence of aliens, China has “done as she would be done by.” I am content to assume that [Page 164] these restrictions are of the nature of the case, and that China has sought to confine her duty in respect of aliens within such limits as might be convenient and practicable for its exercise, but always granting no more privilege than she chooses to grant, and conceding none whatever as of right, but only as matter of convention. And (although the point is not directly allied to the object-matter) you will permit me to remark that I find a pertinent illustration of the subjection of all privileges of alien sojourn in China to the mere volition of its Government, rather than to principles of international usage or comity, in the very narrow rights of visit and sojourn accorded by treaties even to the minister of the United States in the Chinese capital.
Passing from the question of reciprocity, whether in its sentimental or contractual aspects, to the question of the actual guarantee stipulated by the United States to Chinese of all classes, including laborers within their jurisdiction, and of the responsibilities of this Government in the matter, we find that in the treaty of 1868, by its sixth article, the United States for the first time established, as a treaty right, the theretofore consuetudinary privilege of emigration of Chinese to this country. That article says:
Chinese subjects, visiting or residing in the United States, shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, and exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation.
This is renewed, with definition and limitation of the particular classes of Chinese to which it is applicable, in the second article of the treaty of 1880.
What is the substantial and full intent and meaning of these provisions as laid down in 1868, and again with special definition in 1880?
What “most favored nation” is to be taken as a test and for the purpose of comparing the rights of its citizens or subjects in the United States with those of China?
To constitute a special favor between nations it must exist in virtue of treaty or law, and be extended in terms to a particular nation as a nation. Applying this test, the citizens or subjects of no nation (unless it be those of China) have any special favor in the way of personal treatment shown them in the United States. All are treated alike, the subjects of the most powerful nations equally with others. An Englishman, a Frenchman, a German, a Russian, is neither more nor less favored than one of any other nationality.
Tried by this test, will it be denied that the public and local laws throughout the United States make no distinction or discrimination unfavorable to any man by reason of his Chinese nationality, except only those Federal laws regulating, limiting and suspending Chinese immigration which have been enacted in conformity with the express provisions of the treaty of 1880?
What are the duties of the Government of the United States under that treaty towards Chinese subjects within their jurisdiction?
The Chinese subjects now in the United States are certainly accorded all the rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions which pertain to the citizens and subjects of the most favored nation, as is provided in the second article of the treaty. They are suffered to travel at will all over the United States, to engage in any lawful occupation, and to reside in any quarter which they may select, and there is no avenue to public justice or protection for their lives, their commercial contracts, or their property in any of its forms which is not equally open to them as to the citizens of our own country.[Page 165]
The same laws are administered by the same tribunals to Chinese subjects as to American citizens, save in one respect, wherein the Chinese alien is the more favored, since he has the right of option in selecting either a State or a Federal tribunal for the trial of his rights, which, in many cases is denied for residential causes to our own citizens; and he may even at will remove his cause from a State to a Federal court.
Thus, I find in the public press the announcement that Wing Hing, on behalf of himself and others, Chinese subjects, has lately brought suit in the United State’s circuit court to recover $132,000 from the city of Eureka, Humboldt County, California, for loss of property by the action of a mob in February of last year. A citizen of that State would have been compelled to resort to a State tribunal, without appeal beyond the jurisdiction of the State, whereas the Chinese plaintiff in question can carry his case on appeal to the Supreme Court at Washington, thus divesting his rights from all adverse chance of local prejudice.
I think you will thus recognize, in the same frank spirit as animates your note, that none of the protection intended by the law of our own citizens is withheld from your countrymen, but that on the contrary, they possess noteworthy advantages in the choice of forum or the removal of their cause, of which many of our citizens are deprived.
The provision of an organized and in some cases privileged forum excludes the idea of direct recourse by the alien to other means of obtaining justice or redress. Your note argues that direct recourse to administrative or executive settlement is open to citizens of the United States in, China, and instances are cited to show this. Surely, this rather proves that to the alien in China no such judicial forum is secured as to aliens in the United States.
The extraterritorial tribunals established for their own citizens or subjects by all the powers in treaty relations with China are, in principle and from the reason of the thing, incompetent to adjudicate questions touching the liability of China to aliens. In default of Chinese tribunals admittedly competent to take cognizance of the causes of foreigners, what alternative remains besides denial of justice or resort to diplomatic settlement?
The system of government which prevails in the United States, and which their public written Constitution had made well known to the Government of China at the time of our entering into treaties with that country, creates several departments, distinct in function, yet all tending to secure justice and to maintain law and order. These three distributive divisions of the sovereign powers of the American people are entirely independent of each other, and the fundamental principle of their several action is the non-interference of their respective functions. Thus, the duty of the Executive is to carry into force the laws enacted by the legislature, and his only warrant of authority to act in any case must be found in the Constitution, or in the laws passed in pursuance thereof by the co-ordinate legislative branch.
To the judicial branch is committed the administration of remedies for all wrongs, and its courts are open, with every aid they can devise, to secure publicity and impartiality in the administration of justice to every human being found within their jurisdiction. Providing thus a remedy for all individuals, whether-many or few, rich or poor, and of whatever age, sex, race, or nationality, the question of liability for reparation or indemnity for losses to individuals, occurring in any way, must be settled by the judgments of the judicial branch, unless the act complained of has been committed under official authority in pursuance of governmental orders to that end.[Page 166]
The Government of the United States recognizes in the fullest sense the honorable obligation of its treaty stipulations, the duties of international amity, and the potentiality of justice and equity, not trammeled by technical rulings nor limited by statute. But among such obligations are not the reparation of injuries or the satisfaction by indemnity of wrongs inflicted by individuals upon other individuals in violation of the law of the laud.
Such remedies must be pursued in the proper quarter and through the avenues of justice marked out for the reparation of such wrongs.
The doctrine of the non-liability of the United States for the acts of individuals committed in violation of its laws is clear as to acts of its own citizens, and a fortiori in respect of aliens who abuse the privilege accorded them of residence in our midst by breaking the public peace and infringing upon the rights of others, and it has been correctly and authoritatively laid down by my predecessors in office, to whose declarations in that behalf your note refers. To that doctrine the course of this Government furnishes no exception. And in this connection I venture to say that you labor under a misapprehension in citing as an exception the action of the United States, in 1850, in respect of the violence committed upon the Spanish consulate at New Orleans by a mob of irresponsible persons unknown to the Government, and with which no officer or agent of the United States was allied.
Nothing can be clearer than the enunciation of the doctrine of Government non-liability on that occasion. While denouncing such outrages as disgraceful and in criminal violation of law and order, it was emphatically denied that the acts in question created any obligation on the part of the United States, arising out of the good faith of nations toward each other, for the losses thus occasioned by and to individuals. Neither is there a parity between the Spanish incident of 1850 and the recent riot and massacre of the Chinese at Bock Springs. The essential feature of the first is wholly wanting in the second. The emblem of Spanish nationality had suffered an affront in a city of the United States. The special immunity attaching to the Spanish consular representative had been impaired and he subjected to personal indignity. The incident occurred at a time when the Spanish Government had just shown its regard for and good will toward the United States in pardoning certain American citizens who had participated in a hostile invasion of Cuba, and had incurred the condemnation of the authorities of that country. Recognizing the merciful action of the Queen of Spain in this regard, and as a responsive act of generosity and friendship tending toward good relationship, the President, while expressly denying the principle of national liability, recommended to Congress the appropriation of certain moneys to be paid to private individuals on account of the damages caused by riots at New Orleans and Key West, and to the Spanish consul at New Orleans a special indemnity as an official of Spain.
In one thing, however, the Spanish riots of 1850 and the Rock Springs massacre of 1884 are similar. Both grew out of alien animosities transplanted to our shores. The acts of the mob at Key West and New Or leans were largely, perhaps wholly, due to the resentment of disaffected Spanish subjects colonized at those points who were ready to abuse the sacred law of hospitality and make the land of their asylum the theater of attacks on the recognized sovereignty of Spain. At Rock Springs, as I have shown, the conflict sprang from labor questions between aliens. But this has no bearing on the question of the indemnity accorded to Spain, which was, as you indeed candidly admit in your [Page 167] note, “a voluntary act of good will above and beyond the strict authorization of domestic law,” and, I may add, of international law also.
A measure of international obligation rests on the United States under the third article of the treaty of 1880, which, in the event of Chinese laborers or others in the United States, “meet with ill treatment at the hands of other persons,” requires the Government of the United States to “exert all its power” to devise measures for their protection and to secure to them the same “rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions as may be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation, and to which they are entitled by treaty.”
That the power of the National Government is promptly and efficiently exercised whenever occasion unhappily arises therefor you have justly acknowledged, and it has been abundantly shown. The conditions under which this power may be applied are not always clear and are sometimes very difficult. Causes growing out of the peculiar characteristics and habits of the Chinese immigrants have induced them to segregate themselves from the rest of the residents and citizens of the United States, and to refuse to mingle with the mass of population as do the members of other nationalities. As a consequence race prejudice has been more excited against them, notably among aliens of other nationalities who are more directly brought into competition with the Chinese in those ruder fields of merely manual toil wherein our skilled native labor finds it unprofitable to engage. As the conflicting elements are less law-abiding and more ignorant the clash of their opposed interests is the fiercer. The question of labor competition is one that in the present condition of the world’s history is causing convulsion in almost every quarter of the civilized world, and the United States, with all their breadth of territory and the advantages of local self-government by and for the people, are by no means exempt from the disorders to which the struggle for bread gives rise.
Moreover, the Chinese laborers voluntarily carry this principle of isolation and segregation into remote regions where law and authority are well known to be feeblest, and where conflicts of labor and prejudices of race may be precipitated on the slightest pretext and carried without check to limits beyond those possible where the powers of law may be better organized.
No measures can be devised to meet the problem which do not take this state of things into account, nor can they be effective if they do not contemplate the exercise of authority where it is competent to afford protection, for these measures have only for their object to secure to the Chinese the same rights as other foreigners of the most favored nation enjoy, not superior or special rights. For Chinese labor is not alone repugnant to the local communities; from many quarters of the land comes the same cry—the conflict of different alien laborers and the oppression of the weaker by the stronger. There can and should be no discrimination in applying punitive measures to all infractions of law. And so, too, with preventive measures. What will protect a Hungarian or Italian contract laborer in Pennsylvania or a Swedish “non-union” man in Ohio is equally applicable to a Chinaman on the Pacific coast.
I have traversed somewhat broader ground than is perhaps required by the propositions of your note of November 30, but I do so because your later note of February 15 appears to enlarge the area of discussion.
Reverting, however, to your appeal of November 30, which I understand to be a direct application to the sense of equity and justice of the United States for relief for the unfortunate victims of the carnage and [Page 168] excesses of the mob at Rock Springs, I am compelled to state most distinctly that I should fail in my duty as representing the well-founded principles upon which rests the relation of this Government to its citizens, as well as to those who are not its citizens and yet are permitted to come and go freely within its jurisdiction, did I not deny emphatically all liability to indemnify individuals, of whatever race or country, for loss growing out of violations of our public law, and declare with equal emphasis that just and ample opportunity is given to all who suffer wrong and seek reparation through the channels of justice as conducted by the judicial branch of our Government.
Yet I am frank to say that the circumstances of the case now under consideration contain features which I am disposed to believe may induce the President to recommend to the Congress, not as under obligation of treaty or principle of international law, but solely from a sentiment of generosity and pity to an innocent and unfortunate body of men, subjects of a friendly power, who, being peaceably employed within our jurisdiction, were so shockingly outraged; that in view of the gross and shameful failure of the police authorities at Rock Springs, in Wyoming Territory, to keep the peace, or even to attempt to keep the peace, or to make proper efforts to uphold the law, or punish the criminals, or make compensation for the loss of property pillaged or destroyed, it may reasonably be a subject for the benevolent consideration of Congress whether, with the distinct understanding that no precedent is thereby created, or liability for want of proper enforcement of police jurisdiction in the Territories, they will not, ex gratia, grant pecuniary relief to the sufferers in the case now before us to the extent of the value of the property of which they were so outrageously deprived to the grave discredit of republican institutions.
I trust you will recognize in what I have herein suggested the desire of the United States to carry into effect the “golden rule” recited in the treaty to which you have made reference, and that in such action you will perceive our wish and purpose to confirm and perpetuate the friendship and comity which, I trust, may long exist between our respective countries. You will, I am sure, agree that in good faith, and in compliance with their obligations, the Government of the United States is strenuously asserting its power to secure the protection of your countrymen within its jurisdiction.