No. 127.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard .

No. 210.]

Sir: * * * Mr. Gamewell, of the Methodist mission, is here pressing his claim for indemnity and future protection in the matter of the Chungking riot in July last. As it is likely that the English and French [Page 161] Governments will present the claims of their people, I deemed it best to present ours, without waiting for a formal order from you.

From the voluminous statements before’ me I have collated the facts. I have sent to the yamên the communication which is herewith inclosed, in which the facts are stated.

It has been the general practice to present first all the claims of this character to the local authorities through the nearest consul. I can not find that any such claim has ever been presented to the yamên by the legation. If the consul finds that he is unable to effect a settlement, the next step has been to send one of the officers of the legation personally to the proper locality to take charge of the negotiations. It is likely that some such procedure may still be necessary, because there will be questions of change of location of missionary buildings, ascertainment of damages, and future protection, which the yamên may delegate to the local authorities. * * *

One reason why the questions relating to this character of cases have been relegated to the local authorities is that the missionaries have been usually held to have no right to take up permanent residence in the interior.

As they are held to be in the interior only by the sufferance of the local authorities, it would seem that these authorities, who are alike responsible for their residence and the damages that they may suffer, should take cognizance of all such cases as this.

The right of missionaries to settle and remain permanently in the interior may come into question. But whether such right exists or not is not at all material to a proper decision of the merits of the above-mentioned claims.

Our treaties with China specifically guaranty to all citizens of the United States in every part of China entire immunity from every species of insult or injury, whether to persons or property. If, as in the Chung-king case, the missionaries have settled in the interior with the consent of the local authorities, have bought property, had the deeds stamped by the magistrate, paid the fees for the transfer and the purchase price and erected buildings, the Government of the United States would not allow them to be ejected by violence or otherwise than by due process of law.

The authorities would be estopped from raising the question of the original right of the missionaries to go into the interior.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 210.]

Mr. Denby to the foreign office .

Your Imperial Highness and Your Excellencies:

I am instructed by my Government to bring to the attention of your imperial highness and your excellencies the subject of the late riot at Chungking, in which the United States missionaries lost all their property, and to ask redress for the wrongs and outrages thus committed and protection for the future.

The undoubted facts, as far as I have been able to ascertain them, are the following:

The American Methodist mission was established in Chungking in 1882. Property was purchased in the city early in 1883. Additional property for a hospital, a school, and residence was purchased in January, 1886. This property was purchased with the full knowledge and consent of the people and the local authorities.

[Page 162]

The names of the society and of the foreigners representing the society were writ ten in the deeds. The deeds were stamped by the magistrate, and proclamations were issued stating that the mission intended to build.

While the buildings were being exacted the magistrate requested that work should temporarily cease on account of the presence of a large body of military students caused by the military examinations.

In June of this year the property was turned over to the magistrate with the full understanding that he was to be responsible for its protection. The missionaries then moved in the city. The location of the buildings is about 3 miles from Chungking, and this location was selected after, many examinations of other sites without the slightest objection from any quarter.

Considerable time elapsed between the dates at which all the property was secured. There was an abundance of time for objection to the purchases or to the location, but none was made.

The missionaries gave up a temple which they had rented for a summer residence, and lost the rent, 60 taels, upon a suggestion that their residence there was objectionable. They had a lease on this temple, but they voluntarily surrendered it in order to save trouble. They then secured a place for a sanitarium across the Yangtze.

The building in both places began in March, 1886, and proceeded until June 6. The buildings, when completed, would have been 10 feet from the floor line to the eaves; lower than the adjoining buildings of the “Pei Shan Tang,” a Chinese charitable institution.

The buildings were of stone, one story high. On Sunday, June 6 (fifth moon, fifth day), during the absence of all the gentlemen of the mission, one lady only being present, a crowd collected at the place where the hospital and schools were located and began to create a disturbance. Mud and stones were thrown and admittance demanded. This being refused, the gate was broken down. The lady took in her hand an old unloaded gun to frighten the mob, but the gun was torn from her hand and her index finger was cut open nearly to the bone and her face was cut by a stone. The crowd then retired. The nearest local official was notified of these occurrences, but refused aid. The next day the matter was reported to the magistrate. He made light of the affair, but said he would issue some proclamation.

It clearly appears from the evidence that the magistrate did not do his duty, and took no stringent measure to check the impending riot.

At the request of the magistrate, on June 19 work on the buildings stopped, and they were put in charge of the magistrate. June 28 inflammatory placards were posted by the military students, calling on the people to destroy the buildings. One of these placards was sent to the magistrate, with the request that he would take proper action.

The placard designated the first day of the sixth moon (July 2) for the destruction of the buildings. But the riot commenced again the day before, July 1, when the premises of Mr. Copp, a British subject, were attacked and plundered. Next, the premises of Mr. Nicoll, of the China Inland Mission, were destroyed; then the house of Mr. Wood, of the same mission, was looted, and then the premises of the Catholic missions were destroyed.

The riot had been progressing for hours and no effort was made by the authorities to check it.

A constable came to the mission buildings with chairs and urged all to escape. The missionaries and their families left immediately, taking nothing with them except the clothes they had on their bodies. After a great deal of trouble and danger they reached the yamên.

The next day the buildings in the suburbs were destroyed, and after that the sanitarium across the Yangtze was burned.

The riot continued until well into the afternoon of the second day.

During its progress a Chinese Catholic was attacked, who made resistance, and several deaths resulted.

The missionaries, including one lady who was near her confinement, were kept in the yamên in close and disagreeable quarters fourteen days. While the missionaries were in the yamên they were treated with rudeness and insulting language was addressed to them. On the morning of July 16 they were escorted to boats and allowed to depart.

When things got to a point when something had to be done or the whole city might be destroyed by fire, the taotai went out with his soldiers, the street barriers were closed, and in a short time quiet was restored.

I am compelled to charge that the events above detailed disclose a willful failure on the part of the local authorities to furnish aid and protection which the treaties call for. Some days before the riot the new buildings were turned over to the magistrate. He had abundant notice that a mob was being organized to destroy missionary property. During the progress of the riot, for two days, nothing whatever was done to check it. It was only when injury seemed imminent to the city that any resistance [Page 163] was made to the acts of the mob. It appears, therefore, that in a great city where the means of quelling the mob were abundant, when a few determined men could have checked and prevented the outrages, nothing whatever was done to that end. It appears also that military students, and it is said even soldiers, participated in these outrageous acts. I feel, therefore, convinced that the Government of his Imperial Majesty will be ready to do full justice to these my countrymen, so that they may live in the peaceful enjoyment of their property and pursue the philanthropical work which alone has brought them to China.

I have the honor to present herewith an itemized statement of the losses incurred by the American citizens resident at Chungking, and to request your imperial highness and your excellency to take such measures as may be necessary, not only for a full and satisfactory settlement of the same, but to guaranty that they shall be insured hereafter from the recurrence of similar outrages and pursue in peace at Chungking their peaceful religious work.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.

Statement of losses of American missionaries at Chungking.

House at Fu-tu-Kuan 3,385
House at Siang-feng-wu 1,100
House at Tai-chi-hsiang 7,000
House at Chin-lung-hsing 3,000
Society’s books 1,365
Effects of Mr. Gamewell 3,000
Effects of Mr. Lewis 2,500
Effects of Dr. Crews 2,500
Effects of Miss Wheeler 1,800
Effects of Miss Howe 1,400
Ready money lost 950
Total 28,000