to Mr. Bayard.
Peking , December 9, 1887. (Received February 3, 1888.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of a memorial presented by the King of Corea to the Emperor of China, which lately appeared in the Shih Pao, a Chinese newspaper published at Tientsin. In substance it is a complete recognition of the vassalage of Corea to China.
It prays that as “an extra act of grace” the Emperor will allow envoys to be sent abroad.
Any remarks offered by me on the relation of Corea to the society of nations must be construed as bearing only on my own country and the country to which I am accredited. I have nothing officially to do with Corea.
Vattel discusses, at page 2, the status of dependent states with reference to foreign powers. This discussion furnishes little information applicable to the peculiar relations existing between China and her dependent states. The text has little application to countries which, in their history, antedate international law, of which, also, they never had any knowledge. What unwritten law or tradition controls the relations of China with her dependencies remains unknown.
I assume that the position of the United States with reference to Corea is contained in Mr. Frelinghuysen’s declaration that—
The independence of Corea of China is to be regarded by the United States as now established. (1 Wharton’s Digest, § 64.)
Your own dispatch No. 27, of date July 27, 1887, to Mr. Dinsmore, contains this statement:
If, contrary to the expectations of this Government, the progress of Chinese interference at Seoul should result in the destruction of the autonomy of Corea as a sovereign state with which the United States maintain independent treaty relations, it will be time then to consider whether this Government is to look to that of China to enforce treaty obligations for the protection of the persons and interests of citizens of the United States, etc.
The co-equality of Corea with the United States being thus recognized, it would seem that no questions but those of expediency remain.
In the solution of such questions the geographical locality of Corea, its distracted condition internally, its possible relations to Japan, Russia, England, and China, if complete independence be assured, are all to be looked at.
I have, etc.