Mr. Bayard to Mr. Chang Yen Hoon.
Washington , February 2, 1889.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your note of the 26th ultimo, which was received at this Department on the 28tb, but not laid before me until to-day.
To the highly important matters which are therein presented for my consideration I shall hereafter make more extended reply, and as preliminary thereto, and as matter in response, and for your information, I beg now to inclose a copy of a message sent by the President to Congress on the 1st day of October last in relation to the “act prohibiting the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States.”
It is my impression that I have already placed in your hands informally a copy of this document, but as containing a review of the correspondence between the Government of China and that of the United States which led to the irresistible conclusion that the passage of the act of exclusion was in consonance with the expressed wishes of China, I commend it to your perusal.
My desire to make instant answer to your note is caused, however, by a remark near its close which is as follows:
I must, however, remind you that in one of the interviews had with you during the negotiation of the unratified treaty, you gave me the assurance that his excellency the President would veto any legislation of Congress which violated the existing treaty.
I must assure you with great distinctness that you labor under misapprehension, and that no such assurance was made, or could have been made by me, in the course of the conversation prior to the negotiation of the treaty.
It was never anticipated that Congress would legislate in violation of any treaty, nor was such an hypothesis ever the subject of conversation between us.
I can only suppose that owing to the indirect nature of our communication through an interpreter you may have misunderstood and mistaken some general and natural expression of a desire and intention of the President to live up to the obligations of treaties; for the statement that he would veto some bill not at that time in existence in case it should be found to contain anything in contravention of a certain treaty would have been without application, and would scarcely have been intelligible.
Our relations have been so satisfactory and my respect for you personally is so sincere that I am the more anxious to relieve your mind from any doubt that a misapprehension of my remarks has apparently caused. Therefore, I have made an examination of the report and memorandum of my conversations with you, which I regularly dictate at the close of every interview, and in none of these interviews is there a trace of any such assurance having been given by me as your note refers to.[Page 123]
On the 18th of September last I had the honor of a visit from Mr. Shu Cheou Pon, the chargé d’affaires of your legation, and I inclose a copy of the full text of what passed between us on that occasion.
From the tenor of these statements you will perceive that not merely no suggestion was made that any such assurance as you recite had ever been given, but that Mr. Shu expressed his hope that I would endeavor to influence the President not to approve the bill.
I have been thus solicitous to relieve your mind of the erroneous supposition that I had ever failed to fulfill any promise I ever made you, or that I had made such a promise as in the nature of things and within the knowledge of us both would necessarily have been wholly beyond my power to accomplish.