Mr. Tsui Kwo Yin to Mr. Gresham.
Washington, D. C., March 13, 1893. (Received March 13.)
Sir: I feel it my duty to place before the present administration at its inception, in behalf of the Imperial Government, and also of my countrymen who are lawfully located in the United States, a brief reference to the unsatisfactory condition of affairs that now exist between China and the United States, and which is caused, as is well known, by the unjust and discriminating legislation of the Congress of the United States against the Chinese people and their rights and property interests, without regard to existing treaty stipulations. The Imperial Government objected to this legislation and opposed in every conceivable way, through diplomatic sources, its adoption, and this is especially so as to the very harsh and unfriendly provisions of the act of May 5, 1892. A further discussion of the subject will not be entered upon, however, in this note, inasmuch as the entire correspondence has been published by order of the U. S. Senate in Ex. Doc. No. 54, Fifty-second Congress, second session.
The chief object of this note is to direct your attention to the difficulties and embarrassments that are about to arise and confront both governments by reason of the act of May 5, 1892, and its threatened enforcement, and to ask the aid and cooperation of the executive branch of the United States Government in averting any serious consequences that are likely to result therefrom. The Chinese residents of the United States depend largely for the support and vindication of their rights upon an adjudication by the Supreme Court of the United States as to the constitutionality of the sixth section of the act of May 5, 1892. The penal provisions of the law will go into force on May 5, 1893, and the Supreme Court will, if the usual course is followed in this respect, adjourn about May 15, and the hearing of oral arguments will cease a week earlier. An effort will be made to present a test case to the Supreme Court for the purpose of testing the constitutionality of the law, and such a case can probably be prepared and ready for argument in that court on the 12th day of May, next, if the court will consent to hear it. From information given me, eminent statesmen and great lawyers in the United States are of the opinion that the sixth section of said act is not constitutional. For instance, Judge James C. Carter, of New York, who prepared an opinion for the counsel of the Chinese people of San Francisco, in conclusion thereto, says:
* * * Without discussing other features of this extraordinary statute, I am of opinion that its sixth section is not a valid exercise of any legislative power possessed by Congress.
A printed copy of this opinion and also of an opinion of Mr. J. Hubley Ashton upon the same subject are transmitted herewith for [Page 246]your consideration. It is apparent, therefore, that great doubt is entertained as to the validity of the most important section of this law, and such being the case, I feel that a great nation like the United States will lend its assistance and friendly offices to the adoption of some method of procedure by which the Chinese people who are rightfully within its borders may be protected from arrest and imprisonment until the validity or invalidity of the law is established by the Supreme Court. To this end I have the honor to request that you lay this matter before his excellency the President and also before the Attorney-General with the request that the Attorney-General may, if not inconsistent with propriety or his duties, join the counsel of the Chinese people in a request to the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the argument in a test case not later than May 12 next, and that a decision may be delivered therein before the adjournment of the court for its present session. If a decision of the Supreme Court can not be obtained, as contemplated above, and for that or any other reason the law shall be enforced, commencing on May 6 next, the embarrassments that will be presented to our respective governments are great and, I think, unmistakable. The necessary appropriation of the immense amount required, as I am informed, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the law as to the arrest, imprisonment, and deportation of Chinese persons who may be treated as offenders will be a question of serious embarrassment to our Government. The arrest of the Chinese means, then, that they are to be imprisoned, if arrested, until it shall be the pleasure of Congress to make the required appropriation to enforce this unjust and anomalous law.
If this condition of affairs which is now threatened shall become imminent I would respectfully suggest that some method may be adopted by which my countrymen may be freed from all such hardships and surroundings, and for this purpose I ask that the attention of the President and the Secretary of the Treasury may be called to the state of things which menaces the peace, liberty, and rights of my people in the United States, and I express the hope that, at the proper time, the Secretary of the Treasury may find it in his power to suspend or so modify the regulations as to meet any emergency that may arise or contingency that may exist. And I renew the appeal for some recommendation from the President to the Congress of the United States, when it shall again convene, for a repeal of such legislation as is in violation of the sacred treaty stipulations between China and the United States. I would also inform you that the note of Acting Secretary Wharton of December 10, 1892, in reply to mine has been forwarded to the foreign office at Peking, and an answer is expected from that office in due time. When it is received I shall hope to discuss further, mutually and in a friendly spirit, this subject, which is of such vital importance to our respective governments.
I again renew, etc.,