Mr. Olney to Mr. Sill.

No. 125.]

Sir: I have received Mr. Allen’s dispatches1 Nos. 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, and 161, of October 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, and 19, respectively, in which he relates incidents of the revolt of October 8, which resulted in the murder of the Queen of Korea, and reports his action during and after the revolt.

Mr. Allen, in company with the representatives of Russia, Great Britain, Germany, and France, declined to recognize the royal decree transmitted to him by a member of the Korean cabinet at a meeting of the diplomatic corps to which the Japanese minister had not been invited. In his note to the Korean foreign office of October 12, declining to recognize said royal decree, betakes occasion to give his version of the outbreak of October 8, and the murder of the Queen, and requests that a thorough and formal investigation of these occurrences be made and that the instigators as well as the perpetrators of the foul crimes be traced and brought to justice.

While commending Mr. Allen’s desire to serve the interest of His Majesty the King of Korea, for whose person this Government entertains sincere friendship, and whose welfare and happiness we shall always be willing and desirous to promote, I feel constrained to call your earnest attention to the very serious misunderstanding to which the steps taken by Mr. Allen might give rise. His action in calling on the Japanese minister, Viscount Miura, in common with the representatives of Russia, Great Britain, Germany, and France, and urging upon him the necessity of taking steps for the maintenance of order in the city (as he alone had at his command a sufficient number of Japanese troops to enforce it), was quite proper and in the line of his duty; but it is a matter of regret that Viscount Miura should have been completely ignored at the subsequent meetings of the diplomatic corps to determine upon a line of action to follow toward the new ministry.

Regret is also felt at Mr. Alien’s stand in his note to the foreign office, for it was no part of his duty, as representative of a friendly and absolutely neutral power, whose citizens residing in Korea were not by this revolt imperiled in life or property, to in any way interfere in the internal affairs of the country. While our representative in Korea may, and should whenever opportunity arises, but always acting independently of other powers, give to the Government to which he is accredited, when his advice is sought, such friendly counsel as he, in his judgment, deems [Page 974] most conducive to the welfare and prosperity of the sovereign and his people, it is in nowise his function, unless acting under instructions from this Department, to take action with the representatives of other treaty powers in calling the Government to account or in any way mixing himself up with the internal affairs of the country.

The Department attaches so much importance to your strict compliance with the views laid down in the present instruction that, although their general tenor must be well known to you by former instructions either to yourself or your predecessors, a cablegram was sent to you on the 20th instant, which I confirm herewith:

Allen’s dispatches Nos. 156 and following received. Confine yourself strictly protection American citizens and interests. You have no concern in internal affairs. Your actions to be taken independently of other representatives unless otherwise instructed.

I am, etc.,

Richard Olney.
  1. Not printed.