Mr. Olney to Mr. Sill.
Washington , December 31, 1895.
Sir: I have received your No. 173, diplomatic series, of the 20th ultimo, reporting on events at Seoul.
With regard to the Department’s telegraphic instructions to you of [Page 975] the 20th ultimo to refrain from interference in the internal affairs of Korea, you state:
I can only say that, guided by the mutual promise of the exercise of friendly offices, set forth in our treaty with Korea, and by the instruction I received by telegraph on June 23, 1894, “to use every possible effort for the preservation of peaceful conditions,” I have been diligent in doing what I could to bring about the amelioration of a condition of affairs. * * *
The provisions contained in article 1 of our treaty with Korea, to which you here refer, is to the effect that “if other powers deal unjustly or oppressively with either Government, the other will exercise their good offices * * * to bring about an amicable arrangement.” This provision in no wise implies that our diplomatic representative in Korea should at all or any time, and without specific instructions from this Department, use his discretion in determining whether the condition of the internal affairs of the country requires him to use his good offices in the interest of the peace of the realm. On the contrary, it reserves to the Government of the United States the right to determine when this condition exists, and in its judgment it did shortly before the beginning of hostilities between China and Japan in Korea, when you were instructed by cable on the 22d of June, and by the direction of the President, to use every possible effort for the preservation of peace. This instruction only referred to events which were then occurring, and was not, as you a; pear to think, a standing instruction.
I am, etc.,