Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Olney.
Peking, June 3, 1896. (Received July 18.)
Sir: In dispatch No. 2525, of the 9th ultimo, this legation had the honor to report that the Tsung-li Yamên had agreed to pay the American Baptist Missionary Union’s claim for injuries suffered in Szechuan in 1895. After making a promise to this effect the Yamên made informal inquiries of me as to whether this sum covered the entire claim of the Missionary Union. An examination of the documents on file in this legation showed that it did not, but that the said claims were in the greatest confusion.[Page 53]
The Szechuan investigating commission did not take up the question of the losses of the Baptists. They appended, to their report a statement of these losses with this indorsement:
This claim was received late December 28, 1895, through the United States consul at Hankow. It being incomplete and no representative of the American Baptist Missionary Union being present, no action was taken in regard to the same.
Sheridan P. Read,
For the Commission.
An examination of this statement showed that losses on property at Suifu and at Ta-chou Fu were not yet estimated and hence not included in the account. Furthermore, the Yamên reported that claims for said union had been handed to the viceroy of Szechuan by members thereof, and that additional “personal claims,” on account of certain Swedes in the employ of the union, had been presented by the Swedish consul-general at Shanghai. The Yamên requested me to ascertain the exact and full amount claimed by said Union and its members.
After some delay I learned by telegraphing to the Swedish consul-general at Shanghai and to the members of the mission in various places, that the entire claim of the mission was 14,305 taels and that the personal claims of the Swedes amounted to 3,803 taels. This was reported to the Yamên, and yesterday I received a note from them stating that the Shanghai taotai had been ordered to pay these sums to the consul-general of the United States and of Sweden, respectively. I have instructed Mr. Jernigan to receive the sum claimed by the mission and to pay it to the authorized agent thereof. It is believed that this is the last of the pecuniary demands for losses in Szechuan. As to any other demands of the United States, the Yamên has been informed that the action of the Secretary of State on the Szechuan commission’s report must be awaited.
An examination of the Baptist Missionary Union’s claim (see report of commission) will show that the members thereof have been paid not only for property destroyed, but for salary while away from Szechuan, traveling expenses to Shanghai and return to their posts, house rent and incidental expenses, rent on houses destroyed, and even two passages to America. Besides that, the Swedish members of the mission received, on what they call “personal claims,” the sum of 3,803 taels. It was the desire of the Yamên to close up the matter without too close scrutiny of the items of accounts and their settlement was accepted.
I reported this settlement to you in a telegram of this date, which is confirmed on the overleaf.
I have, etc.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.