Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Olney.

No. 2533.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a clipping from the North China Daily News, giving an account of an antimissionary riot which occurred at Kiangyin, in the province of Kiangsu, on the 12th instant. It will be seen that though the property of an American mission was looted and destroyed no personal injuries were inflicted.

Kiangyin is situated on the south bank of the Yangtze River, 100 miles west of Shanghai and 60 miles east of Chinkiang. A Catholic cathedral is located there, and there were two years ago 37 chapels in the district. In 1894 a station of the Southern Presbyterian Mission of the United States was located there in the face of considerable opposition. It is the premises of this mission which have now been destroyed.

On the 17th instant I received an unofficial note from one of the ministers of the Yamên, informing me that riots had broken out at Kiangyin, where American interests were concerned, but he gave no details thereof. I at once telegraphed to the United States consul at Chinkiang, asking if any American had suffered thereby. The same day the consul telegraphed in reply as follows:

Two Americans safe here. Immediate settlement probable. Ringleader [in] prison.

[Page 71]

No further communication has been received on this subject, and it is to be hoped that the case will be promptly settled without appeal to the Central Government.

The missionaries who wish to obtain land at Chuchou Fu, referred to in my dispatch No. 2530, of the 20th instant, are of the same mission as those at Kiangyin and work in the same vicinity. I have accordingly telegraphed Consul Jones, suggesting that in settling the Kiangyin case he attempt to reach some understanding regarding Chuchou Fu also.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby, Jr.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
[Inclosure in No. 2533.—From the North China Daily News.]

The Riot at Kiangyin.

the origin.

In my telegram of yesterday I notified you of the riot at this place. Now as to some of the particulars. For the past few days there has been a great number of rowdies collecting here. These men acted as assistants to a quack doctor, who has for some time past been giving us trouble. This man had concocted a scheme by which he hoped to make a nice squeeze out of us through the family who had rented property to us. The matter was settled in such a manner as was satisfactory to the parties immediately concerned, but our enemy lost face in the settlement, and he was determined to be revenged. Accordingly, in that part of the city nearest the mission property a placard was posted stating that the missionaries had two children hid under their house. At 2 o’clock this quack doctor came into the chapel, followed by a great crowd of roughs, evidently bent on mischief. They demanded to be allowed to search the place for the children. This was refused, the missionaries stating that if the search were made the magistrate must do it. An attempt was made to “rush” the chapel door leading to the dwelling house, when your correspondent drew a pistol, stating that he would use it on the first man who touched the door. This awed the crowd, and a determination to carry out what was said kept them in check. My colleague, the Rev. L. L. Little, with a native assistant, went for the magistrate. In the meantime the crowd, now becoming large, was restrained with difficulty. After about an hour and a half the magistrate with about a dozen runners came. We stated our case to him and insisted on a search of the place. He did so, but found nothing. The man who was leading the trouble then came forward and said the children were buried in the back yard. He was ordered to find them if he knew. He made a pretense of looking at various places, then looked up at the fence wall as if identifying the place, walked to the fence, and began digging under some shavings and rubbish like one possessed. In a few minutes, to our horror, he threw out a package roughly done up in coarse matting. Being ordered to open it he did so, revealing a child about eighteen months old that had been dead fifteen or twenty days. The official turned to the missionaries and said: “How long have you had that thing here? You see, you all see that it is a child. What have you to say for yourselves?” We could only answer, of course, that we knew nothing of it. The package was then sent out through the crowd that had grown to several hundreds. When they saw and comprehended what it meant—so confirmatory a proof of all their reports and beliefs—such a yell of rage went up as a man hears only once in a lifetime. Every man was carrying poles, sticks, knives, hoes, or reaping hooks, and they were yelling, “Kill the barbarian devils!”

The official had no control of the crowd whatever. Thinking that they could not possibly face such a crowd with such a piece of condemnatory evidence, the missionaries determined to make for the forts. Driving the crowd back into the front yard at the point of a pistol and saying the first man would be shot who came back, they made a dash for the back fence and found a way out through a neighbor’s house. They then made a long circuit, but were seen and pursued more than a mile. Finally they reached the forts very much exhausted, but not otherwise injured. Fortunately, there were no women of children in Kiangyin at the time. The property was completely looted, everything being carried off and the building dismantled. Doors and windows were broken, and the flooring prized up and carried off.

This morning I learn from authoritative sources that the trouble in the city is growing serious. The Hoonan soldiers have been called out, and so far as we can see [Page 72] every effort is being made to quiet the people. The missionaries’ assistant and servants have been taken to the magistrate’s yamên and imprisoned. The missionaries are leaving this evening for Chinkiang to put the case in the hands of the United States consul. They have, however, to record their grateful thanks to Mr. John Jürgens, head foreign instructor at the forts, for his kind protection and generous hospitality.

May 13.