We waited upon the foreign minister on the 4th instant, but got
absolutely no satisfaction whatever, even upon our announcement of the
alternative to which we would be driven.
We therefore each addressed a note to the foreign minister in the same
sense, citing the whole circumstances of the case and announcing our
intention, in the absence of any suitable provision for a foreign
settlement, of regarding the city of Peng Yang in the position as is
Seoul, and of protecting our people in their right to reside and carry
on trade at that place. I have the honor to hand you inclosed a copy of
my note of the 16th instant to that effect.
Mr. Allen to
the Foreign Minister.
Legation of the United States,
November 16, 1899
Your Excellency: I have the honor to refer
your excellency to the correspondence which has taken place between
yourself and the foreign representatives at Seoul respecting the
question of the opening of the city of Peng Yang, and to intimate to
you the decision which myself and my colleagues have been
reluctantly compelled to take in view of the failure of your
excellency’s Government to give effect to the promise contained in
your predecessor’s dispatch of the 29th of May, 1898.
Nearly eighteen months have elapsed since the Korean Government, in
the above-mentioned dispatch, announced its intention of opening a
trade mart in the city of Peng Yang. Nothing was done to fulfill
this undertaking until the 15th of April last, when your excellency
notified the foreign representatives of the selection of Sa Hou
Chong as the site of the proposed trade mart. This place, which is
some li (15 miles) distant from Peng Yang, was naturally rejected,
and your excellency was reminded that this mart was to be
established within the city. Notwithstanding this, you wrote two
months later, on the 23d of June, [Page 491] proposing to substitute a place called Yang Chi
Ko, also lying some distance from the city, and consequently liable
to all the objections of the previous selection.
It was not until the 20th of July last, considerably more than a year
after the date of the original undertaking, that your excellency
finally admitted the propriety of locating the mart within the city
but the admission was robbed of its value and virtually neutralized
by your selecting a quarter of the city which was much too
restricted in area, unprovided with water frontage, and otherwise
entirely unsuited for the purposes of trade.
Anxious to meet the views of the Korean Government and to bring the
question to a settlement, the foreign representatives, in their note
of the 31st of July, submitted a counter proposal in the nature of a
compromise, which, in its turn, was rejected by your excellency.
As a final effort, the foreign representatives, on the 8th of
September last, suggested to your excellency that a member of the
customs service should be dispatched to Peng Yang to select a
Having received no acknowledgment of this communication, the foreign
representatives waited upon your excellency at the foreign office on
the 4th instant, and the Japanese minister, as doyen of the body,
made various proposals with the view of arriving at an amicable
solution of the question, all of which your excellency declined to
My colleagues and myself have exhausted all our efforts in
endeavoring to induce the Korean Government to carry out their
undertaking, and while still prepared to consider any reasonable
proposals which you may offer, we can not acquiesce any longer in
the denial by the Korean Government of the rights already granted to
foreigners in Peng Yang.
The case seems to me to be analogous to that of Seoul, of which the
British treaty, Article IV, section 1, says: “The city of Hanyang
(Seoul) and the town of Yangwachin, or such other place in that
neighborhood as may be deemed desirable, shall, from the day on
which this treaty comes into operation, be opened to British
Yangwachin or other place was never selected, and while no foreign
settlement was ever laid out in Seoul, foreigners have, by virtue of
the above provision, been allowed to reside and do business anywhere
within the city limits and within the 10-li radius thereof.
In absence of any satisfactory arrangement for a settlement at Peng
Yang, I am therefore, in pursuance of the decree of your Government
opening that place to trade, compelled to regard Peng Yang in the
same status as is Seoul, and allow American citizens to reside and
do business anywhere within the city and treaty limits, and I shall
protect them in such rights.
I am warranted in this action by definite instructions from my
Government. Replying to a dispatch relative to the distant site Sa
Hou Chong, my Government states that “the compromise is entirely
unacceptable to this Government.” and I was instructed to “urge the
fulfillment of the promise given in March last to open the port of
Peng Yang. The excuse advanced for not doing so, that there is much
property in that city belonging to the household’ appears to be
inconclusive. The fact should have been known in March last and such
interests, if established, could easily have been respected by
marking out the boundaries of the proposed settlement.” A course
which your excellency has so far declined to take.
I have, etc.,