Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.
Peking, China , November 26, 1900 .
Sir: I have the honor to confirm my telegram of the 24th instant, and to inclose % copy of the note setting forth the demands which it is proposed to present to the Chinese plenipotentiaries, either jointly or in identic notes. Some of the ministers have not been instructed whether to sign joint or identic notes. I am aware that ordinarily our Government is not in favor of joint action with European powers, but this is so plainly a world-wide question, and the necessity of strengthening our demands by unanimity, as well as by every other means, is so apparent, and being convinced that a joint note will be much more effective than separate notes, and will consequently hasten the final settlement which the President and yourself justly deem so important, I have felt myself authorized to sign a joint note, and shall do so if all the other ministers are so authorized. If not, we will send in identic notes.[Page 50]
The agreement of the Russian minister to the last paragraph of demand No. 5 was obtained by employing the words “measures acceptable to” instead of “indicated by the foreign powers.”
There have been some concessions made by each minister, in order that we might reach an agreement. In consequence the demands are not exactly in accordance with the letter of your instructions, but are as near with their spirit as seemed possible to come to an agreement upon. I tried to have no names mentioned in connection with the death penalties, simply saying “all those mentioned in the decree of September 25, and such others as should be designated.” Then I tried to have the name of Tung Fu-hsiang left out, in order to have him and his soldiers to punish the others. I also urged the dismantling, instead of razing, the Taku forts. But I was almost alone on all these propositions, and to have insisted upon them would have delayed indefinitely the negotiations. Therefore, in order to facilitate negotiations and secure the agreement of my colleagues to other important propositions, so that negotiations might begin, I yielded on these. If, therefore, the Governments all approve and authorize their representatives to sign, we ought to be ready to meet the Chinese plenipotentiaries in a very few days.
Besides the commercial and other reasons for an early beginning of negotiations heretofore mentioned, it is important in order to stop the military excursions being continually made into the interior by the European troops. In my judgment most of these are not necessary, and are greatly injuring the prospects of any satisfactory settlement.
Although the note as inclosed has been definitely agreed upon, it is possible that by the direction of some of the Governments changes may be necessary. Should this, however, occur I will immediately inform you.
I have, etc.,