Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.
Peking, China, July 6, 1904.
Sir: Continuing the subject-matter of my telegram of the 5th instant, I have the honor to inclose copies of further correspondence with the foreign office, and to conform my telegram of the 5th instant.
As you have already seen from Mr. Miller’s report, the soldiers did not know that there were any foreigners on the boat, hence the killing of Mr. Etzel was neither premeditated nor intentional, and the soldiers were, at most, only guilty of criminal carelessness.
The Chinese Government has no general prisons with provisions for labor, or any sort of humane treatment, and anything beyond a five-year term is practically a death sentence. It seems to me, therefore, that a sentence of five years’ imprisonment for the corporal who was in charge of the men and commanded them to fire, and cashiering the commandant of the district who is responsible for the discipline which made the commission of such a crime possible, is all the punishment that can reasonably be demanded.
As to the indemnity, I am of the opinion that, considering all the circumstances, $25,000 Mexican, voluntarily offered to the family of the deceased by the Chinese Government, in a spirit of friendliness, is a reasonable sum; hence my recommendation that the punishment and indemnity may be accepted in full settlement of the case.
On the 2d instant I received from the executors of Mr. Etzel’s estate a request that I demand of the Chinese Government $60,000 gold as indemnity. I declined to present this claim because of its extreme unreasonableness, and to-day have notified them, of the recommendation in my telegram confirmed above.
I inclose copies of the executor’s letter and of my reply.
I have, etc.,