Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 1647.]

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.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1.]

Executors of estate of Lewis L. Etzel, deceased, to Mr. Conger.

Your Excellency: We, as executors, have duly attested at the United States of America consulate-general, at Tientsin, for the late Mr. L. L. Etzel, an American subject, who was recently killed on the high seas of Niuchwang in [Page 174]circumstances known to you, desire to ask your excellency’s powerful offices in putting before the Chinese Government a claim on behalf of Mr. Etzel’s estate for compensation for his death. We should mention that Mr. Etzel had dependent upon him an aged mother and two sisters, who are now deprived of this source of income through the unlawful act of Chinese soldiers in Government employment. We respectfully submit that his family are, in justice, entitled to be indemnified.

We respectfully venture to suggest that a sufficient sum (capitalized at 5 per cent) be claimed to bring in a monthly allowance of from $275 to $300 gold, which would be, roughly, $60,000 gold.

We trust your excellency will feel disposed to present this claim to the proper authorities. Thanking you in anticipation,

We are, etc.,

A. H. Jaques & W. Blanchard,
Executors Estate of L. L. Etzel, deceased, Tientsin.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Conger to executors of estate of L. L. Etzel.

Gentlemen: I have received your communication of June 30 requesting me to present a claim against the Chinese Government for an indemity of $60,000 gold, to be paid to the estate of L. L. Etzel.

I regret to say that in my judgment the amount you request is so exorbitant that I am unwilling to file it without direct instructions from my Government, to which, however, I will at once present it.

I ought, however, to inform you that the Chinese Government has already offered to pay to the family of the said Etzel $25,000 Mexican. I have telegraphed this proposition to the Department of State at Washington and asked instructions thereon.

Very respectfully, yours,

E. H. Conger.