Minister Conger to the Secretary of State.

No. 1741.]

Sir: Consul-General Cheshire has sent you a full account of the murder of the third comprador (Chinese) of the [British] S. S. Kansu by being thrown into the canal by persons wearing the uniform of the United States sailors, and the decision of the formal court of inquiry into the facts thereof.

It does not seem to me necessary to send from this legation another copy of the voluminous proceedings, but I inclose herewith copies of my correspondence with the Waiwu Pu concerning the case.

It is true that the evidence is not absolutely conclusive as to the guilt of the American sailors, but in my judgment it is circumstantially sufficient to have convinced the average jury, and I therefore share the opinion of the court of inquiry that, if possible, a reasonable indemnity should be paid to the Chinese Government for the benefit of the family of the deceased.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1.]

Prince Ch’ing to Minister Conger.

I have the honor to inform your excellency that I recently received a telegram from the viceroy of the Two Kuang, saying: “On the 17th of the eighth moon (September 26) toward evening several sailors from an American war vessel within the British settlement of Shameen at Canton seized the comprador of the S. S. Kansu, named Ho Choy Yeen, and without just provocation threw him into the water, where he drowned. The police of the British settlement at once recovered the corpse, and orders were issued to the district magistrate of Nan-hai to proceed to make an investigation. The foreign sailors who made the row were pursued at the time, but were not caught. I have already appointed deputies to consult with the American consul-general, who has consented to detain the war vessel for a time, and has fixed a date for a joint investigation.”

Yesterday I received another telegram, saying:

“I have received a report from the deputies and the prefectural and district magistrates, who met with the American consul-general and summoned Chinese and foreign witnesses, and made a careful and thorough investigation. The testimony of all was reliable and agreed together in pointing to American sailors as the guilty parties, but as yet no one has been able to say with certainty what the surnames and personal names of the murderers are, nor give a description of them, so that there is nothing to be laid hold of in searching for them. They have now agreed with the American consul-general upon six articles, the main purport of which is that the said consul-general shall report to the American minister at Peking, requesting him to inform the American Government and ask for a satisfactory appropriation as indemnity for the family of Ho Choy Yeen, and that, furthermore, steps will be taken to discover the real murderers, and that hereafter, no matter when, once the real murderers shall have been discovered and evidence obtained that they are really the guilty [Page 113] parties they shall be tried and punished according to American law. It becomes my duty, therefore, to request that you will inform the American minister at Peking and ask him to request the American Government to make a generous appropriation as indemnity and promptly search for the murderers and bring them to trial in accordance with the agreement made.”

I find as to this case that Ho Choy Yeen, the comprador of the steamship, was thrown into the water by sailors from an American war vessel and was drowned. The deputies of the viceroy concerned have already made a joint investigation with the American consul-general and come to an agreement that compensation ought to be made to the family of Ho Ts’aiyen, and the real murderers sought for, arrested, tried, and punished to satisfy popular feeling. It becomes my duty, therefore, to send this dispatch to your excellency for your examination and to request that you will communicate its contents to your honorable government and ask that a generous compensation be paid, and that the real murderers be promptly sought for and punished according to law, which is a matter of importance.

A necessary dispatch.

[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Conger to Prince Chi’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the 30th ultimo of a dispatch from your imperial highness, informing me that on the evening of September 26 several sailors from an American man-of-war at Canton had without provocation attacked the comprador of the S. S. Kansu and thrown him into the water, where he was drowned; that a joint investigation of the affair had been held by deputies, appointed by the viceroy, in conjunction with the American consul-general, and that they had agreed together that the consul-general should report to the American minister at Peking and request him to ask for indemnity for the family of the murdered man to be paid by the American Government, and to have further efforts made to discover and punish the guilty parties.

Your imperial highness, also, upon your own part asks that I will request my government to make a generous appropriation by way of compensation to the family of Ho Choy Yeen, the murdered man.

In reply I have the honor to state that I have received a report of the occurrence from the American consul-general at Canton and that he has been instructed to continue to make diligent effort to discover the guilty parties and bring them to justice. I shall at once communicate the contents of your imperial highness’s dispatch to my government and recommend that compensation be made to the family of the murdered man, but I must call your highness’s attention to the fact that my government may not consider that the evidence sufficiently proves that the murderers were American sailors to justify an appropriation for the purpose mentioned.

I improve, etc.,

E. H. Conger.