The Secretary of State to the Chinese Minister.
Washington , January 20, 1905 .
Sir: I had the honor to refer to the Secretary of the Navy a copy of your note of the 4th instant in regard to the case of the late Ho Choy Yeen, a Chinese subject, whose death by drowning at Canton in September last is said to have been caused by American sailors.[Page 115]
Under date of the 7th instant the Secretary of the Navy forwards to this Department a copy of a report on the subject by the commander of the Philippine Squadron, from which report I quote the following:
On the evening of the day in question, September 24, 1904, the Chinaman was thrown, or fell, from the bridge crossing the Pearl River, a narrow and shallow stream dividing the city of Canton from the island of Shameon, on which are the residences of the entire foreign population. Although the bridge is crowded with passengers at all times, there seem to have been no witnesses near enough to the occurrence to have been able to identify any of the persons connected therewith. The only evidence connecting the sailors of the Helena with the affair was that witnesses testified it was committed by foreign sailors wearing a certain white uniform and that sailors from the Helena were ashore at the time. The occurrence took place after dusk. The men from the Helena were special first class and very few in number, each of whom satisfactorily accounted for himself at the time of this occurrence. Every opportunity was given the witnesses by the captain of the Helena to identify the members of his crew who might have committed the crime, but no identification was made, the only man being identified having satisfactorily proven that he was elsewhere at the time of the occurrence. It appears that men from an English gunboat were ashore at the time and in practically the same uniform. I am of the opinion, therefore, that there is no case against any member of the crew of the Helena.
I am informed that a subscription has been taken up which will furnish the widow of the unfortunate victim a sufficient sum to support her during her lifetime.
From the foregoing it would appear that no proof has been advanced to show that American sailors were responsible for the drowning of the unfortunate man.