Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.
Peking, June 9, 1905.
Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a dispatch recently received from the consul-general at Canton transmitting a letter of the viceroy with regard to the wanton drowning of a Chinese by American men-of-war’s men in September last. The case was reported to the Department at the time both by the consulate-general and the legation, and in reply to the representations of the latter an acknowledgment was received.
The facts, which appear to be established, are that an unoffending Chinese of good class was met on a bridge by some men in the uniform of American sailors, of whom there were a number on shore leave at that time. These sailors were seen to throw him over the parapet into the mud, where he died of suffocation, but they made good their escape; and as it afterwards proved impossible to identify them, no one was punished.
The only thing that could be done to make some measure of amends was to allow a money compensation to the family of the murdered man in the same manner that we would have demanded one had the victim been an American and the aggressors Chinese. This course was recommended by the court of inquiry with the concurrence of the American consul-general and was urged by the legation.
Up to this time nothing has been done by our government, and it now appears that unfortunate results may quite probably ensue. I am strongly of the opinion that for the sake of our national honor and reputation for fair dealing, as well as in the interests of abstract justice, some reparation should be made for this crime. If a favorable [Page 116] decision of the Department regarding this question were to be telegraphed to me or to the consulate-general at Canton, it would have a very beneficial effect on the feelings of the Chinese.
I have, etc.,