Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 60.]

Sir: In further confirmation of my cable dispatch of the 12th instant, informing you that I had, under the authority given me by the Department, informed the Chinese Government that the United States would hold it directly responsible for all losses our trade or other [Page 213] interests may have incurred or may hereafter incur on account of its failure to protect us in the rights guaranteed us under Article XV of our treaty of 1858. I inclose herewith copy of the note addressed to Prince Ch’ing.

I also informed our consuls-general at Shanghai, Canton, and Chefoo of what I had done, and authorized them to use this information as they deemed necessary and expedient.

Under date of the 14th instant I again addressed a note to Prince Ch’ing, demanding that the prime mover in the boycott, a man by the name of Tseng Shao-ching, president of the Fu-Kien Merchants’ Guild of Shanghai, and holding the rank of prefect (taot’ai), be deprived of his rank and otherwise punished.

On the same date I also addressed a letter to the foreign office, declining to further discuss a tentative draft of treaty for regulating the coming of Chinese to the United States, to be submitted to you, until the present campaign of intimidation was completely put an end to.

I have not at this date received replies to any of the above communications, but will probably within the next few days.

Our consul-general at Shanghai tells me he has informed the public of my note of the 14th instant to the foreign office, and that it had produced an excellent effect. I inclose a Shanghai editorial on this matter, also one from Chefoo, showing that it has also been well received there.

I beg that the Department will not attach importance to the statements being made in the ports and in the United States press that the Japanese Government has had anything to do with encouraging the present anti-American movement. The conduct of the Japanese Government has been not only friendly throughout, but their foreign office has done all in its power to arrest the movement and control the Japanese controlled papers published in China.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 1.]

Minister Rockhill to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Highness: I had the honor in interviews with you in the last two months of drawing your earnest attention to the very serious nature of the movement then being openly organized in Shanghai, Canton, and other large cities of China to interfere with, and, if possible, completely impede American trade as a means of intimidating the United States Government, which is seeking to meet with your wishes for a new treaty regulating the coming of Chinese into the United States and for forcing upon us a repeal of our laws concerning the exclusion of Chinese laborers.

In several communications which I addressed to you I also insisted on the danger which might result from failure on the part of the Imperial Government to arrest the movement, which, if carried into effect, would greatly disturb and possibly cause serious loss to trade, breed a spirit of enmity between the peoples of our respective countries, and perhaps even result in acts of violence.

In conversations with His Excellency Na-tung I have also on several occasions dwelt on the growing gravity of the situation in Shanghai, Canton, and Amoy, and urged on him, as I had on you, that the Imperial Government should take prompt and radical measures for putting an end to the ever-increasing menace to our trade and the perfect cordiality and friendliness which characterized our relations so markedly.

I was answered by your note of July 1 that the high provincial authorities had been urged by you to use their influence with the people to dissuade them from the contemplated organized interference with our trade, but you also stated therein, much to my astonishment:

[Page 214]

“My board finds upon investigation that this movement has not been inaugurated without some reason, for the restrictions against the Chinese entering America are too strong, and American exclusion laws are extremely inconvenient to the Chinese. The Coolie immigration treaty has been abrogated, but, though the treaty is null and void, the exclusion restrictions are still in force. The great inconvenience suffered by Chinese merchants has thus led to this movement, but if the restrictions can be lightened by your government and a treaty drawn up in a friendly manner then this agitation will of its own accord die out.”

I was constrained to conclude from this passage that the movement had a certain amount of sympathy from your highness’s government. It is also to be presumed that the orders you informed me had been given out to the provincial authorities in this manner were not of such an emphatic nature as the gravity of the situation required, for the movement went on openly under the guidance and active participation of high officials, and the organization, with the help of threats of violence against the lukewarm and by the use of other methods of pressure, developed rapidly and has now been put in force, especially at Shanghai, Canton, and Amoy.

Recently, on the 24th of July, in an interview with His Excellency Na-tung, when calling his attention to an outrage committed on the premises of our consulate at Amoy on the 18th of July (the day on which the boycott against American trade was put in operation at Shanghai and Amoy), I urged in the most pressing manner that proclamations should be issued in all localities which had taken up or might later take up this movement to effectively put a stop to it. He promised to confer with you and to urge the adoption of this course; but I have heard nothing from the Waiwu Pu on the matter, neither have I learned that proclamations or any general measures had been taken, either by the Imperial Government or the provincial authorities, adequate to arrest the trouble in time. I must except, however, the Province of Chihli, where measures adopted by the provincial high authorities appear to have arrested it before it could be put in force.

Your highness must be perfectly aware that the prime movers in the agitation are men holding high official positions. I need only cite among them Taot’ai Tseng, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Shanghai, who has given much time and money to strengthen and develop the movement and has done probably more than any other individual to intensify the feeling of hostility toward my government and people by his false and malicious statements in his eagerness to bring about the boycott. Other officials could be named who, in Shanghai and elsewhere, have taken active part in this campaign of slander and falsehood, but it seems needless at this time to do so. I only refer to the active participation of officials in the movement to show how easy it would have been for the central government to have had stringent orders for the suppression of the movement carried out, if it had been earnestly desirous of doing so.

The President of the United States, justly surprised at the extraordinary supineness the Imperial Government has shown in this matter, which agrees so little with the friendliness he thought he had reason to expect of it, directs me to inform your highness that the Government of the United States will hold it directly responsible for any loss our interests have sustained or may hereafter have to bear through the manifest failure on the part of the Imperial Government to stop the present organized movement against us, which the Presi dent considers is allowed to continue in open violation of the rights guaranteed to us by China in Article XV of our treaty of 1858.

I trust that your highness will favor me with an early reply which I may transmit to the President.

I avail, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Rockhill to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: In the note which I had the honor to send to your highness on the 7th instant in reference to the agitation now being carried on in many cities of the Empire against the Government of the United States and the commercial and other interests of our people, I took occasion to draw your attention to the active operation of persons holding official rank in the movement.

While I have not yet completed the list of officials who have shown pernicious activity in the movement, which list I shall have the honor in due course of submitting to your highness, I have again to bring to your attention the particularly violent and open hostility against American interests of the head of the Fu-Kien Merchants’ Guild in Shanghai, a man by the name of Tseng Shao-ching, holding the rank of taot’ai. This person, as I stated in my former note of the 7th instant, is one of the prime movers in this unlawful movement, and I have [Page 215] therefore to demand that he be at once deprived of his official rank as a proof of the displeasure his conduct has given the Imperial Government in his attack against a friendly government, and otherwise punished as your government may deem the gravity of his offense justifies, and my government is willing to accept as partial reparation therefor.

I avail, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 3.]

Minister Rockhill to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of August 7 with regard to the new treaty of immigration, In reply I have the honor to state that in view of the present agitation being carried on in Shanghai and elsewhere against the Government and people of the United States for the purpose of influencing the negotiations to which your note refers, I have been directed by my government to cease any further discussion of the matter. When the Imperial Government has taken such action as is necessary to effectually stop the present unlawful Attempt to interfere with our treaty rights my government will consider whether the negotiations can be resumed.

I avail, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.

[Inclosure 4.]

[North China Daily News, August 12.]

President Roosevelt and the boycott.

The boycott has extended so far beyond the ideas of its original promoters, has become so irresponsible, and is calculated to be so damaging, not only to Americans, but to all foreigners in China and their trade and prosperity, that the United States Government at any rate has determined to take a firm stand, and Mr. Rockhill, the American minister at Peking, has been directed by President Roosevelt to notify the Chinese Government that that government will be held directly responsible for the full observance of Article XV of the United States treaty of Tientsin, 1858: “At each of the ports open to commerce, citizens of the United States shall be permitted to import from abroad and sell, purchase, and export all merchandise of which the importation is not prohibited by the laws of the Empire.”

The United States Government holds that the boycott, by its interference with trade, is a breach of this article and proposes to hold the Chinese Government responsible for that breach. It is to be hoped that the government will act promptly, for it is impossible to say how widely and deeply the boycott will extend if it is not stopped. Antiforeign proclamations are already appearing at the river ports full of lying charges and misstatements, and we know by experience how small a pretext will start the predatory classes in China into action. There is besides the certainty of a very serious financial crisis here if the boycott is not stopped in which natives will suffer at least as much as foreigners.

In his recent instructions as to the carrying out of the Chinese-exclusion act President Roosevelt has done everything possible to satisfy the complaints of the Chinese, and it is now the duty of the latter to wait and see the text of the new treaty. The Chinese Government, blind as it is, must be able, surely, to realize the danger of antagonizing the United States, as well as all other powers that participate in the foreign trade of China.

A scrutiny of the dates in the Wuhu proclamation published yesterday in these columns is decidedly interesting and suggestive. The proclamation was issued on the 30th ultimo, and its writer says that he received his dispatch from the governor on which it is founded on the 13th ultimo, so that it took him seventeen days to make up his mind to issue the proclamation. But the more important question is: Was or was not a similar dispatch sent to the taot’ai here nearly a month ago? And if it was sent why has the taot’ai done nothing to discourage the boycott? It will have to be discouraged now, and none will be better pleased at its total suppression than the Chinese merchants in Shanghai, who, like Frankenstein, have created a monster which has got beyond their control.

[Page 216]

[Inclosure 5.]

Chinese merchants in Chefoo have acted wisely in moving slowly in the boycott of American products. The wisdom of their action lies in the probability that they have avoided serious difficulty with a powerful nation. Mr. Fowler, American consul-general, yesterday notified the taot’ai that by direction of the President of the United States the American minister has notified the Chinese foreign office that the Government of the United States will hold it directly responsible for any loss which United States trade may have sustained or may hereafter be subjected to by any failure on its part to protect American trade in the full enjoyment of the rights and privileges guaranteed the United States under the provisions of Article XV of the treaty of 1858 between the United States and China. Mr. Fowler has also notified the taot’ai of this, so that it will be on record.

Thus is the position of the United States with reference to the attempted boycott fully defined by President Roosevelt. There can be no mistaking the words of the President’s message. He is turning on the screws and dealing with the silly movement in exactly the way it should be dealt with.

The article of the treaty mentioned is as follows:

“At each of the ports open to commerce citizens of the United States shall be permitted to import from abroad and sell, purchase, and export all merchandise of which the importation or exportation is not prohibited by the laws of the Empire. The tariff of duties to be paid by citizens of the United States on the export and import of goods from and into China shall be the same as was agreed upon at the treaty of Wanghi, except so far as it may be modified by treaties with other nations, it being expressly agreed that citizens of the United States shall never pay higher duties than those paid by the most favored nation.”

The boycott never assumed tangible proportions in Chefoo. Many of the merchants here had great pressure brought to bear upon them in an effort to induce them to join the movement, but they acted wisely and waited. According to their own statements they were bolstered up in their position, which has been somewhat wavering up to date, by the determined stand of the American consul-general here, who frankly told them two weeks ago that if they joined the movement they would have more to answer for to the United States authorities than to the boycott agitators if they did not listen to the latter. They will now be able to see wherein they acted the better part unless, perchance, they choose to defy the military and naval power of the American Republic. Casting aside the latter possibility, the boycott in Chefoo and vicinity is dead and in its coffin.