Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 156.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith translation of a recent proclamation by the viceroy of the Liang Kuang Provinces, again ordering the people of these provinces to desist from boycotting [Page 233] American goods and stirring up agitation against us. The date of the proclamation is not given, but inferring from the last paragraph it seems to have been after the massacre at Lienchow of the American missionaries on the 28th of October.

The language of the proclamation is vigorous and emphatic. It remains to be seen whether it will be enforced with “extraordinary severity” as promised.

The viceroy goes rather far in saying that the United States has consented to the revision of its harsh measures and is now at work negotiating with regard to this question. Certainly I have not said or done anything on the subject since I stopped in August last discussing the matter informally with the Waiwu Pu. Nevertheless the proclamation is a good one, and I hope it will powerfully tend to allay excitement in Canton Province.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.

Proclamation of the viceroy of the Two Kuang Provinces in re the boycott of American goods.

Ts’en, by imperial appointment a junior guardian of the heir apparent, an official of the first grade, permitted to ride on horseback in the forbidden city, decorated with the yellow riding jacket, honorary president of the board of war, acting viceroy of the Two Kuang Provinces, holding also the post of governor of Kuangtung, and superintendent of the maritime and local customs, issues this proclamation:

I have received a telegram from the board of foreign affairs, saying:

“We have received a dispatch from the American minister to the effect that the viceroy of the Two Kuang Provinces is still failing to take effective measures to suppress the boycott agitation in his provinces in protest against the immigration treaty, and fails to cause the people to obey the imperial edict, and that he hopes we will favor him with an immediate reply, giving assurance that such measures are being taken as he has requested; that if negligence to enforce the imperial orders continues it will cause the people to disrespect the imperial edicts, and may lead to serious disorder; that he had received a communication from the President of the United States saying that the American Government desired to treat with China in justice, but, on the other hand, could not tolerate injustice from China, and that he trusted we would see the importance of prompt action in this serious condition of affairs.

“As to this matter of protesting against the immigration treaty, it is your duty to comply with the imperial edict by effectively urging and leading (the people). Now that the President of the United States has said that fair treatment will be given, we hope that you will at once obey the edict requiring you to conscientiously lead the way and earnestly labor to cause all to attend to their private affairs and avoid stirring up trouble. We trust also that you will promptly telegraph us in reply, detailing the measures which you are taking in the matter.”

As to this matter of the merchants of the Two Kuang Provinces discontinuing the purchase of American goods in protest against the immigration treaty, I sometime ago received an imperial edict directing me to order the merchants that they must carry on business as usual and unite to preserve the peace, and that if any ignorant persons should sow suspicion and stir up trouble I must deal severely with them, so as to prevent the outbreak of disorder. This edict I had reverently copied and published it in full for the information of all. I also issued general instructions to all officers in my jurisdiction to earnestly exhort and lead the gentry, the merchants, and all the people and cause them to obey with trembling, and I directed that if any persons should be found guilty of sowing suspicions and creating trouble they should be promptly arrested and fined.

Afterwards I received a telegram from the board of foreign affairs stating that the American minister had sent them a dispatch to the effect that the boycott of American goods in Canton still continued and was creating trouble, and asking that this unjust agitation be suppressed. I thereupon issued another proclamation, giving careful warning, all of which the records will show.

I now find that although the holding of meetings and the making of speeches have been discontinued there is perhaps some reason to fear that ignorant persons may take advantage of the situation to stir up trouble, and it becomes necessary to again issue a stringent proclamation forbidding such action in order to give due weight to international relations. [Page 234] I have issued general instructions to all officials in my jurisdiction to give obedience and directed that if any disorderly persons are found sowing suspicions and stirring up trouble, posting placards, or circulating pamphlets, trying by threats to keep others from buying or using American goods, they must be promptly dealt with as the circumstances may require, and in addition I now issue this proclamation and give due notice to the merchants and people of the whole province that they must comply with it.

You ought to know that China and the United States have for a long time maintained friendly relations. As to the immigration treaty, the President of the United States has already consented to the revision of its harsh clauses, and has also consented to the fair treatment of Chinese going to the United States. The governments of the two countries are now at work negotiating with regard to this question. You merchants and people must tremblingly obey the imperial edicts and carry on trade as usual, joining together to preserve the peace. Should there be any presumptuous persons daring still to fan the flame of agitation, sowing disobedience to the imperial edict, and disturbing the peace, they must be promptly arrested and punished.

As to the mission stations and the missionaries of various countries, their purpose is to exhort men to do good, and imperial edicts have repeatedly been issued commanding that they be given thorough protection. If any disorderly persons avail themselves of any pretext to Create enmity toward the missions and make a disturbance so as to embroil the missions or missionaries in difficulty, they are to be regarded as no other than rebels and shall be punished with nothing less than punishments of extraordinary severity, so as to manifest the terror of the law. What I, the viceroy, have said that I will do. Let everyone obey with trembling and not disregard this special proclamation.