The Secretary of State to Mr. Min Yeung-Tchan, Special Envoy without credentials.
Washington, December 19, 1905.
Sir: Referring to your visit to this Department on the 11th instant, when, after having first stated that you had no credentials to the Government of the United States and could make no official communication, you stated to me, in effect, that the treaty of November 17, 1905, under which the direction of the external relations of Korea is to be conducted through the department of foreign affairs in Tokyo, was procured from the Emperor of Korea by duress and should therefore be ignored, I beg to inform you that this government has considered whether it could receive this statement as calling for or justifying any action by the Government of the United States, either upon the general ground of friendship, which this government has long felt for the Emperor and people of Korea, or upon the specific ground in the first article of the treaty between the United States and Korea of May 19, 1883, as follows:
If other powers deal unjustly or oppressively with either government, the other will exert their good offices, on being informed of the case, to bring about an amicable arrangement, thus showing their friendly feeling.
Since your visit we have received the following communication from Mr. Kim, the regularly accredited chargé d’affaires of Korea in Washington:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 24th ultimo, informing me that by agreement signed on November 17, by the plenipotentiaries of Japan and Korea, by which Japan becomes the medium for conducting the foreign relations of Korea, you had, under date of the 24th ultimo, telegraphed the American minister to withdraw from Korea.
I have further to inform you that I have this day received instructions from Mr. Yi Wan Yong, the acting minister of foreign affairs of Korea, to transfer to the Japanese legation the archives and other property in my charge.
Mr. Secretary, in taking leave of my diplomatic relations with your Department, I beg you to accept my thanks and the assurances of my high appreciation for past courtesies shown me.
In view of this official communication, it is difficult to see how the Government of the United States can proceed in any manner upon the entirely different view of the facts which you tell us personally you have been led to take by the information which you have received. It is to be observed, moreover, that the official communications from the Japanese Government agree with the official communications from the Korean Government, and are quite inconsistent with your information.
If, however, the difficulty of complying with your wishes were surmounted, we should be met by the fact that, on February 23, 1904, and on August 22, 1904, the Korean Government concluded with the Japanese Government treaties which are not now in any respect [Page 630]impeached or questioned,a by which Korea gave to Japan such extensive control over her affairs and put herself so completely under the protection of the Government of Japan as to render completely impossible the application of the provisions of the treaty with the United States above quoted. The above-mentioned treaties between Japan and Korea appear to be of such a character as practically to give Japan control over the foreign relations of Korea, and to make the latest treaty of November 17, 1905, which is now called in question, but a slight advance upon the relations of control previously existing. Those previous relations of control amount to a complete bar to any interference by the United States under the treaty of 1883.
Under all these circumstances, I feel bound to advise you that the Government of the United States does not consider that any good purpose would be subserved by taking notice of your statements.
I have, etc.,