File No. 4002/110.

The Secretary of State to the Russian Ambassador.

Excellency: You will recall, that in response to a memorandum of June 9, the Imperial Russian Embassy was, on July 2, assured of the regret with which the Government of the United States would learn that the American consul at Harbin had really failed faithfully to reflect the views of his Government upon certain questions referred to in the embassy’s memorandum.

The reasonable and conciliatory views of the United States upon the situation at Harbin, in which it is our duty to take keen interest, are well known to your excellency through the candid explanation made both by correspondence and on the occasion of the conversations which I had the pleasure to hold with you last spring. These views were set forth in some detail in the note of April 9, to which allusion is made in the memorandum to which I have now the honor to reply.

The promised thorough analysis of the attitude of Mr. Fisher as regards the points in question has now been completed, and I am happy to find justified the hope formerly expressed that any inconsistencies in the consul’s course were apparent rather than real. Being now fully advised of the action of Mr. Fisher, I am glad to be able to inform your excellency that it is found to have been entirely in accord with the views of this Government, views which I think we are agreed are in no essential detrimental to the real interests, or repugnant to the well-known policy of the Imperial Russian Government. I may add that, under these circumstances, the department has naturally been constrained to approve Mr. Fisher’s course.

Adverting to the more recent reports from Harbin, moreover, I would add that this Government has learned with regret that the superintendent of the railway company has been placed, even temporarily, in charge of the Russian consulate general at Harbin; for this step would make toward the further tendency, upon a theory which seems to us without foundation, to exercise authority under the railway’s concession.

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Turning now to the actual situation at Harbin, which is of such practical importance to Russia and of such great interest in principle to the United States, I have the honor to request that the Imperial Russian Government will kindly consider the suggestions made by the United States with a view to the attainment of order through a municipal administration based upon the treaty rights of the foreign powers. The fullest consideration of the subject impels me to urge that course instead of an undertaking to maintain government based directly or indirectly upon what we conceive to be the unsupported claim of administration under the concession of the railway company.

In asking the serious consideration of this suggestion, therefore, I would point out also the fact that inasmuch as the Russian residents are now in great preponderance at Harbin, the creation of a municipality regularized under the treaties and of unquestioned jurisdiction would for the time being differ but little in practical effect from an administration claiming authority through the railway grant. The arrangement suggested would, however, have the great advantage of being different in principle in that it would exclude the claim of political rights under the railway concession. As your excellency is aware, the recognition of such rights might have important and far-reaching consequences. Desiring to avoid these, the Government of the United States could not acquiesce in an arrangement whose potentiality might hereafter so seriously affect American citizens.

At our last interview, when there appeared so immaterial a divergence in our view of the subject, your excellency was looking forward to full discussion of this matter with the minister for foreign affairs upon your return to St. Petersburg. This reflection makes me only the more secure in my expectation that your Government will favorably receive a suggestion which is so evidently regardful of the interests of all concerned and so entirely consistent with the declared policy no less of Russia than of the United States and the other powers having treaties with China.

I avail, etc.,

Elihu Root.