File No. 893.01/27.
The Presidents Message, conveyed by Mr. Yang, the Senior Under Secretary of State, on the 6th of September, to the Council of State acting in the capacity of Li Fa Yuan.
[Copy left at the Department of State by Mr. Yung Kwai, Counselor of the Chinese Legation, on September 7, 1915, Acknowledgment of receipt made to the Chinese Minister on September 9, 1915.]
It is now four years since I have been entrusted by the people with the office of President of the Chinese Republic. During these troublous years, fearing that my ability is not equal to the task, I have labored under much anxiety and misgiving and have looked forward to the time when I may be relieved and permitted to retire. But so long as I am in my present position it is my constant duty and responsibility, which admit of no evasion, to protect the country and the people; it is my special duty to maintain the Republic as the form of government. Recently many citizens from the provinces have petitioned the acting Li Fa Yuan to change the form of government—a state of things which is incompatible with my position as President. But as the office of President is conferred by the people, it should of course depend on the will of the people. Moreover, since the acting Li Fa Yuan is an independent organ and as such is free from outside interference, I should not, strictly speaking, express any views before the people of the country nor to the acting Li Fa Yuan. As, however, any alteration in the form of government makes a radical and important change in the Executive Department, and as I am the Chief Executive, I feel that even at the risk of misinterpretation of my motives I cannot remain silent. In my opinion a change in the form of government involves such a momentous change in the manifold relations of the State that it is a matter which demands the most careful and serious consideration. If it is decided on hastily, serious obstacles will arise. It being my duty to maintain the general situation, I regard the proposed change as unsuitable to the circumstances of the country. As to the petition of the citizens, their object is of course no other than to strengthen the foundation of the State and to increase the prestige of the country. If the opinion of the majority of the people of the country is consulted, good and proper means will undoubtedly be found. Furthermore, as the Constitution of the Republic is now being drafted with due consideration of the conditions of the country, careful thought and mature discussion, a suitable and practicable law will be devised.
I commend this to your attention, Gentlemen of the acting Li Fa Yuan.