893.00 Nanking/92: Telegram

The Consul at Nanking (Davis) to the Secretary of State

From American consul, Nanking, via consul general, Shanghai, information American Minister, Peking, and consul general, Hankow.

April 17, midnight. The following points are called to the Department’s attention in connection with Eugene Ch’en’s note of April 14, 2 p.m.:

  • First. With reference to paragraphs 3 and 4:
    Capture of Northern troops in Nanking unquestioned but has no bearing on the question, as my personal observations, those of British consul general, and sworn statements by many reliable Americans, prove outrages actually committed by Hunanese in Nationalist uniform often under officers.
    All information shows only known executions were of a few rickshaw coolies while no guilty Nationalist soldiers were punished.
    As to the “bombardment of a city on the territory of a friendly state” the military forces of the “friendly state” at the time of the naval barrage had actually looted the American consulate, insulted the flag, killed and wounded Americans, attempted to rape and had otherwise mistreated American women, and were at the moment firing upon the American consul, his wife and small children, knowing them to be such. Further, it is amply proven that the naval barrage was the main thing which saved the lives of all foreigners, including Americans.
  • Second. With reference to paragraph 5: (1) Guilt of Nationalist Government is also established by proven perpetration of outrages by its uniformed [soldiers] often accompanied by officers, by the failure of Ch’eng Ch’ien to take any effective steps for the protection of Americans until after both the naval barrage on March 24th and the renewing of [apparent omission] on March 25th, by impudent and evasive reply to the demands of the naval officers, by the unrestrained looting of American property by Nationalist soldiers for many days after the incident, by the illegal occupation of American property even now by Nationalist troops, and by the repeated firing upon American-flagged vessels by Ch’eng Ch’ien’s forces up to and including today.
  • Third. With reference to paragraph 6: If Nationalist Government is a “responsible governing body” why was the 15th Nationalist division permitted to drive American missionaries at Luchowfu from their homes on April 7th, forcing them to escape like hunted animals, and why does this seizure of American property continue until the present?
  • Fourth. With reference to paragraph 7: The outrage was not caused by question of “unequal treaties” but by the giving up of the Nationalist Government to the domination of Russian Communists, …
  • Fifth. With reference to paragraph 8: As the guilt of the Nationalist Government is unquestionably established, I respectfully but strongly urge that, instead of recommendations, a time limit be set and that a full compliance with the demands of April 11th within the time [apparent omission] outlined by Williams to the Department of the Navy on April 3rd61 be carried out, adding the destruction of (1) all forts at or near Nanking and those at Kiangyin, and (2) the Nanking arsenal and powder factory.

As full guilt has already been established beyond a doubt and since Ch’en is only the powerless mouthpiece of extreme Communist element, the negotiations he proposes would only produce evasions and delays.

I strongly fear unless firm action is promptly taken accompanied by a reassertion of friendliness to all law-abiding Chinese that a second and more dangerous Boxer uprising will soon be upon [apparent omission]. Unless Chiang Kai-shek openly and finally breaks with Hankow, meeting of issue is no longer with the Nationalists but with Russian-directed Communists.

  1. See telegram from the commander in chief of the Asiatic Fleet to the Office of Naval Operations, received Apr. 4, p. 178.