893.00/8050: Telegram

The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State

26. My 20, January 10, 3 p.m. Following from American consul general at Shanghai:

“January 11, 7 p.m. Consular body today considered letter just received from Municipal Council39 saying that, although at the moment it would not appear absolutely necessary to land the foreign forces contemplated in their previous informal recommendations to the consuls, the Municipal Council has the feeling that the presence of approximately one thousand men actually landed in the Settlement [Page 46] would quite possibly avert an incident attended by bloodshed which is bound to arise if trouble suddenly starts before sufficient troops can get here to deal effectively with the situation. Consular body agreed to refer the matter to consuls of naval powers, and, except as to Italian and myself, supported opinion of Council.

I am strongly opposed thereto and so stated that a premature landing at Shanghai would be seized upon by the agitators here as a pretext for further antiforeign propaganda affording the spark to kindle the fire. I believe this possibility outweighs whatever sense of security any force landed now would give to foreigners and Chinese here, most of whom are very nervous. Shanghai at present is quiet and there is no cause of disorder imminent.

I believe presence of sufficient landing forces on ships in harbor is imperative but that they should not land until disorder or violence is unquestionably imminent.

I agreed to refer matter to American naval authorities but indicated that I would oppose landing.

It is evident that the British who are behind this proposal, and perhaps the Italians as well, expect to take a very strong attitude at Shanghai and if trouble actually occurs here I doubt whether bloodshed can be avoided. In these circumstances it is my opinion, and I so recommend, that Americans at interior points in this and adjoining Yangtze Valley districts should be advised to proceed without delay to treaty ports from which they might, if necessary, be evacuated. I request authority to that end. Foregoing will be communicated commander in chief upon his arrival.

Not repeated to Department.”

2. I replied as follows:

January 13, 11 a.m. Your January 11, 7 p.m.

I concur in your views with regard to possible danger of a premature landing at Shanghai and approve your attitude in the consular body meeting toward the recommendation of the Municipal Council.
In the event of trouble occurring or becoming imminent, you are authorized to advise Americans at interior points or at smaller treaty ports to proceed without delay to places from which they may be evacuated. In such a contingency, you should also if necessary telegraph your action to consuls at Canton, Foochow, Amoy, Swatow, Nanking, Hankow, Changsha, and Chungking.
I am advising the foregoing consuls of your recommendation regarding withdrawal and with the exception of Hankow and Changsha who have already been granted authority in the premises authorizing them, at their discretion, to advise the withdrawal of American citizens to places where they may be protected or from which they may be evacuated if necessary.
Please communicate foregoing to commander in chief.”

  1. Of the International Settlement at Shanghai.