893.00/8167: Telegram

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


32. For your confidential information the following message is being telegraphed by the Secretary of the Navy to the commander in chief at Shanghai.54

Careful consideration has been given to your recommendation through the Navy,55 and the following points have occurred to us:

Only one country is reported to be landing a large force at Shanghai. Japan has declined to do so.
If we sent to Shanghai a large force of the Regular Army it would mean arousing all of China and involve us probably in making war on Cantonese forces perhaps with opposing forces. It seems to us that while such action might succeed at Shanghai if the Cantonese do not have too large a force, it inevitably would inflame all China against the thousands of Americans not in Shanghai who probably cannot be evacuated or protected.
Through our Minister at Peking we are immediately making efforts to communicate with the Cantonese, Chang Tso-lin, and the forces around Shanghai in an attempt to see whether it is possible to make an arrangement guaranteeing the neutrality of the International Settlement.
I feel satisfied that for us at the present to send a large force of regular soldiers, outside of the Navy, would be very strongly condemned publicly here, in Congress and out, and would inflame China. The press reports here that a proposition has been made to our consul at Shanghai by Chiang Kai-shek that all parties refrain from sending their forces into Shanghai and thereby prevent those dangers which face the Americans and missionaries in the interior of China. Why was this not transmitted to Washington?
In my opinion our answer to British note and to Admiral Williams ought to be that he has instructions to give Americans protection with his naval forces.

  1. The message was, in the original, a verbatim copy of a memorandum by President Coolidge and was considered at a Cabinet meeting.
  2. See telegram No. 36, Jan. 16, from the Minister in China, p. 50.