393.1123 Seymour, Walter F./11

The Consul at Tsinan (Price) to the Minister in China (MacMurray)34

L. No. 2

Sir: With reference to my telegram to the Legation dated 3 P.M. today,35 I have the honor to state that immediately on receiving Consul Dorsey’s telegram36 relative to the reported murder by soldiers at Tsining, Shantung, on April 16, 1928, of Dr. Walter F. Seymour, of the American Presbyterian Mission, I called upon the local Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, informing him of the report and requesting that he take immediate steps to conduct an investigation—so far as that were possible—to ascertain the circumstances, and, if it were found that the perpetrators of the outrage were Northern soldiers, that they be punished. I also requested that he arrange for interviews for me, at the earliest possible moment, with Marshals Chang Tsung-ch’ang37 and Sun Ch’uan-fang.38 The Commissioner promptly agreed to do everything possible. During the course of the day I sought to get in touch with the Commissioner again, but it has been only just now, at midnight, that he called me up by telephone to say that he had reported the matter to Marshal Chang, who promised to make an immediate and thorough investigation. [Page 283] The Commissioner further stated that at present it was impossible to say, precisely, what soldiers were in Tsining on the 16th, since the exact time the city was lost is not yet certain. This can be explained by the fact that most, if not all, the defending Northern army was captured or so thoroughly routed, in that fighting, that reports are not yet complete.

I would mention, however, as a possibly significant fact, the absence of any specific details—even of the name of the army to which the soldier belonged—in the reports from Mr. Eames. Since, at the time the reports from Mr. Eames were sent, the city was undoubtedly in the possession of the Southern armies, this curious vagueness might readily be due to censorship or the fear of censorship. With the thought that any attempt on my part to obtain from Mr. Eames further particulars by telegraph might only result in placing him in personal jeopardy, greater than that in which he might now be in, I am attempting to reach him by letter, only. Both telegrams and mail, however, have to go a round-about way to reach Southern controlled territory, even if they succeed in passing the double censorship of the opposing armies.

The Legation may rest assured that this Consulate will do everything possible to obtain information and also to ascertain the whereabouts and welfare of the other Americans in Southern controlled territory, and will report as promptly as possible.

The attention of the Legation is respectfully invited to this Consulate’s despatch No. 3, of this same date.39

I have [etc.]

Ernest B. Price
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the consul in his despatch No. 2, April 27; received June 11.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed; W. Roderick Dorsey was consul at Tsingtao.
  4. Military Governor of Shantung Province.
  5. Nationalist military leader, formerly nominal overlord of Kiangsu, Kiangsi, Chekiang, Fukien, and Anhwei Provinces.
  6. Ante, p. 261.