393.1123 Seymour, Walter F./20: Telegram

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

858. Legation’s No. 611, August 9, 7 p.m.54 Having received no further communications regarding the Seymour case the Legation on October 31st again addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recapitulating protection [sic] and stating that further lapse of time, without any definite action by the Nationalist Government, could not but seriously impair the chances of justice being done in this case and tend in general to discredit the administration of justice by the Nationalist Government. A reply just received, dated November 27, stated that the highest military authorities had been directed to make an investigation [Page 291] and that Sun Liang-cheng, military leader in Shantung, had now submitted the following:

“After my army had attacked and captured all parts of Tsining I heard that there was an American, Dr. Walter F. Seymour, who had been injured and I immediately sent an officer to the said hospital to make an investigation.

According to the statement of the hospital at the time that the Nationalist army was attacking the southern gate. Dr. Seymour went out of the gate to look around, then returned within the hospital. At that time there were disorderly soldiers outside the gate running about firing in all directions. Dr. Seymour who was standing within the gate was struck by a bullet and killed. At that time the enemy was retreating and conditions were chaotic. I am afraid that Dr. Seymour was killed by a stray bullet.”

After a period of over seven months since the death of Dr. Seymour the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far failed to meet its responsibilities in this matter as to be willing to transmit the foregoing statement which is wholly at variance in all essentials with the facts as understood by the Ministry. I regard the reply as entirely unsatisfactory but am at a loss how to proceed further when confronted with such a bold attempt at evasion on the part of the highest Chinese authorities.

In these circumstances I ask for your authority again to recapitulate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the facts of the case with a statement being understood as from you, that the indifference of the Chinese authorities towards the wanton murder of one of our citizens has created in the mind of the American Government a sense of insecurity and of doubt as to the good faith and the political competence of the Nationalist Government.

  1. Telegram in three sections.
  2. Not printed; it quotes a communication dated August 8, from C. T. Wang, successor to Huang Fu, stating merely that further steps had been taken to secure the facts and that the results of the inquiry would be communicated to the Minister (398.1123 Seymour, Walter F./17).