Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)91

There is an issue here not with regard to the question of withdrawing another contingent of our armed forces from China, but with regard to the place from which the next withdrawal shall be made.
Both our Minister at Peking and the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet agree that reduction of the marine forces on land in China is at the present moment feasible. The Minister and the Commander-in-Chief differ in their views in that the Minister believes that the force located at present at Tientsin should be retained for the present, and the reduction should be made from the force at Shanghai. The Commander-in-Chief wishes to withdraw the force from Tientsin and leave a force at Shanghai.
The Commander-in-Chief is apparently considering his problem as a naval problem, and regards Shanghai as a better base than Tientsin. The Minister is looking at the problem from the point of view of the protection of the Legation and American citizens at Peking, the force at Tientsin being there in part for that purpose.
Inasmuch as the Minister has the greater responsibility, and as the problem of insuring the safety of the Legation and American citizens at Peking is necessarily, among problems of protection, of relatively greater concern to him than to the Commander-in-Chief, it is the feeling of the officers of the Department who are concerned primarily with Far Eastern affairs that, in an issue of this sort, the views of the Minister should prevail.
It should be especially noted that whichever way the matter is decided, an equal number of marines can be withdrawn, and from the point of view of American policy, the credit which accrues will [Page 320] be the same and the number of men made available for use elsewhere will be the same.
N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
  1. This paper hears the notation: “Memorandum for Cabinet.”