The Consul General at Hankow (Adams) to the Minister in China (Johnson)27

L. No. 344

Subject: Alleged Assault and Murder of a Chinese by American Naval Enlisted Men.

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatches to the Legation L. [Page 703] No. 327, July 18, 1933, and L. No. 328, July 20, 1933, on the above subject and to supplement them by giving below subsequent developments in the case.

Following the failure of the Chinese who were rescued from the water to identify their assailants and following the exhaustive efforts of the naval authorities to ascertain the true facts of the case, it became apparent that no definite conclusions could be reached as to the identity of the guilty persons. The Chinese press was keeping the case before the public, and it was also apparent that the Chinese Lawyers’ Association, into whose hands the case had found its way, was in a position to cause considerable further publicity unfavorable to Americans.

With the foregoing in mind, I suggested to the Captain of the U. S. S. Guam that he raise a subscription of about silver $200 on board the Guam and that he place this sum in my hands with full discretion to use it, or as much thereof as might be necessary, in an endeavor to reach a settlement. In making this suggestion my thought was that the contribution might possibly tend to prevent future disturbances so far as the crew of the Guam was concerned as well as place the American authorities in a position to attempt to stop unfavorable publicity.

The commanding officer of the Guam very kindly complied with my suggestion, and I called on Dr. Wu28 on August 4, and discussed the case thoroughly with him. A memorandum of our conversation on that occasion is attached hereto as enclosure No. 1.29

In accordance with my promise to Dr. Wu I communicated with the Commanding Officer of the Guam and asked him whether or not the contribution could be increased. I informed him that the matter had reached the bargaining stage and that if, as I anticipated, he were to inform me that the amount could not be increased, I would be glad to convey that information to the Mayor. He replied that the contribution could not be increased, and I so informed Dr. Wu. Following this Dr. Wu told me that he would make a determined effort to settle the question upon the basis of my offer provided I could express regret for the occurrence and give him some assurance that measures had been taken to prevent a like incident in future. He asked me if I would embody these points in a formal despatch. I replied that I would do the best I could upon the basis of the facts in the case. Dr. Wu then wrote a despatch to me, dated August 14. A translation of that despatch is attached hereto as enclosure No. 2.29 I have today given Dr. Wu my reply and a copy of it is attached hereto as enclosure No. 3.29

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The case holds some elements of danger to the good will prevailing here toward Americans and I hope that the Legation will not feel that in my handling of the case I have gone further to meet the Chinese desires than was justified by the circumstances of the case. I have also had in mind the circumstance that Dr. Wu is under some pressure from the Chinese Lawyers’ Association. I gather that his desire for a formal despatch from me is partly at least because he wishes to have something definite in writing with respect to the terms offered to exhibit to the Lawyers’ Association.31

Respectfully yours,

Walter A. Adams
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General at Hankow in his despatch No. 347, August 16; received September 15.
  2. Dr. Wu Kuo-cheng, mayor of Hankow.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. The Minister in China, in his instruction dated September 1, commended the Consul General at Hankow “for having apparently handled a delicate matter very well” (393.9313/6).