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ing two Japanese spies arrested in Shanghai a few months ago, and you particularly direct my attention to the fact that you requested me to ask that the two Japanese should not be tried tiil the return of United States Minister Denby to Peking, and that you understood me subsequently to have informed you that my Government had acceded to your request.
Your conduct, Mr. Secretary, in this whole transaction has been so just and impartial that I would deeply deplore any embarrassment which might even in an indirect way attach to you on account of it, and cer-' tainly nothing that I shall do or say shall in the slightest degree reflect upon you.
When I received from you the request above alluded to, I communicated it at once by cable to my Government at Peking, and expressed strongly my wish that action in the case of the Japanese prisoners should be delayed. Subsequently, when certain press dispatches reported the decapitation of said prisoners, I endeavored to obtain information by cabling directly to the taotai at Shanghai, into whose custody the U. S. consul-general bad, by your direction, delivered them. In response, I received from the taotai a cablegram informing me that the prisoners had been forwarded to Nankin with his recommendation that they be punished by sentence of imprisonment, and that the report was without foundation. Upon receipt of this cablegram I had another interview with you, and, in explaining the purport of the telegram, I stated that you might rest assured the prisoners would not soffer harm before the arrival of Colonel Denby; but you must have misunderstood me if you received the impression that my Government had made any promise that the spies should not be tried before the arrival at Peking of Colonel Denby.
I gave you the assurance I did upon the information cabled me by the taotai at Shanghai and upon the belief on my part that his recommendation would be carried out. But when the prisoners were taken to Nankin, it was established by proof that they bad furnished information to their Government by means of ciphers, in which seventy-six telegraphic messages in all were sent by them, giving reports of the movement of troops and of military matters in China of the gravest importance; all this in addition to the maps which had been found upon their persons in Shanghai. Further, when they were brought to trial they confessed these facts and boasted that they were serving their country as patriots. In the light of these undoubted proofs of guilt, the lenient recommendation of the taotai of Shanghai was set aside, and, in conformity with the laws of war, they were executed.
In our interviews you seemed to be impressed by the reports sent you from Shanghai that the prisoners were harmless students, and your desire appeared to be that in the excitement of war the forms of law and a fair trial should not be disregarded, and, in the belief that Colonel Denby's presence and the high estimate in which he was held in my country would secure these guarantees, you asked for delay till his arrival at Peking. In view, however, of the unmistakable proofs of guilt and the boasts of the prisoners in the trial, I feel sure you will not regard the course pursued by my Government as unwarranted, much less wanting in deference for you or the Government which you so worthily represent. Accept, etc.,
Mr. Gresham to Mr. Yang Yi.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 27, 1894. SIR: I had the honor to receive your note of the 6th instant in relation to the interview between us in regard to the trial and execution of the two Japanese spies who were arrested at Shanghai.
If I have deferred my reply longer than I at first intended, it has been because of a disinclination to pursue a discussion on the personal lines which your note suggests.
In my note of the 30th ultiino I stated that there was “reason to believe that the men were executed before the return of Colonel Denby to Peking, and therefore in derogation of the voluntary promise which you assured me your Government had made." I fail to find in that statement, or in anything that I have said or written on the subject, any suggestion that "embarrassment might attach to anyone in consequence of the action of your Government.” In the introduction, therefore, of such a suggestion into the correspondence, I can not hold myself responsible, and I am compelled to state the facts as I understand them, without regard to it.
As to the request I made, that the men might not be tried till the return of the minister of the United States to Peking, our understandings do not differ. You state that when the request was received you at once communicated it by cable to your Government, and strongly expressed the wish that it might be complied with. You also state that, after the early press reports that the men had been decapitated, you told me I might rest assured that the prisoners would not suffer harm before the arrival of Colonel Denby." In this regard our understandings are not at variance. But we differ in regard to my statement that you informed me your Government had made such a promise.
In this particular I owe it to candor to say that my understanding is at variance with that expressed in your note of the 6th instant. Nor am I alone in this respect. At two of our interviews Mr. Rockhill, the Third Assistant Secretary of State, was, as you are aware, present, and his understanding clearly accords with mine as to what occurred. It is not my intention to intimate that your language was calculated to create an impression for which there was no actual foundation; but as your expressions were communicated to me, I am not at liberty to admit that they did not convey the meaning which I ascribed to them.
I should have been glad to refrain from any discussion of differences as to what occurred at our interview; but I can not permit to remain unanswered in the files of the Department a communication which might be thought to imply that I could have any motive other than those of delicacy and propriety for shrinking from such a discussion. Accept, sir, etc.,
W. Q. GRESHAM.
Mr. Yang Yü to Mr. Gresham.
Washington, December 31, 1894. SIR: I have the bonor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 27th instant, in which you state your understanding of the interviews which took place between us respecting the Japanese spies arrested at Shanghai.
I must express to you my sincere regret if in my note of the 6th instant I used any expression which might be construed as an improper intimation. If my language expressed any such idea, it was a regrettable inadvertence on my part, as it was furthest from my intention so to do. I have no doubt you have correctly stated your understanding of the interviews as conveyed through the interpreters, and I have no disposition to raise any controversy on the subject. Your whole conduct in this matter has given evidence of such a high spirit of rectitude and friendship for my Government that it would be ingratitude on my part to raise any issue of fact with you.
With this opportunity I desire to recognize the frankness and cordiality which has at all times marked your intercourse with me, and to assure you that it will always be my earnest desire to merit your confidence and esteem. Accept, etc.,
PROTECTION OF FOREIGNERS.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham. No. 1915.]
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Peking, August 6, 1894. SIR: On the 3d instant I received from the Tsung-li-Yamên a dispatch stating that China is at peace with all the world except Japan; that she undertakes the protection of missionaries and merchants within her borders, and asking me to inform the merchants and missionaries of American nationality that they are at liberty to pursue their usual avocations without anxiety because of the hostilities being carried on against Japan.
In a circular dated the 4th instant I requested the consuls to bring this announcement to the notice of the citizens of the United States within tbeir jurisdictions.
In making acknowledgment to the Yamên of the receipt of this dispatch I considered it my duty to state to them that the obligation upon the Chinese authorities to protect peaceable Japanese, within their territory, was as great as that to protect other foreigners. Any reference to this obligation is pointedly omitted in the dispatch referred to. There were in China before the war 1,017 Japanese residents, while the Chinese in Japan numbered 5,540. Interest as well as duty dictates to China the protection of these Japanese. It is certain that outrages against them will lead to retaliation.
There are two places at which attacks upon Japanese were chiefly to be feared, viz, Tientsin and Chefoo. So strong was the feeling against them at the former place that the Japanese chargé d'affaires, who left there on the 4th instant, ordered them to leave with him. Not one now remains. I telegraphed yesterday to Chefoo advising all Japanese to leave that port also. Chefoo is a port on the direct line of communication between Korea and Tientsin. In case the Chinese experience a defeat at sea, fugitives will put into this harbor and it would be diffi calt to secure the safety of the Japanese against them.
The proclamation which I ask the Yamên to issue will be useful at Shanghai and other places, from which it is not praticable to advise the Japanese to depart. I bave, etc.,
CHAS. DENBY, JR., Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
(Inclosure 1 in No. 1915.)
The Foreign Office to Mr. Charles Denby, Jr.
PEKING, August 3, 1894. With reference to the circumstances attending the commencement of hostilities on the part of Japan, the Yamên, acting under the rule laid down in international law to give due information thereof to friendly powers, had already addressed a communication to the chargé d'affaires of the United States upon the subject, which is a matter of record.
With the exception of Japan alone, who is at war with her, China and all the other treaty powers are on terms of friendly intercourse as usual.
With regard to merchants and missionaries of all foreign countries resident in China they will all be protected as provided by treaty, and to this end the Yamên haš telegraphed to the minister superintendent of northern trade to wire all the Tartar generals, governors-general, and governors of the various provinces to take precautionary measures and issue warning instructions that the common people must be ordered not, by mistake, to create any trouble or disturbance.
The prince and ministers beg that the chargé d'affaires of the United States will instruct the U. S. consuls at the treaty ports to inform American merchants and missionaries that they are to continue to carry on their vocations as usual, and that on account of the hostilities with Japan they need not be in fear and doubt.
A necessary communication addressed to Charles Denby, jr., esq., etc.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 1915.1
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Peking, August 4, 1894, Thos. R. JERNIGAN, Esq.,
United States Consul-General, Shanghai: SIR: I have the honor to inform you that this legation is in receipt of a dispatch from the Tsung-li-Yamên, dated the 3d instant, stating that the merchants and missionaries of foreign countries, wherever residing in China, will be protected, and that the high provincial authorities have been ordered to issue proclamatious warning the people in no manner to disturb them.
The Yamên asks this legation to inform the American merchants and missionaries that they are at liberty to pursue their avocations as usual, and requests them to be under no fear or anxiety because of the hostilities now being carried on against Japan.
You are requested to bring this announcement to the notice of the citizens of the United States within your jurisdiction. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
CHAS. DENBY, JR.,
Chargé d'Affaires ad interim. (Mutatis mutandis to all U. S. consuls in China.)
(Inclosure 3 in No. 1915.)
Mr. Denby to the Tsung-li- Yamên. No. 27.]
AUGUST 6, 1894. YOUR HIGHNESS AND YOUR EXCELLENCIES: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 3d instant, stating that China is at peace with all treaty powers except Japan, and asking me to inform the American merchants and missionaries in this country that they may continue to pursue their vocations as usual, without anxiety because of the hostilities now existing with Japan.
While thanking you for your praiseworthy efforts to secure the protection of the citizens of those countries with which you are at peace, I have the honor to point out to you that it is in a greater degree your duty, in accordance with the precepts of international law and the dictates of humanity, to make every effort to guarantee from molestation or injury peaceable subjects of Japan within your territory. This is all the more important because there are more than five times as many Chinese in Japan as there are Japanese in China. Your highness and your excellencies will readily see that just treatment and protection of the subjects of Japan in this country will be the surest guarantee of the just treatment and protection of your subjects in Japan.
There are two courses which your highness and your excellencies may pursue. You may announce that the Japanese will not be protected and order their departure from the treaty ports, or you may announce that they are at liberty to stay, and that you undertake to guarantee their safety.
I strongly recommend you to adopt this latter course, and I request that proclamations be immediately posted in all localities where Japanese reside, informing the people that they remain in China with your consent, and enjoining that they be in no way interfered with.
I request your highness and your excellencies to give me an early reply to this dispatch, and I await, etc.,
Mr. Gresham to Mr. Denby, chargé.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, September 28, 1894. SIR: I have to acknowledge receipt of your 1915 of the 6th ultimo, with which you inclose a copy of a note of the Tsung-li-Yamên of the 3d of August last, and of your reply thereto of the 6th of that month, together with a copy of a circular issued by you on the 4th of August, in which, in accordance with the request made in the note of the Yamên, you inform our consuls of the purpose of the Chinese Government to protect foreign merchants and missionaries, wherever residing in China, during the war between that country and Japan.
In your reply to the Yamên you advert to the fact that their note makes no reference to Japanese subjects peaceably residing in China, and recommend that a proclamation be issued with a view to assure them protection. This recommendation appears to have been opportune, and its adoption by the Chinese Government would be responsive to the action of the Government of Japan in respect to Chinese subjects peaceably residing in that country. The Department, however,