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by Chinese applicants for registration certificates, and in response thereto 1 forward herewith a letter from Hon. J. Ś. Miller, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, whose Bureau has charge of this matter.
The Department is making extraordinary efforts to secure, within the time fixed by the law, the registration of all Chinese laborers who are entitled to registration, and I have no reason to believe that any considerable number will fail to procure certificates on account of the want of time.
In order to facilitate the registration of those who are unable to appear personally before the collectors or deputy collectors of internal revenue, the revised regulations, which were promulgated on the 25th of November last, contained a provision which permitted deputy collectors to receive applications and affidavits of witnesses, sworn to at the applicant's expense before a clerk of the court, notary public, or other officer, with his seal attached, qualified to administer oaths, accompanied by a certificate of the officer who administered the oath, that the descriptive list in the application is in all respects correct and complete, and that the photographs submitted are correct likenesses of the applicant.
It is believed that there are very few, if any, Chinese laborers so located that they can not, without inconvenience to themselves, appear before one of these officers, make his application, and furnish the evidence required by the law.
I inclose berewith copies of the statutes, revised regulations, and forms of application and evidence required. Very respectfully,
J. G. CARLISLE,
Mr. Miller to Mr. Carlisle.
Washington, April 12, 1894. Sir: Referring to the letter of the Chinese minister of the 11th instant, addressed to you and by you referred to this office, in which it is stated that complaints have been received from certain portions of this country that inadequate accommodations are being furnished for the registering of Chinese laborers, I beg to say, with reference to the complaints from El Paso and San Antonio, Tex., to the effect that registering officers at those points are refusing to accept Chinese testimony in behalf of applicants, that on the 28th ultimo the attention of Collector Kauffman was called to this matter, and on the 29th he advised this office by telegraph as follows:
** Have wired depnty at El Paso to accept any creditable Chinaman of good character as witness. Applications now at this office show that he has accepted such witnesses heretofore."
Complaints similar to the above have come from other sections of the country, and in each instance collectors have been instructed to accept creditable Chinamed as witnesses, no discrimination being made on account of the color or nationality of a witness.
Only a simple compliance with the law, wbich requires a creditable witness, has been exacted.
As to the charge that persons of questionable character are alleged to be acting in collusion with certain registering clerks and demanding a payment of $7 for each certificate, this office has no information to warrant the belief that deputy collectors have had any knowledge of, connived at, or been a party to any such unlawful practices, nor has this office any information that unprincipled men are placing obstacles in the way of registration unless they are paid a fee for procuring the same. It is possible that persons serving as witnesses for applicants have charged a fee for so
doing, but if this has been done at all it is a matter entirely between the applicant and the witness, and this office has no information that any of its subordinates have been parties to any such transaction.
The charges recounted in the letter of the minister will be thoroughly investigated, and if it is found that registering officers have been guilty of any wrong, doing in this connection they will be summarily dealt with and promptly dismissed from the service.
As to the complaint that there are about 70,000 Chinese in the State of California, only 24,000 of whom have been registered, and that on account of the limited registration much anxiety is felt, and it is feared that the work can not be completed within the short time remaining for the execution of the law, I beg to state that telegraphic information received from the collectors in California reports that at the close of business on the 6th instant the total number of applications received in the first and fourth collection districts was 43,344, in the district of Oregon, 8,000, and in the district of Montana, 3,000, making an aggregate of 54,344. About 6,000 applications had been received in other districts throughout the country up to the close of business on the 15th ultimo, which makes an aggregate of about 60,000 applications.
Information received very recently from all collectors in whose districts there are any considerable number of Chinamen is to the effect that the work of registration is progressing satisfactorily, and that it would be completed in the time prescribed by the law; that is, all Cbinamen entitled to registration will have applied for certificates.
In some of the districts there will be a considerable number of certificates still to be issued after the close of business of the 3d of May, but a sufficient force will be employed in each of the districts where such a condition prevails to issue and furnish the certificates to applicants within a brief time after that date.
In regard to the complaints made from certain points throughout the country that there are no officers present to receive applications for certificates, it is believed that in most of these cases, as at Union City, Tenn., investigation will develop the fact that there are but few Chinamen at these points, possibly not more than one or two. There are many such places where it is entirely impracticable to send a deputy collector to receive applications.
In all such cases it is the privilege of a Chinaman to go before ihe clerk of a court, - a notary public, or a justice of the peace, or any municipal or State officer authorized to administer oaths. (See p. 7, series 7, No. 8, revised.)
This concessiou was made in the regulations for the purpose of meeting emergencies of this kind, and it would seem but just and reasonable that the applicant should be satisfied with this liberal provision for his accommodation. But, in order to eliminate as far as possible all cause for complaint upon this subject, the collectors of the several districts embracing the points referred to have been advised to extend accommodations to applicants by sending deputies to those points named wherever their means will permit it, and where this can not be done to call the attention of all who complain to the privilege accorded them of registering before the local officers, as above stated. I am, very respectfully,
J. S. MILLER,
Mr. Yang Yü to Mr. Gresham.
CHINESE LEGATION, Washington, April 24, 1894. (Received April 24.) SIR: I have the honor to request your attention to the opinion of the Attorney-General addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated 6th April, 1894, upon the question of the definition of merchant,” contained in the second section of an act approved November 3, 1893, to amend an act entitled “An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States," approved May 5, 1892, and also to the orders issued pursuant thereto by the Secretary of the Treasury to collectors and other officers of the customs, dated the 10th and 19th days of April, respectively. In the opinion the Attorney-General concludes “that a Chinese person does not bring himself within the statutory definition of merchant unless he conducts his business either in his own name or in a firm name of which his own is a part.” By the terms of the order of the Secretary of the Treasury of April 10, 1894, the customs officers are instructed to follow this opinion as a guide in the enforcement of the Chinese exclusion laws. Subsequently, however, to wit, on the 19th day of April, the Secretary of the Treasury ruled that Chinese merchants domiciled in the United States, and who departed therefrom prior to November 3 last, may be permitted to land upon submission to the collector of customs at the port of first arrival of evidence sufficient to satisfy him of their identity as such returning merchants.
If this ruling against the return of Chinese merchants to the United States shall be enforced, great injustice will result to many of those persons who are bona fide entitled to reënter the United States and continue the pursuit of their legitimate business, and it may be remarked that, if a similar ruling should be enforced against American merchants in China, a like injustice would be inflicted upon such merchants and their business in that country. I shall not readily believe, therefore, that it is the intention of the U. S. Government, by following the letter of the law, instead of its spirit, to thus destroy, to any extent, the business of this class of Chinese persons, and also to visit upon them at the same time this great personal injustice.
The Chinese merchants in the United States have, for many years, carried on their partnerships in a manner peculiar to their own notions and customs. These partnerships and business relations existed throughout the United States on November 3, 1893. It will scarcely be contended, therefore, that it was the intention of the law in defining merchant” to destroy, in whole or in part, such business relations of the Chinese merchants by abridging their right to go to China and to return to the United States.
It is a well-known fact that the Chinese mercantile establishments in the United States consist of many members, who, under some tictitious name, carry on their business regardless of the names of the members. The names of the members of these firms can, no doubt, in each instance be readily ascertained and furnished, but not in all probability within the strict terms of the opinion of the Attorney-General.
It is the object of this note, therefore, to bring this important question to your careful consideration for the purpose of adopting if possible some method of protecting the rights of Chinese merchants to return to the United States and pursue their mercantile business, and I wish it distinctly understood that I disclaim all desire to protect any Chinese persons of any class who may attempt by fraud to enter into the United States in violation of law.
In conclusion I will suggest that the names of all Chinese merchants, who are members of firms in the United States, and who are at present in the United States, or absent therefrom and entitled to return thereto, could easily be ascertained through the Chinese consular officers in the United States and furnished to your Government, if by this method the rights of such Chinese merchants could be better protected from the great wrong that is now about to be done toward them.
Hoping that some course may be adopted that will prove satisfactory upon this subject, Accept, etc.,
Admission of Chinese claiming to be merchants.
Washington, April 10, 1894. To Collectors and other Officers of the Customs:
A question having arisen as to the right of persons claiming to be members of Chinese mercantile firms, but whose names do not appear in the firm name, to leave the United States and return thereto as mer. chants, an opinion was requested from the honorable the AttorneyGeneral as to such right, in view of the provision in section 2 of the act approved November 3, 1893, amending the act approved May 5, 1892, entitled “An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States," viz:
The term "merchant” as employed herein, and in the acts of which this is amendatory, shall have the following meaning and none other: A merchant is a person engaged in buying and selling inerchandise at a fixed place of business, which business is conducted in his name, etc.
In reply, under date of the 6th instant, the opinion was rendered, copy of which is hereunto appended for the information and guidance of all officers of this Department charged with the enforcement of the Chinese exclusion laws.
C. S. HAMLIN,
Assistant Secretary. The following is a copy of the opinion above referred to:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, D. C., April 6, 1894. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge yours of the 3d instant, in which my opinion is requested upon the question whether a member of a Chinese copartnership whose name does not form a part of the firm name under which the copartnership business is carried on can leave the United States and return thereto as a merchant under section 2 of the act approved November 3, 1893, amending the act approved May 5, 1892, entitled "An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States."
Section 2 of the act referred to defines a merchant in the following language: “A merchant is a person engaged in buying and selling merchandise at a fixed place of business, which business is conducted in his name, and who, during the time he claims to be engaged as a merchant, does not engage in the performance of any manual labor, except such as is necessary in the conduct of his business as such merchant.”
This requirement that the merchant must conduct the business in his own name can have but one purpose, to wit, that he who is a merchant in fact shall also be known to be such by the parties with whom he deals, and by the public generally. That purpose could readily be defeated if it were permissable to conceal his identity by trading under an assumed name or under the disguise of a “Co."
I am, therefore, of the opinion that a Chinese person does not bring himself within the statutory definition of merchant unless he conducts his business either in his own name or in a firm name of which his own is a part. Respectfully, yours,
Attorney-General. Hon. SECRETARY OF THE TR SURY.
Washington, D. C., April 19, 1894. COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS, Astoria, Oreg.:
Chinese merchants domiciled in the United States, and who departed prior to November 3 last, when act amending act approved May 5, 1892, entitled “An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States” was approved, may be permitted to land upon evidence sufficient to satisfy you of their identity as returning merchants. Those who left the United States since November last, and whose names do not appear in firm nane, must be excluded under opinion of AttorneyGeneral of 6th instant.
J. G. CARLISLE,
Secretary. Similar telegram sent to collectors of custoins at the following ports: Burlington, Vt., Portland, Oreg.; Port Townsend, Wash. ; Suspension Bridge, N. Y.; San Francisco, Cal.
EXEMPTION OF MERCHANT SHIPPING.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Peking, August 11, 1894. (Received September 22.) SIR: I have the honor to state that the U. S. consul at Tientsin has reported to me that on the 2d instant a Japanese bark, the Tenkio Maru, arrived at Taku, and was at once seized by the Chinese. She is a ship of 1,200 tons, baving a crew of 25 Japanese, and was loaded with rail. way sleepers and timber consigned to the Chinese Railway Company, but hypothecated to the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation for about 12,000 taels.
Upon being informed of this seizure, Mr. Read, U. S. consul at Tientsin, expressed to the viceroy a hope that he would see his way to release this ship. On the 4th instant Mr. Read telegraphed to me that the "Chinese authorities will release Tenkio Maru," and asked if Japan would consent to refrain from molesting Chinese merchant vessels. I at once (August 5) telegraphed to the U.S. minister at Tokio as follows:
Chinese have captured Japanese bark; have consented to allow to discharge cargo and to depart. Chinese Government wishes to know if Japan will refrain from molesting Chinese merchant vessels.
On the 6th instant Mr. Dun replied to this as follows: Japanese Government would be willing to consent to exempt Chinese ships from capture, except ships carrying troops, or other contrabands of war, or attempting to break blockade, provided Chinese Government guarantees like immunity in favor of private Japanese ships.
Both the Tsung-li-Yamên and the Viceroy Li expressed themselves as prepared to accept these terms. They wish, however, to have a statement from Japan as to what will be considered contraband of war. Upon receipt of this statement the negotiations will probably be brought to a favorable conclusion.
In view of the fact that the United States have long favored the exemption from attack of private property on the sea, I urged the ministers of the Yamên to enter into such an agreement as proposed. The present war presents few difficulties for the application of this exemption. The neutral shipping engaged in the carrying trade of China is so great that every ship flying the Chinese flag might be destroyed without seriously deranging commerce or having any practical influence on the result of the war. The same remarks apply almost as well to Japan. As, therefore, attacks upon the merchant vessels of one another would be useless in bringing the war to a conclusion, and would be a needless interference with peaceful private enterprise, it seems to be desirable that the two powers should be encouraged to expressly exempt such vessels from attack.