American Diplomacy in the Orient/Chapter III

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American Diplomacy in the Orient by John W. Foster
Chapter III
Published in 1903

III

THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES

IT was not possible for the great empires of China and Japan to maintain permanently their policy of seclusion described in the preceding chapters. The maritime commerce of the world was rapidly .increasing. The ships of Western nations were traversing all seas. The application of steam to navigation was beginning to bring the distant parts of the globe nearer together. It was contrary to the spirit of the age that a vessel in distress or requiring aid and supplies should be treated as an intruder in the ports of any people. The ex- change of commodities was coming to be regarded as not only a legitimate transaction, but as one from which no nation had a right to exclude its inhabitants.

The efforts of China to resist the progress of the world in shipping and commerce were destined to an early and humiliating failure. The traffic carried on through Canton, notwithstanding its vexatious condi- tions, was increasing ; and the Chinese people, realizing its advantages, were showing a marked interest in its growth. The unsatisfactory methods by which this trade was conducted could not fail, however, sooner or later, to bring about a conflict between the authorities and the foreign merchants or their governments ; and it was plain that a radical change could be accomplished


THE FIEST CHINESE TREATIES 57

only by force, as the Chinese authorities would not will- ingly make the necessary reforms. All the indications pointed to Great Britain as the power most likely to undertake this needed task. Her commerce was greater than that of any other, her growing possessions in India gave her increasing interest in the China trade, and her naval supremacy made her the natural champion of the world's commerce.

An event occurred at Canton in 1834 which pointed unmistakably to this result. The British East India Company, which had maintained a monopoly of the English trade with China up to that time, withdrew ijbs agents from Canton on April 22 of that year, and ceased to exercise control. By virtue of an act of Parliament William IY. nominated a commission to regulate the trade "to and from the dominions of the emperor of China, and for the purpose of protecting and promoting such trade." The commission consisted of Lord Napier, as chief superintendent, and two associates, togetlfe| with a numerous corps of agents and clerks. Theyf reached Macao June 15, and ten days afterwards they landed at Canton, without having made the usual appli- cation from Macao to the Chinese customs authorities for the privilege to come to Canton.

On June 25 a copy of the king's commission to Lord Napier and his associates was published in the Canton " Register," and on the same day Lord Napier addressed a communication in the form of a letter to the governor of the city, informing him of the arrival of the com- mission, empowered to protect and promote British trade, and that he was " invested with powers, political


58 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

and judicial/' and he asked for a personal interview at which he would more fully explain the object and duties of the commission. While this communication was being translated, Lord Napier was called upon by two of the hong merchants, in execution of an instruc- tion from the governor that they should inform him of the existing regulations as to intercourse, which must be carried on through the hong merchants. Lord Na- pier summarily dismissed them, with the statement that he " would communicate immediately with the viceroy in the manner befitting his Majesty's commission and , the honor of the British nation."

After the hong merchants took their departure, Lord Napier's letter to the governor was sent to the city gate of Canton by one of his staff, accompanied by several British merchants. At the gate they encountered Chi- nese officers, to whom they tendered the letter for de- livery to the governor, but all of them refused to receive it. A messenger was dispatched to the governor re- porting the situation, and after several hours other offi- cers appeared, but none of them would even touch the letter, and the British official was forced to return with it to Lord Napier.

The reason given for the refusal to receive the letter f "

to the governor was that it did not have on the super- scription the usual word employed in Chinese official correspondence, to wit, " pin " (petition), which Dr. Martin, a high authority iiT -such matters, says is "a word which in Chinese expresses abject inferiority." l The governor, in reporting the event to the emperor,

i A Cycle of Cathay, W. A. P. Martin, New York, 1896, p. 21.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 59

also calls attention to the fact that on the envelope

"there was absurdly written-.. the characters Great

- i" " ' ^

Enrjllsli "Wcdion" In the communications of the gov- ernor totEe~~Eong merchants, the contents of which were to be made known to Lord Napier, attention was called to the fact that he had disregarded the rules of the trade in not applying from Macao for a permit to come to Canton ; that only a tae-pan (super- cargo or agent) had been allowed to represent the for- eign merchants, and that an eye (superintendent), an official above the merchants in dignity, could not pre- sume to exercise his functions without the consent of the imperial government, and for which a respectful pin must be sent. A recapitulation of the rules gov- erriifig~th"e" "visit and stay of foreigners was given, and the governor says : " To sum up the whole matter, the nation has its laws. Even England has its laws. How

much more the Celestial Empire ! HoW flaming brignT

_ -., '" '" yu ,__ _L_^, - ,Q p

are its great laws and ordinances. More terrible IJIEan

the awful thunderbolts ! Under this whole bright heaven, none dares. to disobey them. Under its shelter are the four seas. Subject to its soothing care are ten thousand kingdoms. .The said barbarian eye [Lord


Napier], having come over a sea of several myriads of miles in extent to examine and have superintendence of affairs, must be a man thoroughly acquainted with the -pimciples^of high dignity."

On the day after the rejection of the letter the hong merchants called again on Lord Napier to induce him to change the address, but he refused to superscribe the word " petition." Other visits from them followed


60 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

on the next and subsequent days with edicts and com- munications to the hong merchants from the governor, but the British superintendent refused to change his position. In these documents Lord Napier was re- quested to return to Macao, there to petition to be received as a superintendent, and to await the emperor's decision. He was told that the laws of the Celestial Empire did not permit ministers and those under au- thority to have intercourse by letter with outside bar- barians, especially in commercial affairs, and that any communications to them must be made through the hong merchants in the form of a petition, to which the barbarian merchants had always yielded willing and

j obedient submission. " There has never been," wrote the governor, " such a tbin^ as outs^e barbarians^end-

-ingji



nity and decorum. The thing is most deci possible."

""""HI tHe matter of commerce, the governor defined the attitude of his government in very decided terms. " The barbarians of this nation [Great Britain] coming to or leaving Canton have beyond their trade not any public business ; and flip, p.nmq^issj^ of the

Celestial Empire never take cognizance of the trivial affairs of trade. . . . The some hundreds of thousands "" of commercial duties yearly coming from the said na- tion, concern not the Celestial Empire to the extent of a hair or a feather's down. The possession or absence of them is utterly unworthy of one careful thought." These declarations were followed by a notice that un- less Lord Napier desisted from his efforts to hold direct


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 61

intercourse and withdrew to Macao, the trade with the British merchants would be stopped.

The controversy continued through the months of July and August with increasing irritation. The au- thorities encouraged the exhibition of every possible annoyance to the commission and the English residents ; in communications of the hong merchants to Lord Na- pier, at the instigation of the governor, he was ad- dressed as " laboriously vile ; " and Chinese laborers and servants were forced to leave British service. Lord Napier's correspondence with his government shows that these annoyances were leading him to lose his tem- per. In referring to the gpj^nor Jtie used such epi- thets as " petty tyranji" and " pr pg1 llTTlp flim lft aav ^fi ft "

Having Keen rebuffed in his efforts to establish inter- course with the officials, and it becoming apparent that his mission was to prove a failure, he published in the Chinese language and caused to be circulated a docu- ment, in which he reviewed the government's edicts, closing as follows : " Governor Loo has the assurance to state in the edict of the 2d instant that ' the King (my master) has hitherto been reverently obedient.' I must now request you to declare to them (the hong merchants) that his Majesty, the King of England, is a great and powerful monarch, that he rules over an ex- tent of territory in the four quarters of the world more comprehensive in space and infinitely more so in power than the whole empire of China; that he commands armies of bold and fierce soldiers, who have conquered wherever they went ; and that he is possessed of great ships, where no native of China has ever yet dared to


62 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

show his face. Let the governor then judge if such a monarch will be ' reverently obedient ' to any one."

Finally, Lord Napier showing no disposition to retire to Macao, an edict was issued stopping all trade with the English. This brought on such a threatening state of affairs that a British force was sent up from the warships at the mouth of the river and lodged in the British factory. The next day the British squadron cleared for action, moved up the river, and as they passed the Bogue forts they were fired upon and re- turned the fire. Two days afterwards the firing was renewed between the forts and vessels, but after much parleying between the hong merchants and the British residents a truce was arranged. The result of this was that Lord Napier, out of regard for the merchants whose trade was stopped, and, in view of the hopeless- ness of bringing the governor to intercourse on terms of equality, decided to withdraw to Macao and there await instructions from his government. The warships were to leave the river, and trade was to be reopened.

The commission took its departure for Macao, August 21, in two boats provided by the Chinese authorities, the British vessels having already left ; but the indig- nities did not cease. Lord Napier, who had fallen ill, owing to the great strain upon his nervous system, was twice detained en route by the Chinese, and subjected to exposure which it is alleged greatly aggravated his illness ; and he did not reach Macao until four days after leaving Canton. He died at the former place, Septem- ber 11, 1834. His physician certified that his illness was wholly attributable to the severe labor and anxiety


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 63

which devolved upon him, and that his death was has- tened by the needless and vexatious detention and exposure to which he was subjected by the Chinese authorities. The governor reported to the emperor that the barbarian eye had been sent away, and the English ships had been driven out of the river.

On leaving Canton, Lord Napier, in a letter to the British residents, expressed " a hope that the day will yet arrive when I shall be placed in my proper position, by an authority which nothing can withstand." At the same time he wrote to Lord Palmerston, secretary for foreign affairs, that the viceroy had committed an outrage on the British crown which should be chastised, and he implored his lordship to force the Chinese to acknowledge his authority and the king's commission, stating that such a course would result in opening the ports. The American consul sent to the Department of State a report of the affair in detail. He regarded war between Great Britain and China as imminent, and sug- gested that it might be to the interest of the United States to become a party to the contest, at least to the extent of making demand, accompanied by the display of a naval force, for terms in every respect as advan- tageous as those England might obtain. 1 John Quincy Adams a few years later, in a public address, declared that the conduct of the Chinese authorities justified

1 The official documents relating to Lord Napier's commission will be found in the British Blue Book, or Parliamentary papers, of the period. They are quite fully reproduced with all the details of the affair in 3 Chinese Repository, 143, 186, 235, 280, 324 ; 11 Ib. 25, 65. See, also, Williams's Hist. China, chap. iii. ; 47 N. A. Review, 403 ; Consul Shilla- ber, September 25, 1834, Consular Archives.


64 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

war on the part of Great Britain. But the British cabinet failed to approve the action of Lord Napier, and stated that it was its purpose not to establish com- mercial intercourse with China by force, but by concil- iatory measures.

i This occurrence strengthened the Chinese government 5 in its policy of exclusion and of maintaining the trade {regulations. It has been seen in the extracts from the 'edicts and its conduct towards Lord Napier that it re- garded all foreign nations as subject to the emperor, ,and that their officials could only approach and hold /intercourse with his authorities as vassals. So strongly was this policy imbedded in the imperial system that it could only be eradicated by the rude argument of force. War with Great Britain was for the time de- ferred, but the treatment of his Majesty's commission had its influence on the decision of the British govern- ment a few years later to resort to hostilitj^jjt^iit^^to .be gegretted r ioji^the jsake of our Christian civilization, that the conflict which came Tn


" Opium War/' could not have had as just a provoca- tion as that growing out of this insult to the British nation and the death of its representative.

Opium was introduced into China in the thirteenth century by the Arabs, but its use was confined exclu- I sively to medicinal purposes, as in most other countries, and when the European ships began to visit the East it had no importance as merchandise. As late as 1773, when the Portuguese were supplanted in the supremacy of the market by the English, the importation of the drug had never exceeded 200 chests annually. As a


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 65

result of the victory of Clive at Plassy, the British East India Company secured the exclusive privilege of opium cultivation, and it soon became its most impor- tant article of exportation. Three years after the East India Company obtained this monopoly, its importation to China had increased five fold, and in 1790 it had mounted up to 4000 chests, or twenty fold. 1

By that time it was fast coming into popular use for self-indulgence as a narcotic, and its evil effects were so apparent in the vicinity of Canton that the governor of the province memorialized the emperor for its exclu- sion. He stated that it was " a subject of deep regret that the vile dirt of foreign countries should be received in exchange for the commodities and money of the em- pire, . . . and that the practice of smoking opium should spread among the people of the inner land, to the waste of their time and destruction of their pro- perty." In response to this memorial the emperor issued an edict in 1796 prohibiting its importation, and thence- forward the imperial authorities sought to suppress the traffic. The governor of Canton, in making proclama- tion to the foreign traders of this prohibition, told them that the Celestial Empire did not presume to forbid the people of the West to use opium and extend the habit in their dominions; " but," he said, v **4hat-opiuiiy;hould flow into this country where vagabonds clandestinely .purchase and eat it, and continually become sunk in the most stupid and besotted state, so as to cut down the powers of nature and destroy life, is an injury to the minds and manners of men of the greatest magnitude ;

1 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article, Opium.


AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

and therefore opium is most rigorously prohibited by law.

he profits on the sale of the article were so large that, notwithstanding the interdiction, the importation continued to grow. The supply came exclusively from India and every chest bore upon it the stamp of the East India Company, as its sale in India was a govern- ment monopoly. The trade was encouraged by that

j company, regardless of the fact that it had been made unlawful by imperial edict, and British ships were mainly used in its transportation, although those of other nationalities were to a limited extent engaged in it. Between 1820 and 1830 the importation to China had risen to 17,000 chests, and the smuggling was con- ducted along the coast from Tientsin to Hainan. Such a large and extended trade could not be carried on without the complicity or connivance of the local au-

\ thorities, and it was apparent that the customs officials and even others higher in power were reaping private gain from the smuggling. 1

The ineffectual efforts of the government to suppress the importation of opium led many intelligent Chinese to advocate its legalization under strict regulations as to its domestic sale, and memorials to that effect were sent to the emperor ; but the court at Peking was so thoroughly satisfied that the use was a national evil of alarming proportions that it refused to listen to sugges- tions for a license system. While many mandarins at the ports were compromised in the illicit traffic, there is no doubt that the moral power of the empire sym-

i 6 Chinese Repository, 513 ; 7 Ib. 162 ; 2 Hist, China, Gutzlaff, 217.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 67

pathized with and supported the emperor in his sincere and earnest efforts for its suppression.

More stringent orders were sent to Canton on the subject, and the arrests for violation of the prohibitory law became more frequent. One that attracted much <.' attention was that of a Mr. Innes, a British merchant, and a Mr. Talbot, an American, in 1838, charged with complicity in the landing of opium at the factories. Both men were ordered to be expelled ; but the Ameri- can, upon investigation, was declared innocent. Owing to the hesitation of the British superintendent to exe- cute the order of expulsion of Innes, a strong feeling of resentment was stirred up in the Chinese population, and the factories were threatened with mob violence. To show that the authorities regarded the foreign mer- chants as responsible for the opium traffic, they ordered a Chinese who had been detected in receiving the drug to be executed in the foreign quarter, and the officials were in the act of carrying into effect the sentence of strangulation of the culprit in front of the American consulate when they were driven away by a sudden on- slaught of the foreign merchants. A short time after- wards another execution was successfully performed on the factory premises, which so outraged the residents that the consuls of all nations hauled down their flags, and for a time the trade was entirely suspended. 1

At this period it would seem that the unlawful im- portation had become so open and notorious that the opium, which had in previous years been smuggled into

1 For full report by U. S. Consul Snow, H. Ex. Doc. 119, p. 2, 26th Cong. 1st Sess.



68 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

the province from Lintin, at the mouth of the river, was now being brought into the foreign factories, and its introduction effected with the knowledge of the officials. \ The American consul reported that the amount imported in 1838 was about thirty-five thousand chests, of the value of $17,000,000. The emperor, learning that his edicts were not being properly enforced, determined to resort to more radical measures, and selecting one of his most trusted and energetic viceroys, Lin, he dis- patched him to Canton as a special commissioner, bear- ing the great seal of the emperor, with full powers to iput a stop to the importation, sale, and use of the vicious and hated drug.

It is said that the commissioner received his instruc- tions in person from the emperor, who recounted to him the evils that had long afflicted his children by means of the " flowing poison," and, adverting to the future, paused and wept ; then turning to the commis- sioner, said, " How, alas ! can I die and go to the shades of my imperial father and ancestors until these direful evils are removed ? " l Within a few days after his arrival Lin issued an edict, especially directed to the foreign merchants, in which he said that the emperor's wrath had " been fearfully aroused, nor will it rest till Uhe evil be utterly extirpated." He thereupon ordered

that the further importation of opium cease, under

penalty of death, and that all of the unlawful article in their possession be delivered up to the authorities.

This order spread consternation among the mer- chants, the greater part of whom were engaged in the 1 H. Ex. Doc. 119 (cited), p. 13; 7 Chinese Repository, 610.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 69

illicit business. After some days of delay and negotiation through the hong merchants, fully determined to have every chest of opium on the ships or in the factories delivered up, Commissioner Lin caused the factory set- tlement to be entirely surrounded. On the water side were stationed a fleet of armed boats, and on the land side a double row of soldiers, while all the streets were walled up, leaving only one exit. The books and ac- counts of the merchants were seized ; the Chinese clerks and servants were taken from them ; no intercourse was allowed with the outside world, even the supply of provisions was cut off ; and the foreigners were held in their factories as strict prisoners. The British superin- tendent protested and threatened, but to no purpose. At last he delivered over to the Chinese authorities every chest of opium in the settlement, amounting to 22,283 chests, of the estimated value of $8,000,000. Of this number 1540 chests were held by the American merchants, but the consul reported that they were all British property, and as such surrendered to the British f superintendent.

After the delivery of the opium, trade was again ;* opened ; but under the direction of the superintendent all the British residents left Canton. The American consul sympathized with the British in this movement ; but his countrymen did not see proper to follow that course of action, and remained in Canton actively en- gaged in business till the British blockade of the port was established. The blockade and active hostilities did not begin till about a year after these events ; but the British government at once began warlike prepara-




70 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

tions to avenge what it alleged to be the insult to its representative and the destruction of the property of its subjects.

The British superintendent, upon delivering up the opium, communicated to his home government his con- viction that the Chinese authorities would cause the confiscated property to be sold, and profit by the sale ; but the entire quantity was wholly and completely de- stroyed, and for the time being an end was put to the hateful traffic. The commissioner had thoroughly exe- cuted the orders of his sovereign, but in doing so he had initiated a conflict with the Western powers which was destined to vex the empire for many years to come, and ultimately to transform its relations with the out- world. 1

It is beyond the scope of this volume to enter upon a detailed account of the " Opium War." No formal declaration of war was made by the British government, and no official explanation of its cause or purpose was given to the public other than an order in council to the Admiralty, stating that " satisfaction and reparation for the late injurious proceedings of certain officers of the emperor of China against certain of our officers and subjects shall be demanded from the Chinese gov- ernment." A blockade of Canton was established June 22, 1840, and hostilities began July 5. After some indecisive operations along the coast, the fortifications which defended Canton were destroyed, and that city

1 For American consul's report and official documents, H. Ex. Doc. 119 (cited), 13-85. For chronological order of events and citation of docu- ments, 11 Chinese Repository, 345, 401.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 71

was ransomed from assault by the payment of $6,000,- 000. Amoy, Ningpo, and Shanghai successively fell into British hands. Chinkiang was taken by assault, sacked, and destroyed with horrible slaughter. Nanking was invested, and when about to be attacked the Chinese sued for peace.

All the boasted prowess of their generals had come \ to naught. They had been overwhelmingly defeated 'j! in every encounter with the British, and to save their | ancient capital from destruction the emperor's pleni- j potentiaries made haste to accept the terms dictated by j the victors. The treaty, signed August 29, 1842, pro- vided for the opening of the ports of Canton, Arnoy, Fuchau (Foo-chow), Ningpo, and Shanghai to British trade and residence ; the island of Hongkong was ceded ; $21,000,000 was to be paid as a war indemnity, of which $6,000,000 was for the opium destroyed, and $3,000,000 for debts due British subjects ; a tariff of import and export duties was to be agreed upon, and official correspondence was to be conducted on terms of equality. 1

A singular feature of the treaty was that no attempt was made in it to adjust the matter which had been the immediate occasion of the war, the importation of opium. After the treaty was signed it appears that there was some discussion of the subject between the negotiators, initiated by the British plenipotentiary, who

1 For treaty, see Treaties, Conventions, etc., Chinese Customs Edition, 107; for documentary history of the war, Chinese Repository, vols. 8 to 12 ; China during the War, etc., Sir John F. Davis, London, 1852 ; Nar- rative of Events in China, by Captain G. G. Loch, London, 1843 ; Wil- liams' s Hist. China, chap. iv.


72


AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT


\


referred to " the great cause which produced the dis- turbances which led to the war, viz., the trade in opium." The Chinese plenipotentiaries asked why the British " would not act fairly towards them by prohibiting the growth of the poppy in their dominions, and thus effec- tually stop a traffic so pernicious to the human race." The British answer was that this could not be done in consistency with their constitutional laws; that even if they ceased to bring opium to China the Chinese would irocure the drug from some other source ; and that it r ould be better to legitimatize the importation under >roper regulations. But the Chinese replied that " their imperial master would never listen to a word on that subject." And after the war the illicit practice con- tinued, to the physical and moral injury of the Chinese, and to the great financial profit of the British. 1

The moral aspects of the war were at the time and have been since much discussed. The general judg- ment may be stated to be in condemnation of the British for the encouragement and maintenance of the trade, so injurious to the Chinese people, and so strongly con- demned by their authorities. They were not justified in inaugurating hostilities because of the seizure and destruction of the opium, an article made contraband by the laws of China and subject to confiscation. On the other hand, a conflict was recognized as inevitable and necessary to compel the Chinese government to treat other nations and their officials upon terms of equality,

1 Narrative of Events, etc., by Captain Loch, 173 ; 1 China during the War, etc., by Davis, 18. As to condition of trade after the war, 2 Mont- gomery Martin's China, chap. vi.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 73

and to establish intercourse with the world in accordance with modern methods. Dr. W. A. P. Martin, a close student of Chinese affairs and a resident of the country for half a century, says that nothing could be more erroneous than to charge England with waging the war for the sole purpose of compelling the Chinese to keep an open market for the product of her Indian poppy- fields ; but he adds, referring to the treatment of Lord Napier in 1834 and to other similar events, " interest had to combine with indignation before she could be aroused to action." Dr. Nevius, an American missionary long a resident of China, wrote : " Justifiable or not, it [the Opium War] was made use of in God's providence to j inaugurate a new era in our relations with this vast empire."

John Quincy Adams, in the address referred to be- fore the Massachusetts Historical Society in November, 1841, took the ground that Great Britain was entirely justified in the war. The prevailing sentiment in the United States will be seen by the following extracts from Mr. Adams's diary : " Nov. 20, 1841. They [the Parliamentary papers] all confirm me in the view taken in my lecture . . . which is so adverse to the prevail- ing prejudices of the time and place that I expect to bring down a storm upon my head worse than that with which I am already afflicted." He records the refusal "in a very delicate manner" of the North American Review to publish the lecture, and adds, December 3, 1841, " The excitement of public opinion and feeling by the delivery of this lecture far exceeds


74 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT


any expectation that I had formed ; although I did expect that it would be considerable." 1

The British historian, Justin McCarthy, says : " Re- duced to plain words, the principle for which we fought in the China War was the right of Great Britain to force a peculiar trade upon a foreign people in spite of the protestations of the government and all such public opinion as there was of the nation." He proceeds to say that during the controversy, on some questions the British government was in the right, and on them had the issue been joined war might have been justified. " But no considerations of this kind can now hide from our eyes the fact that in the beginning and the very origin of the quarrel we were distinctly in the wrong. We asserted, or at least acted on the assertion of, a claim so unreasonable and even monstrous that it never could have been made upon any nation strong enough to render its assertion a matter of serious responsi- bility." 2

The government of the United States was not un- mindful of the interests of its citizens during the con- test, and it kept a naval squadron continuously in Chinese waters until some months after the conclu- sion of peace. The commanding officer, Commodore Kearny, exhibited both firmness and skill in his inter- course with the authorities, and induced the governor

1 Martin's Cathay, 21 ; China and the Chinese, by John L. Nevius, New York, 1869, p. 300; 11 Memoirs of J. Q. Adams, 30, 31. For Adams's address, Boston Transcript, Nov. 24, 1841 ; 11 Chinese Reposi- tory, 274.

2 1 A History of Our Own Times, by Justin McCarthy, London, 1879, pp. 165, 166.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 75

of Canton to pay damages to the amount of several hundred thousand dollars for injuries suffered by Amer- icans during the war on account of mob violence and illegal arrests. But he rendered a much more valu- able service to his own and other nations, and for which he has received scant credit. By the British treaty it was provided that a tariff and new trade regu- lations should be agreed upon. On learning of this provision, Commodore Kearny addressed a communi- cation to the governor of Canton, in which, referring to the expected arrival at that place of the imperial commissioners to arrange commercial affairs with the British, he asked that citizens of the United States in their trade should " be placed upon the same footing as the merchants of the nation most favored." In previous correspondence the governor had borne testi- mony to the fact that the American merchants at Can- ton had confined themselves " to legitimate and honor- able trade," and in his reply to the commodore he said of them, " that they have been respectfully observant of the laws is what the august emperor has clearly recognized, and I, the governor, also well know. . . . Decidedly it shall not be permitted that the American merchants shall come to have merely a dry stick" that is, their interests shall be attended to. And he assured the commodore that the emperor would be memorialized, in order that the imperial commissioners might be instructed on the subject.

Having received these assurances from the governor, Kearny prepared to take his departure, whereupon the American consul protested that he should not leave


76 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

until the commissioners arrived, as the presence of a large man-of-war in the vicinity would have a beneficial effect upon the deliberations. He urged that " the magnitude of our trade . . . of far greater extent than the whole South American trade/' called for special attention at that critical time. The commodore was induced to remain for seven months longer, and had the great satisfaction of receiving the assurance from the commissioners that American citizens should par- ticipate equally with the British in the new tariff and trade regulations. Of this matter a member of the British commission wrote : " The Chinese government promised, on the representation of the American com- modore, Kearny, previous to the treaty of Nanking, that whatever concessions were made to the English should also be granted to the United States. The throwing open the ports of China to Europe and America was not, therefore, the result of our policy, but had its origin in the anxious forethought of the Americans, lest we might stipulate for some exclusive privileges." It is pleasing to have the testimony of so high an authority to the efficient and useful service of an American officer.

In accordance with the British treaty, the new tariff, averaging the low rate of about five per centum, and the trade regulations, were put into operation by a notable proclamation of the imperial commissioner. " The tariff of duties," he announced, " will take effect with reference to the commerce with China of all coun- tries, as well as of England. Henceforth the weapons


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 77

of war shall forever be laid aside, and joy and profit shall be the perpetual lot of all." *

It is due to the Chinese government to say that this grant of trade to all nations upon equal terms was an inspiration of its own sense of justice, as neither the emperor nor his commissioner had any knowledge of the rule of international law, " the most favored nation," at that day even imperfectly observed by the Christian governments. With this proclamation the monopoly of the co-hong and the old system ceased to exist, and modern commercial methods began to be practiced in the great empire.

It was not difficult to see that the results of the Anglo-Chinese war must result in benefit to the com- merce of the world, and the government of the United States was not slow to take advantage of it at the proper time. The consul at Canton had at the outset of hostilities suggested that a favorable time to open negotiations for a commercial treaty was near at hand. The merchants of Boston interested in China about the same time transmitted a memorial to Congress asking that a strong naval force be sent to watch the progress of the war and protect American commerce, but they urged that no envoy be sent to China to negotiate until the war was concluded and its results made known. Dr. Peter Parker, who had spent some years in China as a medical missionary, was in Washington, and in April, 1841, he urged Secretary Webster to send

1 S. Ex. Doc. 139, 29th Cong. 1st Sess. For Mr. dialling's views, S. Ex. Doc. 67, p. 101, 28th Cong. 2d Sess. ; 1 Montgomery Martin's China, 414 ; 12 Chinese Repository, 443.


78 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

a minister to that country, and consulted John Quincy Adams as to his willingness to go, telling him that Mr. Gushing and other members of the Committee on For- eign Affairs had suggested his name. Mr. Adams replied that if his name was to be considered he could not support the motion in the House for an appropria- tion, and that he regarded action at that time as pre- mature. 1

On the assembling of Congress after receipt of the news of the treaty of peace with Great Britain, the President, December 30, 1842, sent a special message to that body, giving information as to the terms of the treaty, and recommending that an appropriation be made to enable the executive to dispatch a special mission to that country to negotiate a treaty of com- merce. The message, which was written by Daniel Webster, then Secretary of State, is an able statement of the importance of such a mission and of the relation of the United States to the Orient. While the subject was pending in Congress the selection of a proper per- son to send at the head of the mission was much con- sidered. The President in his message had said that in view of the importance of the object, "a citizen of much intelligence and weight of character should be employed," and to secure the services of such an indi- vidual a compensation should be made corresponding with the magnitude and importance of the mission.

Congress soon made the necessary appropriation, and Mr. Webster, who was uncomfortable in the cabinet of

1 H. Doc. 170,26th Cong. 1st Sess. ; 10 Memoirs of J. Q. Adams, 188 ; 10Ib.444.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 79

President Tyler, and was seeking a creditable means of escape from his position, induced the President to nom- inate Edward Everett, then minister to Great Britain, for the special mission to China, expecting to succeed him at the court of St. James. But Mr. Everett pre- ferred to remain in London, and another nomination had to be made. The choice fell upon Caleb Gushing, a member of Congress from Massachusetts. 1

Mr. Everett was a gentleman of refined manners, and If possessed a highly cultured mind, but Mr. Gushing, a If shrewd lawyer and a plain-spoken man, was better fitted ^\ to cope with Chinese diplomacy.

Associated with Mr. Gushing was Fletcher Webster, son of the Secretary of State, as secretary of the lega- tion, and Dr. Peter Parker and Kev. E. C. Bridgman, a missionary of Canton, were made Chinese secretaries. A surgeon was also attached to the legation, and five young men accompanied it as attaches. Mr. Webster, in his letter of instructions, had said that " a number of young gentlemen have applied to be unpaid attaches to the mission. It will add dignity and importance to the occasion, if your suite could be made respectable in numbers, by accepting such offers of attendance with- out expense to the government." A squadron of one frigate, a sloop of war, and a steam frigate, was placed at the service of Mr. Gushing by the Secretary of the Navy to convey the members of the mission to China. He thus went to his post with muet more display than has been usual with American diploma~7~Tmd it is

1 4 Presidents' Messages, 211 ; A Century of American Diplomacy, by John W. Foster, Boston, 1900, pp. 289, 296.


80 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

stated that on his arrival at Macao he established him- self in the house of a former Portuguese governor, and created " a profound sensation in the colony by the novelty and magnitude of his mission as well as by his attractive personal qualities;" although he reports somewhat regretfully the arrival at Canton, just after he had completed his mission, of a French embassy, " arranged on a scale of much greater expense than that of the United States," and well adapted for the object of making a strong impression on the minds of the Chinese. 1

The letter of instructions was signed by Mr. Web- ster, and it shows his wide grasp of public questions. He referred to the recent occurrences in China as likely to be of much importance as well to the United States as to the rest of the civilized world. He anti- cipated that the imperial government would not be prepared to enter into close political relations ; that the mission would be only friendly and commercial in its objects ; and he dwelt at some length upon the already considerable commerce and the possibility of its enlarge- ment. Mr. Gushing was instructed to explain the geo- graphical situation of the United States, to state that its aims were free from territorial aggrandizement or ag- gression, and that neither he nor his government would encourage or protect its citizens in violating the laws of China as to trade. He w,as.also to .make clear that the United States would insist upon equality in intercourse, ^ he was not a " tribute-bearer," and that it was not

1 S. Doc. 138, 28th Cong. 2d Sess. p. 6; Life and Letters of S. Wells Williams, by F. W. Williams, New York, 1889, p. 126.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 81

the practice of his government either to give^ or receive ""ptesentSi^., He was directed to reach Peking, if possible, in order to place the letter of the President to the em- peror into the hands of that sovereign, or of some high official in his presence, and to consult the national pride as far as possible, but under no circumstances to do any act that would imply the inferiority of his government. It was expected that he would make a treaty similar to that of Great Britain, and if he was able to make one containing fuller stipulations, it would be conducting Chinese intercourse one step further towards the prin- ciples which regulate the public relations of the Euro- pean and American states.

While the letter of instructions was dignified and able, the letter signed by the President and addressed to the emperor of China fell much below that charac- ter. In the interval between Mr. Cushing's appoint- ment and his departure, Mr. Webster had retired, and the Department of State passed through ad interim hands, during which time the letter of the President to the emperor was drafted. Its merit may be seen from the following extracts :

" I, John Tyler, President of the United States of America which States are [here follow the list] send you this letter of peace and friendship, signed by my own hand.

" I hope your health is good. China is a great em- ' pire, extending over a great part of the earth. The Chinese are numerous. You have millions and millions of subjects. The twenty-six United States are as large . as China, though our people are not so numerous. The< ,



82 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

rising sun looks upon the great mountains and rivers f China. When he sets, he looks upon rivers and ountains equally large in the United States. . . . ow my words are, that the governments of two such eat countries should be at peace. It is proper, and ording to the will of Heaven, that we should respect ach other, and act wisely. I therefore send to you jCount Caleb Gushing, one of the wise and learned men bf this country. On his arrival in your country, he will inquire for your health. . . . Our minister is au- thorized to make a treaty to regulate trade. Let it be ust. Let there be no unfair advantage on either side. . . And so may your health be good, and may peace reign." 1

The American squadron bearing Mr. Gushing and his suite anchored off the Portuguese port of Macao February 24, 1844. On the 27th he sent a letter to the governor-general of the provinces, of which Canton is the capital, informing him that he had arrived, hold- ing a commission from the President of the United States to negotiate, with a like commissioner of the emperor of China, a treaty to regulate the intercourse between the two countries ; that he was on his way to Peking to deliver to the emperor a letter from the Pre- sident ; but that as his vessels must be detained a few days at Macao before proceeding to the Pei-ho, he em- braced the occasion to address the governor-general, as the nearest authority, to express the most ardent wishes of his government and himself for the health, the hap- piness, the prosperity, and the long life of his Imperial

i S. Doc. 138, pp. 1, 8, 28th Cong. 2d Sess.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 83

Majesty ; and he asked of his excellency the favor to be immediately informed of the well-being of the em- peror in order that he might communicate it to the President.

This communication initiated a correspondence which continued for three months. The Chinese are accom- plished letter writers, but the governor-general found in the astute American lawyer quite a match for him- self. The governor responded to Mr. Cushing's first note, in which the latter " truly, sincerely, and respect- fully inquired after the health and happiness of the August Emperor, which evinced respectful obedience, and politeness exceedingly to be praised ; " and he in- formed him that the great emperor was in the enjoy- ment of happy old age and quiet health, and was at peace with all, both far and near. But as to going to Peking, it was not to be thought of till, waiting outside, the " August Emperor's will " had been ascertained ; that for a man-of-war to go hastily to Tientsin was " to put an end to civility, and to rule without harmony ; " that if the business was to negotiate about trade, the emperor must appoint a commissioner to come to the frontier ; and that the American envoy should await at Macao till the emperor was advised of his mission and his wishes were made known.

Mr. Gushing replied that the Chinese government had been notified by the American consul several months in advance that he was to arrive for the pur- pose of negotiating a treaty, 1 and if it had been the desire of the emperor to negotiate at the frontier, he

1 Consul Forbes, Oct. 7, 1843, Consular Archives.


84 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

would have sent a commissioner to Canton for that pur- pose ; that he had been instructed to go to Peking and deliver the President's letter to the emperor ; and if the governor did not think it prudent for him to go to Tientsin in a warship, he was ready to proceed to the capital overland.

The governor, in response to this proposition, said the way was long overland, the crossing of the rivers was inconvenient, and he desired to save the American envoy the great trouble and weariness the journey would occasion him ; that he would notify the august emperor of the envoy's arrival, and memorialize the throne for the appointment of a commissioner ; and that in the mean time he should " tranquillize himself " at Macao, as otherwise his movements might eventuate in the loss of the invaluable blessing of peace.

There seemed nothing else for Mr. Gushing to do but accept the situation, nevertheless he found enough to occupy the months consumed in learning the emperor's will. The commander of the flagship, the Brandywine, thought to take a sail up the river to Canton, but he was stopped at Whampoa, and ordered to return to the anchorage at Macao. Mr. Gushing protested that it was only a friendly visit, but he was told that the Brit- ish governor of Hongkong after the peace, in making a visit to Canton, left his ship at the mouth of the river and came up in a small boat ; that the commander of the Brandywine must do likewise, and by a return of his ship to Macao he would obey the fixed laws of the land, and exhibit the courteous friendliness subsisting between the two nations.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 85

After two and a half months had passed, Mr. Gush- ing was advised of the emperor's decision. " America never as yet having gone through with presenting trib- ute/' the coming to Tientsin and the capital to nego- tiate would he irregular ; that he had appointed as high commissioner with the imperial seal, Tsiyeng (or Kiying) ; and that he was traveling with all speed to Canton to meet the American plenipotentiary. The appointment of Tsiyeng was a happy one, as he pos- sessed fully the emperor's confidence, and had shown his fitness for the work in the supplementary treaty as to trade which he had a few months before agreed upon with the British plenipotentiary.

On the 9th of June Mr. Gushing received a letter from Tsiyeng, advising him of his arrival in Canton, and added that " in a few days we shall take each other by the hand, and converse and rejoice together with indescribable delight." In view of the many delays and tergiversations experienced, doubtless Mr. Gushing accepted this as a somewhat exaggerated figure of speech. But his relations with Tsiyeng proved in the main quite satisfactory. Only one untoward incident need be noticed. In the address of two of the com- munications of the commissioner, the name of the Chi- nese government stood higher in column by one char- acter than that of the United States, a Chinese method of indicating the relative dignity of the parties to a correspondence. Mr. Gushing returned the letters with an expression of his belief that his excellency would " see the evident propriety of adhering to the form of


86 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

national equality." Tsiyeng immediately caused the address to be corrected and returned. 1

The Chinese high commissioner and his suite arrived at Macao on June 16. After a few days spent in the exchange of visits and social courtesies, the formal nego- tiations were opened on the 21st, by the submission of a draft of treaty proposed by Mr. Gushing. The Sec- retary, Mr. Webster, and the two Chinese secretaries of the legation met three members of the Chinese embassy, and discussed the project in detail, with occasional con- ferences between Mr. Gushing and Tsiyeng. The treaty was concluded without any serious difficulty, and pre- liminary to its signature a dinner was given to the Chi- nese embassy at the house of the American legation, attended by the American ladies residing at Macao.

On July 3, 1844, the treaty was signed at the temple occupied by the Chinese embassy, in a suburb of Macao called Wang Hiya. The ceremony of signing was a simple one, the members of the legation and embassy being the only witnesses, and no presents were made. After the execution of the treaty, an entertainment was served by the Chinese, and congratulations were exchanged on the speedy and happy issue of the nego- tiations. A singular fact attended these events. Mr. Gushing had not set foot on Chinese territory nor had he had personal intercourse with a single high Chinese official except the embassy up to the time of signing the treaty, and that instrument had been negotiated and executed on foreign (Portuguese) territory.

1 For full correspondence, S. Ex. Doc. 67, pp. 2-38, 28th Cong. 2d

Sess.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 87

Mr. Gushing having abandoned the idea of going to Peking, the letter of the President to the emperor of China was delivered to Tsiyeng at the time of signing the treaty, upon his assurance that he would respect- fully forward it to his august sovereign.

In transmitting a copy of the treaty to the Secretary of State, Mr. Gushing pointed out sixteen particulars in which his treaty contained provisions not embraced in the British treaty negotiated at the conclusion of the war. In his dispatch he says : " I ascribe all possible honor to the ability displayed by Sir Henry Pottinger in China, and to the success which attended his nego- tiations 5 and I recognize the debt of gratitude which the United States and all other nations owe to England, for what she has accomplished in China. From all this much benefit has accrued to the United States. But, in return, the treaty of Wang Hiya, in the new pro- visions it makes, confers a great benefit on the com- merce of the British empire ; . . . and thus whatever progress either government makes in opening this vast empire to the influence of foreign commerce is for the common good of each other and of all Christendom." l

One of the most important of the provisions of the Cushing treaty was that relating to what is known in international law as " exterritoriality," as applied to non-Christian countries. This principle had been ob- served to a limited extent for many years between the European and Mohammedan countries ; but in this treaty it was broadened and made more explicit by the

1 For text of treaty, see Treaties and Conventions of United States, 144 ; for correspondence, S. Ex. Doc. 67 cited, pp. 38, 77.


88 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

skill of an able lawyer. In criminal cases the offender was to be tried by the laws and authorities of his own country. In civil cases between American citizens in China their consuls were to have exclusive jurisdiction, and civil cases between Americans and Chinese were to be adjusted by the joint action of the authorities of the two nations.

On this subject Mr. Gushing' s position was that Western nations could not make civilization the test of uality of intercourse, for it was impossible to deny to ina a high degree of civilization, though, in many pects, differing from theirs ; but it is such as to give her as complete a title to the appellation of civilized, many, if not most, of the states of Christendom can In an exhaustive review of the subject to the ecretary of State, he said : " I entered China with the formed general conviction, that the United States ought not to concede to any foreign state, under any circumstances, jurisdiction over the life and liberty of any citizen of the United States, unless that foreign state be of our own family of nations ; in a word, a Christian state. The states of Christendom are bound ^together by treaties, which confer mutual rights and I prescribe reciprocal obligations. . . . How different the condition of things out of the limits of Christendom. ... As between them and us, there is no community of ideas, no common law of nations, no interchange of good offices." To none of the governments of this character did it seem to him safe to commit the lives and liberties of citizens of the United States.

The privilege of exterritoriality had a very early



THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 89

origin, but in its modern application it may be traced to the time of the occupation of Constantinople by Mohammed II., when he freely gave to the Christian residents substantially the same privileges they had previously enjoyed. It was done as much for the con- venience of the sovereign as for the foreign powers. As early as the ninth century the Chinese granted special privileges to the Arabs, who built a mosque at Canton and were governed by their own laws. During the intercourse of the Cantonese authorities with Euro- peans up to the time of the Opium War, the latter were not interfered with except in criminal acts against Chi- nese. The Portuguese at Macao were given local self- government, and the consuls in the foreign settlement outside of Canton were permitted to exercise jurisdiction over their countrymen. Hence it was not difficult for Mr. Gushing to secure the large grant of treaty powers indicated. For the enforcement of these powers in for- eign countries Congress has passed various statutes. 1

His services in this respect gained for Mr. Gushing much credit, and his treaty, because of its fullness of detail and its clear statement of rights, became the leading authority in settling disputes between the Chi- nese and foreigners up to the- treaty revision of 1858- 1860. A high British authority of the period, already cited, writes : " The United States government in their treaty with China, and in vigilant protection of their

i S. Ex. Doc. 58, p. 4, 28th Cong. 2d Sess. ; Cushing's Opinion, 7 Opinions Attys. Genl. 342 ; President Angell in 6 Am. Hist. Review, Jan- uary, 1901, p. 255. An act was passed by the 30th Congress in 1848, see 9 U. S. Stat. at L. 276 ; also U. S. Revised Statutes, sects. 4083-4130.


90 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

subjects at Canton, have evinced far better diplomacy, and more attention to substantial interests than we have done, although it has not cost them as many groats as we have spent guineas, while their position in China is really more advantageous and respected than that of England, after all our sacrifices of blood and trea- sure." l

But it was not the good fortune of the American envoy to escape criticism entirely. His intercourse with the Chinese plenipotentiary seemed to have been of a very satisfactory character, but when Tsiyeng came to send his report to the emperor he was neither polite nor complimentary in the use of language, as the fol- lowing extracts from his memorial show: "The original copy of the treaty, presented by the said barbarian envoy, contained forty-seven stipulations. Of these some were difficult of execution, others foolish demands ; and the treaty was, moreover, so meanly and coarsely expressed, the words and sentences were so obscure, and there was such a variety of errors, that it was next to impossible to point them out. Your slave Tsiyeng,

I therefore, directed the treasurer Hwang and all the deputed mandarins to hold interviews with the Amer- icans for days together. We clearly pointed out what- ever was comprehensible to i^g^m^in^ nr ^pf ^ ffigppl

... their stujttd ignorance, and to put a stop to delusive hopes; ancT we werS~t>bliged to polish those passages which were scarcely intelligible. . . . Some points have been discussed more than a thousand times at least, others five or six times. It was then that the said bar-

1 Williams's Hist. China, 215 ; 1 Montgomery Martin's China, 428.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 91

barian envoy submitted to reason, and being at a loss what to say, was willing and agreed to have the objec- tionable clauses expunged." 1 An examination of Tsi- yeng's extended memorial shows that it was his own ignorance of international law and the usages of nations that made Mr. Gushing' s first treaty draft a labyrinth of mysteries to him. The latter, after he had con- cluded his negotiations, spoke of his Chinese colleague in high terms as " a liberal-minded statesman." Possi- bly Mr. Gushing might have modified his estimate of his character had he been aware of his report to the em- peror. It will be seen that Tsiyeng's later career did not justify it.

Although the special duty which brought Mr. Gush- ing to China had been accomplished in the signing of the treaty, he remained for some time to care for the interests of the American residents. Among other matters he concerted an arrangement with the gov- ernor-general for the extension of the grounds of his countrymen at Canton, the construction of a solid wall about the factories, the erection of gates to the foreign settlement, and the establishment of an efficient police for its protection and the enforcement of sanitary regu- lations.

The coming of the mission was the innocent cause of much trouble to the Cantonese and foreign residents, for the squadron which bore it also brought to the American consul a new flagstaff and weather-vane. About the time of its erection sickness prevailed to an unusual extent in Canton and its vicinity, and it was

1 1 Montgomery Martin's China, 424.


92 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

attributed to the evil effects of the weather-vane. The feeling became so intense that the consulate was threat- ened by a mob, and in order to quell the excitement the weather-vane had to be removed. The native gentry, appreciating the conciliatory action of the con- sul, issued a proclamation to the people to quiet their animosity, in which they described the vane "which shot towards all quarters, thereby causing serious im- pediment to the felicity and good fortunes of the land." Commending the conduct of the consul and his countrymen, the proclamation closes thus : " Having shown themselves obliging, we ought to excuse them. Henceforth, we sincerely pray that all may be at peace, and thus looking up we may participate in our emper- or's earnest desire to regard people from afar with compassion."

While the negotiations for the treaty were in progress at Macao a mob assaulted the foreign settlement, and in self-defense a party of Americans fired upon the assailants and a Chinaman was killed. The authorities demanded the delivery of the party firing the fatal shot, and a correspondence ensued between Mr. Gushing and Tsiyeng. A jury of Americans, impaneled by the consul, examined the affair and decided that it was clearly an act of self-defense, and Mr. Gushing induced the authorities to accept this investigation as a satisfac- tory form of trial. It is noted as the first criminal case in China after the negotiation of the treaties in which the practice of exterritoriality was recognized. 1

1 13 Chinese Repository, 276 ; S. Ex. Doc. 67, p. 62, cited ; 1 Mont- gomery Martin's China, 413.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 93

Severe criticism has been passed upon Mr. Gushing for not executing the instructions of his government to go to Peking, and, upon his arrival at Canton, for permit- ting himself to be diverted from his announced inten- tion to proceed to Tientsin with his naval squadron. He evidently felt the force of this criticism, as he mad his action in this regard the subject of several dis- patches to the Secretary of State. Ikis-appar^nt f rom the correspondence that he could not have persisted in his purpose to go to Tientsin without awakening the suspicion, if not hostility, of the Chinese ; neither would he have been permitted to hold audience with the emperor at Peking, without submitting to indigni- ties in conflict with his instructions and his own sense of independence and honor. The main purpose of his mission was to secure a treaty to protect Americans in their commerce. This he successfully accomplished. He would possibly have failed in this object had he gone to Tientsin. A British writer says, that upon the arrival of the French embassy, with a large naval force, the French envoy proposed to Mr. Gushing to go jointly to Tientsin, and insist upon an audience of the emperor. 1 Mr. Gushing makes no mention of this in his correspondence, but if such a proposition was made he acted wisely in declining it. His treaty had already been signed with a cordial exchange of con- gratulations, and a hostile demonstration so near the capital would have been justly interpreted by the Chi- nese as a breach of good faith.

1 S. Ex. Doc. 67, pp. 32, 34, 39, 58 ; 1 Montgomery Martin's China, 424.



94 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

On August 27, 1844, just six months after his arrival, Mr. Gushing sailed from Macao, for San Bias, Mexico, whence he proceeded overland to Vera Cruz, and thence to Washington.

The man who so skillfully conducted the negotiations which initiated the diplomatic intercourse of the United States with the great empire of China calls for more than a passing notice. He was a unique figure in American political affairs, and occupied a prominent place before the public for more than forty years. After graduating at Harvard College he devoted him- self to the law, and began public life as a Jeffersonian Democrat ; he successively held the offices of member of the legislature, member of congress, and justice of the supreme court of Massachusetts ; joined the Whig party in the campaign of 1840 ; transferred his party allegiance to Tyler on the death of Harrison as Presi- dent ; for many years was an ardent Democrat, strongly supporting the Mexican war, in which he was a general ; a faithful adherent of the Southern wing of the party at the Charleston and Baltimore conventions, which nominated Breckinridge as the proslavery candidate for President in 1860 ; became a supporter of Lincoln and the Union cause ; a follower of President Johnson, and again a Eepublican during the Grant administra- tion. Thrice was he nominated by Tyler as Secretary of the Treasury and thrice rejected by the Senate ; he held the post of Attorney-General under Pierce; and was three times minister to foreign countries ; and his last public duty was as counsel, associated with Evarts and Waite, before the Geneva tribunal of arbitration.


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 95

No man of his time had such a checkered political career.

He was an accomplished scholar, and one of the ablest lawyers in the United States. Few men of his genera- tion rendered such important services to his country. Yet, notwithstanding his acknowledged abilities, his character was not such as to command public confi- dence. He was nominated by President Grant to be chief justice of the supreme court, but the Senate failed to confirm him. He is one of several examples in American history, where moral obliquity has, in the judgment of the American people, been an obstacle to a public man's preferment.

The negotiation of a treaty with France soon followed that made with the United States in 1844, and both the Chinese and foreigners began to adapt themselves to the new conditions. But more or less trouble was experi- enced at all of the five treaty ports and more especially at Canton. Here the unruly population resisted the proclamation, issued by the governor-general in execu- tion of the treaties, to open the city to the intercourse of foreigners; riots occurred in which the American and other consulates and commercial houses were threat- ened, and the opposition continued so serious that the attempt to open the gates was abandoned, and Canton remained closed till the war of 1858. l In lieu of the observance of the treaties in this respect, the area of the foreign settlements outside the walls was enlarged, and in other respects the authorities manifested a fair degree of interest in the enforcement of the treaties.

1 15 Chinese Repository, 46, 364.


96 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

American commerce seemed to have received an im- pulse from the treaties. The arrivals of American ships in 1848 are reported as follows : 67 at Canton, 20 at Shanghai, and 8 at Amoy, standing first after the British. It is seen that Canton still held the bulk of the trade as against Shanghai, which was soon to become the centre of foreign commerce.

Upon the retirement of Mr. Gushing in 1845, Alex- ander H. Everett was appointed commissioner to China. He reached Canton in October, 1846, in ill health, and died at that place June 29, 1847. He had had large diplomatic experience, having been minister at St. Pe- tersburg, The Hague, and Madrid, and was a gentleman of high natural endowments and literary attainments. His death so soon after his arrival at his post was much lamented, and his obsequies were attended by all the foreign officials, diplomatic, consular, and military. His successor was John W. Davis, of Indiana.

The residence of the American diplomatic representa- tive was nominally in the foreign settlement outside the walls of Canton, but until the opening of Peking to the diplomatic representatives of the treaty powers in 1860 their residence was of a peripatetic character. The im- perial government delegated a high commissioner to re- side at Canton, with whom the foreign representatives were to hold diplomatic intercourse, but the sequel will show that audience with him was rarely attainable, and the diplomats found a residence at the Portuguese port of Macao more agreeable. The rising commercial im- portance of Shanghai led to frequent visits by them to that place, and Hongkong, where the British governor


THE FIRST CHINESE TREATIES 97

was established, was also found a convenient place of call or temporary sojourn. It required another war and the march of hostile armies into the Chinese cap- ital to open it to the visit and residence of the repre- sentatives of the foreign powers.