American Diplomacy in the Orient/Chapter VII
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA
BELYING upon the effect of the British war and the advantages secured by the treaties of China of 1842 and 1844 with Great Britain, the United States, and France, the Western nations looked hopefully forward to an era of friendly intercourse with the imperial government and one of great commercial prosperity. But they were destined to serious disappointment. Notwithstanding past experience they had failed to estimate properly the conservatism and arrogance of the Chinese.
Supported by a continuous history of several thou- sands of years, during which they had developed a high state of civilization, the Chinese felt that they had nothing to learn from the barbarian nations. Their recent intercourse with them led to the belief that the latter were influenced by mercenary and hostile motives, and that an increase of this intercourse would bring only evil results for their nation. They regarded theirs as the Middle Kingdom and all the outlying nations of the world as vassal and tributary to their celestial emperor. Although the superior military power of the Western nations had been demonstrated at Canton and a few other places on the coast, it had hardly pierced the outer rim of the vast empire, and
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the court at Peking was totally ignorant of the strength and progress of the outside world. Intrenched in the conviction of their intellectual and material superiority, the Chinese were still resolved to hold as little inter- course as possible with the treaty powers, and to interpret strictly in their favor the conventions which had been forced upon them.
Mr. Davis, who was the United States representative from 1848 to 1850, was mainly occupied with install- ing the consular officers at the treaty ports with the judicial functions with which they were clothed by the treaty of 1844, growing out of their exterritorial juris- diction. His reports upon the subject to the Depart- ment of State were made the basis of the peculiar legislation of Congress respecting the judicial powers of consuls, which with subsequent amendments has continued to the present time.
The most noted event of his mission was an inter- view held with the imperial commissioner, which was the only one since the treaty of 1844, and it proved to be the last had by an American representative with the resident Canton high commissioner. In place of being held at the yamen or official residence of the commissioner in Canton or on board a man-of-war of the United States, as official etiquette required, it took place at a commercial warehouse in the suburbs of Can- ton. There was present at that interview as a subor- dinate official the afterwards celebrated Yeh, who bore such a conspicuous part in the troubles which led to the second British war.
Mr. Davis had been selected for the post because of
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his prominence in domestic politics, having been a member of Congress for several years and speaker of the House. The concurrent testimony of contempo- rary writers is that he discharged his duties modestly and well, and left a reputation for intelligence, discre- tion, and devotion to duty. Upon the resignation of Mr. Davis, Dr. Parker, the secretary of legation, became charge d'affaires. 1
In 1852 Humphrey Marshall, of Kentucky, was com- missioned and entered upon his duties as minister. The chief business which occupied his attention was in seeking to secure an interview with Yeh, who had been designated as high commissioner to transact affairs at Canton with the representatives of foreign govern- ments. In answer to a request from Marshall for an interview, to place in his hands a letter from the Presi- dent of the United States for transmission to the em- peror, Yeh responded that he was too busy at that time to meet him, but that as soon as his pressing engage- ments would allow he would " select a felicitous day " on which to hold with the minister " a pleasant inter-
Mr. Marshall was quite indignant at the tone of Yen's letter. He wrote the Secretary of State that " there was no probability that the ' felicitous day ' will ever arrive ; " that the French minister had been waiting at Macao fifteen months for a personal inter- view ; and that he as the representative of the United
1 MSS. Department of State, " China," 1848-50 ; S. Ex. Doc. 22, 35th Cong. 2d Sess. p. 299 ; N. A. Review, Oct. 1859, p. 482 ; Littell's Living Age, Oct. 1858, p. 384.
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States was not only excluded from the imperial court at Peking, but, practically, from personal intercourse with the high commissioner at Canton. He decided to go to Shanghai and secure, if possible, the transmittal of the President's letter through E-liang, the viceroy of that province, and, failing in that, to proceed to Tien- tsin in a man-of-war and demand an audience of the emperor from that point.
After some delay he was courteously received by E-liang, who undertook to send the President's letter to the emperor, but who said he was not authorized to transact business with him. In due course a reply came from the emperor, not in the form of a letter to the President, as courtesy required, but in a communi- cation to the viceroy. The receipt of the President's letter was acknowledged, and the minister was informed that it was not necessary for him to come to Peking, as Commissioner Yeh was fully empowered to dispatch all public business with him. This reply made him the more desirous to proceed to the Peiho.
But another obstacle stood in the way of the execu- tion of this plan ; the commander of the American squadron on the Asiatic station seemed unwilling to support him. Commodore Aulick had not found it convenient to furnish Marshall with a naval vessel to transport him to Shanghai at the time desired, and when Commodore Perry, who succeeded Aulick, arrived at that place, he declined to yield to the minister's request for a ship to bear him to the Peiho, whence he proposed to make a demand backed by the presence of the man-of-war for an audience of his imperial majesty
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at Peking. Perry had nearest at heart his mission to Japan, and besides he gave Marshall plainly to under- stand that he regarded the latter 's scheme of a demon- stration at the Peiho as chimerical and unwise.
This expression of opinion on the part of the com- modore led Marshall to suggest ironically to the Secre- tary of State " the propriety of managing diplomatic relations with foreign countries through the instru- mentality alone of the commodores of the navy, whose education and habits fit them peculiarly for the dis- cussion of questions of international law ! " He also had his retort for the commodore's opinion of his Peiho project by referring to "the shadowy future which may be enveloped within ' the peaceful expedition ' to Japan." Subsequent events, however, established the correctness of the naval diplomat's judgment in both matters.
The subject of the proper relation between the dip- lomatic and naval officials of the government has been much discussed and has occasioned many unpleasant incidents not only in the service of the United States, but in that of Great Britain and other powers. Mr. Marshall's altercations with Aulick and Perry led to the issuance of specific instructions on the subject by the Department of State. Secretary Marcy, in writing to Mr. McLane, who succeeded Mr. Marshall in the Chinese mission, furnished him with a copy of the in- structions given by the Secretary of the Navy to Com- modore Perry, in which the latter was directed to render the minister such assistance as the exigencies of the public interest might require. But, he added,
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" the President does not propose to subject him to your control, but he expects that you and he will cooperate together whenever, in the judgment of both, the in- terests of the United States indicate the necessity or the advantage of such cooperation." This in substance has been embodied in the instructions to diplomatic and naval officers, and this well-defined relation has in re- cent years prevented trouble and misunderstanding.
Mr. Marshall spent some time at Shanghai, where he found abundant occupation in the commercial troubles growing out of what is known as the Taiping Rebel- lion, in restraining Americans from taking part in it by rendering personal service or material aid to one or the other of the belligerents, and in repressing the lawless- ness of deserting American seamen and adventurers. During his mission this revolt against the imperial government reached its highest point. Beginning in 1850, it had by 1853 swept over and occupied the provinces south of the Yang-tse-Kiang, except the open ports, had captured the Chinese city of Shanghai and the ancient capital Nankin, had crossed the great river, was threatening Tientsin, and even Peking was in danger of falling into rebel hands. It constitutes one of the most extensive, bloody, and curious insur- rections in the annals of time. It threatened the ex- istence of the oldest and most populous empire of the world ; it is estimated that twenty millions of li ves were sacrificed by it; and it had its origin in the vagaries of a dreaming enthusiast who claimed to base his move- ment upon the principles of Christianity.
A narrative of its events does not fall within the
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province of this work, but it had such relations to Ameri- can citizens and their interests, and engaged to such an extent the attention of the representatives of the United States, that it cannot be passed over without some notice. The leader of the rebellion, when a young man attend- ing the literary examinations at Canton, had had his attention attracted to Christianity by the preaching and tract circulation of native Protestant converts. Some years later he put himself under the instruction of Rev. J. J. Roberts, an American Baptist missionary, at whose hands he sought baptism and admission into the church, which were refused. He returned to his native village and claimed that he had visions and revelations from heaven and that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ.
He proclaimed a mission to destroy idolatry and over- throw the Manchu dynasty. The country seemed ripe for revolt, and unexpected success attended the early movements against the local authorities. Success brought adherents from the disaffected and the lawless, and within three years more than half of the populous part of the empire was in control of the revolutionists, and the dynasty seemed doomed to destruction. At first the missionaries and the Christian world hailed the movement as the dawning of a new and better era for the Chinese. But upon further information it became apparent that the principles proclaimed and the prac- tices observed were a gross travesty of Christianity, and that the leader and his chiefs had abandoned themselves to all the vice and licentiousness of an oriental court.
After the fall of Nankin, Mr. Roberts was invited by
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the chief to come to his court and give his counsel to the new government. Minister Marshall, whom he consulted, told him that it was hardly consistent with his neutral status as an American citizen to respond to the call. Notwithstanding this advice, Mr. Koberts repaired to the camp of the insurgents at Nankin, but a short stay convinced him that they were not controlled by the spirit or principles of Christianity. The leader had so surrounded himself with the august ceremonials of his exalted position that Mr. Roberts was not per- mitted to see him, and he returned to his post of duty at Canton disappointed and disgusted with the movement.
By the middle of the year 1853 the rebellion had assumed such proportions as to warrant the assumption that it might become the de facto government of the empire, and Mr. Marshall's successor, Mr. McLane, was authorized in his discretion to recognize it as such, if on his arrival the situation justified such a course. Soon after he reached Shanghai, he made a visit in a naval vessel to the headquarters of the Taiping leader in order to study personally the state and spirit of the move- ment. After some difficulty in making his approach to Nankin, Mr. McLane was able to communicate his arrival and his desire to meet the official charged with foreign intercourse. His action was interpreted as an approach to do homage to the government of the rebel- lion, and the minister of state sent him a long reply couched in a haughty tone of superiority, in which he said :
" If you do indeed respect Heaven and recognize the Sovereign, then our celestial court, viewing all under
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Heaven as one family, and uniting all nations as one body, will most assuredly regard your faithful pur- pose and permit you year by year to bring tribute and annually come to pay court to the Celestial Kingdom, forever bathing yourself in the gracious streams of the celestial dynasty, peacefully residing in your own lands, and living quietly enjoying great glory."
The comment of Mr. McLane upon the correspond- ence was that, "Whatever may have been the hopes of the enlightened and civilized nations of the earth, in regard to this movement, it is now apparent that they neither profess nor apprehend Christianity, and what- ever may be the true judgment to form of their political power, it can no longer be doubted that intercourse can- not be established or maintained on terms of equality." He sent the Secretary of State a full account of his visit, which constitutes one of the most interesting con- tributions to the voluminous literature on the Taiping Rebellion.
The civil war was maintained with varying fortunes until 1864, when Nankin was recaptured by the imperial forces and the insurrection suddenly collapsed. Dr. Martin, who was a resident of the country during the entire movement, says that it would have succeeded but for the foreign intervention in favor of the imperial cause. The American government and its representa- tives sought to maintain an attitude of strict neutrality, but the sentiments of all the American ministers were on the side of the established government, and the French and English authorities at a critical period rendered it open support. Dr. Martin is authority for
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the statement that after the occupation of Peking in 1860 by the allies, the emperor having fled to Tartary, Lord Elgin, the British representative, thought seriously of opening negotiations with the insurgent chief, but was deterred by the opposition of Baron Gros, the French envoy, who, adopting the views of the French missionaries, was prejudiced against the insurgents be- cause their religion was reported to be of a Protestant type. 1
Among the foreigners who lent their services to the imperial cause during this rebellion was an American, General Frederick T. Ward, born in Salem, Massachu- setts. He organized, equipped, and drilled a body of Chinese troops, officered by Americans and Europeans. His successes were so great that his corps became known as " The Ever Victorious Army," and its influence was decisive in changing the entire aspect of the contest. In the height of his career he was mortally wounded while leading an attack upon a Taiping fortress. His fame has been somewhat eclipsed by that of Colonel Gor- don, of the British army, who at his death succeeded to the command of his corps and carried forward to
1 For the views and reports of American ministers Marshall, H. Ex. Doc. 123, 33d Cong. 1st Sess. pp. 142, 184, 203, 265 ; McLane, S. Ex. Doc. 22, 35th Cong. 2d Sess. pp. 47-111 ; S. Ex. Doc. 39, 36th Cong. 1st Sess. p. 3 ; The Taiping Rebellion, by A. Egmont Hake, London, 1891; The Chinese Revolution, by Charles Macfarlane, London, 1853 ; L'lnsur- rection en Chine, Gallery & Yvan, Paris, 1853, translation, London, 1853 ; Martin's Cycle of Cathay, pt. i. chap. ix. ; Williams's Hist. China, chap, v. ; A Short History of China, by D. C. Boulger, London, 1893, chap. xx. ; China, by R. K. Douglas, London and New York, 1899, chap. xi. ; Nevius's China, chap, xxvi.; N. A. Rev. July, 1854, p. 158.
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ultimate success the movement which had been organ- ized by the daring and skill of Ward. 1
Recurring to Minister Marshall's services, it is to be noted that after remaining several months at Shanghai, he returned to Canton, and again applied to Yeh for an interview, was again met by an excuse and a declina- tion, and finally left China without once having met this official specially designated by the emperor to treat with the foreign ministers. When in January, 1854, he announced to Yeh his intention to return home, the latter replied with perfect nonchalance, " I avail myself of the occasion to present my compliments, and trust that, of late, your blessings have been increasingly tranquil."
A party change in the administration at Washington brought about Mr. Marshall's recall. His service in China covered a period of great interest and disorder in that empire, and, although on this account he was unable to accomplish much to advance the interests of his country, he conducted its affairs with ability and credit to himself and his government. He was a ready and able writer, and his voluminous correspondence with the Department of State, which has been published, furnishes very interesting and profitable reading on Chinese affairs. 2
Upon the accession of Mr. Pierce to the presidency in 1853, he nominated and commissioned as minister to China Robert M. McLane, of Maryland, who was one
1 S. Ex. Doc. 34, 37th Cong. 3d Sess. 1, 3 ; Hake's Taiping Rebellion, 190 ; Martin's Cathay, 139.
2 H. Ex. Doc. 123, 33d Cong. 1st Sess. ; S. Ex. Doc. 39, 36th Cong. 1st Sess. p. 3 ; N. A. Review, Oct. 1859, p. 483 ; Littell's Living Age, Oct. 1858, p. 384.
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of the most accomplished diplomatic representatives of the United States and had a long public career. In order that he might not be subjected to the embarrass^ ments encountered by Mr. Marshall, the naval com- mander on the Asiatic station was instructed to place a national vessel at his disposal, and in such other ways as was possible to second his efforts.
He arrived at Hongkong in March, 1854, where he met his first disappointment, which unfortunately was only the beginning of a series which attended him throughout his mission. Anticipating his arrival, Dr. Parker, the faithful secretary and charge of the legation at Canton, had addressed the imperial high commis- sioner, Yeh, informing him of the date of arrival of the new minister, and stating that he would desire a personal interview to deliver the letter of the President addressed to the emperor. Yeh treated this request in the same manner as that made by Mr. Marshall. In his reply, after expressing his delight at learning of Mr. McLane's arrival, he announced that he was very busy and said, " Suffer me then to wait for a little leisure, when I will make selection of a propitious day, that we may have a pleasant meeting."
Mr. McLane was no less indignant than his prede- cessor on the receipt of this " impertinent, if not inso- lent" communication, as he termed it, and determined to make no further application for an interview, but to send Yeh a reply and " rebuke him for his discourtesy and incivility." In forwarding a copy to Washington he expressed the hope that Secretary Marcy would " find it sufficiently pointed," as it assuredly was.
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There seemed nothing left for him to do but to pursue much the same course of conduct as his pre- decessor. Commodore Perry having placed at his dis- posal the Susquehanna, one of the newest and best vessels of the navy, he proceeded in her to the port of Shanghai. He found the state of affairs there even worse than on Mr. Marshall's visit the previous year. The imperialists and Taipings were confronting each other in and around the foreign settlement. The Chi- nese city of Shanghai had been captured by the rebels, and only the presence of the American, British, and French war vessels prevented the foreign settlement from being occupied by them. The foreign merchants had refused to pay duties to the imperial government on the goods imported which it could not protect, and it was reported that the merchants were taking advan- tage of the disordered situation to import large cargoes without duty.
While at Shanghai Mr. McLane put himself in com- munication with the viceroy E-liang, whose headquarters were in the interior of the province, and was granted an interview by him. Like Mr. Marshall, he was much pleased with the reception accorded him, but in the real business sought to be dispatched he was similarly unsuccessful, and he declined under the circumstances to intrust the President's letter to the hands of the viceroy for transmission to the emperor.
After a stay of four months he returned to Hong- kong. Here he conferred with Sir John Bowring, the British governor, whom he found in the same state of mind as himself respecting Commissioner Yeh. During
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Mr. McLane's absence at Shanghai the governor had sought to approach Yeh upon the subject of a revision of the treaties, with a view to remedying the defects which had been developed in those in force, and had been met by evasion and a refusal to act. Mr. Mc- Lane also conferred with the French minister, and the three foreign representatives decided to act in concert in bringing pressure to bear upon the Chinese govern- ment to satisfy the existing grievances, and in so acting the American minister was conforming to the spirit of his instructions from the Secretary of State.
It was determined that if negotiations could not be opened at Shanghai with a properly authorized repre- sentative of the emperor, they would jointly go to the mouth of the Peiho in men-of-war of their respective nations, and there renew their demands on the imperial court. And of this resolution they separately served notice on Commissioner Yeh at Canton.
The three envoys arrived at Shanghai during the month of September, 1854, and remained for a few weeks hoping that they might be advised of the dis- patch from Peking of plenipotentiaries empowered to open negotiations, but they were disappointed. In accordance with their plans, Sir John Bo wring, Mr. McLane, and the French secretary of legation reached the Peiho October 15, the French minister being de- tained at Shanghai by an accident.
On their arrival they found that no steps had been taken to send plenipotentiaries to meet them. After some time consumed in conferences with the local au- thorities and weeks lost in waiting, a commissioner
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from the emperor finally arrived. He arranged to receive the foreign envoys on the muddy banks of the river in a miserable tent badly adapted for the purpose. It was a shameful disregard of the courtesies so usual with Chinese officials, and could only be interpreted as a studied affront to the foreigners who had made them- selves unwelcome guests.
When the conference was opened, the Chinese pleni- potentiary confessed that he had no full powers or authority to negotiate, and could only hear what the foreign representatives had to say. Their object was to secure a revision of the treaties, and they all rested their claim upon a clause in the American treaty of 1844 which reads as follows :
" Inasmuch as the circumstances of the several ports of China open to foreign commerce are different, ex- perience may show that inconsiderable modifications are requisite in those ports which relate to commerce and navigation ; in which case the two governments will, at the expiration of twelve years from the date of said convention, treat amicably concerning* the same, by the means of suitable persons appointed to conduct such negotiations."
While the Chinese plenipotentiary stated that he had no authority to negotiate, he took pains to inform the British representative that he could not claim the right to have his treaty revised because the American treaty contained the clause cited; and he replied to Mr. McLane that "the inconsiderable modifications" referred to did not justify the revision for which he contended. This was an answer worthy to emanate
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from officials more experienced than the Chinese in diplomacy, and which could not be well gainsaid from the standpoint of international law. The result of the conference was a failure, as it was not possible for the ships to remain at that stormy season of the year until an answer to the demands of the envoys could be received from Peking, and no assurance was given that these demands would be laid before the emperor. Nothing was left for the representatives but to leave the inhospitable shores of the Peiho and return to safer anchorage and more genial climate at Shanghai and Hongkong.
From Shanghai Mr. McLane sent full details of the events at the Peiho to the Secretary of State and gave a review of his futile efforts since his arrival in China to lay before the authorities at Peking the complaints of his government. He then submitted a recommen- dation that the President embody in a letter to the emperor the complaints which he had formulated and the changes desired in the treaty ; and that this letter be confided to a commissioner " supported by the presence of the United States naval forces in the Chinese seas, precisely as the letter of the President was delivered to the emperor of Japan." He reported that the British and French ministers had recommended that a more decisive policy should be initiated, and it was to be hoped that harmonious action would continue to be maintained between the three governments. In a later dispatch he continued to urge a new and a more positive, " perhaps an aggressive, policy " on the part of the Western nations towards China.
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The ten months which Mr. McLane had passed in his active but vexatious duties had been very trying, and exposure at Canton to the heat and malaria of the tropics had brought on a fever, which so seriously affected his health as to make it necessary for him to ask for a leave of absence. Before taking his depar- ture, however, he was enabled to bring to a conclusion a matter which had greatly troubled the American mer- chants at Shanghai. Mr. Marshall had decided that they should pay to the imperial government the duties uncollected and suspended during the paralysis of au- thority while the rebels were attacking Shanghai. On the arrival of the new minister a fresh representation was made to him, with an agreement to abide by his award. Mr. McLane decided that a considerable amount of the sum in controversy should be paid to the Chinese government, and it was accordingly done, although the British merchants successfully resisted a similar demand upon them. It is greatly to the credit of the American minister's impartial rectitude that, in the midst of his disappointment and ill treatment by the authorities, he should have rendered a decision so favorable to China; and it is likewise to the credit of the American merchants that they should have observed their obligations when those of other national- ities refused.
In December, 1854, the legation was again intrusted to Dr. Parker as charge, and Mr. McLane left his post on sick leave. On his arrival at Paris he tendered his resignation of a mission which had proved so unsatis-
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factory in its results/ and returned to the United States to receive new honors at home and to hold later the missions to Mexico and Paris.
Dr. Parker conducted the affairs of the legation for several months under very perplexing conditions. The Taiping rebels were threatening Canton and the other treaty ports. In the impotent state of the imperial government, pirates multiplied, infested the coasts, and imperiled foreign commerce in the treaty ports. In the consequent disorganization of trade, smuggling greatly increased, and a ready market was found for warlike supplies. Both Ministers Marshall and McLane had issued proclamations enjoining strict neutrality upon Americans, and Dr. Parker exerted himself to enforce these orders. He found that the American flag was being abused through the negligence or bad faith of consuls by its illegal transfer to Chinese or other for- eign vessels. The shipping and registry regulations of Great Britain made easy the transfer of its flag to such vessels, which was forbidden under American law ; and except through the connivance of consuls in authorizing registry, American shipping was placed at a disadvan- tage in these times of disorder. Claims by Americans for injury to their property or business or for non-ob- servance of their treaty rights, were also accumulating, and the authorities were badly situated or indisposed to give them satisfaction.
Twenty years' residence in China and the onerous labors of his position so impaired his health that Dr.
1 For details of McLane's mission, S. Ex. Doc. 22, 35th Cong. 2d Sess. ; S. Ex. Doc. 39, 36th Cong. 1st Sess.; N. A. Review, Oct. 1859, pp. 487-504.
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Parker found it necessary to ask for a leave of absence, and in May, 1855, he made a visit to the United States. His intercourse with the authorities at Washington so favorably impressed them with his intimate acquaint- ance with Chinese affairs and with his ability, that, dis- carding the prevailing rule of party preferment, he was nominated fuU commissioner to China.
He returned to his post through Europe, and held interviews in London and in Paris with the British and French ministers for foreign affairs, in which there was a free exchange of views as to the policy to be pur- sued in China by the three maritime powers, and an informal agreement reached that there should be co- operation and harmony of action. Full reports of these interviews were sent by him to the Secretary of State, by whom his action was commended.
On his arrival at Canton in January, 1856, Dr. Parker notified Yeh of his appointment as commis- sioner and that he desired a personal interview to deliver for transmission a letter from the President to the emperor. To this application Yeh returned his stereotyped reply that he was then too busy to grant the interview. After conferring with his British and French colleagues and determining upon uniform action for a revision of the treaties, he again asked Yeh for an interview, and being again refused, the amiable and usually even-tempered minister could restrain his indig- nation no longer. He addressed Yeh a communication reviewing the latter's conduct towards his predecessors, who had in vain sought for interviews on important business, and stated " that so sure as there is a sun in
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heaven, so certainly is it that the day is near when it will be endured no longer." He then gave him notice of his intention to proceed to Peking for the purpose of obtaining a revision of the treaty of 18M and a redress of the accumulated grievances. Similar notices were given by the British and French representatives.
But the doctor was no more successful than Messrs. Marshall and McLane in the execution of his indignant resolution. He was delayed some time by the absence of a naval vessel in reaching Shanghai. There his hopes were raised by the promise of the local Chinese authorities that they would bring about the opening of negotiations. This promise was only made to be broken, and then the season was too far advanced to go to the Peiho ; besides, an adequate naval force was not at hand for the purpose.
The chief result of his visit to the north was the reception of an additional indignity to his government. On his resentment of Yen's incivility Dr. Parker had declined his offer to receive the President's letter, and at Amoy he accepted the promise of the viceroy of that province to transmit it. While at Shanghai the letter was returned to him from Peking, with a state- ment that it could only be received through the high commissioner, Yeh, specially delegated by the emperor to deal with foreign affairs. But when the autograph letter of President Pierce addressed to the emperor was redelivered to Dr. Parker the seals were broken. 1
When he reached Hongkong on his return from
1 S. Ex. Doc. 22, 35th Cong. 2d Sess. pp. 495-984 ; Martin's Cathay, 146.
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Shanghai in November, 1856, he found that British pa- tience with the Chinese authorities had been exhausted, and that a state of flagrant war existed. The forts which guarded the city of Canton had been captured, and the city itself had been bombarded and entered by the British forces.
The immediate event which brought on this second war of Great Britain against China was the boarding of the lorcha l Arrow in front of Canton by marines from a Chinese war vessel, the seizing and carrying away of the crew on charge of piracy, and hauling down the British flag. The vessel was built and owned by a Chinese, but had been registered as British and was carrying the British flag. The term of registry had, however, expired several days before the seizure and had not been renewed.
Sir John Bowring, 2 the governor of Hongkong and diplomatic representative of Great Britain, made a de- mand for the return of the seized sailors, an apology for the act, and an assurance that the British flag should be respected in future. Yeh ordered the release of the sailors, although he stated that an investigation proved nine of them to be guilty of piracy, but he declined to make the apology demanded because he claimed the
1 Lorcha a Portuguese term for a fast-sailing schooner.
2 Sir John Bowring, who was the active agent in bringing on the war, was a noted man of his time, possessed of various accomplishments. He was of peaceful inclinations, but of an impulsive temperament ; a pupil and the literary executor of Jeremy Bentham ; for several years a mem- ber of Parliament and an authority on commercial subjects ; of literary tastes, a linguist having a mastery of more than forty languages ; and a poet and hymnologist, best known as the author of the hymns " In the Cross of Christ I glory," and " Watchman, tell us of the Night."
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\ vessel was not a British ship. The governor's contention was that although her registry had expired, she was en- titled to protection ; besides, the Chinese did not know of the expiry of the registry, and hence that the act was none the less an outrage on the flag. Yeh was obsti- nate in his refusal, and war followed.
The views of British statesmen and historians differ greatly as to the merits of the war, but there is a gen- eral concurrence of sentiment that the affair of the Arrow was not of itself a sufficient justification for hos- tilities. The matter is well stated by Lord Elgin in his report to his government : " I think I have given to the Arrow case as much prominence as it deserves, when I represent it as the drop which has caused the cup to overflow." But in his private journal he frankly refers to " that wretched question of the Arrow, which is a scandal to us, and is so considered, I have reason to know, by all except the few who are personally com- promised. It was merely the culmination of a series of acts on the part of the Chinese which brought on the hostilities, and was not of itself a just cause of war." The origin of the " series of acts " referred to may, in most cases, be found in the extensive system of smug- gling of the East India Company's opium.
Although the government of the United States did not think proper to follow the example of Great
1 For official reports relative to Arrow War see various British Par- liamentary Blue Books, " China," 1856-60 ; 3 McCarthy's Hist, chaps. xxx. and xlii. ; Boulger's Hist. chap. xix. ; Douglas's China, chap. ix. ; Williams's Hist. chap. vi. ; Martin's Cathay, pt. i. chap. x. ; Nevius's China, 301-12 ; N. A. Review, January, 1860, p. 125 ; S. Ex. Doc. 22, 35th Cong. 2d Sess. 984.
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Britain in its hostile action, it is to be noted that its suc- cessive ministers, who were subjected to the insolence of Yeh and the indifference of the Chinese government to their repeated representations, expressed to their gov- ernment the conviction that the only way to secure re- spect and justice from the Chinese was by a manifesta- tion of force. Mr. Marshall wrote the Secretary of State that " the Chinese government . . . concedes justice only in the presence of a force able and willing to exact it." Mr. McLane, referring to his troubles with Yeh, reported that " diplomatic intercourse can only be had with this government at the cannon's mouth." The peaceful Dr. Parker was so aroused by the many indignities shown to his government that he strongly favored an alliance of the United States with Great Britain in the war. 1
Following close upon the affair of the lorcha Arrow, an event occurred which for the moment seemed des- tined to bring the United States into a union with Great Britain in the war upon which it had entered. While proceeding in a boat from the United States squadron in the lower river to Canton, Captain Foote was fired upon from the Chinese forts, and the day after a surveying party from the squadron was also fired upon and one of its members killed. In both instances the American flag was prominently displayed. For these acts Commodore Armstrong determined upon summary punishment. November 16, 1856, the day of the second firing on the flag, he sent the Portsmouth,
1 H. Ex. Doc. 123, 33d Cong. 1st Sess. 11 ; S. Ex. Doc. 22 (cited), 22, 1083.
226 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
under command of Captain Foote, afterwards distin- guished in the Civil War, to attack the forts from which the firing on the boats had occurred, and they were soon silenced.
On the next day the commodore addressed a note to Commissioner Yeh, demanding an explanation and a suitable apology within twenty-four hours. Before the time had expired, however, seeing active work progress- ing towards the restoration of the damaged forts, the commodore ordered another attack, and the forts were taken by assault and destroyed. Seven Americans were killed and twenty-two wounded, while the loss of the Chinese was reported at three hundred. A communi- cation from Yeh was received before the second attack was made, but it proved to be of an unsatisfactory nature ; and further correspondence followed. Yeh claimed that, in view of the hostilities conducted by the British at and in the vicinity of Canton, boats of other nationalities ought to keep away from the scene of war, and that mistakes as to flags would not then occur. But the severe punishment which had been inflicted upon the Chinese forts did not seem to have given him much offense, for he finally wrote the commodore, " There is no matter of strife between our two nations. Henceforth let the fashion of the flag which American ships employ be clearly defined, and inform me what it is beforehand. This will be a verification of the friendly relations between our countries." Of such little impor- tance was the affair in the mind of this oriental dignitary.
Yen's letter ended the correspondence, and the at- tack of the American navy on the Barrier forts was a
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 227
closed incident. It was the only act of warlike violence by American authorities on the Chinese till a half cen- tury afterwards, when a division of the army of the United States marched to the relief of its beleaguered minister and citizens at Peking. Such a prompt and peaceful settlement was a disappointment to the Brit- ish, as they earnestly desired the cooperation of the United States in the campaign which they were prepar- ing against the Chinese. 1
The government at Washington saw no occasion to give further attention to the engagement between the navy and the Barrier forts, but certain occurrences in connection with the bombardment of Canton by the British seemed to call for further inquiry. The press accounts of that affair reported that the American con- suls at Canton and Hongkong were both present at the assault and participated in it, and that the latter headed a body of United States marines carrying the American flag. The charge was likewise made by Commissioner Yeh. Secretary Marcy strongly condemned any viola- tion of the neutral attitude of the United States, and ordered Minister Parker to make a thorough investiga- tion, authorizing him, in case the charge against the consul at Hongkong was well founded, to remove the latter from his post.
The consul at Canton in his official report says that on entering the city half an hour after the walls were carried, " I found the English in full possession of the place the officers, the soldiers, and the sailors helping
- S. Ex. Doc. 22 (cited), 1020, 1042 ; N. A. Review, Oct. 1859, p. 512 ;
Harper's Mag. Oct. 1898, p. 741.
228 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
themselves to what they pleased. I met his excellency, Admiral Seymour, within the palace, who kindly gave me permission to take a few articles as mementos of the occurrence of the day." It seems that looting of Chinese palaces was practiced long before the occu- pation of Peking in the year 1900, and that the prac- tice was demoralizing to even a neutral consul. Both he and the consul at Hongkong protested their inno- cence of any violation of their neutral duties, alleging that their presence was induced merely by curiosity, and the latter stoutly denied that he was responsible for the presence of the American flag. It appears that the national emblem was within the walls and in the hands of an American marine, but not authorized by any offi- cer of the government. The investigation failed to es- tablish any violation of neutral duty, but showed that the sympathies of the American colony were plainly with their kinsmen. 1
The British preparations for the campaign which had been resolved upon, to bring the Chinese government to terms respecting a revision of the treaties and a re- dress of grievances, was delayed for a full year, on ac- count of the Sepoy revolt in India. In the mean time the foreign factories (mercantile establishments) at Can- ton were destroyed by fire, and commerce was sus- pended. Dr. Parker was busily occupied in his efforts to protect American interests in this time of disorder, and in seeking to induce the Chinese authorities to give attention and satisfaction to American demands. He felt that the British were pursuing the only policy
i S. Ex. Doc. 22 (cited), 1048, 1319, 1383 ; N. A. Rev. Oct. 1859, pp. 508-11.
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 229
which would bring the imperial government to terms, and he strongly recommended to the Secretary of State that the United States should cooperate with the allies in the policy determined upon, France having definitely resolved to participate with Great Britain in the pro- posed military expedition. Dr. Parker suggested that an active campaign might be avoided, and China brought to accept the demands of the powers by the temporary occupation by them of different portions of territory. His plan was that France should take pos- session of Korea, Great Britain of Chusan, and the United States of the island of Formosa, and hold them as hostages till a satisfactory settlement of all questions was attained. At this day such a scheme seems quite visionary and impracticable, but it was known to Parker that only three years before Commodore Perry had made a similar recommendation respecting the Lew Chew Islands in connection with the Japanese negotiations.
But such schemes did not in any way harmonize with the peaceful policy at Washington. Not even could the daring act of the navy in destroying the Barrier forts to avenge the insults to the flag disturb the equa- nimity of the government. Secretary Marcy wrote Dr. Parker that the President very much doubted whether there was sufficient justification for such a severe measure, and thus stated his views : " The British government evidently have objects beyond those contemplated by the United States, and we ought not to be drawn along with it, however anxious it may be for our cooperation. The President sincerely hopes that you, as well as our naval commander, will be able
230 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
to do all that is required for the defense of American citizens and the protection of their property, without being included in the British quarrel, or producing any serious disturbance in our amicable relations with China." Such instructions were so contrary to the views of the minister that it was well that their execu- tion should be intrusted to a new representative.
A change of administration had occurred on March 4, 1857, and a month later a new minister to China was appointed. This action was not taken because of any dissatisfaction with the incumbent, but it appears to have been brought about by the exigencies of domestic politics. 1 Dr. Parker retired from his post in August, and returned to the United States, thus ending a long and useful career in China. He made his residence in Washington up to the time of his death in 1888, and was active in scientific and religious circles. Hon. Hugh McCulloch, secretary of the treasury under three presi- dents, who enjoyed his society and friendship in these later years, says : " No man can look back upon a long life with greater satisfaction than Dr. Parker. No for- eigner had better opportunities than he of becoming acquainted with the Chinese, their habits, and the char- acter of their government ; and no one could have used these opportunities to greater advantage, both to China and to the United States." 2
1 S. Ex. Doc. 22 (cited), 1083-1278; S. Ex. Doc. 30, 36th Cong. 1st Sess. p. 3. In giving his instructions to the new minister, the Secretary of State wrote : " This change is not intended to cause the slightest cen- sure upon him [Parker]. He has discharged his duties with zeal and fidelity, and is entitled to the thanks of the government."
a Martin's Cathay, 27; Speer's China, 421; Littell's Living Age, Oct.
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 231
The successor of Dr. Parker, William B. Reed, of Pennsylvania, secured his appointment mainly because of political considerations, having supported the election of Mr. Buchanan to the presidency, although of the opposite party. He was, however, a lawyer of consid- erable prominence, and proved in most respects fitted for his difficult duties. The title of the American repre- sentative in China had heretofore been that of commis- sioner, a somewhat anomalous grade in diplomacy. In order to give Mr. Reed all the dignity and influence which might accrue from his rank, he was commissioned as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary.
In view of the threatening state of affairs in China, with England and France joined in hostilities against the empire, his instructions were prepared with much care, and set forth the attitude of the United States with precision. The objects which it was understood the allies had in view were enumerated, and stated to be in accord with those desired by the United States. These were, first, the residence of foreign ministers at Peking, reception by the emperor, and intercourse with an accredited ministry of foreign affairs ; second, an extension of commercial intercourse and a better regu- lation of the internal tariff on imports ; third, religious freedom for foreigners ; and fourth, measures for better observance of treaty stipulations. The minister was directed to cooperate by peaceful means with England and France to secure these ends, but to confine his efforts to firm representations and appeals to the justice
1859, p. 384; Men and Measures of Half a Century, by H. McCulloch, New York, 1888, p. 265.
232 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
and policy of the Chinese authorities. He was reminded that his country was not at war with China, and sought only to enter that empire for lawful commerce.
With these instructions was inclosed a copy of corre- spondence had with the British government, in response to an invitation of the allies to join in their hostile ex- pedition. In it attention was called to the fact that the executive branch of the government of the United States was not the war-making power, that military expeditions into Chinese territory could not be undertaken without the authority of Congress, and that the relations of the United States with that country, in the judgment of the President, did not then warrant a resort to war. The policy of the United States was one of peace ; it had no political views connected Vith that empire ; and, owing to the difference in manners and traits of national character, true wisdom seemed to dictate moderation, dis- cretion, and the work of time in the attempts to open China to trade and intercourse.
When Mr. Reed arrived in Hongkong, November, 1857, he found the allies almost ready to begin hostile operations. Lord Elgin, a British statesman of noble family and large political experience, returning from a successful term as governor-general of Canada, had been assigned by his government to the political man- agement of the campaign, and with him was associated as the French representative Baron Gros, a diplomat of high reputation. Upon making known to the allies the tenor of his instructions, Mr. Reed reports their surprise and disappointment, as they had been " encouraged in the most extravagant expectation of cooperation on our
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 233
part, to the extent even of acquisition of territory," and that the English were especially " irritable ... at their inability to involve the United States in their unworthy quarrel." But he states later that Lord Elgin had not at that time been informed of the character of the reply to the invitation to join the allies, and that after its receipt their relations were more cordial.
The first duty of Mr. Reed was to seek an interview with the imperial commissioner Yeh and make an effort to open negotiations for treaty revision ; but he was doomed to the fate of his predecessors. This polite but obstinate official, " on hearing that an officer of the highest fame and reputation with such kindly feelings " had reached China, " was extremely desirous of having an interview," but since the destruction of the suburbs by the British " there is really no place where to hold it." As to negotiations, there was no occasion for them, as the existing treaty was satisfactory and bene- ficial, and did not require alteration. Thus the minister was informed that the especially designated diplomatic representative of the emperor could not meet him, nor would he consider with him the business of his mission.
The blow which the allies had been preparing fell upon Canton in December, 1857. It was a second time captured and sacked. Yeh was made a prisoner and sent to Calcutta, where he died within a few weeks after his arrival. This official had established an unenviable reputation for incivility, obduracy, and hatred of for- eigners, and upon him had been placed the responsi- bility for the unsatisfactory condition of international relations. But at the capture of Canton the documents
234 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
which fell into the hands of the allies revealed the fact that his conduct had been directed from Peking, and that the imperial court was responsible for his refusal to open negotiations for treaty revision or the redress of grievances. Among those documents were also found the Chinese originals of the British, American, and French treaties of 1842 and 1844, and from this fact it was inferred that they had never been sent to Peking nor their terms known to the emperor ; but this was afterwards shown to be incorrect, as they had been officially published by the court.
After the fall of Canton, the allies announced a dispo- sition to forego further hostile operations, if the Chinese government would appoint plenipotentiaries and open negotiations for a revision of the treaties. Meanwhile a Kussian minister had reached Hongkong, after an unsuccessful effort to communicate with the emperor by way of the Peiho. His instructions were similar to those of the United States minister, to press nego- tiations upon the Chinese, but by peaceful methods only. Mr. Reed, after his cavalier treatment by Yeh, and after a brief experience in Chinese affairs, was led to the same conviction as his predecessors, that only coercive measures would be effective in bringing the imperial government to terms. In his review of the situation to the Secretary of State he said : " I do not hesitate to say that a new policy towards China ought to be ... initiated, and that the powers of Western civilization must insist on what they know to be their rights, and give up the dream of dealing with China as a power to which any ordinary rules apply." And a
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 235
month later he wrote that nothing short of an actual approach to Peking " with a decisive tone and available force " would produce a result. Eef erring to the peace- ful attitude of the United States, he adds : " Steadfast neutrality and consistent friendship make no impression on the isolated obduracy of this empire."
In this frame of mind the American minister found no difficulty in uniting with the British and French representatives in identic notes to Peking, in which a request was made for the appointment of plenipoten- tiaries to meet the foreign representatives at Shanghai to negotiate for a revision of the treaties, with a notice that if such action was not taken, they would feel it their duty to approach still nearer to the capital to press their demand. The Russian minister likewise took the same course.
Mr. Keed informed the Secretary of State that, in case of refusal to negotiate at Shanghai, the powers would jointly proceed to the mouth of the Peiho. " This," he says, " will be made the most imposing ap- peal that has ever been addressed by the Western powers to the sense of justice and policy of the Imperial court." He then submits for the consideration of the President " the possible alternative of a persistent and contemptu- ous refusal to entertain any friendly proposition to afford redress for injuries, or to revise the treaty; " and he asks to be invested with power to exercise the neces- sary coercion to bring the court to terms. Secretary Cass replied approving of the minister's course in join- ing with the powers in their representations to Peking, but he again refers to his instructions, and states that,
236 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
although the United States has serious cause of com- plaint against China, it has not been thought wise to seek redress by a resort to arms. This alternative may yet be forced upon us, he says ; but when the exigency comes, the President will have to ask Congress for au- thority, and he was not then prepared to make such request.
In accordance with their agreement the foreign en- voys met at Shanghai in April, 1858, and there re- ceived the answer from Peking, denying their right to have direct communication with the court and referring them to the commissioner at Canton who had been appointed to succeed Yeh. Mr. Keed characterized this reply as similar to those given by Yeh ; ." the same unmeaning profession, the same dexterous sophistry; and, what is more material, the same passive resistance ; the same stolid refusal to yield any point of substance." The envoys, therefore, lost no time in carrying out their resolution to proceed to the Peiho, in order to reach there early in the season.
The British and French envoys were accompanied by the fleets and forces which had participated in the warlike operations against Canton, but the American and Russian ministers went, each in a single vessel. Mr. Reed advised the Secretary that "if hostilities recommence, obeying the spirit and letter of my instruc- tions, I shall continue a passive spectator," waiting instructions from home. He reported that the Russian minister, also, had "positive instructions to abstain strictly from any measures of hostility, except in case of extremity."
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 237
On the arrival of the envoys at the mouth of the Peiho, they found no one authorized to open negotia- tions, and the four ministers sent identic notes to Peking, asking for the appointment within six days of plenipotentiaries. Before the expiration of the period named, a notice was received by all the envoys that a special commissioner had been appointed by the emperor to open negotiations and that he was ready to meet them. The communications were not properly addressed, and the British and French refused to re- ceive them, but the American minister, treating the one received by him as a clerical error, sent it back for cor- rection, which was readily made. He and the Russian minister proceeded to open negotiations with the Chi- nese commissioner, but the British and French, find- ing that he did not possess " full powers " to make a treaty, but only to negotiate and report the result of his action to Peking, declined to treat with him. They maintained that the appointment was in line with the past policy of evasion and delay, and the documents which had been captured at Canton seemed to warrant their conclusion. At a later date, Mr. Reed, after being made fully acquainted with the tenor of these documents, said they justified the coercive policy pur- sued by the allies at the Peiho and Tientsin.
The commissioner's powers not being enlarged, the British and French allies decided to proceed to Tientsin and there renew their request for a commissioner with full powers. Accordingly a demand was made for the surrender of the Taku forts, at the mouth of the Peiho, in order that a secure passage might be had to Tientsin.
238 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
This demand being refused, the forts were taken by assault, after a spirited resistance, and the British and French admirals and envoys ascended the Peiho to Tientsin without further opposition. They were at once followed by the American and Russian ministers.
The imperial court, now thoroughly alarmed by the determined action of the allies, made haste to appoint commissioners bearing full authority to make and sign treaties. And the work of negotiation went on apace. With the fleets and armies of the allies in their immediate presence, and the American and Russian representatives pressing their demands, the Chinese plenipotentiaries were at last awakened to the necessity of prompt and decisive action. Within a week after the negotiations were begun the Russian treaty was signed, the American soon followed, and the British and French were concluded within three weeks.
The Chinese commissioners proposed that the nego- tiations be conducted in the presence of all the foreign representatives, but there were obvious objections to this method, and they were carried on separately with each minister. The British and French envoys went in great state, with large and brilliant escorts as befitted their warlike surroundings, to meet the Chinese pleni- potentiaries ; but the American and Russian ministers visited them only with their secretaries and a small escort of sailors. The Chinese commissioners, it is reported, were men of dignified bearing and their whole tone and deportment were very striking.
Mr. Reed was assisted in his negotiations by Dr. S. Wells Williams, who had taken so prominent a part
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 239
in Commodore Perry's negotiations in Japan, and be- came secretary of legation upon the promotion of Dr. Parker ; and also by Dr. W. A. P. Martin, a Presbyte- rian missionary, who was familiar with the Mandarin dialect, and who filled an important role in later Chi- nese affairs. Dr. Martin's early acquaintance with the dialect and his frank manners soon won the confidence of the Chinese. In one of the treaty interviews he presented to one of the commissioners an almanac in Chinese compiled by the missionaries, containing a variety of matter. At the next conference the com- missioner pointed in the publication to the tenth com- mandment forbidding to covet, and begged him to circulate such tracts freely among the English, to lead them to observe it in their intercourse with the Chi- nese.
When the negotiations were about to be entered upon, there appeared upon the scene Kiying, the Chi- nese plenipotentiary in the negotiation of the British treaty of 1842, that with Mr. Gushing and with the French of 1844, and who was for several years the best known statesman of the empire. He had fallen into disgrace for agreeing to these treaties and for his sup- posed friendliness to foreigners. The decree of the emperor by which he was degraded in 1850 is a curious exhibition of the spirit of the government: "As for Kiying, his unpatriotic and pusillanimous conduct is to us a matter of unmixed astonishment. When he was at Canton he seemed only anxious to make our people serve the interests of foreigners. Kecently, during a private audience, he spoke to us of the English, how
240 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
greatly they were to be dreaded, urging a mild and conciliatory policy. . . . The more he speaks the more does he expose himself, so that at the last we have come to entertain for him the same contempt we feel for a yelping cur."
He had doubtless taken advantage of the panic created at court by the advance of the allies to Tien- tsin, and sought to reinstate himself in favor by mak- ing the emperor believe he could be of special service with the foreigners, and he was given an independent commission to treat with the envoys. His true charac- ter of duplicity and untruthf ulness had been revealed to the allies by the documents captured at Canton, and they refused to receive him. The American and Russian ministers, however, out of regard for his past services, his old age, and misfortunes, received and returned his visit, but held no negotiations with him. He suddenly disappeared from Tientsin, and on his return to Peking there was sent him a silken scarf from the emperor's hand, " in Our extreme desire to be at once just and gracious," which was the imperial indica- tion that he would be permitted to save his family from any stain of disgrace by putting an end to his own life by strangulation, in lieu of his decapitation by the executioner. And thus disappeared from the stage of public affairs the most prominent Chinese statesman of his generation.
There are some indications in the official documents of a certain degree of friction between the envoys of the allies and the two neutral ministers, and the con- temporaneous accounts speak of the jealousy of the
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 241
latter entertained by the former. But happily the rough places in their intercourse were smoothed over, and at the end of the negotiations a friendly and some- what cordial relation was resumed. Dr. Williams, the American secretary, in his private diary, refers to the disposition of Baron Gros to be less exacting than Lord Elgin, and to the Russian constantly watching the allies, greatly to the annoyance of the British earl, and he sums up the situation as follows : " The position of the four ministers here is, indeed, something like that of four whist players, each of whom makes an infer- ence as to the other's remaining suits and honors from
the cards they throw down. Now, of course the Rus-
-i j * i . r , i ~i~i 1 ' 1
sian and American are partners, but if the Englishman were more bon homme and open he might readily have the Yankee to his aid against the others if there was any need of that kind."
First in order of signature was the Russian treaty and the American was signed a few days afterwards, but the British negotiations dragged and the French envoy, out of deference to his ally, deferred the sign- ing of his convention. The British were pushing de- mands not insisted upon by the other powers, and they could only be obtained by coercive measures. The re- ports in the Blue Books and the London newspapers show that Mr. Lay, who personally conducted the nego- tiations for Lord Elgin, when he found the Chinese commissioners obdurate, was accustomed " to raise his voice," charge them with having " violated their pledged word," and threaten them with Lord Elgin's displeasure and the march of the British troops to Peking. And
242 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
when this failed to bring them to terms a strong de- tachment of the British army was marched through Tientsin to strike terror into its officials and inhabit- ants. Lord Elgin in his diary records the climax of these demonstrations : " I have not written for some days, but they have been busy ones. We went on fighting and bullying, and getting the poor commis- sioners to concede one point after another, till Friday the 25th." The next day the treaty was signed, and he closes the record as follows : " Though I have been forced to act almost brutally, I am China's friend in all this." There can be no doubt that notwithstanding the seeming paradox, Lord Elgin was thoroughly sin- cere in this declaration, and that his entire conduct was influenced by a high sense of duty and by what he regarded as the best interests of China.
The four treaties, negotiated separately, have a gen- eral similarity in their stipulations, and as each con- tains the " most favored nation " clause, the special stipulations of any became effective for all the powers. The important features of the treaties of Tientsin of 1858 over those of 1842 and 1844 were the conces- sions, first, as to diplomatic privileges, second, as to enlarged trade and travel, and third, as to religious toler- ation. Direct means of access to the government were provided, and the right of visit and residence of diplo- matic representatives at Peking was secured. The stipulations as to trade, travel, residence, ownership of property, duties, etc., which had proved so defective or inefficiently enforced under the earlier treaties, were enlarged and made more specific in their terms.
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 243
The provision guaranteeing the toleration of Chris- tianity and the protection of Chinese converts was an unexpected success. The French envoy was interested in securing greater immunity to Catholic missionaries, who were all under French protection, but the Ameri- can and British ministers did not expect to go beyond securing religious liberty to their own countrymen in China. Dr. Martin says that Mr. Keed was indifferent to the subject, and he states that this article, " now the chief glory of the treaty," was suggested and success- fully pressed by Dr. Williams. At the close of the latter 's long career, the Secretary of State, in accepting his resignation, wrote : " Above all, the Christian world will not forget that to you more than to any other man is due the insertion in our treaty with China of the liberal provision for the toleration of the Christian religion."
After the signature of the treaties the envoys re- turned to Shanghai, and there negotiated trade regula- tions and a revision of the tariff. Mr. Keed likewise agreed with the Chinese plenipotentiaries upon a con- vention for the settlement of the claims of American citizens against China, and thereby brought to a con- clusion a subject which had received the attention of the two preceding ministers. It was agreed to accept in satisfaction of these claims the lump sum of 500,000 taels, the equivalent of $735,288, which was consider- ably less than the total amount of the claims urged upon the Chinese government.
For the adjudication of these claims a commission of American citizens was appointed, and they were all
244 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
examined and passed upon in China. The greater por- tion of thein had their origin in the loss of property occasioned by the British hostilities at and in the vicin- jity of Canton, and many of those allowed were of ques- tionable validity in international law. After all the claims awarded had been paid, and a considerable amount which was rejected by the commission had been allowed by Congress, there still remained a large por- tion of the fund in the treasury of the United States. In 1885, Congress, responding to the sense of justice and fair dealing of the American people, authorized the President to return the balance in the treasury to China, and the sum of $453,400 was paid over to the Chinese minister at Washington, and by him received with " feelings of kindness and admiration " on behalf of his government.
Upon the conclusion of the claims convention, Mr. Keed proceeded to Hongkong, and there being informed by the Department of State of the acceptance of his resignation, which he had tendered on the conclusion of his labors at Tientsin, he placed the legation in charge of the secretary, Dr. Williams, and in December, 1858, returned to the United States. Soon after his arrival at his home in Philadelphia, he delivered a public ad- dress, reviewing his work in China, in the course of which he made some criticism of his foreign colleagues. It was an indiscretion which has been committed by other returning American ministers, but is none the less censurable. In most other respects his services in an important epoch in the relations of the United States with China have been deservedly commended. 1
1 S. Ex. Doc. 47, 35th Cong. 1st Sess. ; S. Ex. Doc. 30, 36th Cong. 1st
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 245
One of the few messages which passed over the At- lantic cable of 1858 before its connection was broken was the news of peace with China and the signature of the treaties at Tientsin, which seemed to secure satisfac- tory relations with that empire for the future. But the sequel proved that these were vain hopes, as the Chinese were doomed to greater humiliation and pun- ishment before they would consent to place their gov- ernment upon an equal footing with the other powers of the world.
The successor of Mr. Keed was John E. Ward, of Georgia, a lawyer by education, little known outside of his own State before his appointment except as presid- ing officer of the convention which nominated Buchanan for the presidency, and without diplomatic experience. When he arrived at Hongkong in May, 1859, he found a British minister at that place and a French minister at Macao, who had been recently appointed to exchange the ratifications of their treaties and take up their resi- dence at Peking. Mr. Ward's instructions from Wash- ington were likewise to proceed to Peking and exchange ratifications of the American treaty. Upon reaching Hongkong he sent each of these ministers a letter noti- fying them of his appointment and arrival, and as soon as the Powhatan, the naval vessel assigned to his use,
Sess. 1-541 ; Williams's Life and Letters, chaps, vii. and viii. ; Williaras's Hist, of China, chap, vi.; Martin's Cathay, pt. i. chaps, x. and xi.; N. A. Rev. Oct. 1859, p. 518 ; Jan. 1860, p. 125 ; Littell's Liv. Age, Oct. 1858, p. 383 ; Walroud's Life and Letters of Lord Elgin, 252. As to claims, Ex. Doc. 30 (cited), 12, 101, 521 ; H. Ex. Doc. 20, 40th Cong. 3d Sess. ; U. S. For. Rel. 1885, p. 183. For text of treaty of 1858, U. S. Treaties (ed. 1889), 159.
246 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
was ready, he set out for Peking by way of the Peiho, without waiting for his British and French colleagues.
Hearing, however, that the Chinese commissioners who had negotiated the treaties of Tientsin were at Shanghai, he called at that port to confer with them. He learned from them that they had been designated to exchange ratifications, and they desired him to await the arrival of the other ministers and proceed with the latter to Peking, where all the treaties would be ex- changed at the same time. No place had been named in the American treaty for its exchange, but Peking was fixed in the other three. As the treaties were at Peking, and the time within which the American treaty was to be exchanged was about to expire, Mr. Ward was forced to comply with the commissioners' request.
The three envoys reached the mouth of the Peiho about the same time, the British and French being es- corted by a considerable naval force, the American only having the vessel, which brought him, and a light- draught chartered steamer, with which to cross the bar and ascend the Peiho. The Russian treaty had already been exchanged and its minister established at Peking. The mouth of the Peiho was found to be closed by ob- structions, and orders were given to allow no foreign vessel to enter the river or ascend to Tientsin. The commander of the British squadron informed Mr. Ward that unless the obstructions were removed he would proceed to destroy them and the Taku forts, and open by force the way for his minister to Peking. Mr. Ward, desiring to communicate with the authorities,
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 247
and also, if possible, to prevent another outbreak of hostilities, crossed the bar in company with Commodore Tatnall of the Powhatan in the small steamer Toeywan. Before he could communicate with the shore the Toey- wan grounded. The British admiral, seeing the steamer was placed in the immediate locality of the prospective hostilities, sent a steam tug to her relief and sought in vain to get her afloat. Drs. Williams and Martin, secre- tary and interpreter of the legation, went on shore in a small boat and were informed that no one would be permitted to ascend the river, but that the governor- general of the province would meet the envoys at the north entrance of the river, about ten miles away.
The next day Admiral Hope, the British commander^ advanced to the bar with the intention of removing the obstructions from the river, when he was fired upon by the Taku forts. A general engagement followed be- tween the forts and the British and French forces, re- sulting in the complete repulse of the allies with heavy loss of vessels and men. They were overwhelmed with surprise at the effective defense of the Chinese, who had evidently profited by the experience of the engage- ment the year before.
The American minister and commodore were enforced witnesses of the contest. The little steamer on which they were had been floated off by the tide, but could not pass through the line of battle. In the midst of the conflict Commodore Tatnall, hearing that Admiral Hope was dangerously wounded and his vessel disabled, hastened with a boat's crew, as the minister reports, " not to assist him in the fight, but to give his sympa-
248 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
thy to a wounded brother officer whom he saw about to suffer a most mortifying and unexpected defeat." Tat- nall's coxswain was killed at his side in the passage, and although the visit was intended to be one only of sympathy, his boat's crew, finding only three men on the admiral's ship able for duty, while the commodore tendered his sympathy to the admiral, assisted in work- ing the guns.
In addition to this, the commodore, in his enthusiasm, used his steamer to tow into the engagement several barges loaded with British marines which could not make head against the wind and tide. Besides, the steamer was of service in rescuing the wounded and taking them outside of the line of fire. Tatnall's de- fense of his conduct was that " blood was thicker than water ; " that he could not refrain from aid when kins- men were in distress ; and that he was only reciprocat- ing the kindness of the admiral of the day before in sending his tug to draw his vessel off the bar. The commodore's gallant conduct made him famous, but Mr. Ward soon felt the influence of it in his intercourse with the Chinese officials.
The allied forces, after their unexpected defeat, with- drew to Shanghai. The English and French ministers broke off all negotiations, and " were exceedingly anx- ious " that Mr. Ward should likewise do so. But he said to the Secretary of State : " The path of my duty seems to me to be very plain. I arrived here with the English and French ministers, not as an ally, but because the Chinese commissioners insisted on my coming with them ; " that on his arrival at Hongkong he left there
THE CRUMBLING WALL OF CHINA 249
immediately, to avoid complications with other powers ; and that he thought he should continue to seek to carry out his instructions to proceed to Peking and exchange ratifications of the treaty.
Accordingly he went to the place designated for his meeting with the governor-general, was received by him " with every demonstration of respect/' and informed by that official that he was directed by the emperor to escort him to Peking. Without much delay he and his suite of thirty persons were conducted to the capital. Dr. Martin records : " We were the guests of the em- peror, and our wants were provided for with imperial munificence." The minister was met by the treaty commissioners, whom he had left at Shanghai, and in the first conference with them he was told " that an interview with his Majesty the Emperor was absolutely necessary before any other business could be transacted in the capital," and that he would have " to practice the rites and ceremonies necessary to be observed for several days before the audience could take place." Thereupon a long discussion ensued, continuing through two weeks, as to the manner of conducting this audi- ence. The Chinese commissioners first insisted that Mr. Ward should observe the universal custom at court and perform the kotou, or prostration, before the em- peror, and when met by an indignant and absolute refusal, they offered to waive that ceremony if he would kneel on both knees, but finally expressed a willingness to accept an obeisance on one knee from the American minister. This matter had been the subject of discus- sion between Lord Elgin and the Chinese at Tientsin,
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and while the noble lord had stoutly refused to fall upon both knees in presence of his Celestial Majesty, he had consented to bow on one knee, and this fact was urged upon the American envoy. But Mr. Ward was obdurate ; in the spirit of the Southern cavalier he answered, " I kneel only to God and woman." " The emperor," rejoined the Chinese, "is the same as God." The republican representative was not convinced, and he said that he would do only that which was required by the President of his own country in receiving foreign ministers ; he would bow respectfully, and do nothing more.
It seems strange at this day that a discussion of this character should be prolonged through weeks, and in the end result in the dismissal from the capital of the representative of a great nation, but the question was regarded by the Chinese as one of supreme importance. Their ruler was in their eyes of divine origin and au- thority, and the ceremony of prostration in his presence had been practiced for countless ages as an act not only of respect but of worship, and of recognition of his exaltation above all earthly powers. Lord Elgin wrote the British government that to disregard the ancient customs, " in the opinion of the Chinese, would shake the stability of the empire, by impairing the emperor's prestige." It would do great violence to the education and national pride of the court councilors to agree to forego the kotou, and it was regarded by them as a great concession, a mark of gracious condescension, and the highest evidence of friendship, to admit the Amer- ican minister into the emperor's presence with the sim- ple act of an obeisance upon one knee.
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No agreement could be reached as to the audience, and Mr. Ward was told that consequently no other business could be transacted at the capital. He claimed that, as the British treaty provided for the exchange of its ratifications at Peking, under the most favored nation treatment he was entitled to have the American treaty exchanged there also. But the Chinese answered that the British treaty was not yet in force, and hence its privileges could not be availed of by other powers. As the American treaty was silent respecting the place of exchange, Mr. Ward was forced to accept the Chinese proposal to make the exchange of ratifications at the mouth of the Peiho.
The commissioners, however, agreed to one exception to the resolution to allow no business to be transacted by Mr. Ward at the capital. The President's autograph letter to the emperor, which should have been delivered at the audience that never took place, was upon the emperor's appointment received by Kweiliang, one of the treaty commissioners, who, Mr. Ward writes, was " the emperor's prime minister, and the second man in the empire to the emperor himself. It was received by him with every mark of respect elevating it above his eyes, he placed it upon a table, under a guard of honor, until it could be conveyed to the emperor."
The minister and his suite, while outwardly treated with civility, were kept virtually as prisoners during their stay at the capital, their quarters being guarded by soldiers, and no one permitted to communicate with them. Anticipating the visit to Peking, the Secretary of State had solicited of the Russian government the
252 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
good offices of its minister, then resident there, and that minister made efforts to communicate with Mr. Ward, but all his letters were withheld, and his messengers and members of his suite were refused access to the American quarters.
His mission to the capital having proved fruitless, Mr. Ward returned to Pehtang, situated on one of the mouths of the Peiho, where he had landed, and there, "with every mark of respect," the exchange of the treaty was effected with the governor-general of the province. During the discussions at Peking reference was made to the acts of Commodore Tatnall, and it was stated that the emperor required the Jcotou " in proof of sincere repentance " for the aid rendered the British. After the treaty had been exchanged, the governor- general stated that his Majesty had directed him, as a mark of his peculiar favor to the minister, to deliver to him an American prisoner taken at the attack upon the forts. The prisoner when brought in acknowledged that he was a Canadian in the British navy, and to secure better treatment he had told the Chinese that he was an American, and that there was a body of two hundred Americans who took part in the attack.
The course pursued by Mr. Ward after the allies re- tired from the Peiho exposed him to the criticism of his colleagues and to the ridicule of the press, but it was in line with his instructions, and met with the approval of his government. His treatment at Peking was an affront to himself and his country, but one which he could not well have anticipated, and through which he bore him- self with dignity and self-possession. It was a part of
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the policy adopted by his government even to accept affronts with forbearance and exercise patience towards a people with very different traits of national character and education. And yet the Chinese regarded the American minister as very unreasonable, and as " having treated the emperor with disrespect " in not accepting the form of audience offered him.
The Chinese mission did not prove a very attractive field for American statesmen. Messrs. McLane and Reed had asked to be relieved within a year after arrival at their posts ; and Mr. Ward wrote from the mouth of the Peiho, following the British defeat at the Taku forts, less than four months after reaching Hongkong, for permission to return home. On arriving at Can- ton, after his somewhat inglorious visit to Peking, he received this permission, and in December, 1859, Dr. Williams assumed charge of the legation. 1
The events in China of the eighteen months which followed were memorable in its history and of vast con- sequence to its future ; but in them the United States took little part. A change of administration and the civil war in America were impending, absorbing the at- tention of the government, and a new minister was not sent to the country till the events there in progress had their consummation. The British and French allied forces had demanded and sought to exercise the right
1 S. Ex. Doc. 30 (cited), 569-624 ; Martin's Cathay, pt. i. chap, xii.; Williams's Life and Letters, chap, ix.; Harper's Mag. Oct. 1898, p. 747. As to kotou, S. Ex. Doc. 30, p. 595 ; Martin's Cathay, 199 ; N. A. Rev. Jan. 1860, pp. 159, 166 ; 1 Davis' s The Chinese, 97; Histoire des Rela- tions Politiques . . . Suivie du Ceremonial observe* a la cour de Peking pour la Reception des Ambassadeurs, G. Pauthier, Paris, 1859.
264 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT
to ascend one of the rivers of China to an interior city, which was not open to foreign trade and travel. The imperial authorities asked their envoys to land at the mouth of the river and go to Peking under Chinese escort. The Chinese were technically right in their position, and for a third time the British began hostili- ties against China upon an issue in which they were in the wrong. And yet the treatment of the American minister at Peking proved that the Chinese could not be brought to a faithful observance of the treaties ex- cept by further coercive measures.
In 1860 Lord Elgin and Baron Gros were again sent out, backed by a large naval and land force of the allied powers. The Taku forts were a third time assaulted, and with success, and a formidable army marched over- land to the capital and there dictated peace, the emperor and his court fleeing to the north, and his palace being plundered and burned. The treaties of Tientsin were ratified and exchanged, Tientsin was opened to foreign trade, indemnities and a cession of territory were ex- acted because of the war, and the right of diplomatic residence at Peking and equality of official intercourse were guaranteed. 1
The second stage in the advancement of China to a proper position among the nations was thus brought about by the rough argument of war. The journey yet unaccomplished was to be made with reluctant and
1 McCarthy's Hist. chap, xlii.; Boulger's Hist China, 267 ; Williams's Hist. China, 319; Personal Narrative of Occurrences during Lord Elgin's Second Embassy to China, 1860, by H. B. Loch, London, 1870 ; Narrative of the War with China in 1860, by Lord Wolseley, London, 1862.
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painful steps, sometimes by diplomatic pressure, and sometimes by force of arms. It will be seen that the United States, still persisting in its policy of peace, con- tinued its cooperation with the European powers in breaking down the ancient barriers of conservatism and arrogance, while at the same time not unmindful of the forbearance due to that country because of those peculiar traits of its government and people.