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Having tried to approach the Koreans through China, and having failed, the next attempt to make a treaty with Korea was directed through Japan. In 1880, Commodore R. W. Shufeldt entered the harbor of Fusan in the U. S. S. Ticonderoga, armed with credentials to negotiate a treaty, and fortified with letters of introduction from Japan. These letters were significant, for four years before the Japanese had succeeded in negotiating a treaty with Korea in which was inserted: '' Chosen, being an independent state, enjoys the same sovereign rights as does Nippon." In other words, Japan had secured from Korea a statement which undermined the assertion of suzerainty made by China. The attempt of Shufeldt to deal with Korea through Japan, was an indication that the United States shared, with reference to Korea, the views held by China's rival.4
The first Shufeldt Mission failed as completely as the Low-Rodgers Mission had failed, and many well informed people believed that it had failed because the Japanese did not, any more than the Chinese, desire to see Korea opened freely to the trade of all nations.
At any rate Li Hung Chang did not overlook the implications to be found in the fact that an American Commissioner to Korea had carried a letter of introduction from Tokio. Already the relations between China and Japan were becoming strained over Korea. Russia was also pressing down upon China; the Kuldja dispute was not settled. The astute Viceroy foresaw the struggle with both Japan and Russia in which China would have to engage at no very distant day in order to maintain the asserted suzerainty over Korea. Looking at the peninsula with a soldier's eye, Li Hung Chang saw in Korea the outer ramparts of the Chinese Empire. Whoever held Korea could be a formidable menace to China. But the Viceroy knew that, if the matter were to come to blows with either Japan or Russia, China unaided, would be quite unable to maintain its claim over Korea.
Facing this difficult political situation, Li lost no time in sending an invitation to Commodore Shufeldt to come to Tientsin. Even before a conference took place, he intimated to the American Commissioner that China would give assistance in securing a treaty between the United States and Korea. The Viceroy would appear to have been moved by the following considerations: (1) the opening of Korea could not long be postponed and therefore it was better that the first treaty, which would be the model for the others, should be with the United States; (2) it might also be possible to effect a treaty by which the United States would in some measure become a guarantor that Korea would not be conquered, or sequestered by a third power.
4 Charles Oscar Paullin, The Opening of Korea by Commodore Shufeldt, Pol. Sei. Quart. Vol. XXV, No. 3, pp. 478 ff.; China Despatches, Vol. 55, No. 21, Angell to Secretary of State, Sept. 27, 1880; Vol. 57, No. 30, Hoicombe to Secretary of State, Dec. 19, 1881.
Commodore Shufeldt returned to China in the latter part of 1881 and spent the winter in Tientsin where he had frequent conferences with Li Hung Chang and various drafts of a proposed treaty with Korea were drawn up and compared. The Viceroy's first draft contained the good-offices clause, and in all the various revisions it was retained. The treaty was approved in its final form by Li Hung Chang, sent to Korea with his approval, and Shufeldt followed a day later. He experienced no difficulty whatever in securing the signatures of the Korean Commissioners. The Chinese, as well as the Koreans, were delighted; the Japanese were in equal measure aggrieved. A few years later, however, the Japanese were well pleased for they saw in the treaty, the text of which assumed the independence of Korea, an underwriting of their treaty of 1876.
Such, in its briefest form, was the situation when the United States engaged to use its good offices for Korea.5
The impression is so wide-spread that the United States proved a false friend in these engagements to two weak and defenceless states that it is especially important to note the actual history relating to them.
In the summer of 1859, the representatives of Great Britain, France and the United States met in Shanghai prepared to exchange the ratifications of the treaties of Tientsin. The British and the French were intent upon proceeding to Tientsin, with naval and military escorts suited to their dignity, and thence advancing to Peking where the ratifications were to be exchanged. The Chinese were equally intent on preventing the missions from proceeding to Peking by way of Tientsin, and were hardly less reluctant to have the missions accompanied by more than a very modest guard. The British were very insistent, and very impatient. It is, indeed, difficult to resist the conclusion that they were bent upon picking a quarrel. They accused the Chinese of bad faith and of being unwilling to admit the passage of the missions to Peking. The Chinese replied that they were
5 Reports of the Shufeldt negotiations with Li Hung Chang and with the Korean Commissioners are to be found in the China Despatches, Vols. 55, 57, 58, 59, filed according to dates; Angell to Secretary of State, No. 30, Oct. 11, 1880; No. 33, Oct. 22, 1880; Holcombe to Secretary of State, No. 30, Dec. 19, 1881; No. 37, Dec. 29, 1881; Shufeldt to Secretary of State, July 1, 1881, Jan. 20, Jan. 23, Mar. 11, Mar. 28, April 10, April 28, May 13, May 22, May 24, May 29, June 8, June 12, and June 26, 1882.
For the international relations of Japan throughout the period under discussion see article by Nagao Ariga on "Japanese Diplomacy" in Alfred Stead [Ed.], Japan by the Japanese, London, 1904, Chap. XI. This chapter, an unblushing account of the motives and methods of Japanese diplomacy from 1860 to 1900, contains evidence of having been prepared from official records, and may be accepted as semi-official in its statements. References to this chapter in the following pages would be so numerous as to be wearisome, and are, therefore, except in a few cases, omitted.
willing that the ratifications be exchanged in Peking, but the path by way of Tientsin was barred.0
The British and French envoys attempted to force their way up to Tientsin past the Taku Forts. On June 25,1859, the batteries opened upon each other and after a bloody battle in the midst of which was born the famous "blood is thicker than water" incident,7 the allies were forced to retire. The United States Minister, John E. Ward, who was by no means an impartial spectator of the battle, and yet who was bound to the strictest neutrality by his instructions, succeeded in getting into communication with the Chinese and experienced little difficulty in reaching Peking by a route which the Chinese had selected.
Meanwhile, the Chinese, becoming alarmed by their success at Taku and by the ominous silence which followed, invited the good offices of Minister Ward to mediate with the representatives of England and France, with a view to peace.8 Ward replied that even before his services had been requested he had tried to mediate, but that at that time there had been no one willing to receive his message. He was still disposed to use his good offices if they were requested, but suggested that it would be well for the Chinese first to ratify the treaty. Notwithstanding this apparent desire to deal with the United States on a basis of peculiar friendship. Ward and his party were miserably treated at Peking. When he returned to the South, he wrote in a private letter to Secretary of State Cass, February 13, 1860,9 that he felt it to be his duty to keep aloof from the approaching struggle unless his good offices were again requested. But the Chinese were at that time too distracted to think of such measures and as for the British and the French, they would have scorned any other than military measures. They were determined to administer to China such a chastisement as the Empire would never forget, and they succeeded completely in the autumn of 1860.
The second occasion for the mediation of the United States in Asia did not fall directly under the provisions of any treaty and yet a note of it is important for it shows that in its desire to seek peace and the welfare of the
e The British despatches, and the British and French historians all unite in the indictment of bad faith on the part of the Chinese. See, Correspondence with Mr. Bruce, 1859; correspondence respecting China, 1859-60; Cordier, Expedition de Chine, 1860; Douglas, Europe in the Far East, p. 113 ff.
The American records, however (see Ward Correspondence, 8. Ex. Doc. 30, 36-1, pp. 575 ff., particularly p. 611; Williams Journal, p. 143), make it practically certain that the Chinese were acting in all sincerity and according to the provisions of the treaty.
» For brief account, see TJ. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 40, p. 1085.
8 Ward Correspondence, Desp. of Aug. 20, 1859, p. 594. Williams Journal, p. 153.
» China Despatches, Vol. 19, Ward to Cass, Feb. 13, 1860.
Asiatic States, the United States was bound by the spirit more than by the letter of a treaty.
In 1861 Russia occupied the Island of Tsushima midway between Japan and Korea. The island was of the utmost strategic importance, for it commanded the Sea of Japan. (It was in this vicinity that Admiral Rodjestovesky's fleet was destroyed by the Japanese May 27-8, 1905.) The Russians built barracks and planted seed, as though they had every intention of remaining permanently.10 Townsend Harris, American Minister in Yeddo, reported the presence of the Russians to Secretary of State Seward, October 7, 1861. He wrote:
For the last eighteen months many officials, English and French, and civilians and naval men, have frequently declared that war with Japan was inevitable, and that it could only end in the partition of the country (Japan). It is said that the Russian Commander justified his action by referring to those declarations, adding that he remains at Tsushima solely for the purpose of preventing its falling into the power of the English or French.11
Shortly after this Mr. R. H. Pruyn arrived in Japan to relieve Harris. Seward, whose whole Far Eastern policy is worthy of careful study, wrote to Pruyn, with a confidence in his ability and in the good-will of Russia which now seems astonishing, as follows:
If the occupation of Tsushima still is an object of anxiety to his Majesty the Tycoon, I will at once call the attention of the President to the matter, and with his authority which I doubt not will be granted, I will, in the name of this government, as the friend of Japan, as well as of Russia, seek from the latter explanations which I should hope would be satisfactory to Japan.12
But before this proposal, so significant as an item in American history, reached Japan, Admiral Sir James Hope, supported by a formidable fleet, had ordered the Russians to leave the island and they had obeyed. Meanwhile the Japanese, who had other matters of dispute with Russia, had entered into friendly negotiations with the great state which had recently become their neighbor, and the good offices of the United States became unnecessary.
It cannot be denied that the action of the British fleet was more appropriate for the occasion than the offer of Mr. Seward. The difficulties of securing the consent of Russia to the mediation of any of her Far Eastern projects became evident to the United States only a few years later.
Russia, unceremoniously driven from Tsushima, was all the more intent on securing a clear title to the island of Sakhalin, which lies along the coast
io Griffis' Hermit Kingdom, p. 205; Douglas' Europe in the Far East, p. 190.
n Japan Despatches, Vol. 4.
12 Japan Instructions, Vol. 1, Feb. 5, 1862.
of Siberia southward from the mouth of the Amur. The Russians had lodged a claim for this island as early as 1804.18
In September, 1870, after long and fruitless negotiations with Russia, in which Japan was inducted into some of the most questionable methods of European diplomacy, the latter country made a formal application to the United States, through United States Minister C. E. DeLong, for mediation, and Secretary of State Fish immediately took the matter up in an informal way with Russia." Through the American minister in St. Petersburg, Russia replied graciously, explaining that it would not be possible to submit the matter to mediation because a precedent would thus be established which some unfriendly European powers might subsequently turn to the disadvantage of Russia.
Meanwhile, the Japanese evidently placed little reliance on the effective good offices of the United States for, without notifying the American Minister, they took the matter up with Russia directly, and invited her to send a plenipotentiary to Yeddo to settle the matter.
Maria Luz Case, 1872.
Two years later, Japan accepted a plan of mediation in the Maria Luz case."
A Peruvian coolie ship from China was forced to put in at Yokohama. The Japanese promptly freed the coolies. Peru sought the good offices of the United States in the settlement of the consequent claim against Japan. The American government accepted the duty with the express stipulation that it could do nothing which would imply approval of the coolie trade. At the suggestion of the United States, the claim was referred to the Emperor of Russia, who awarded the decision to Japan, May 29, 1875. The reference of this matter to Russia became especially easy because in 1864 Mr. Pruyn had agreed to submit a disputed claim of the United States against Japan to the arbitration of the Czar. As a matter of fact the American claim had been settled without reference to St. Petersburg, but the discussion had given the United States an opportunity to show its willingness to conform its practice to its preaching.14
American Policy In The Far East
The above noted instances of the use of good offices are of relatively slight importance except by way of preface to the very important disputes
is For a history of the controversy see Stead, op. ext. pp. 149 ff.
"Japan Despatches, Vol. 13, No. 7, Jan. 11, 1870; Japan Instructions, Vol. 1, No. 85, Jan. 17, 1871; Russia Instructions, No. 65, Nov. 11, 1870; Russia Despatches, No. 91, Dec. 9, 1870.
"Moore's Digest, Vol. 2, p. 655.
"Jackson Payson Treat, Japan and the United States, pp. 70, 100, 101; Treat, Early Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Japan, 1853-65, p. 249; Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863, II, p. 1079; For. Rel., 1873, Vol. 1, p. 613.