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notable instance, when the government had discovered smuggling and was adopting proper means to prevent it, the minister of Great Britain threatened to land troops to assist his countrymen in violation of Japanese regulations.
The tariff concessions also, extorted from the government in the same manner, have involved the country in financial distress. Under their provisions little more than four per cent • can be collected by Japan upon imports from Europe, but the representative of Great Britain still clamored for reductions and finally succeeded in securing the promise of further rebates. By threats and importunities his suggestions and demands have from time to time been acceded to until it appeared that the government, to avoid loss in the collection of its scanty revenues, would be obliged to close its custom houses and declare its ports free to the world. The natural result of this foreign interference with the tariff has been to destroy a legitimate source of revenue and to burden the agricultural interests with taxes that they are unable to pay. Under these circumstances the government is fettered and prevented from adopting adequate measures for the relief of the people, who, groaning under taxes and indignant at the wrongs imposed upon them by foreigners, are beginning to evince those feelings of detestation for the government and disdain for Europeans that may, when least expected, overwhelm the country with terrible internal disorders.
RELATIONS WITH KOREA, SAMOA, AND SIAM.
The Kingdom of Korea.
THE kingdom of Korea is situated in the northwestern part of Asia on the Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 82,000 square miles (about that of the state of Kansas), and is a peninsula like Florida, with a population variously estimated at from eight to sixteen millions. The religion of the country is Buddhist and the Chinese language is spoken. Until within recent years, Korea has been closed to the world. The policy
of the government, like that long practiced by China and Japan, was to exclude all foreigners from the country and to prevent its citizens from going abroad; hence it has remained for ages in a state of seclusion and until lately very little was known of it by the people of the West.
The United States was the first nation to attempt relations with Korea, and this was due to a curious series of circumstances. An American citizen named Frederick Jenkins, who had for some time served as interpreter at the United States consulate general at Shanghai, formed a small band of conspirators of various nationalities in China, chartered an American schooner, the General Sherman, and sailed for Korea early in 1868 for the purpose of robbing the tombs of the deceased sovereigns of that country and holding their remains for ransom. Having sailed up a river some distance into the interior, the party cast anchor and several of the crew
went ashore, when, after offering some indignities to the people, they were arrested. Afterwards reinforcements from the Sherman came to their assistance, rescued them, and took them on board. This conduct, however, inflamed the people to such a degree that they attacked the party, killed eight of them, carried the others ashore, and destroyed the vessel. The leader, Jenkins, escaped and returned to China.
In March, 1868, shortly after this event, the United States
ship Shenandoah, then in Chinese waters, visited Ko
rea. Upon her return, in May, 1868,
the commander reported that although he had slight intercourse with some of the natives on the coast, he had failed to
learn anything in reference to the de
struction of the
Sherman and the
fate of the persons
captured on board that vessel.
In April follow
ing, commissioners from Korea were sent to Shanghai with the object of learning the state of feeling with reference to the destruction of the Sherman and the killing of the persons on board that vessel, and to consult with the United States consul general as to the propriety of sending an em
bassy to Washington to explain the circumstances connected with the affair. They also represented that their government was considering the question of proposing the adoption of a treaty of friendship and commerce between the two nations. Mr. Seward, becoming interested in the subject, communicated some suggestions to the Department of State in reference to the propriety of making such a treaty and the correspondence was continued for some time. Meanwhile Admiral Rogers of the United States Navy, then in Chinese waters, also addressed our government upon the same subject and urged the negotiation of a treaty for the protection of shipwrecked seamen.
After prolonged consideration the secretary of state instructed Mr. Frederick F. Low, our minister to China, to confer with the Chinese government in reference to the conclusion of a treaty with Korea. This course was adopted for the reason that Korea was, in some respects, tributary to China and it was therefore deemed proper and advisable to secure first the good will and, if practicable, the good offices of that government. The Chinese minister of foreign relations, with characteristic eastern diplomacy, had little to say upon the subject that might involve him in any responsibility, but took occasion to inform Mr. Low that their relations with Korea were not such as to prevent the latter country from making such a treaty.
The preliminaries having been as far as possible arranged, the American commissioners, Mr. Low, Admiral Rogers, and Mr. Seward, with a squadron consisting of the United States vessels Colorado, Alaska, Benicia, Monocacy, and Palos, sailed from China, and arrived, May 30, 1871, off the coast of Korea at the mouth of the Salée River, fifty miles from Séoul, the capital of the country. Some of the natives, after the display of their customary caution and reserve, were
induced, by the friendly demonstrations of the Americans, to come on board, where they were entertained with kindness and attention and informed of the object of the visit. They were also advised that it was the intention of the admiral to send a surveying party up the river on the following day for the purpose of marking out the channel, to which he hoped no objections would be made; and he requested that the natives might be informed of their object and that, as their mission was peaceful, no hostile demonstrations might be made toward them. The natives replied that there would be no trouble about the survey but that, in the matter of a treaty, the people and the king were averse to contracting relations with foreign powers.
The surveying party, in the Palos, Monocacy, and some steam launches, started on June 1, 1871, making soundings and scientific observations, but, upon arriving at a sharp angle some distance up the river, batteries on either side of the stream were unmasked and fire opened upon the Americans. The vessels however soon silenced the batteries and drove the natives from their forts, after which they returned to the squadron. Some days were spent, after this occurrence, in a correspondence with the local officials with a view to a peaceful adjustment of affairs, but their stubborn reticence rendered every effort futile. Although informed that an apology for the attack upon the surveying party was expected from them, they studiously ignored the subject in their replies to the commissioners. Another expedition was therefore arranged and sailed up the river on June 10, 1871, returning two days later, after having captured five forts, which, with the munitions of war found in them, were destroyed. Our minister, Mr. Low, now made another effort to open negotiations with the government by sending ashore a letter directed to the king, which was promptly returned unopened.