THE CHINESE QUESTION

April 12
Washington
, DC

-The President this afternoon sent the House the following message, which was read, and with accompanying documents, referred to the committee on education and labor;

In response to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 12th of February last, on the subject of negotiations concerning the immigration of Chinese to the United States. I transmit herewith a report of the Secretary of State, to whom the matter was referred.

April 12, 1880
Washington
, DC

To the House of Representatives:
The report, after setting forth the resolution to which it is a response, states that the committee on the resolution of the 25th of February, 1878, requesting the President to open correspondence with China and Great Britain, received no final action by Congress. No steps, therefore, have been taken or could have been taken in formal pursuance of the request of the resolution. But the subject matter of this resolution was brought to the attention of the diplomatic representatives of the United States in China. The Minister was absent upon leave to enable him to attend upon the pleasure of the House of Representatives from the Legation at Peking, from June, 1878, until June, 1879. On April 23, 1879, when about to return to his mission, he was specially instructed that as the Chinese ministers in this country were understood not to have been furnished with powers or instructions to treat in regard to questions growing out of the presence of their people in California, it would be necessary to conduct negotiations on that subject in Peking. The character of the Chinese movement toward our Pacific coast and contract system, under which much of it was believed to be contracted, was specifically called to his attention, and he was informed that the government shared the apprehensions entertained on the Pacific coast; that social and political derangements must result from an excessive increase of that people. He was instructed to press earnestly on the Chinese government the grounds of that apprehension, and to invite full and frank discussion as to the proper course of negotiation to relieve it, but as our own people resident in China enjoy many important treaty privileges, and as it was desirable to work out the results sought without disturbing the good feeling now existing between the two countries or impair the opportunities and prospects inuring to us under the existing treaties, he was directed to ascertain with precision the disposition of the Chinese government and to give assurances which would enable us to proceed with such further negotiations as might be deemed necessary. No information has yet been received which enables me to say more than that our representations have been accepted in an amicable spirit and with respectful consideration, and that a satisfactory solution can be reasonably anticipated from negotiations thus opened and in progress. No correspondence on this subject has been had with the government of Great Britain, nor does it seem that it would be either useful or opportune to open such correspondence until the results of the negotiations with China are more definitely determined, as the only object of such correspondence would be in reference to certain practical regulations at Hong Kong, the chief point of departure for immigrants from China. While, therefore, in consequence of the interruption of Minister Seward's residence at Peking and the intrinsic gravity and difficulty of the subject, no treaty has yet been concluded, nor the extent to which a concurrence between the two governments may be anticipated has yet been ascertained. Still a proposition has been laid for a definite and conclusive disposition of the matter under the auspices of the diplomatic commission to which the subject is intended to be committed. In this position of incomplete negotiations, it manifestly seems incompatible with the public interests to make public the pending correspondence.

WM. M. EVARTS.

go to top of page