Charles Frederick Holder.

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' ' a sincere friendship and an honor-
' ' able confidence that the large powers
' ' recognized by them as belonging to
" the United States, and bearing
11 directly upon the interests of their
' ' own people, will be exercised by our
V Government with a wise discretion,
' ' in a spirit of reciprocal and siyicere
"friendship, and with entire justice."

Whatever may be thought of this
one-sided arrangement, it is sufficient
to say that, trusting to the assurances
of these honorable gentlemen, the Chi-
nese Government was satisfied with it.

How far these solemn obligations
have been fulfilled by this country, the
long series of congressional and munic-
ipal anti-Chinese legislation since that
treaty was signed, and the sickening
record of unprovoked, unpunished and
unatoned brutality perpetrated upon
Chinese in this country, will testify.
The ink of the treaty signatures was
hardly dry when the Chinese Minister
at Washington was compelled to call

the attention of the Department of
State to the brutal riot that had just
taken place at Denver, in which un-
offending Chinese iu that city had
been slain, wounded and plundered,
as the coroner's inquest charged,
through the apathy and incapacity of
the authorities of that city. The min-
ister after quoting the words of the
treaty, asked that the guilty parties
be brought to justice and the sufferers
compensated for the losses to their
property and business, Mr. Evarts
replied that, under the Constitution of
the United States, the Federal author-
ities could not interfere with the munic-
ipal affairs of a State of the Union;
that the Government was not respon-
sible for the losses sustained by the
Chinese, and he suggested that the
Chinese refer their grievances to the
regular tribunals of the State. In
reply to this dispatch the Chinese
minister, with knock-down logic,
made the pertinent remark that the
Chinese. Government did not make
treaties w T ith the State of Colorado,
but with the Government of the
United States. When an anti-foreign
riot has taken place in China, Amer-
ican war vessels are sent up the rivers
to cover American property with
their guns. Thousands of dollars
indemnity are paid, and many heads
are chopped off in atonement for
wrongs inflicted upon our people
there, but in Denver nobody was ever
punished, and not a cent was ever paid
by way of compensation for losses and
ill-treatment more barbarous than any
American ever suffered in China.

There is no space to tell of the
bloody massacre at Rock Springs, and
of cruel outrages upon defenceless
wretches at Tacoma, Seattle, Eureka,
and a hundred other places. The
ghastly record would fill a volume.
Yet our Government* had pledged its
word that "so far as those Chinese
" are concerned who under treaty
4< guarantee have come to the United
" States, the Government recognizes

*See Foreign Relations 1881, page 173.



11 but one duty, and that is to main-
" tain them in the exercise of their
" treaty privileges against any oppo-
11 sition, whether it takes the form of
" popular violence, or of legislative
11 enactment." Either the Govern-
ment of this country made promises
which it knew it could not perform, or
else it miserably failed to carry out
its pledges. How we have protected
Chinese residents against "popular
violence ' ' has been seen ; how we
have maintained them against unjust
"legislative enactment " will appear
further on.

In May, 1882, Congress proceeded
to take full advantage of the Angel 1
treaty, and passed an Act, the first sec-
tion of which reads as follows: " That
11 from and after the expiration of
" ninety days after the passage of this
" Act the coming of Chinese laborers
" to the United States, be, and the
" same is hereby suspended for ten
" years ; and during such suspension
H it shall not be lawful for any Chi-
" nese laborers to come, or having .so
" come after the expiration of ninety
" days, to remain within the United
11 States."

It will be seen that the law was not
aimed at the exclusion of bad char-
acters, such as highbinders, gamblers
and tramps, but of Chinese laborers —
those whose only crime was honest
industry. The gates were thus shut
against all newcomers save the mer-
chant and gentry class. The Chinese
already in the United States at the
time this Act was passed were assured
liberty to go and return at their pleas-
ure, after procuring certificates from
the Custom House stating that the
person therein described was entitled
to land in the United States. The
writer was in China at the time this
Act was passed, and well remembers
the effect produced upon the people of
that part of China that was the center
of the emigration movement to Cali-
fornia. He remembers one day
preaching in a temple square in the
city of San Wei, when suddenly a
half brick whizzed close past his head

accompanied by the remark : " You
people will not have us in your coun-
try and we mean to drive you out of

That the Restriction Act did its
work effectually and well, the records
of arrivals and departures for the six
years following will testify. The Act
had been in operation less than three
years, and it was found from the
Custom's record that during that time
40,222 Chinese had departed for China,
as against 18,704 arriving here. The
law was working all right till some
rascally officials — not Chinese — went
into the bogus-certificate business ;
and the courts began to admit "prior
residents. ' ' The Supreme Court made
a mistake when it permitted the
landing of those Chinese who could
prove they had resided in the United
States prior to the Act of 1882, because
it opened a wide door for perjury and
fraud. It is safe to say that not a
single Chinese laborer would have
been illegally in this country, had our
courts and officials acted in strict ac-
cordance with the law.

It was not long before another
remorseless crusade was started with
the old, eternal war cry, "The Chinese
must go." Murder, outrage and vio-
lence were the order of the day.
Chinatowns in different places were
burned and the inhabitants driven out.
The writer used to see Chinese chased
down the streets of San Francisco
every day, pursued and pelted by a
hoodlum crowd, while white store-
keepers stood at their doors and
watched the fun with as much interest
as I have seen Englishmen enjoy a
fox hunt, and with as little regard for
the feelings of .the poor fox.

In 18S8, a Presidential election was
approaching and it was evident that
some new legislation would have to
be enacted to catch the Pacific Coast
vote. Each party vied with the other
for the honor of proposing the most
rigorous measures against the Chinese.
A treaty was hastily negotiated and
actually accepted by China, but was
afterwards so offensively amended by

iii its ratification by the Chinese Gov-
ernment. There was really no ground
to apprehend that China would not
accept it. Mr. Evarts said, "There
" has not been any approach that this
" Government has made to China in
11 our domestic interests * * *
" that the great nation confronting us
■ ' has not met in the most conciliatory
" and yielding attitude."

The Chinese Government of course,
did not understand the ways of our
politics and the exigencies of electoral
warfare. Hence they saw no reason
for departing from their custom of
slow and careful deliberation of state
affairs. Minister Denby telegraphed
that the treaty was still under consid-
eration, but Congress grew impatient.
Legislators at Washington with their
ear at the Pacific Coast became excited,
rushed into session and passed an
Act that is admitted to be a disgrace-
ful blot upon the statute book of the
United States, being an abrogation of
every sacred pledge ever made to
China by this country. This law
called the "Scott Exclusion Act,"
provided that no Chinese laborer in
this country at the date of its passage,
October, 1888, or who at any time prior
to that date, had ever been in this
country, or who should leave the United
States, or had left and not returned
should have the right to return; it fur-
ther cancelled and declared void over
20,000 outstanding certificates, each
certificate being nothing less than a
promise over the seal of our Govern-
ment that the holder being the person
therein described, should be permitted
to land on his return to the United
States ; it also excluded and sent back
to China several hundreds of Chinese
laborers, who had embarked in ignor-
ance of the change and who were on
the high seas at the time President
Cleveland signed the bill. It was
known that China had not rejected the
proposed treaty, yet the bill was
signed and became a law amidst
salvos of cannon, bursting of rockets,
and ringing of joy bells. Such was



the attitude of this country to China
in 1888 — a very striking contrast to
that of 1868. What a swing of the
pendulum in exactly twenty years !
Think of the love-making, the flat-
teries, the tender embraces and pro-
testations of indissoluble amity on the
part of Miss Columbia in her ad-
dresses to the aged Mr. China, cul-
minating in the wedding of 1868 ;
and then see the fair dame in 1888,
tired and disappointed, because she
had not got all the money out of the
poor old gentleman that she expected,
then suing for divorce, and even
trying to kick the poor old man out of
doors. Alas for human fickleness !
Speaking of the Scott Act, Mr. Evarts
asserted that " it was the first time in
" the diplomatic history of this coun-
" try of an intervention by legislative
11 action, while there was a treaty
" negotiated by this Government,
11 pending for adoption by a foreign
" country." Mr. Sherman declared
that ' ' if Great Britain were to act
' ' thus towards the American people,
" he would not hesitate to vote either
" for a declaration of non-intercourse
" or war.". If any person has any
doubt of this act being a violation of
treaty stipulations, let him read the
decision of the Supreme Court which
distinctly says, ' * The Act is in contra-
vention of the express stipulations of
the Treaty of 1868 and of the supple-
mental treaty of 1880," and goes on
to say that while that court could not
be a censor of the morals of other
departments, the will of Congress,
though in plain violation of the treaty,
must be obeyed. In the correspond-
ence between Mr. Blaine and the
Chinese minister, Chang Yen Hoon,
which followed this bill, an ignorant
stranger might suppose the dispatches
of the latter to emanate from a digni-
fied Christian official, expostulating
with some heathen government for its
breach of faith. Every American
must blush to think that a heathen
minister, accredited to our capital, had
any ground for addressing such a
dignified yet scathing communication


to our Department of State as that
from which the following words are
quoted: "In my country we have
*' acted upon the conviction that
" where two nations deliberately and
" solemnly entered upon treaty stipula-
" tions, they thereby formed a sacred
" compact from which they could not
" be honorably discharged, except
" through friendly negotiations and
" a new agreement. I was, therefore,
11 not prepared to learn through the
" medium of that great tribunal (the
11 Supreme Court) that there was a
" way recognized in the law and prac-
" tice of this country whereby your
" Government could release itself from
" treaty obligations without consul ta-
i( tion with, or consent of the other
" party to what we had been aceus-
" tomed to regard as a sacred instru-
" ment."

He then goes 0:1 to remind Mr.
Blaine that while it was the United
States and not China that had desired
a treaty in the first instance, the
Chinese Government had faithfully
kept their part of the covenant in all
its integrity, and had maintained in-
violate the rights of Americans in
China. There is no question that
China has kept faith with this coun-
try. Never once has she gone back
on her word of promise. There may
have been attacks upon foreigners in
China in which Americans have suf-
fered, but the Government has always
done its best to protect them ; and
when it has failed, it has admitted its
responsibility, has arrested and pun-
ished the guilty, and lias had the
good grace to make what in nine cases
out of ten we have not done, full rep-
aration for loss and damage. Some
ignorant people have urged that China
has broken faith with us, in permit-
ting her people to come to these shores
in defiance of the treaty of 1880,
whereby she agreed to our proposed
laws for the restriction of the immi-
gration of laborers. The answer is
short and complete. There is not a
single Chinese immigrant in this coun-
try who has come direct from China

to this country. All the Chinese in
this land embarked at the port of Vic-
toria in the British colony of Hong-
kong, and the Emperor of China has
no more power to stop the emigration
from that port than he has to stop the
emigration to this land from Cork

It was hoped that when the nation
recovered from the excitement of the
1888 election, reflection and better
counsels would bring the nation to its
senses. Some twinges of conscience
did follow, accompanied by a better
feeling towards the Chinese.

While some felt humiliated that
Congress had gone so far, the majority
felt it had gone quite far enough.
Alas ! our amiabilities and good re-
st lives were as evanescent as the tints
of cloud land. When the fifty-second
Congress assembled, another presi-
dential election was approaching.
Another bait was needed to catch the
votes of the Pacific Coast. National
honor was nothing compared with the
transcendent glory of political power.
This time the nation's conscience was
so dead that no such preliminary as a
modification of the treaty was ever
thought of. The first bill introduced
proposed to shut our ports against all
Chinese but Government officials, and
was carried through the House with
179 votes. The less said about this
measure the better. Dead though it
is, its ghost may one day rise up to
confront us as an example of the utter
disregard of United States Congress-
men for the highest obligations of
their nation, in the year of grace 1892.

Scarcely less cruel and unjust was
the law known as the "Geary Bill,"
and which was rushed through Con-
gress with such indecorous haste. So
unceremonious was the House in deal-
ing with the question, that only a few
moments were allowed for its con-
sideration. The seal fishery preserves
in the Arctic, and the American hog
interests in Europe were questions of
such surpassing magnitude, that the
House of Representatives would only
allow fifteen minutes to discuss the



question whether this great Christian
nation should treat 400,000,000 of Chi-
nese like men or like dogs. Everybody
knows the result. The Geary Act
makes it necessary for any Chinese
who may be arrested under the pro-
visions of the act, to establish by
affirmative proof his right to be here,
and to subject him to imprisonment at
hard labor for a period of not exceed-
ing one year, and subsequent removal
from the United States, if he fails to
establish the fact that he was in this
country at the time the act was passed.
It further provides that all Chinese
laborers in the United States must
apply to the collector of internal
revenue within one year for a certi-
ficate of residence; and anyone found
in the country after the expiration of
one year without such certificate, may
be arrested, punished and deported
from the United States. In regard to
Chinese persons who seek to land in
this country, and to whom that privi-
lege is denied, it is provided that if a
writ of habeas corpus is applied for, no
bail shall be allowed, but the applicant
shall be imprisoned, pending the hear-
ing of his case. In vain did the
Chinese minister protest against the
renewal of the Scott Bill, the denial of
the right of bail, and the discriminat-
ing requirement of registration by them
under conditions, in most instances,
that it is practically impossible for
them to fulfill. In vain was it urged
that the Chinese were going fast
enough, and that the custom's records
showed an excess of departures over
arrivals since the Restriction bill,
amounting to thirty thousand.

President Harrison signed the bill
on the 6th of May last. Whether
such an infamous law will ever sur-
vive an appeal to the Supreme Court
remains to be seen. If that august
tribunal can declare constitutional a
law that makes no distinction between
Chinese who are aliens and those who
are citizens; that discriminates against
race and class; that imprisons a man
as a criminal, who has committed no
crime known to the laws of God or

man, because no "white" man can
be found to prove his residence here
on a certain day; then one can only
marvel at the extraordinary flexibility
of a constitution that citizens and
aliens alike are taught to regard as
the impregnable and immovable bul-
wark of the rights and liberties of
every person residing in the United
States. And what shall we say of
a bill that violates that fundamental
principle of common law which pre-
sumes a man to be innocent till
he is proved guilty? Yet here is a
bill passed that requires a man to
be imprisoned, not until somebody
else proves his guilt, but until the
defendant arrested on suspicion can
prove his innocence. There was once
a treaty, still supposed to have some
existence, which guaranteed to Chi-
nese resident in this country the
same rights, privileges and immu-
nities as may be enjoyed by subjects
of the most favored nation. Yet here
is a law which treats Chinese as ticket-
of-leave men, or as dogs that need to
be tagged to save them from the
poundman's cage, that inflicts upon
them cruel and unusual punishments,
deprives them of their liberty and the
enjoyment of their property without
process of law, and imposes restric-
tions and penalties upon them that
are not likewise imposed upon sub-
jects or citizens of any other nation
residing here. Surely such a law has
scattered to the winds the last rags of
the tattered treaty that was ratified
with such acclamations of joy only
twenty-four years ago.

Such an instance of national fickle-
ness is not^ very assuring to those
other nations that have made treaties
with us. For if a solemn covenant
made with one nation can be so lightly
set aside, is it not possible that other
nations will begin to inquire concern-
ing the value of our word of honor,
and the durability of those pledges we
have made with them ?

What the effect of this continued
hostile legislation will be upon the
future of our relations with China,



remains to be seen. We have in-
sulted a great country that is waxing
mightier every day; we have im-
perilled our commercial prospects in
one of the richest markets of the
world; we have jeopardized the life
and property of every American in
China; and we have treated a nation
of hoary antiquity worse than we
would think of treating the pettiest
savage nation on the banks of the
Congo. One thing is very certain,
we cannot expect to have China's
gates open to us very much longer, if
we continue so unfriendly to her.
We cannot eliminate from our treaties
everything that is of advantage to
Chinese, and insist upon retaining
whatever is beneficial to our own in-
terests. We cannot continue to treat
her subjects like dogs and expect her
to treat our people as she now does,
like the subjects of the most favored
nation. We cannot require her to
surround American establishments in
China with troops for their protec-
tion, when our Government refuses to
interfere to protect Chinese from out-
rage while resident in our States.
We cannot insist upon China paying
indemnities to Americans as a matter
of right, while we disclaim responsi-
bility for anti-Chinese riots here, or
only toss them an indemnity "as an
act of grace."

The Chinese are a long-suffering
people. There is no fear that China
will declare war upon us; it is not
probable that she will even sever
diplomatic intercourse with this coun-
try, or exclude our people from her
ports, or cancel their privileges of
trade in her markets and residence in
the pleasantest parts of her cities that
they may have chosen for themselves.
But there is something she can do,

which would make life in China in-
tolerable to our people. She could
cancel our extra-territorial rights and
immunities, place our people in the
same relation to her laws as her
own subjects, and disclaim, as we
have done, any responsibility for in-
jury and losses sustained by American
residents in China.

Whether China retaliates or not,
this country cannot afford to persist in
a course that takes such a wide de-
parture from the glorious traditions of
her history. This country is too
brave and good to find pleasure in
bullying and oppressing a people who,
we think, are too weak to resist. A
nation that has so valiantly cham-
pioned the cause of human rights and
human freedom, and has for over a
century stood forth among the nations
of the world as the bright exemplar
of that righteousness which exalteth
a nation to the highest pinnacle of
greatness, cannot long bear the odium
and discredit of having broken faith
with a heathen nation that we are
sending missionaries to Christianize.

There is something in this world
more precious than a nation's treasure,
more desirable than new openings for
trade, more glorious than political
victories; something which, if lost,
can never be compensated for by the
exclusion of a few thousand Asiatic
laborers from our shores. It is
national honor, justice, fidelity and
truth, the maintenance of our good
name among the nations of the world,
and the preservation to our children of
a national escutcheon that has never
yet been tarnished by one speck of
dishonor and shame.

Blessed is that nation that sweareth
even to its own hurt and changeth



PERSIA is a historic land — a land whose annals are replete,
with the accounts of a nation's vicissitudes from remote
antiquity down to modern times. It has been the scene of
unparalleled grandeur and magnificence, the stage on which
dynasties have played their parts, the battleground whereon
mighty armies have contended, and a very hell of suffering and
woe. From time immemorial it has been the hot-bed of un-
curbed despotism, and the tyranny exercised by Xerxes or
Darius was little in excess of that practiced by the officials of
the arbitrary misgovern ment prevailing in this enlightened age.
Until very lately it was not generally known that the Persian
people are so goaded, so maddened by acts of violence and the
cruel exactions of a system of government superlatively despotic,
as to be on the very verge of rebellion, and in many portions of
the country ready to receive with open
arms a foreign master, be he Russian or
Anglo-Saxon. Hitherto, but little was
known of the inside workings of that hoary
despotism. The European traveler may
have been able to glean considerable infor-
mation with regard to the habits and
customs of the people; he may have gained
some insight into certain institutions, civil,
social and religious, and have observed the systems of
agriculture and other industries ; but he remained for the
most part in the dark as to the tyrannical horrors on
which the government is nurtured, and it has required
the pen of a native scholar to expose in its true light the
dreadful state of affairs. I refer to the eminent Oriental
statesman, scholar, orator and reformer, Sheikh Djemal
ed Din, who published an article in the February number
of the Contemporary Review, 1892, pleading the cause of
an outraged people.

The Sheikh is a man of about fifty years of age, and

has traveled all over the world, but more especially in

Europe, in order to make himself acquainted with the

mainsprings of modern civilization, with the object of





applying them to reform in Asia.
Like all ardent reformers, he has fre-
quently found himself in trouble owing
to the freedom with which he has
proclaimed his doctrines. For .some
time he resided at Constantinople,
where he was a member of the Coun-
cil of Public Instruction, but his

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 5 of 120)