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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90
(1888-1889)

China,   pp. 199-404 PDF (90.0 MB)


Page 209


                               CHINA.                            209
 Seward, page 897, et. seq. I make it a part of this dispatch because it
 is not likely that there is a copy thereof in the archives of the State
 Department. It is a complete history of the Ward estate claim, given
 by a person who was better acquainted with all the facts than any other
 person, and who, by his nationality and his official position, must be re-
 garded as friendly to the claimant.
   He speaks of the admission of Woo as "1 supposed admission."
He
 explains the peculiarity of the Chinesein stating mutual accounts. He
 shows the utter impossibility that General Ward in two and a half
 years, during the whole of which time he was engaged in fighting,
 could have amassed the half million of dollars claimed by his estate
 after his death. He dwells on the fact that there were arrears due to
 numerous merchants. He shows how the claim throughout is based on
 hearsay statements. But his letter must be read in full to get a correct
 understanding of it, and it is needless to attempt to furnish an abstract
 of it.
   It is not for me to decide whether or not it was a mistake to set aside
the first award. Certainly it was unfortunate for the claimant. If the
first award had stood, the allowance to the estate might possibly have
been collected. Woo got the benefit of two elements of consideration,
for his agreement to submit to arbitration : the surrender of the steamer
Confucius and the departure of Burgevine.
   But he refused to be bound by-the first award. He refused just as
 strenuously to be bound by the second award.
 Consul-General Seward and Woo, on the 113th day of October, 1863,
 entered into new articles of arbitration. The new arbitrators were two
 of the foremost-business men in China. They found" that the only safe
 conclusion is that neither party substantiates a claim on the other, and
 that matters should be allowed to remain as they stand, the claims off-
 setting each other."
 This is undoubtedly a good award. In his letter to Twombley (p. 8,
 Ex. Doec. No 48) Mr. Seward says:
 This agreement superseded the former one, and hencetorward I could claim
under it
 only.
 Whether Mr. Seward had the power to agree to a new arbitration or
 not is not very important. His powers as consul over decedents' estates
 were considerable. But no formal protest was made against his action
 until long after the event. The Ward estate claim was submitted to
 the arbitrators presumably by the administrators. It is too late to
 object to the jurisdiction. If Woo had promptly accepted the award
 and abided by it, the Ward estate claim would have been forever adju-
 dicated.
 But Woo repudiated a large part of the award, and paid such debts
 only as he thought just, irrespective of the awards.
 It was competent, therefore, for the Ward state also to repudiate
 the award.
 No insuperable bar to the prosecution of the claim by the Department
 of State arose until 1883, when the money due on the award was paid
 by China. If it be conceded that the original claim is not substantiated
 by sufficient proof to warrant its being again presented to China, which
 is clearly my opinion, the question of the validity of the alleged counter-
 claim becomes immaterial. But I think it best to give my views thereon.
 The claim of the debt from Wardoto the Chinese Government rests on
 the declaration of Woo, and the exhibition of a paper, in Chinese, pur-
porting to be a receipt from Ward for 210,000 taels. :No copy or .trans-
      H. Ex. 1 p.1..14


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