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대(對)조선 사절단 및 함대 파견 건의

 
  • 발신자G. F. Seward
  • 수신자W. H. Seward
  • 발송일1868년 10월 14일(음)
  • 수신일1868년 12월 7일(음)
  • 출전FRUS, 1870, China, p. 334; ADPP, Vol. 9, pp. 85-6.
SHANGHAI, October 14, 1868 (Received December 7, 1868)

Sir:
 I wrote to you on the 29th ultimo, giving a general statement of my impressions touching the Corean question. Having now had the benefit of consultations with Messrs. Browne and Van Valkenburgh and with Admiral Rowan, I propose to offer some brief remarks bearing on the propriety of our sending a mission to Corea, and its form. They will doubtless touch considerations which you have already duly weighed, but perhaps something may be added which will prove of interest to you.
 The first object of a mission would be to procure information of the loss or destruction of the American schooner General Sherman, and in case the reports of the wrongful treatment of the crew prove correct, indemnity or satisfaction therefore. I shall not dwell on this point further than to say, that it cannot be well to let pass uninvestigated a matter which there is reason to believe may have been a very grave outrage on a vessel and persons sailing under our flag; that all our efforts to procure information have hitherto resulted not altogether satisfactorily, and that there seems no way to procure perfect information except by direct communication with the Corean government.
 On the other hand, there is something due from us to the Coreans. We should assure them of our appreciation of their kindness to the wrecked crew of the Surprise in 1866, and disposed as we are not only to assert our dignity, but as well our intent to deal justly, we cannot be indifferent to the propriety of offering to Corea an explanation of our views and conduct in regard to the recent expedition of an armed force for the purpose of exhuming and holding for ransom the remains of one or more sovereigns of that country, in which one of our citizens has been charged as a leader. It is satisfactory to know that we have only to ask from Corea proof that she has dealt as honorably with us in the Sherman case as we have with her in the latter matter.
 The second object is to obtain a treaty. I have hesitated to say that there is one adequate object to render it perfectly desirable to procure a general commercial treaty. Commercial intercourse with states where we take on ourselves the responsibility of protecting and altogether controlling our nationals, and where the result of intercourse is the introduction of ideas and forces calculated to work changes that may not be gradual and benign, but may upturn in a revolutionary way the existing order of government and even of society, is not to be inconsiderately sought. But all my reflection leads me to believe that it will be well for us to make the attempts. We have three ports of China in the Gulf Pechili much frequented by our vessels. There are three of Japan on the west coast similarly available to us. Right down between these juts the Corean peninsula. The steamers of the northern branch of the Pacific mail line run for a distance almost within sight of the coast of the peninsula. To the north of Corea stretch away possessions of Russia, having the river Amoor as a natural channel and guide of their commerce to the Pacific. Here are regions of China, Japan, and Siberia, which have already a considerable trade. Within a year or two coal will be extensively worked in each, and it will soon be no longer necessary to bring this indispensable article in the navigation of the present day around the Cape of Good Hope. Hereupon will follow a development of trade here, which will, I think, surprise the most sanguine.
 Centrally situated, midway in the long stretch of the eastern Asiatic coast, with foreign vessels already skirting her shores in very considerable numbers, corea cannot hope to exclude foreigners much longer, nor can it be possible that, with a mild climate and a large and industrious population, commerce would not, under favorable auspices, flourish in her cities.
 France has been unfortunate in Corea. Great Britain has hardly a greater interest at stake than we, and no grievances to redress. North Germany, with her increasing commerce and great fleet of coasting crafts, has yet no determined policy in the East. We are favorably known, and all the circumstances indicate that an attempt to open the country may best be made by us.
 But whether a general treaty is desirable or not there can, in my opinion, be no question of the need of one that shall provide for the safety of seamen and others wrecked or driven on the Corean coast. Indeed we can hardly consent that it shall remain peculiarly dangerous to our navigation.
 I remarked in the dispatch referred to in the outset, that the settlement of the Sherman matter, and a treaty of the latter sort, may, it seems to me, be obtained without great difficulty, but that a considerable show of force would probably be needed to secure a general treaty.
 If the Coreans were excited by grossly wrong conduct on the part of the Sherman crew to engage in a struggle with them, we may perhaps be saved great trouble in this branch of the negotiation, and there is enough in the general conduct of the Coreans to indicate that they would not be greatly averse to giving us formal guarantees to care for persons wrecked, and to arrange measures by which they could be speedily returned to some hospitable district.
 Touching the broader negotiations it may be assumed, generally, that eastern states have a settled policy toward western powers which is dictated by fear that intercourse will result disastrously; they find occasion for this fear in the harsh lessons of the past, and in the actual condition of a considerable portion of their continent. And, indeed, China is only just emerging from an internal struggle which has threatened most severely the controlling power of the empire, while Japan is, at this moment, in the throes of revolution ― troubles which it would not be difficult to connect with the introduction of foreigners.
 There are arguments which may be advanced to show the Coreans that a juster consideration of eastern states is prevailing in the west; that China would not have encountered the rebellion had the government been at all a wise one, while from the stranger constitution of Japan the result of war was almost inevitable; that foreign intercourse is in many ways desirable, and that it is surely becoming unavoidable. It is indeed doubtful, however, whether there can be found in Corea men able to weigh justly the position of the state, and to bring about, in face of all preconceptions and of conflicting interests, the radical changes contemplated.
 But it is to be said that these eastern peoples are not unalterably wedded to old practices and institutions. Japan accepted Commodore Perry’s peaceful but formidable mission without great opposition, and of late all parties in that state have vied among themselves in availing of foreign knowledge and material. China, naturally less mobile by reason of her continental position, vast territory and population, has been more consistent in all her history than Japan; but she has not failed to acknowledge, from time to time, the force of new ideas and circumstances, and, even with her, sweeping reforms have been effected by peaceful means working from within. It may not be altogether visionary, therefore, to hope that such a condition of affairs may be found in Corea as will render it possible to attain success without the exercise of force.
 But, as intimated, I am disposed to think it desirable, if a mission is to be sent to Corea, that it should be provided with a number of vessels. Reasons are so obvious that I will not dwell to review them. But of course I contemplate only the display of force, not its use, and not even intimations that it may be used. I know well there should be no irregular action; and that it will be time enough for the United States to determine on the exercise of force when peaceful efforts shall have been exhausted, and all the circumstances broadly considered.
 A mission, then, such as the one I have indicated, will require a cordial coöperation with the navy. Fortunately this is perfectly within reach. Admiral Rowan has himself proposed to me that authority and instructions in our joint names to prosecute the mission shall be applied for. He has a not large fleet, but one perhaps sufficient, since Corea is so near at hand, to enable him to look out for the general interest of the station, and at the same time to spare a few vessels for the particular purposes. I have favored this proposition and have now to ask for it your consideration. While I have indicated one advantage only that would be secured by this course, I do not with to say that the expedition might not be well left in the admiral’s hands. There are numerous precedents for deputing such authority to a naval commander-in-chief, and the instances are not few in which that course has resulted most satisfactorily. Yet I think the admiral would prefer to be associated with me. And looking to the facts that such work naturally belongs to my own branch of the public service, that I have the advantage of a not inconsiderable experience in matters of eastern politics and trade, and that the negotiation may cover over a considerable period, it seems well that we should be associated, and this would be more satisfactory to me. But should the President prefer to confer the authority upon the admiral alone, I shall, remembering that the general objects, and not individual preferences or ambitions, are to be consulted, render to him any assistance within my power that he may wish.

GEO. F. SEWARD

 
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Perry’s

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