Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
[Note on text: Italicized sections are capitalized. A few obvious errors have been corrected. Some footnotes have been added, and are clearly marked.]
While this book is by no means famous, it is a remarkable chance to look at America of 1914 through the eyes of an outsider. Wu Tingfang shows evidence of having thought through many issues of relevance to the United States, and while some of his thoughts are rather odd—such as his suggestion that the title of President be replaced by the title of Emperor; and others are unfortunately wrong—such as his hopes for peace, written on the eve of the First World War; they are all well-considered and sometimes show remarkable insight into American culture.
Even so, it should be remarked that he makes some errors, including some misunderstandings of American and Western ideas and an idealization of Chinese culture, and humanity in general, in some points—while I do not wish to refute his claims about China, I would simply point out that many of the things he praises have been seen differently by many outside observers, just as Wu Tingfang sometimes looks critically at things in America which he does not fully understand (and, unfortunately, he is sometimes all too correct)—in all these cases (on both sides) some leeway must be given to account for mutual misunderstandings. Still, his observations allow us to see ourselves as others see us—and regardless of accuracy those observations are useful, if only because they will allow us to better communicate.
The range of topics covered is also of particular interest. Wu Tingfang wrote this book at an interesting juncture in history—airplanes and motion pictures had recently been invented, (and his expectations for both these inventions have proven correct), and while he did not know it, a tremendous cultural shift was about to take place in the West due to the First World War and other factors. I will leave it to the reader to see which ideas have caught on and which have not. The topics include:
Immigration; the Arms Race and changes in technology; one-time six year terms for the office of President; religion and/or ethics in the classroom; women's equality; fashion; violence in the theatre (violence on television); vegetarianism; and, cruelty to animals.
I will also note that a few passages seem satiric in nature, though I am not certain that it isn't merely a clash of cultures.
Alan R. Light. Birmingham, Alabama. May, 1996.
Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
by Wu Tingfang, LL.D.
Late Chinese Minister to the United States of America, Spain, Peru, Mexico and Cuba; recently Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Justice for the Provincial Government of the Republic of China, etc.
Of all nations in the world, America is the most interesting to the Chinese. A handful of people left England to explore this country: gradually their number increased, and, in course of time, emigrants from other lands swelled the population. They were governed by officials from the home of the first settlers, but when it appeared to them that they were being treated unjustly, they rebelled and declared war against their rulers, the strongest nation on the face of the earth. After seven years of strenuous, perilous, and bloody warfare, during which thousands of lives were sacrificed on both sides, the younger race shook off the yoke of the older, and England was compelled to recognize the independence of the American States. Since then, in the comparatively short space of one hundred and thirty years, those revolutionists and their descendants, have not only made the commonwealth the richest in the world, but have founded a nation whose word now carries weight with all the other great powers.
The territory at first occupied was not larger than one or two provinces of China, but by purchase, and in other ways, the commonwealth has gradually grown till now it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, from the north where ice is perpetual to the south where the sun is as hot as in equatorial Singapore. This young republic has already produced many men and women who are distinguished in the fields of literature, science, art and invention. There hosts of men, who in their youth were as poor as church mice, have, by dint of perseverance and business capacity, become multi-millionaires. There you may see the richest man in the world living a simple and abstemious life, without pomp and ostentation, daily walking in the streets unattended even by a servant. Many of them have so much money that they do not know what to do with it. Many foreign counts, dukes, and even princes have been captured by their wealthy and handsome daughters, some of whom have borne sons who have become high officers of state in foreign lands. There you find rich people who devote their time and wealth to charitable works, sometimes endowing libraries not only in their own land, but all over the world; there you will find lynching tolerated, or impossible of prevention; there one man may kill another, and by the wonderful process of law escape the extreme penalty of death; there you meet the people who are most favorably disposed toward the maintenance of peace, and who hold conferences and conventions with that object in view almost every year; there an American multi-millionaire devotes a great proportion of his time to the propaganda of peace, and at his own expense has built in a foreign country a palatial building to be used as a tribunal of peace. Yet these people have waged war on behalf of other nationalities who they thought were being unjustly treated and when victorious they have not held on to the fruits of their victory without paying a reasonable price. There the inhabitants are, as a rule, extremely patriotic, and in a recent foreign war many gave up their businesses and professions and volunteered for service in the army; one of her richest sons enlisted and equipped a whole regiment at his own expense, and took command of it. In that country all the citizens are heirs apparent to the throne, called the White House. A man may become the chief ruler for a few years, but after leaving the White House he reverts to private citizenship; if he is a lawyer he may practise and appear before a judge, whom he appointed while he was president. There a woman may become a lawyer and plead a case before a court of justice on behalf of a male client; there freedom of speech and criticism are allowed to the extreme limit, and people are liable to be annoyed by slanders and libels without much chance of obtaining satisfaction; there you will see women wearing "Merry Widow" hats who are not widows but spinsters, or married women whose husbands are very much alive, and the hats in many cases are as large as three feet in diameter; there you may travel by rail most comfortably on palace cars, and at night you may sleep on Pullman cars, to find in the morning that a young lady has been sleeping in the berth above your bed. The people are most ingenious in that they can float a company and water the stock without using a drop of fluid; there are bears and bulls in the Stock Exchange, but you do not see these animals fight, although they roar and yell loudly enough. It is certainly a most extraordinary country. The people are wonderful and are most interesting and instructive to the Chinese.
Such a race should certainly be very interesting to study. During my two missions to America where I resided nearly eight years, repeated requests were made that I should write my observations and impressions of America. I did not feel justified in doing so for several reasons: first, I could not find time for such a task amidst my official duties; secondly, although I had been travelling through many sections of the country, and had come in contact officially and socially with many classes of people, still there might be some features of the country and some traits of the people which had escaped my attention; and thirdly, though I had seen much in America to arouse my admiration, I felt that here and there, there was room for improvement, and to be compelled to criticize people who had been generous, courteous, and kind was something I did not wish to do. In answer to my scruples I was told that I was not expected to write about America in a partial or unfair manner, but to state impressions of the land just as I had found it. A lady friend, for whose opinion I have the highest respect, said in effect, "We want you to write about our country and to speak of our people in an impartial and candid way; we do not want you to bestow praise where it is undeserved; and when you find anything deserving of criticism or condemnation you should not hesitate to mention it, for we like our faults to be pointed out that we may reform." I admit the soundness of my friend's argument. It shows the broad-mindedness and magnanimity of the American people. In writing the following pages I have uniformly followed the principles laid down by my American lady friend. I have not scrupled to frankly and freely express my views, but I hope not in any carping spirit; and I trust American readers will forgive me if they find some opinions they cannot endorse. I assure them they were not formed hastily or unkindly. Indeed, I should not be a sincere friend were I to picture their country as a perfect paradise, or were I to gloss over what seem to me to be their defects.
 This magnificent building at The Hague, which is aptly called the Palace of Peace, was formally opened on the 28th of August, 1913, in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina, Mr. Carnegie (the founder) and a large assembly of foreign representatives.
 I refer to the Spanish-American War. Have captured the Philippine Islands, the United States paid $20,000,000, gold, for it to the Spanish Government.
 This was several years ago. Fashions change every year. The present type is equally ludicrous.
Preface Chapter 1. The Importance of Names Chapter 2. American Prosperity Chapter 3. American Government Chapter 4. America and China Chapter 5. American Education Chapter 6. American Business Methods Chapter 7. American Freedom and Equality Chapter 8. American Manners Chapter 9. American Women Chapter 10. American Costumes Chapter 11. American versus Chinese Civilization Chapter 12. American versus Chinese Civilization (Continued) Chapter 13. Dinners, Banquets, Etc. Chapter 14. Theaters Chapter 15. Opera and Musical Entertainments Chapter 16. Conjuring and Circuses Chapter 17. Sports
Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
Chapter 1. The Importance of Names
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."
Notwithstanding these lines, I maintain that the selection of names is important. They should always be carefully chosen. They are apt to influence friendships or to excite prejudices according to their significance. We Chinese are very particular in this matter. When a son is born the father or the grandfather chooses a name for the infant boy which, according to his horoscope, is likely to insure him success, or a name is selected which indicates the wish of the family for the new-born child. Hence such names as "happiness", "prosperity", "longevity", "success", and others, with like propitious import, are common in China. With regard to girls their names are generally selected from flowers, fruits, or trees. Particular care is taken not to use a name which has a bad meaning. In Washington I once met a man in an elevator whose name was "Coffin". Was I to be blamed for wondering if the elevator would be my coffin? On another occasion I met a man whose name was "Death", and as soon as I heard his name I felt inclined to run away, for I did not wish to die. I am not superstitious. I have frequently taken dinner with thirteen persons at the table, and I do not hesitate to start on a journey on a Friday. I often do things which would not be done by superstitious persons in China. But to meet a man calling himself "Coffin" or "Death" was too much for me, and with all my disbelief in superstition I could not help showing some repugnance to those who bore such names.
Equally important, if not more so, is the selection of a name for a state or a nation. When the several states of America became independent they called themselves the "United States of America"—a very happy idea. The Union was originally composed of thirteen states, covering about 300,000 square miles; it is now composed of forty-eight states and three territories, which in area amount to 3,571,492 square miles, practically as large in extent as China, the oldest nation in the world. It should be noted that the name is most comprehensive: it might comprise the entire continent of North and South America. It is safe to say that the founders of the nation did not choose such a name without consideration, and doubtless the designation "United States of America" conceals a deep motive. I once asked a gentleman who said he was an American whether he had come from South or North America, or whether he was a Mexican, a Peruvian or a native of any of the countries in Central America? He replied with emphasis that he was an American citizen of the United States. I said it might be the United States of Mexico, or Argentina, or other United States, but he answered that when he called himself a citizen it could not mean any other than that of the United States of America. I have asked many other Americans similar questions and they all have given me replies in the same way. We Chinese call our nation "The Middle Kingdom"; it was supposed to be in the center of the earth. I give credit to the founders of the United States for a better knowledge of geography than that possessed by my countrymen of ancient times and do not assume that the newly formed nation was supposed to comprise the whole continent of North and South America, yet the name chosen is so comprehensive as to lead one naturally to suspect that it was intended to include the entire continent. However, from my observation of their national conduct, I believe their purpose was just and humane; it was to set a noble example to the sister nations in the Western Hemisphere, and to knit more closely all the nations on that continent through the bonds of mutual justice, goodwill and friendship. The American nation is, indeed, itself a pleasing and unique example of the principle of democracy. Its government is ideal, with a liberal constitution, which in effect declares that all men are created equal, and that the government is "of the people, for the people, and by the people." Anyone with ordinary intelligence and with open eyes, who should visit any city, town or village in America, could not but be impressed with the orderly and unostentatious way in which it is governed by the local authorities, or help being struck by the plain and democratic character of the people. Even in the elementary schools, democracy is taught and practised. I remember visiting a public school for children in Philadelphia, which I shall never forget. There were about three or four hundred children, boys and girls, between seven and fourteen years of age. They elected one of their students as mayor, another as judge, another as police commissioner, and in fact they elected for the control of their school community almost all the officials who usually govern a city. There were a few Chinese children among the students, and one of them was pointed out to me as the police superintendent. This not only eloquently spoke of his popularity, but showed goodwill and harmony among the several hundred children, and the entire absence of race feeling. The principals and teachers told me that they had no difficulty whatever with the students. If one of them did anything wrong, which was not often, he would be taken by the student policeman before the judge, who would try the case, and decide it on its merits, and punish or discharge his fellow student as justice demanded. I was assured by the school authorities that this system of self-government worked admirably; it not only relieved the teachers of the burden of constantly looking after the several hundred pupils, but each of them felt a moral responsibility to behave well, for the sake of preserving the peace and good name of the school. Thus early imbued with the idea of self-government, and entrusted with the responsibilities of its administration, these children when grown up, take a deep interest in federal and municipal affairs, and, when elected for office, invariably perform their duties efficiently and with credit to themselves.
It cannot be disputed that the United States with its democratic system of government has exercised a great influence over the states and nations in Central and South America. The following data showing the different nations of America, with the dates at which they turned their respective governments from Monarchies into Republics, all subsequent to the independence of the United States, are very significant.
Mexico became a Republic in 1823, Honduras in 1839, Salvador in 1839, Nicaragua in 1821, Costa Rica in 1821, Panama in 1903, Colombia in 1819, Venezuela in 1830, Ecuador in 1810, Brazil in 1889, Peru in 1821, Bolivia in 1825, Paraguay in 1811, Chile in 1810, Argentina in 1824, and Uruguay in 1828.
These Republics have been closely modelled upon the republican form of government of the United States; thus, nearly all the nations or states on the continent of America have become Republics. Canada still belongs to Great Britain. The fair and generous policy pursued by the Imperial Government of Great Britain accounts for the Canadians' satisfaction with their political position, and for the fact that they do not wish a change. It must be noted, however, that a section of the American people would like to see Canada incorporated with the United States. I remember that at a public meeting held in Washington, at which Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then Premier of Canada, was present, an eminent judge of the Federal Supreme Court jocularly expressed a wish that Canada should be annexed to the United States. Later, Mr. Champ Clark, a leader of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives, addressed the House urging the annexation of Canada. Even if these statements are not taken seriously they at least show the feelings of some people, and he would be a bold man who would prophesy the political status of Canada in the future. There is, however, no present indication of any change being desired by the Canadians, and it may be safely presumed that the existing conditions will continue for many years to come. This is not to be wondered at, for Canada though nominally a British colony practically enjoys almost all the privileges of an independent state. She possesses a constitution similar to that of the United Kingdom, with a parliament of two houses, called the "Senate", and the "House of Commons". The Sovereign of Great Britain appoints only the Governor General who acts in his name, but the Dominion is governed by a responsible Ministry, and all domestic affairs are managed by local officials, without interference from the Home Government. Canadians enjoy as many rights as the inhabitants of England, with the additional advantage that they do not have to bear the burden of maintaining an army and navy. Some years ago, if I remember rightly, in consequence of some agitation or discussion for independence, the late Lord Derby, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, stated that if the Canadians really wished for independence, the Home Government would not oppose, but that they should consider if they would gain anything by the change, seeing that they already had self-government, enjoyed all the benefits of a free people, and that the only right the Home Government reserved was the appointment of the Governor-General, although it assumed the responsibility of protecting every inch of their territory from encroachment. Since this sensible advice from the Colonial Secretary, I have heard nothing more of the agitation for independence.
From a commercial point of view, and for the welfare of the people, there is not much to choose to-day between a Limited Monarchy and a Republic. Let us, for instance, compare England with the United States. The people of England are as free and independent as the people of the United States, and though subjects, they enjoy as much freedom as Americans. There are, however, some advantages in favor of a Republic. Americans until recently paid their President a salary of only $50,000 a year; it is now $75,000 with an additional allowance of $25,000 for travelling expenses. This is small indeed compared with the Civil List of the King or Emperor of any great nation. There are more chances in a Republic for ambitious men to distinguish themselves; for instance, a citizen can become a president, and practically assume the functions of a king or an emperor. In fact the President of the United States appoints his own cabinet officials, ambassadors, ministers, etc. It is generally stated that every new president has the privilege of making more than ten thousand appointments. With regard to the administration and executive functions he has in practice more power than is usually exercised by a king or an emperor of a Constitutional Monarchy. On the other hand, in some matters, the executive of a Republic cannot do what a king or an emperor can do; for example, a president cannot declare war against a foreign nation without first obtaining the consent of Congress. In a monarchical government the king or the cabinet officials assume enormous responsibilities. Lord Beaconsfield (then Mr. D'Israeli), while he was Prime Minister of England, purchased in 1875 from the Khedive of Egypt 176,602 Suez Canal shares for the sum of 3,976,582 Pounds on his own responsibility, and without consulting the Imperial Parliament. When Parliament or Congress has to be consulted about everything, great national opportunities to do some profitable business must undoubtedly be sometimes lost. No such bold national investment as that made by Lord Beaconsfield could have been undertaken by any American president on his own responsibility. Mr. Cleveland, when president of the United States, said that "the public affairs of the United States are transacted in a glass house."
Washington, in his farewell address, advised his compatriots that on account of the detached and distant situation of their country they should, in extending their commercial relations with foreign nations, have as little political connection with them as possible; and he asked this pertinent and pregnant question, "Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?" In 1823, twenty-seven years after Washington's celebrated address, President Monroe in his annual message to Congress warned the European Powers not to plant any new colonies on any portion of the American hemisphere, as any attempt on their part to extend their system in that part of the world would be considered as dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States. This "Monroe Doctrine", as it has since been called, practically protects every state and country on the American continent from attack or interference by any foreign power, and it cannot be denied that it has been and is now the chief factor in preserving the integrity of all the countries on that continent. Thus the United States is assuming the role of guardian over the other American nations. In the city of Washington there is an International Bureau of the American Republics, in which all the Republics of Central and South America are represented. It is housed in a magnificent palace made possible by the beneficence of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the American multi-millionaire and philanthropist, and the contributions of the different governments. It cost 750,000 gold dollars, and Mr. John Barrett, the capable and popular director of the Bureau, has well called it "a temple of friendship and commerce and a meeting place for the American Republics." The Bureau is supported by the joint contributions of the twenty-one American Republics, and its affairs are controlled by a governing board composed of their diplomatic representatives in Washington, with the American Secretary of State as chairman ex officio. This institution no doubt strengthens the position of the United States and is calculated to draw the American Republics into closer friendship.
Chapter 2. American Prosperity
One of the main causes of the prosperity of the great American Republic is its natural resources. It possesses coal, oil, silver, gold, copper, and all the other mineral ores. Nature seems, indeed, to have provided almost everything that man needs. The soil is rich; wheat and every kind of fruit can be grown; but favorable as are these native conditions they could not be turned to any great advantage without the skill and industry of enterprising men. Many countries in Africa and Asia possess equal advantages, but they are not equally prosperous. This leads me to the consideration of another reason for America's growth. The men who have migrated to the United States have not been rich people. They went there to make a living. They were prepared to work, their purpose was to improve their condition, and they were willing to undertake any manual or mental labor to accomplish their object. They were hardy and strong and could bear a heavy strain. Their children inherited their good qualities, and so an American is generally more hard working and enterprising than most of the people in Europe and elsewhere.
Another reason for America's success is the great freedom which each citizen enjoys. Every man considers himself the equal of every other, and a young man who is ambitious will not rest until he reaches the top of his profession or trade. Thousands of Americans who were once very poor, have become millionaires or multi-millionaires. Many of them had no college education, they taught themselves, and some of them have become both literary and scholarly. A college or university education does not necessarily make a man learned; it only gives him the opportunity to learn. It is said that some college men have proven themselves to be quite ignorant, or rather that they do not know so much as those who have been self-taught. I do not in any way wish to disparage a college education; no doubt men who have been trained in a university start in life with better prospects and with a greater chance of success, but those men who have not had such advantages have doubtless done much to make their country great and prosperous, and they ought to be recognized as great men.
The general desire of the American people to travel abroad is one of their good traits. People who never leave their homes cannot know much. A person may become well-informed by reading, but his practical knowledge cannot be compared with that of a person who has travelled. We Chinese are great sinners in this regard. A Chinese maxim says, "It is dangerous to ride on horseback or to go on a voyage": hence until very recently we had a horror of going abroad. A person who remains all his life in his own town is generally narrow-minded, self-opinioned, and selfish. The American people are free from these faults. It is not only the rich and the well-to-do who visit foreign countries, but tradesmen and workmen when they have saved a little money also often cross the Atlantic. Some years ago a Senator in Washington told me that he crossed the Atlantic Ocean every summer and spent several months in Europe, and that the next trip would be his twenty-eighth voyage. I found, however, that he had never gone beyond Europe. I ventured to suggest that he should extend his next annual journey a little farther and visit Japan, China, and other places in the Far East which I felt sure he would find both interesting and instructive. I have travelled through many countries in Europe and South America, and wherever I have gone and at whatever hotel I have put up, I have always found some Americans, and on many occasions I have met friends and acquaintances whom I had known in Washington or New York. But it is not only the men who go abroad; in many cases ladies also travel by themselves. On several occasions lady friends from Washington, Philadelphia, and New York have visited me in Peking. This is one of the Americans' strong points. Is it not wiser and much more useful to disburse a few hundred dollars or so in travelling and gaining knowledge, coming in contact with other peoples and enlarging the mind, than to spend large sums of money in gaudy dresses, precious stones, trinkets, and other luxuries?
In a large country like America where a considerable portion of the land still remains practically uncultivated or undeveloped, hardy, industrious, and patient workmen are a necessity. But the almost unchecked influx of immigrants who are not desirable citizens cannot but harm the country. In these days of international trade it is right that ingress and egress from one country to another should be unhampered, but persons who have committed crimes at home, or who are ignorant and illiterate, cannot become desirable citizens anywhere. They should be barred out of the United States of America. It is well known that foreigners take part in the municipal and federal affairs of the country as soon as they become citizens. Now if such persons really worked for the good of their adopted country, there could be no objection to this, but it is no secret that many have no such motives. That being so, it is a question whether steps should not be taken to limit their freedom. On the other hand, as many farms suffer from lack of workmen, people from whatever country who are industrious, patient, and persevering ought to be admitted as laborers. They would be a great boon to the nation. The fear of competition by cheap labor is causeless; regulations might be drawn up for the control of these foreign laborers, and on their arrival they could be drafted to those places where their services might be most urgently needed. So long as honest and steady workmen are excluded for no reason other than that they are Asiatics, while white men are indiscriminately admitted, I fear that the prosperity of the country cannot be considered permanent, for agriculture is the backbone of stable wealth. Yet at present it is the country's wealth which is one of the important factors of America's greatness. In the United States there are thousands of individuals whose fortunes are counted by seven or eight figures in gold dollars. And much of this money has been used to build railways, or to develop manufactories and other useful industries. The country has grown great through useful work, and not on account of the army and navy. In 1881 America's army numbered only 26,622 men, and her navy consisted of only 24 iron-clads, 2 torpedo-boats, and 25 tugs, but in 1910 the peace strength of her army was 96,628 and the navy boasted 33 battleships and 120 armored cruisers of different sizes.
Within the last few years it has been the policy of many nations to increase the army and to build as many Dreadnaughts and super-dreadnaughts as possible. Many statesmen have been infected by this Dreadnaught fever. Their policy seems to be based on the idea that the safety of a nation depends on the number of its battleships. Even peaceful and moderate men are carried away by this hobby, and support it. It is forgotten that great changes have taken place during the last twenty or thirty years; that a nation can now be attacked by means quite beyond the reach of Dreadnaughts. The enormous sums spent on these frightful monsters, if applied to more worthy objects, would have a greater effect in preserving the nations' heritages than anything these monstrosities can do.
The nation which has a large army and a strong navy may be called powerful, but it cannot be considered great without other good requisites. I consider a nation as great when she is peacefully, justly, and humanely governed, and when she possesses a large number of benevolent and good men who have a voice in the administration. The greater the number of good men that a nation possesses the greater she becomes. America is known to have a large number of such men and women, men and women who devote their time and money to preaching peace among the nations. Mr. Andrew Carnegie is worth a hundred Dreadnaughts. He and others like him are the chief factors in safeguarding the interests and welfare of America. The territory of the United States is separated from Europe and other countries by vast oceans; so that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a foe to successfully attack any portion of that country. But who wishes to attack her? She has scarcely an enemy. No country is invaded by another without cause, and as the United States is in friendly relations with all the Powers, there is no reason to fear foreign invasion. Even should a foreign power successfully attack her and usurp a portion of her territories, a supposition which is most improbable, would the enemy be able to hold what he seized? History shows that no conquered country has ever been successfully and permanently kept without the people's consent, and there is not the least chance that the Americans will ever consent to the rule of a foreign government.
It is to be hoped that the United States will not follow the example of other nations and unduly increase her armaments, but that she will take the lead in the universal peace movement and show the world that a great power can exist and maintain her position without force of arms. I am aware that general disarmament is not popular among statesmen, that it has been denounced by an eminent authority as a "will-o'-the wisp", that arbitration has been styled a "Jack-o'-lantern", but this is not the first time a good and workable scheme has been branded with opprobrious names. The abolition of slavery was at one time considered to be an insane man's dream; now all people believe in it. Will the twentieth century witness the collapse of our present civilization?
Why are the world's armaments constantly increasing? To my mind it is due to two causes, one of which is mistrust. One nation begins to build Dreadnaughts, another does the same through fear and mistrust. The second cause is that it is the fashion of some nations to follow the example of others that they may preserve their position as great naval powers. But it is unnecessary for the United States to show such mistrust or to follow such fashion. She should rather, as becomes a great and powerful nation, take an independent course of her own. If she sets the example other nations in due time will follow her. The peace of the world will be more surely guarded, and America will win the approbation, the respect, and the gratitude of all peace-loving people.
Chapter 3. American Government
Democratic principles were enunciated by Chinese philosophers as long ago as 4,500 years, and from time to time various emperors and statesmen have endeavored to apply them to the government of China, but these principles in all their minute details have been exemplified only by the wisdom of the statesmen in the West. In the United States they are in full swing. As China has now become a Republic, not in name only but in fact, it will be well for her statesmen and politicians to examine the American constitution, and to study its workings. To do this at close range it will be necessary for the student to visit Washington, the Capital of the United States of America. Here he will find the President, or the chief of the nation. With the co-operation of his Cabinet and a large staff of assistants, the President administers the affairs of the Federal Government. He may be a new man and have had no previous training in diplomacy, and little administrative experience, but in all probability he is a man of resource and adaptability, who has mastered every detail of his high office. All important matters are referred to him, so that his daily work taxes his whole strength and energy. Another part of his function is to see the Congressmen, Senators, or Representatives, and others who call to see him on business, and this takes up a great part of his time. In fact, he is expected to be, and generally is, 'Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'.
In Washington the National Congress, which is composed of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, holds its sittings in the Capitol, and passes bills subject to the approval of the President. If he signs a bill it becomes law, and binds the nation. The basic principle of democracy is the sovereignty of the people, but as the people cannot of themselves govern the country, they must delegate their power to agents who act for them. Thus they elect the Chief Magistrate to govern the country, and legislators to make the laws. The powers given to these agents are irrevocable during their respective terms of office. The electors are absolutely bound by their actions. Whatever laws Congress may pass, the people must strictly obey; thus the servants of the people really become their masters. There is no fear, however, that their masters pro tempore will betray their trust, as any neglect of duty on their part, or disregard of the wishes of their constituents, would most likely destroy their chances of re-election.
According to the terms of the Constitution, the senators and representatives must be residents of the states for which they are chosen. This is an excellent provision, insuring that the people's delegates possess local knowledge and know how to safeguard the interests and welfare of the states which sent them to Washington. On the other hand, as each state, irrespective of its size, is entitled to elect only two Senators, and to send only a limited number of Representatives to the House, proportionally to its population, unfortunately it frequently happens that eminent, capable, and well-known public men, of large experience, are deprived of an opportunity to serve their country. In England, and in some other lands, the electors may choose as their representative a resident of any city, borough, or county as they please, and it only occasionally happens that the member of Parliament actually lives in the district which he represents. Is it advisable to adopt a similar system in the United States? It could not be done without amending the Constitution, and this would not be easy; but every nation, as well as each individual, should be prepared, at all times, to receive fresh light, and be willing to change old customs to suit new conditions, and so I make the suggestion.
The fixing of four years as the term of office for the President was an excellent idea, intended no doubt to prevent an unpopular or bad President from remaining too long in power. It is, however, gradually dawning on the minds of intelligent people that this limited term, though excellent in theory, is very inconvenient in practice. However intelligent and capable a new President may be, several months must elapse before he can thoroughly understand all the details incidental to his exalted position, involving, in addition to unavoidable social functions, the daily reception of callers, and many other multifarious duties. By the time he has become familiar with these matters, and the work of the office is running smoothly, half of his term has gone; and should he aspire to a second term, which is quite natural, he must devote a great deal of time and attention to electioneering. Four years is plainly too short a period to give any President a chance to do justice either to himself or to the nation which entrusted him with his heavy responsibilities. Presidential elections are national necessities, but the less frequently they occur the better for the general welfare of the country. Those who have been in the United States during campaign years, and have seen the complicated working of the political machinery, and all its serious consequences, will, I feel convinced, agree with what I say. During the greater part of the year in which a President has to be elected the entire nation is absorbed in the event, all the people, both high and low, being more or less keenly interested in the issue, and the preparations leading up to it. They seem to put everything else in the shade, and to give more attention to this than to anything else. Politicians and officials who have a personal interest in the result, will devote their whole time and energy to the work. Others who are less active, still, directly or indirectly, take their share in the electioneering. Campaign funds have to be raised and large sums of money are disbursed in many directions. All this sadly interrupts business; it not only takes many business men from their more legitimate duties, but it prevents merchants and large corporations from embarking in new enterprises, and so incidentally limits the demand for labor. In short, the whole nation is practically hurled into a state of bustle and excitement, and the general trade of the country is seriously affected. A young man in Washington, who was engaged to be married, once told me that he was too busy to think of marriage until the election was over.
If the French system were followed, and the President were elected by a majority of the combined votes of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the inconveniences, the excitements and expense above enumerated might be avoided, but I think the people of America would rather endure these evils than be deprived of the pleasure of electing their President themselves. The alternate remedy, so far as I can see, is to extend the presidential term to, say, six or seven years, without any chance of a re-election. If this proposal were adopted, the President would be more free and independent, he would not be haunted by the bugbear of losing his position by temporarily displeasing his political friends, he could give his undivided attention, as he cannot do now, to federal affairs, and work without bias or fear, and without interruption, for the welfare of his nation. He would have more chance of really doing something for his country which was worth while. A further advantage is that the country would not be so frequently troubled with the turmoil and excitement arising from the presidential election. If I were allowed to prophecy, I should say that the young Republic of China, profiting by the experiences of France and America, will most likely adopt the French system of electing its President, or develop a system somewhat similar to it.
One of the defects in the American way of government is the spoils system, in accordance with the maxim, "To the victor belongs the spoils." The new President has the right of dismissing a large number of the holders of Federal Offices, and to appoint in their places his friends, or men of his party who have rendered it services, or who have otherwise been instrumental in getting him elected. I am told that thousands of officials are turned out in this way every four years. President Jackson introduced the practice, and almost every succeeding President has continued it. This spoils system has been adopted by almost every state and municipality; it forms indeed the corner-stone of practical politics in the United States. In every country, all over the world, there are cases where positions and places of emolument have been obtained through influential friends, but to dismiss public servants who are doing useful work, for no better reason than simply to make room for others, is very bad for the civil service, and for the country it serves. Attempts to remedy these evils have been made within recent years by the introduction of what is called "Civil Service Reform", by which a candidate is appointed to a post after an examination, and the term of his service is fixed. If this is to be strictly adhered to in all cases, the President will be, to a great extent, deprived of the means of rewarding his political friends. In that case I doubt if the professional politicians and wire pullers will be so active and arduous as they have hitherto been, as the chief aim in securing the election of the nominee will have been taken away. Great credit is due to President Taft for his courage and impartiality, in that after assuming the duties of the high office to which he was elected, he gave appointments to men according to their ability, irrespective of party claims, and even went so far as to invite one or two gentlemen of known ability, who belonged to the opposite party, to become members of his Cabinet.
In America men are not anxious for official offices. Men possessing talent and ability, with business acumen, are in great demand, and can distinguish themselves in their several professions in various ways; they can easily attain a position of wealth and influence, and so such men keep out of politics. It must not, however, be inferred from this that the government officials in America are incompetent. On the contrary I gladly testify from my personal experience that the work done by them is not only efficient, but that, taken as a whole, they compare most favorably with any other body of government officials in Europe. Still, on account of the small salaries paid, it is not to be wondered at that exceptionally good men cannot be induced to accept official positions. I have known several Cabinet Ministers who, after holding their offices for two or three years, were obliged to resign and resume their former business, and a President has been known to experience great difficulty in getting good and competent men to succeed them.
These remarks do not apply to the President, not because the President's salary is large, for compared with what European Kings and Emperors receive it is very small, but because the position is, far and above any other, the largest gift the people can bestow. No one has ever been known to refuse a presidential nomination. I believe anyone to whom it was offered would always gladly accept it. I have conversed with some in America who told me that they were heirs apparent to the White House, and so they are, for they are just as eligible candidates for the position, as is the Crown Prince to succeed to a throne in any European country. Even a lady was once nominated as a presidential candidate, although she did not obtain many votes.
One of the things which arouses my admiration is the due observance by the people of the existing laws and the Constitution. Every one obeys them, from the President to the pedler, without any exception. Sometimes, however, by a too strict and technical interpretation of the law, it works a hardship. Let me quote a case. According to Article 1, Section 6, of the Constitution, "no Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased, during such time." A certain Senator was appointed by the President to a Cabinet office, but it happened that the salary attached to that office had been raised during the time he was in the Senate, and so it was held that he could draw only the salary which was allowed before he became a Senator, and that he was not entitled to the increase which was sanctioned by Congress while he was in the Senate, although at the time he had not the slightest notion that the increase would ever affect his own pocket.
The relation of the states to the Federal Government is peculiar and unique. I will illustrate my point by correcting a mistake often made by foreigners in regard to the different provinces of China. It is generally assumed by Western writers that each province in China is self-governed, and that the provincial authorities act independently and in defiance of the injunctions of the Peking Government. The facts, however, are that until the establishment of the Republic, all the officials in the Provinces were appointed or sanctioned by the Peking Government, and that by an Imperial decree even a Viceroy or Governor could, at any moment, be changed or dismissed, and that no important matter could be transacted without the Imperial sanction. How does this compare with the states in America? Every American boasts that his state is independent of the Federal Government. All officials, from the Governor downward, are, in every state, elected by the people. Each state is provided with a Legislature consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives, also elected by the popular vote. The state has very large, and almost absolute, legislative and executive powers, and is competent to deal with all matters not reserved by the Constitution for the Federal Government. Each state is also independent of every other state. The criminal and civil laws, including all matters pertaining to the transfer of and the succession to property, as well as marriage, divorce and fiscal laws, are within the scope of the state administrations. The authorities of each state naturally do their best to make their own state as populous and prosperous as possible. Thus in some states the laws concerning divorce, corporations, and landed property, are more favorable than in other states. A person, for example, unable to obtain a divorce in his own state, can, without difficulty, attain his object in another state. What is expressly prohibited by statute in one state may be perfectly legitimate in the neighboring state. It is the same with the local taxes; fees and taxes are not uniform; in one state they are heavy, while in another they are comparatively light. A stranger would naturally be surprised to find such a condition of things in a great nation like America, and would wonder how the machinery of such a government can work so well. Nevertheless he will find that everything goes on smoothly. This can be explained only by the fact that the inhabitants of one state often remove to other states, and by commercial and other dealings and social associations they mix together, so that, notwithstanding the dissimilarity of conditions in different states, the people easily adapt themselves to the local surroundings, and, so far as I can find, no friction or quarrel has ever arisen between two states. However, would it not be better for all the states to appoint an interstate committee to revise and codify their laws with a view to making them uniform?
Foreigners living in America sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage, owing to the state being independent of the control of the Federal Government. This point can be better illustrated by a case which happened some years ago in one of the states. A foreigner, who was the subject of a European country, was attacked by a mob, and his property destroyed. He laid his complaint before the local authorities, but it appeared that he could not obtain the redress he sought. His consul did all he could for him by appealing to the local authorities, but without success; finally the matter was reported to his ambassador in Washington, who immediately interested himself in the affair and brought it before the Secretary of State. The Secretary, after going into the facts of the case, said that all he could do was to write to the Governor of that state and request him to take the matter up, but the Governor, for some reason or other, did not take any such action as would have given satisfactory redress to the foreigner. His ambassador made frequent appeals to the Secretary of State, but the Secretary was powerless, as the Constitution does not empower the Federal Government to interfere in state matters. This seems a blemish in the administration of foreign affairs in the United States of America. Suppose a foreigner should be ill-treated or murdered in a state, and no proper redress be given, the Federal Government cannot send its officers to arrest the culprit. All it can do is to ask the Governor of that state to take action, and if he fail to do so there is no remedy. Fortunately such a case rarely happens, but for the more efficient carrying on of their state affairs, is it not better in special cases to invest the Federal Government with larger powers than those at present possessed by it? I am aware that this opens up a serious question; that Congress will be very reluctant to confer on the Federal Government any power to interfere in the state affairs, knowing that the states would not tolerate such an interference; but as there is a large and ever increasing number of aliens residing in the United States, it naturally follows that riots, and charges of ill treatment of foreigners now and then do occur. Now state officials can, as a rule, be trusted to deal with these matters fairly, but where local prejudice against a class of aliens runs high, is it not advisable to leave to the Federal officials, who are disinterested, the settlement of such cases? For the sake of cordial foreign relations, and to avoid international complications, this point, I venture to suggest, should be seriously considered by the Federal and the State Governments.
The question as to what form of government should be adopted by any country is not easy to decide. The people of America would no doubt claim that their system is the best, while the people of the monarchial governments in Europe would maintain that theirs is preferable. This is mostly a matter of education, and people who have been accustomed to their own form of government naturally like it best. There are communities who have been long accustomed to the old system of monarchial government, with their ancient traditions and usages. There are other communities, with a different political atmosphere, where all the people share in the public affairs of State. It would be manifestly improper to introduce a democratic government among the former. It would not suit their tastes nor fit in with their ideas. What is good for one nation is not necessarily good for another. Each system of government has its good points, provided that they are faithfully and justly carried out. The aim to secure the happiness and comfort of the people and to promote the peace and prosperity of the nation should always be kept in view. As long as these objects can be secured it does not matter much whether the government is monarchial, republican, or something else.
It may pertinently be asked why China has become a Republic, since from time immemorial she has had a monarchial form of government. The answer is that the conditions and circumstances in China are peculiar, and are different from those prevailing in Japan and other countries. In Japan it is claimed that the Empire was founded by the first Emperor, Jummu Tenno, 660 B.C. and that the dynasty founded by him has continued ever since. It is well known that the Chinese Imperial family is of Manchu origin. The Ching dynasty was founded in 1644 by conquest, not by succession. Upon the recent overthrow of the Manchu dynasty it was found very difficult to find a Chinese, however popular and able, who possessed the legal right of succeeding to the throne. Jealousy and provincial feelings placed this suggestion absolutely beyond discussion. Disagreements, frictions, and constant civil war would have ensued if any attempt had been made to establish a Chinese dynasty. Another fact is that a large majority of the intelligent people of China were disgusted with the system of monarchial government. Thus it will be seen that for the sake of the peace and welfare of the nation there was no other course for the people but to take a long jump and to establish the present Republic. The law of evolution has been very actively at work in China, and no doubt it will be for her ultimate good, and therefore for the benefit of all mankind. China is now an infant republic, but she will grow into a healthy and strong youth. Her people have the kindest feeling for the people of the elder republic across the Pacific. There are excellent reasons why the two republics should be in closer friendship. It is well known that there are great potentialities for the expansion of trade in China, and as the Philippine Islands are close to our shores, and the completion of the Panama Canal will open a new avenue for the enlargement of trade from America, it will be to the interest of both nations to stretch out their hands across the Pacific in the clasp of good fellowship and brotherhood. When this is done, not only will international commerce greatly increase, but peace, at least in the Eastern Hemisphere, will be better secured than by a fleet of Dreadnaughts.
Chapter 4. America and China
America has performed great service for the Orient and especially for China. If, however, the people of the latter country were asked to express their candid opinion on the matter, the verdict would not be altogether pleasant, but would be given with mixed feelings of gratitude and regret. Since the formal opening of China to foreign trade and commerce, people of all nationalities have come here, some to trade, some for pleasure, some to preach Christianity, and others for other purposes. Considering that the Chinese have a civilization of their own, and that their modes of thoughts, ideas, and habits are, in many respects, different from those of the western people, it is not surprising that frictions and disputes have occasionally occurred and that even foreign wars have been waged between China and the Occident, but it is gratifying to observe that no force has ever been resorted to against China by the United States of America. Now and then troublesome questions have arisen, but they have always been settled amicably. Indeed the just and friendly attitude taken by the American officials in China had so won the esteem and confidence of the Chinese Government that in 1867, on the termination of Mr. Anson Burlingame's term as American Minister to Peking, he was appointed by the Manchu Government as Chief of a special mission to America and Europe. In that capacity he performed valuable services for China, although his work was unfortunately cut short by his untimely death. The liberal and generous treatment accorded to the Chinese students in America is another source of satisfaction. They have been admitted freely to all educational institutions, and welcomed into American families. In whatever school or college they enter they are taught in the same way as the American boys and girls, and enjoy equal opportunities of learning all that the American students learn. That America has no desire for territorial acquisition in China is well known. During the Boxer movement the American Government took the lead in initiating the policy of maintaining the open door, and preserving the integrity of China, a policy to which the other great powers readily consented. It was well known at the time, and it is no breach of confidence to mention the fact here, that Mr. John Hay, American Secretary of State, with the permission of President McKinley, was quite willing that America's indemnity demanded from China as her share of the compensation for losses sustained during the Boxer upheaval, should be reduced by one-half, provided the other powers would consent to similar reductions. Unfortunately, Mr. Hay's proposal could not be carried out for want of unanimity. However, to show the good faith, and the humane and just policy of America, she has since voluntarily refunded to China a considerable portion of her indemnity, being the surplus due to her after payment of the actual expenses incurred. This is the second occasion on which she has done this, although in the previous case the refund was smaller. These are some of the instances for which the people of China have good reasons to be grateful to America and her people.
There is, however, another side to the picture; the Chinese students in America, who may be roughly calculated by the thousands, and whose number is annually increasing, have been taught democratic principles of government. These could not but be detrimental to the welfare of the late Manchu Government. They have read the history of how the American people gained their independence, and naturally they have been imbued with the idea of inaugurating a similar policy in China. Chinese merchants, traders, and others who have been residing in America, seeing the free and independent manner in which the American people carry on their government, learned, of course, a similar lesson. These people have been an important factor in the recent overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. Added to this, the fact that America has afforded a safe refuge for political offenders was another cause of dissatisfaction to the Manchus. Thus it will be seen that the Manchu Government, from their point of view, have had many reasons for entertaining unfavorable sentiments toward America.
This view I need hardly say is not shared by the large majority of Chinese. Persons who have committed political offenses in their own country find protection not only in America but in all countries in Europe, Japan, and other civilized lands. It is an irony of fate that since the establishment of the Chinese Republic, Manchu and other officials under the old regime, now find secure asylums in Hongkong, Japan, and Tsingtao, while hundreds of ex-Manchu officials have fled to the foreign settlements of Shanghai, Tientsin, and other treaty ports, so reluctantly granted by the late Manchu Government. Thus the edge of their complaint against America's policy in harboring political refugees has been turned against themselves, and the liberality against which they protested has become their protection.
The more substantial cause for dissatisfaction with the United States is, I grieve to say, her Chinese exclusion policy. As long as her discriminating laws against the Chinese remain in force a blot must remain on her otherwise good name, and her relations with China, though cordial, cannot be perfect. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to deal with this subject exhaustively, but in order to enable my readers to understand the exact situation it is necessary to supply a short historical summary. In 1868, on account of the pressing need of good laborers for the construction of railways and other public works in America, the Governments of China and the United States, concluded a treaty which provided that "Chinese subjects visiting or residing in the United States shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, and exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation." It was a treaty negotiated by that great American statesman, Secretary Seward, and announced by the President of the United States to Congress as a "liberal and auspicious treaty". It was welcomed by the United States as a great advance in their international relations. It had also the double significance of having been negotiated by a Chinese special embassy, of which a distinguished American diplomat, Mr. Anson Burlingame, who was familiar with the wishes and interests of the American people, was the head.
But within a few years the labor unions on the Pacific coast began to object to the competition of Chinese laborers. Soon afterward the Chinese Government, to its intense surprise, was informed that the President of the United States had delegated a commission to come to Peking to solicit an abrogation of the treaty clause to which reference has been made. The Chinese Government was naturally unwilling to abrogate a treaty which had been urged on her by the United States with so much zeal, and which had so lately been entered upon on both sides with such high hopes. Long and tedious negotiations ensued, and finally a short treaty was concluded, the first and second Articles of which are as follows:
"Whenever in the opinion of the Government of the United States, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States, or their residence therein, affects or threatens to affect the interests of that country, or to endanger the good order of the said country or of any locality within the territory thereof, the Government of China agrees that the Government of the United States may regulate, limit, or suspend such coming or residence, but may not absolutely prohibit it. The limitation or suspension shall be reasonable and shall apply only to Chinese who may go to the United States as laborers, other classes not being included in the limitations. Legislation taken in regard to Chinese laborers will be of such a character only as is necessary to enforce the regulation, limitation, or suspension of immigration, and immigrants shall not be subject to personal maltreatment or abuse."
"Chinese subjects, whether proceeding to the United States as teachers, students, merchants, or from curiosity, together with their body and household servants, and Chinese laborers who are now in the United States shall be allowed to go and come of their own free will and accord, and shall be accorded all the rights, privileges, immunities, and exceptions which are accorded to the citizens and subjects of the most favored nations."
It would seem reasonable to expect that in yielding so fully to the wishes of the United States in this second negotiation the Chinese Government would not be called upon to make any further concessions in the interests or at the demand of the labor unions on the Pacific coast, but in this China was disappointed. Within a period of less than ten years an urgent application was made by the American Secretary of State for a new treaty amended so as to enable the Congress of the United States to still further restrict the privileges of Chinese laborers who had come to the United States. And when the Chinese Government hesitated to consent to the withdrawal of rights which the United States granted to the subjects of other Governments, Congress passed the Scott Act of 1888 prohibiting any Chinese person from entering the United States except Chinese officials, teachers, students, merchants or travellers for pleasure or curiosity and forbidding also Chinese laborers in the United States, after having left, from returning thereto. This, in the words of Hon. J. W. Foster, ex-Secretary of State and a distinguished international lawyer, "was a deliberate violation of the Treaty of 1880 and was so declared by the Supreme Court of the United States." In order to save the Executive of the United States from embarrassment, the Chinese Government, contrary to its own sense of justice, and of international comity, for a third time yielded to the wishes of the United States, and concluded the amended treaty of 1894 which gave Congress additional power of legislation respecting Chinese laborers. By Article I of this treaty it was agreed that for a term of ten years the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States should be absolutely prohibited. Article III distinctly provided that "the provisions of this convention shall not affect the right at present enjoyed of Chinese subjects, being officials, teachers, students, merchants, or travellers for curiosity or pleasure, but not laborers, of coming to the United States and residing therein." Thus it is clear that the prohibition affects only laborers, and not the other classes of Chinese. For a few years after the signing of this convention this was the view adopted and acted upon by the immigration officials, but afterward they changed their attitude, and the foregoing Article has since been interpreted to mean that only the above-mentioned five classes can be admitted into the United States, and that all the other classes of Chinese, however respectable and honorable, must be refused admission. Will my readers believe that a Chinese banker, physician, lawyer, broker, commercial agent, scholar or professor could all be barred out of the United States of America under the provisions of this convention? In the face of the plain language of the text it seems too absurd and unreasonable to be contemplated, and yet it is a fact.
This convention was proclaimed in December, 1894. According to its provisions, it was to remain in force only for a period of ten years, but that if six months before the end of that period neither Power should give notice of denunciation it should be extended for a similar period. Such notice was, however, given by China to the United States and accordingly the convention expired in December, 1904, and is now no longer in force. No serious attempt has since been made by the United States Government to negotiate a new treaty regarding Chinese laborers, so the customs and immigration officials continue to prohibit Chinese laborers from coming to America by virtue of the law passed by Congress. It will be seen that by the treaty of 1868, known as the "Burlingame Treaty", the United States Government formally agreed that Chinese subjects, visiting or residing in the United States, should enjoy the same privileges and immunities as were enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation; that being so, and as the convention of 1894 has expired, according to the legal opinion of Mr. John W. Foster, and other eminent lawyers, the continuation of the exclusion of Chinese laborers and the restrictions placed upon Chinese merchants and others seeking admission to the United States are not only without international authority but in violation of treaty stipulations.
The enforcement of the exclusion laws against Chinese in the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands is still more inexcusable. The complaint in America against the immigration of Chinese laborers was that such immigration was detrimental to white labor, but in those Islands there has been no such complaint; on the contrary the enforcement of the law against the Chinese in Hawaii has been, and is, contrary to the unanimous wish of the local Government and the people. Free intercourse and immigration between those Islands and China have been maintained for centuries. What is most objectionable and unfair is that the Chinese should be singled out for discrimination, while all other Asiatics such as Japanese, Siamese, and Malays are allowed to enter America and her colonies without restraint. It is my belief that the gross injustice that has been inflicted upon the Chinese people by the harsh working of the exclusion law is not known to the large majority of the American people, for I am sure they would not allow the continuation of such hardships to be suffered by those who are their sincere friends. China does not wish special treatment, she only asks that her people shall be treated in the same way as the citizens or subjects of other countries. Will the great American nation still refuse to consent to this?
To solve the problem of immigration in a manner that would be satisfactory to all parties is not an easy task, as so many conflicting interests are involved. But it is not impossible. If persons interested in this question be really desirous of seeing it settled and are willing to listen to reasonable proposals, I believe that a way may be found for its solution. There is good reason for my optimistic opinion. Even the Labor Unions, unless I am mistaken, would welcome an amicable settlement of this complicated question. In 1902, while at Washington, I was agreeably surprised to receive a deputation of the leaders of the Central Labor Union of Binghamton, New York, inviting me to pay a visit there and to deliver an address. As I did not wish to disappoint them I accepted their invitation. During my short stay there, I was very cordially and warmly received, and most kindly treated not only by the local authorities and inhabitants, but by the members of the Labor Union and the working men also. I found that the Union leaders and the working men were most reasonable, their platform being, as far as I could learn, to have no cheap labor competition but not necessarily discrimination against any race. If the United States Government would appoint a commission composed of members representing the Labor Unions, manufacturers and merchants, to treat with a similar commission nominated by the Chinese Government, the whole question in all its bearings could be discussed, and I feel certain that after free and candid exchange of views, the joint Commissioners would be able to arrive at a scheme which would put at rest once for all the conflicting claims, and settle the matter satisfactorily to both China and the United States.
When this disagreeable difference has been removed, the friendly relations between the two Republics, cordial even while one was yet an Empire, will leave nothing to be desired and cannot but help to largely affect the trade between the two countries and to contribute to the peace of the Far East.
 I need hardly say that our students are also well treated in England, France, Germany, Japan, and other countries in Europe, but I am dealing in this chapter with America.
Chapter 5. American Education
Out of a total population of 91,972,266 in the United States there were, in 1910, 17,506,175 pupils enrolled. Few nations can show such a high percentage of school students. The total number of teachers was 506,040. Educational efficiency on such a scale can be maintained only by a large expenditure of money, and from the statistics of education I find that the sum received from tuition fees was $14,687,192 gold, from productive funds $11,592,113 gold, and from the United States Government $4,607,298 gold, making a total of $70,667,865 gold. I question whether any other nation can produce such an excellent example in the cause of education.
In every state there are very many schools, both public and private. There are public schools in every town, and even the smallest village has its school, while in some agricultural states, such as Wyoming, where the population is very scattered, teachers are provided by the government to teach in the farmers' homes wherever three or four children can be gathered together. The public schools are free and open to all, but in some towns in the Southern States special schools are provided for the colored people. Having such facilities for gaining knowledge, it naturally follows that the Americans, as a whole, are an educated people. By this I mean the native American, not the recent immigrants and negroes, but even as regards the latter a reservation should be made, for some of the negroes, such as Booker T. Washington and others, have become eminent through their learning and educational work.
The distinguishing feature of the school system is that it is cheap and comprehensive. In the primary and high schools the boys and girls, whether they come from the wealthy or aristocratic families, or from more straitened homes, are all studying together in the same class-room, and it is known that a President sent his son to study in a public school. There is, therefore, no excuse for even the poorest man in America being an illiterate. If he wishes he can obtain a degree in a university without difficulty. Many of the state universities admit the children of citizens of the state free, while their tuition fees for outsiders are exceptionally low, so that it is within the power of the man of the most moderate means to give his son a university education. Many of the college or university students, in order to enable them to go through their courses of study, do outside jobs after their lecture hours, and perform manual, or even menial work, during the vacations. I frequently met such students in summer resorts acting as hotel waiters and found them clean, attentive, and reliable. During a visit to Harvard University, President Eliot took me to see the dining-hall. Many students were taking their lunch at the time. I noticed that the waiters were an unusually clean set of young men, and upon inquiry was informed that they were students of the University, and that when a waiter was wanted many students applied, as the poorer students were glad to avail themselves of the opportunity to earn some money.
Honest labor, though menial, is not considered degrading, and no American of education and refinement is above doing it. In some of the states in the East, owing to the scarcity of servants, families do their own cooking and other household work. Some few years ago I was on a visit to Ashburnham, Massachusetts, and was surprised to find that my hostess not only did the cooking but also cleaned my room. I was invited to a formal luncheon by a professor, and to my astonishment his two daughters waited at the table. This is not unlike what occurs in some parts of China in the interior. The members of families, although in good circumstances, do their own household work. In some towns, not far from Canton, wealthy farmers and country gentlemen hire out their sons as menials, so that these youngsters, when they have grown up, shall know the value of money and not squander the family wealth. I cite a typical case of a millionaire who had only one son. In order to make him appreciate the worth of money he took his boy to Canton, and allowed him to be hired out as an ordinary servant. The boy was ordered by his master to look after a certain part of the house, and also to take care of a little garden. One day he carelessly broke a valuable gold-fish jar much prized by the family. His master naturally became enraged and reproached him for his negligence. The young man coolly told him that if he would come to his father's house he could replace the broken vessel by making his own selection from his father's collection of gold-fish jars. This irritated the master, who thought that the lad was adding insult to injury. However, ultimately, his master was persuaded to go with him to his father's house, and to his great astonishment he found there many gold-fish jars which were more precious than that which the lad had broken. Household work, however mean it may be, is not considered degrading in China, but the difference between China and America is that in America the people are compelled to do it from necessity, while in China it is resorted to as a matter of policy to make the young men realize the value of money, and not spend it wastefully.
The curriculum prescribed in the schools covers a wide range of subjects, and the graduates are well equipped to face the battle of life. Not only are drawing, sketching and other fine arts taught, but also carpentry and other trades. I was once shown a fairly made box which was the product of a very small boy. I did not at first perceive the use of teaching a boy to do such work in school, but I learned that its object was to instruct the pupil how to think and arrange his materials systematically.
With the exception of those schools established by Christian societies, or endowed by religious sects, all educational institutions, especially those established by the state authorities, are secular. Religion is not taught. Neither the Bible nor any other religious work is used in the schoolroom. The presidents, professors, and tutors may be strict churchmen, or very religious people, but, as a rule, they are not permitted to inculcate their religious views on the students. The minds of the young are most susceptible, and if no moral principles are impressed upon them at school or college they are apt to go astray. It should be remembered that men of education without moral principles are like a ship without an anchor. Ignorant and illiterate people infringe the law because they do not know any better, and their acts of depredation are clumsy and can be easily found out, but when men of education commit crimes these are so skilfully planned and executed that it is difficult for the police to unravel and detect them. It has been known that frauds and forgeries perpetrated by such unscrupulous persons were so cleverly designed that they bore the evidence of superior education, and almost of genius. The more a man is educated the more is it necessary, for the welfare of the state, to instruct him how to make a proper use of his talents: Education is like a double-edged sword. It may be turned to dangerous usages if it is not properly handled.
As there is no established church in the United States, and in view of the numberless different sects, it is not advisable to permit any particular phase of religion to be taught. But why not consent to allow the cardinal principles of morality to be taught in every school? The following may serve as examples:
(1) Honesty is the best policy. (2) Honor thy father and thy mother. (3) Universal brotherhood. (4) Love of mankind. (5) Charity to all. (6) Purity in thought and action. (7) Pure food makes a pure body. (8) Happiness consists of health and a pure conscience. (9) Live and let live. (10) Respect a man for his virtues, not for his money or position. (11) 'Fiat justitia, ruat coelum' (Let justice be done, though the Heavens should fall). (12) Bear no malice against anyone. (13) Be equitable and just to all men. (14) Liberty and freedom but not license. (15) Do not unto others what ye would not that others should do unto you.
I have jotted down the above just as they occurred to me while writing. They can easily be amplified, and be made the basis of an ethical instruction in all the schools. In any case, every nation should aim at the highest standard of morals.
Co-education in the United States is not so unpopular as in some other countries, and it is increasing in favor. In all the primary schools, and in most of the high schools, boys and girls study in the same class-room, and girls are admitted as students even in some colleges and universities. This principle of admitting the fair sex to equal educational privileges is slowly but surely being recognized everywhere. In some universities the authorities have gone half-way; lectures are given to the girl students in separate rooms, or separate buildings, or halls, are provided for the girl students. With regard to the teaching staff, in the primary schools nearly all the teachers are women, and in the high schools their number is at least half, if not more. In some of the universities there are lady professors or tutors. It goes without saying that girls have the natural talent for learning everything that boys can learn. The objections raised by the opponents of co-education seem to rest chiefly upon the danger of the intellectual or physical overstrain of girls during adolescence, and upon the unequal rate of development of boys and girls during the secondary school period. It is further alleged that in mixed schools the curriculum is so prescribed that the girls' course of study is more or less adapted to that of the boys, with the result that it cannot have the artistic and domestic character which is suitable for the majority of girls; but why should not the curriculum be arranged in such a way as to suit both sexes? Is it not good for both to learn the same subjects? That which is good for a boy to learn is it not equally advisable for a girl to know, and vice versa? Will not such a policy create mutual sympathy between the sexes? The opponents of the co-education policy assert that it makes the girls masculine, and that it has a tendency to make the boys a little feminine. It cannot, however, be doubted that the system reduces the cost of education, such as the duplication of the teaching staff, laboratories, libraries, and other equipment.
It is objected that the system has done more than anything else to rob marriage of its attractions, by divesting man of most of his old-time glamour and romance. It is claimed that this early contact with the other sex, on a footing of equality, and the manner in which the majority of the girl students more than maintain their intellectual standing with the boys, has tended to produce that contempt of the much-vaunted superiority of man, that, as a rule, is reserved for those post-nuptial discoveries which make marriage such an interesting venture. But they forget that marriages are frequently contracted in places where girls and boys are taught together, and where they have had ample opportunities for knowing each other intimately, and that experience proves that such marriages are happy and lasting unions. It is interesting to observe, however, that as the number of educational institutions has increased, the number of unmarried women has been correspondingly augmented. It is easy to explain this by the fact that a large number of women earn their own livelihood by going into business and the professions. As they become more educated, and are allowed to participate in many of the same privileges as men, it is only natural that they should show their independence by remaining single. The same thing would occur in any country, and we may expect a like state of things in China as greater facilities for instruction are afforded to women. I do not feel alarmed at the prospect; indeed, I would welcome it if I could see my country-women acting as independently and as orderly as their American sisters.
The games and sports sanctioned and encouraged in schools and universities are useful, in that they afford diversion of the pupils' minds from their school work. They should not, however, be indulged in in such a way as to interfere with their studies. Take, as an example, boat racing; several months of preparation are necessary before the event takes place, and during a great portion of this time the students do not think much of their studies; they are all mad with excitement. The contest between the two rival parties is very keen; they have but one thought, and that is to win the race. In this way, at least so it seems to me, the main object of recreation is entirely lost sight of; it becomes no longer an amusement, but labor and work. I am told that the coxswain and the other members of the boat race generally have to take a long rest when the race is over, which clearly shows that they have been overworking. I favor all innocent games and sports which mean recreation and diversion, but if it be thought that without a contest games would lose their relish and their fun, then I would suggest that the aim should be the exhibition of a perfect body and absolute health. Let the students, when they come to the recreation ground, indulge in any sport they please, but make them feel that it is "bad form" to overstrain, or do anything which, even temporarily, mars the perfect working of their physical organisms. Let each student so train himself as to become healthy and strong both physically and mentally, and the one who, through reasonable and wholesome exercises, is able to present himself in the most perfect health should be awarded the highest prize.
 There appears to be $39,781,262 missing from these figures. Possibly Wu Tingfang's figures are incorrect, but it seems more likely that he neglected to include expenditures by state and local governments.—A. R. L., 1996.
Chapter 6. American Business Methods
If I should be asked what is most essential for the successful carrying on of business in America I would say advertising. A business man in America who intends to succeed must advertise in the daily, weekly, and monthly papers, and also have big posters in the streets. I do not believe any up-to-date merchant in America fails to do this. Every book and magazine contains many advertisements; sometimes fully half of a big magazine is covered with notices or pictures of articles for sale. Wherever you go the inevitable poster confronts you; and even when you look out of the window of the train you see large sign-boards announcing some article of trade. The newer the brand the bigger the picture. If when you get into a street-car you look around you will see nothing but advertisements of all kinds and sorts, and if you answer an advertisement you will keep on receiving notices of the matter about which you inquired. Even now I receive letters urging me to buy something or other about which I sent a letter of inquiry when I was in America. At night, if you stroll round the town you will be amazed by the ingenious and clever signs which the alert minds of the trades people have invented, such as revolving electric lights forming the name of the advertiser with different colors, or a figure or shape of some sort illustrating his wares. But even this is not thought sufficient. Circulars are often sent to everyone, making special offers, setting forth forceful reasons why the commodity advertised is indispensable. Certain stores make it a point to announce cheap sales once or twice a year, with from 10 to 25 per cent. reduction. It should be noted that no tradesman voluntarily sells his goods at a loss, so that if during a sale he can give as much as 25 per cent. discount we can easily calculate the percentage of profit he generally makes. There are cases where men who started as petty dealers have, after a few years, become millionaires.
To show the importance of advertising I cite the well-known sanitary drink which is a substitute for tea and coffee, and which by extensive advertising in almost every paper published in every country has now become a favorite beverage. The proprietor is now a multi-millionaire and I am told that he spends more than a million dollars a year in advertising.
Another thing inseparable from American business is the telephone. A telephone is a part of every well-appointed house, every partner's desk is provided with a telephone, through which he talks to his clients and transacts business with them. In all official departments in Washington scores of telephones are provided; even the secretary of the department and the chief of the bureau give orders by telephone. It goes without saying that this means of communication is also found in the home of almost every well-to-do family. The invention of a telephone is a great blessing to mankind; it enables friends to talk to each other at a distance without the trouble of calling. Sweethearts can exchange their sweet nothings, and even proposals of marriage have been made and accepted through the telephone. However, one is subjected to frequent annoyances from wrong connections at the Central Office, and sometimes grave errors are made. Once, through a serious blunder, or a mischievous joke, I lost a dinner in my Legation in Washington. My valet received a telephone message from a lady friend inviting me to dine at her house. I gladly accepted the invitation, and at the appointed time drove to her home, only to find that there was no dinner-party on, and that I should have to go hungry.
With some trades, in order to create a new market, commercial travellers or "drummers" give their goods away for nothing. Experience has proved that what they lose at the start they recover in the course of time, receiving in addition triple or tenfold more business than the cost of the original outlay. These commercial agents travel through all sections of the country to solicit business; they call upon those who can give them orders; they look up those who are engaged in similar businesses to their own, and, if they are retailers, they invite their orders, or ask them to become sub-agents. These gentlemen practically live on the trains: they eat, sleep, and do their business while travelling. One of them told me that in one month he had covered 38,000 miles, and that he had not been back to his firm for three months.
There is no doubt that the American people are active, strenuous workers. They will willingly go any distance, and undertake any journey, however arduous, if it promises business; they seem to be always on the go, and they are prepared to start anywhere at a moment's notice. An American who called on me a short time ago in Shanghai told me that when he left his house one morning at New York, he had not the slightest notion he was going to undertake a long journey that day; but that when he got to his office his boss asked him if he would go to China on a certain commission. He accepted the responsibility at once and telephoned to his wife to pack up his things. Two hours later he was on a train bound for San Francisco where he boarded a steamer for China. The same gentleman told me that this trip was his second visit to China within a few months.
American salesmen are clever and capable, and well know how to recommend whatever they have to sell. You walk into a store just to look around; there may be nothing that you want, but the adroit manner in which the salesman talks, and the way in which he explains the good points of every article at which you look, makes it extremely difficult for you to leave the store without making some purchases. Salesmen and commercial travellers in the United States have certainly learned the art of speaking. I once, however, met a remarkable exception to this rule in the person of an American gentleman who was singularly lacking in tact; he was in China with the intention of obtaining a concession, and he had nearly accomplished his object when he spoilt everything by his blunt speech. He said he had not come to China for any philanthropic purposes, but that he was in the country to make money. We all know that the average business man is neither a Peabody nor a Carnegie, but it was quite unnecessary for this gentleman to announce that his sole object was to make money out of the Chinese.
Up to a few years ago business men in America, especially capitalists, had scarcely any idea of transacting business in China. I well remember the difficulty I had in raising a railway loan in America. It was in 1897. I had received positive instructions from my government to obtain a big loan for the purpose of constructing the proposed railway from Hankow to Canton. I endeavored to interest well-known bankers and capitalists in New York City but none of them would consider the proposals. They invariably said that their money could be just as easily, and just as profitably, invested in their own country, and with better security, than was obtainable in China. It was only after nearly twelve months of hard work, of careful explanation and much persuasion, that I succeeded in finding a capitalist who was prepared to discuss the matter and make the loan. Conditions have now changed. American bankers and others have found that investments in China are quite safe. They have sent agents to China to represent them in the matter of a big international loan, and they are now just as ready to lend money in China as in Europe, and on the same terms. In conjunction with the representatives of some large European capitalists they even formed a powerful syndicate in China, for the purpose of arranging loans to responsible Chinese investors. In the spring of 1913, however, they withdrew from the syndicate.