The old Chinese city of
Ichang is walled, and built along the Yangtse and a small river. The
so-called foreign part (there are very few living there as there in no
foreign concession, and all are under Chinese rule) is further down the
Yangtse and is fairly well built, although not a modern city.. Along the
river it is comparatively well built up, with stones as a bund. The
street is narrow, but there are good stone steps at frequent intervals
along the front. These are necessary as the rise and fall of the river
is fifty feet. All freight has to be carried up these steps to be stored
in godowns, and when re-shipped, must again be carried down to lighters
to be transferred to steamers, that lay at anchor four hundred or five
hundred feet from the shores, all steamers making this port are of
At the time we were
visiting Ichang there was so much looting of property and so many fires
of incendiary origin, that building was at a standstill, as men were
afraid to work. A condition of terror existed in the entire community
from fear of the lawless soldiers. There being no law or order, the
soldiers helped themselves to anything they wished, and as they have
cleaned out all the native shops, their next move will be on the foreign
godowns. But the great drawback to their undertaking such a depredation
is, that there are seven foreign gunboats anchored a few hundred feet
from the buildings, and the foreign commanders are determined to land
troops and clear out the lawless Chinese at the first move they make
toward looting the godowns. They number about ten thousand and the crew
of the gunboats are only about five hundred, but the latter are
confident of success even against such odds. The Chinese citizens are
now signing a petition asking the foreigners to make it a foreign
settlement, and prevent any soldiers from coming into it. This matter
has the serious consideration of both Chinese and foreigners, but the
initiative must come from the Chinese.
The Chinese Chamber of
Commerce of this city entertained me at luncheon in the Salt Gabelle
Building, their own building with its contents having been totally
destroyed by fire set by the soldiers a few days previous. The merchants
presented me with an address in Chinese, which translated, reads:
"Ladies and Gentlemen. We
feel greatly honored that you favor us this tiffin. On account of the
recent upset general condition of affairs, we did not entertain you soon
after your arrival from Hankow as first arranged.
"This is the first time
you come to this city. What impresses you most, is no doubt to us, the
burnt down houses done by looters. We feel rather shy to describe to you
such event. Within half year's time there were already two lootings, but
we cannot blame soldiers because they did not receive their pay. General
Wong is to blame, he causes such looting because he converts soldiers'
pay to other purposes and sometimes he speculates. Hence, Ichang
condition is always in the midst of danger. The only remedy is to stamp
out such constant danger by having an International Settlement
"You people can see
better than we can and even know what our utmost need is. Szechuen
Province is world known rich in natural resources. Hence, we cannot deny
the fact that transportation helps development of natural resources.
There are two means to transport, either by railway or steamship. As
there is no railway between Ichang and Chung King, then what helps us to
"As far as we Dah Chuen
Tung are concerned, we feel indeed gratified that you assigned us as
your shipping hong. You added one more steamer, the Alice Dollar, that
shows you give us more help in the matter of transportation, but all of
us must bear in mind that co-operation promotes mutual profit."
I replied in a
conciliatory tone and tried to re-assure them by stating that it is
always darkest just before daybreak, and that if they wanted
International protection that the initiative
Upper—"ROBERT DOLLAR II" AND HULK AT CHUNGKING
Lower—-LOADING FROM RIVER CRAFT ALONGSIDE
must come entirely from
themselves; as it would never do for foreign nations to land troops
except on the greatest provocation; hut, in the terrible extremity in
which they were placed I was willing to assist them m every way I could,
and if order could not be restored I would be in favor of a foreign
settlement to prevent murder. While the American Government has no
consul, it is ably represented by Mr. Smith, the British Consul General,
who is very favorably located in large grounds with fine, large
buildings. This is certainly in great contrast to the American
Government, which has neither grounds nor a consular representative of
its own. It is to be hoped that our congressmen will realize that there
are American interests on the upper Yangtse River
Although the losses from
stealing are very great, they do not compare with the destruction of
property by fire, as the latter is not only a loss to the community but
is of no benefit to anyone. No effort is being made to re-build, the
people being completely discouraged. Inasmuch as I am more convinced
than ever of the great future commercial prosperity of this district, we
have let a contract to remodel an office building we bought sometime
ago, and will make it attractive and creditable to Americans visiting
Ichang. Later on, we have more improvements in view.
I sent the following
letter to Dr. W. W. Yen, Minister of Foreign Affairs at Peking, and a
copy to the United States Minister at Peking, the Hon. E. C. Crane.
Dr. W. W. Yen,
Minister of Foreign
My dear Sir:
In private conversation
with Chinese, I hear a lot of talk about having Ichang made a Foreign
Concession, and was much surprised today at a public meeting to hear it
openly asked for.
As you are aware, the
town has been looted twice, and last night several places were entered
and everything of value stolen.
I can assure you the
situation is tense and requires drastic and vigorous means to stop it.
Every soldier should be driven from this part of the country.
I have told the people in
public, as well as in private, to go slow about forming an international
settlement, and to give the Government another opportunity of cleaning
out the robbers.
Our office has been
looted and destroyed twice, and we have paid our Chinese for all their
losses, but that is insignificant compared with the terrible losses by
robbery and fire that Chinese merchants have suffered. Vigorous action
(Signed) Robert Dollar.
The Hon. E. C. Crane.
U. S. Minister, Peking.
My dear Sir:—
I have just completed a
trip to Chungking, and am more than ever convinced of the great
possibilities of Szechuen Province.
We now have two steamers
on this run giving a bi-weekly service, and we are well patronized.
I enclose copy of letter
sent to Dr. Yen. This place has become as bad as parts of Russia. Might
is right, no law or order at all.
Mrs. Dollar joins me in
I intended sailing from
Shanghai on our new steamer Robert Dollar about the sixth or seventh of
July via Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Calcutta and Bombay for New York.
(Signed) Robert Dollar.
Messrs. Jardine Matheson
& Co. have built a very large three-story godown, and Butterfield &
Swire have also built extra storage accommodations.
The British and American
admirals will meet in Ichang, and no doubt discuss the subject and
decide on a policy of patrolling and protecting foreign interests on the
river. But, far greater interest must he aroused in America of the great
opportunity that is presented to American commercial interests in the
fully opening up and developing of the great trade than can he carried
on between the outside world and the seventy millions of people in
Szechuen Province. Only a short time ago the United States had seventy
millions of people. Think of the probable condition of affairs if they
had had no communication with the outside world. Yet this is practically
the case over there today. While there are a half dozen steamers running
from Ichang to Chungking, in Szechuen Province, their combined cargo
capacity is much less than 1000 tons. While there are a great fleet of
junks of all kinds and sizes, they can only run at certain stages of
water (the same being true of our steamers.) The risk incurred by them
is greater than in any other class of transportation in the world. The
loss in junks runs as high as 20% per annum, and the correct accounting
of the loss of life is over 1000 per year. Think of it!—three lives a
day for every day of the year.