Wayne Patterson ’68 on Korea's Chinese Decade
This spring, historian Wayne Patterson '68 gave a talk, "Korea's 'Chinese Decade' 1880-1894: A New Look at Late Qing-Late Choson Relations," in which he discussed recently-revealed details of Chinese imperialism in the late 19th century.
When China abandoned its non-interference policy of sadae in the 1880s, most of the attention was focused on Yuan Shikai in Seoul. Less well known is that China also attempted to absorb Korea's maritime customs service. The recently-discovered correspondence of the first customs commissioner in Pusan, William Nelson Lovatt - who was fired by China - reveals this unknown aspect of Chinese imperialism in the late 19th century, involving conspiracies of silence, whistle-blowing, and blackmail.
Patterson '68 joined the history department faculty of St. Norbert College in 1977 and specializes in the history of East Asia. He graduated from Swarthmore with a double major in history and international relations. Additionally, he holds two master’s degrees in history and international relations and a Ph.D. in international relations, with a concentration in modern East Asian history from the University of Pennsylvania. Patterson has lived, taught and/or attended universities in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. The recipient of four Fulbright Fellowships, Patterson has authored or edited 13 books on modern Korea and Japan and is the recipient of the Donald B. King Outstanding Scholar Award.
Prof. Hopkins: Good afternoon. Welcome. It's a great pleasure to welcome this afternoon a very special person, Wayne Patterson, but not only Wayne Patterson, Wayne Patterson '68, Swarthmore alum, 50 years this year, right? That's awesome. First, I want to thank the co-sponsors of this event, Asian Studies, Chinese and Japanese sections of Modern Languages, and the Department of History, and also Ann Everetts for all of her hard work, helping to set this up.
Wayne Patterson, Swarthmore '68, has been a member of the History Department Faculty of Saint Norbert College since 1977, where he specializes in History of East Asia. His undergraduate degree in history is from Swarthmore College, and he holds two master's degrees, one in history and one in international relations, both from U. Penn. His PhD from U. Penn is in international relations with a concentration in the modern East Asian history.
Patterson has lived, taught, or attended universities in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. The recipient of four Fulbright Fellowships, Professor Patterson has authored or edited around 13 books on modern Korea and Japan and is the recipient of the Donald B. King Outstanding Scholar Award. He has been a visiting professor at a number of universities, including the University of Hawaii in Manoa, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Pennsylvania, University of Kansas, University of Maryland, University of South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Chicago, UC-Berkeley, and Harvard University. Professor Patterson has also held visiting professorships at the University of Philippines, Korea University, and Yonsei University.
As for the talk this afternoon, when China abandoned its noninterference of Sadae in the 1880s, Korea's so-called Chinese decade, most of the attention was focused on Yuan Shikai in Seoul. Less well known is that China also attempted to absorb Korea's maritime customs service. The recently discovered correspondence of the first custom's commissioner in Pusan, William Nelson Lovatt, who was fired by China, reveals this unknown aspect of Chinese Imperialism in the late 19th century, involving conspiracies of silence, whistle blowing, and blackmail. Sounds familiar?
With that mysterious setup, we are certainly ready to welcome back to Swarthmore, Wayne Patterson, '68, Professor of History, Saint Norbert College, and Visiting Professor and Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, with a talk on Korea's Chinese Decade, 1880-1894: A New Look at Late Qing-Late Choson Relations. Wayne, please. Thank you.
Wayne Patterson: Well, thank you very much, Steve, for that very nice introduction. It's always great to be back where I went to college many years ago. Before I tell you something about this fellow, William Nelson Lovatt, let me point out a couple of people in the audience, who were instrumental in getting me to where I am today. First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the person who first taught East Asian History here at Swarthmore College in 1953, and he later became my mentor at the University of Pennsylvania. His name was Hilary Conroy, a famous historian of Japan. He passed away a couple years ago, but he's represented here tonight by his daughter, Sharlie Conroy Yushioda and he was the person who go the Asian studies program here at Swarthmore going.
I showed up about 15 years later, and I took my first course in East Asian History here at Swarthmore from Ching-Wen who is sitting right there, and that was my first introduction to modern East Asian History and I am grateful to both Professor Conroy and Professor Wen for putting me on the path that took me to where I am today.
So let me begin. First of all, Professor Hopkins mentioned the Sadae and I looked on my little hand out and I'm afraid that was the one term that I forgot to put on the handout for you. I know that some of you can read probably Korean and or Chinese. In Chinese, it's Surdae, in Korean Sadae, and I don't have a blackboard but it looks something like this. It means to serve the great and the great refers to China, in Korean, Sadae, so it's spelled Sadae in English.
What I'm going to talk about is kind of the break down in Sadae during this period that we call the Chinese decade. In fact, you're probably wondering "well, this looks like more than a decade, it looks almost like 15 or 12 years or something like that", and usually the decade refers to the time that this fellow from China came in by the name of Yuan Shikai to kind of boss the Koreans around from 1885 to the Sino-Japanese war.
Actually, I'm going to argue that the breakdown in Sadae or at least one aspect of Sadae started a bit earlier than that. In the early 1880's. Let me start by giving you an idea of who this guy Lovatt is. This is a book by the way in case you want to have a look at it, this is the book I'm talking about. This is William Nelson Lovatt, hither to unknown fellow. It turned out that his middle name Nelson refers to this fellow right here, who you've seen in Trafalgar's Square if you've ever been to downtown London.
It turned out that the day that I took the picture the Korean soccer team had just won the quarter finals in the World Cup and so the Red Devils, you can see the Korean flag here and everybody dressed in red. All the Koreans in London were out celebrating on that particular day. They changed their name, the Christians didn't like it so now their called the Taegogee Fighters rather than the Red Devils.
Well, as you probably could guess, Lovatt came from a military family, and his dad was in the Royal Fusiliers in the British Army, meaning infantry. I went to his home town, he was born in South Hampton England in 1838, and this is the neighborhood he was born in. Of course these are new houses because it was bombed out during World War II. He joined the British Army at the age of 15, and first served in India in the Sepoy Rebellion, got a couple of medals as you can see. We think this picture was taken in 1860 just as he was about to embark on his first trip to China to fight in the Second Opium War, the siege of Beijing in 1860.
Some fellow in the twin cities of Minneapolis St. Paul found out was doing the search and he was a collector of military artifacts and he found this guy's sword in a pawn shop and sent me these images of Lovatt's swords. Okay, some of you know who Sir Robert Hart is, how did Lovatt get hooked up with Sir Robert Hart? After Lovatt fought in the Second Opium War, the siege of Beijing, his unit was transferred to Shanghai, and in in Shanghai from 1860 to 1862, he was involved in fighting against the Taiping on the side of the Chinese government. At that time he was a Gunnery Sergeant in the British artillery. But he got tired of being in the military so what he did was he mustered out in 1863, and instead of going back to England, he decided he would sign up for a job with Sir Robert Hart, who was the Inspector General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Custom Service.
So instead of going back to England, he stayed in China and started learning Chinese, and he would end up being fluent by the way in Chinese. Sir Robert Hart had his office in Beijing and Lovatt took his first tour of duty in the treaty port of Hankou, which is now called Wuhan on the Yangtze river.
He spent about the first five or six years itinerating up and down the Yangtze river until 1869 when he ran into an American missionary from Minnesota and she had been a teacher and she had brought her senior class yearbook. They were going through the yearbook and he saw a picture of this lady right here, Jenny Shaw and said "boy she's beautiful, could you give me her address, I'd like to start writing to her" so he started writing to her and in 1869 he came to American for the first time to marry Jenny Shaw in Minnesota. They took their honeymoon in Niagara Falls and then he took her to England to meet the folks and this is when this photograph of the new Mrs. Lovatt was taken in 1869.
Now, when Lovatt came back to marry this woman, he was on a leave of absence, he didn't quit his job in the Imperial Maritime Custom Service of China, in fact, his parents in law, his new parents in law wanted him to stay in Minnesota but he was not a farmer, they were farmers and he hated the cold weather and I live right next door to Minnesota, so I can tell you it's very cold there. So he said "no I'm gonna take you back to China with me."
So his next port of call was Jiuguang, which is also on the Yangtze River. Here is the Bund on the Jiuguang. The Bund is kind of what we might call the boardwalk with the customs office in the rear there. One of his good friends that he met in Jiuguang was a German fellow by the name of Paul George Von Mollendorf. His name is on your sheet there. Mollendorf and Lovatt became very good friends. Mollendorf didn't like working for Sir Robert Hart, so soon after this picture was taken he quit the Imperial Maritime Customs Service and started working in Tianjin for the viceroy by the name of Li Hongzhang, who you're going to hear about in a minute or two.
So Lovatt stayed in Jiuguang and Mollendorf went off to Tianjin. Well, a few years later, it turns out that Lovatt himself would be transferred to Tianjin, so now Lovatt and Mollendorf are back together again in the same city, this time in Tianjin. By this time Mollendorf was working for Li Hongzhang, I'm using the old randomization as you can see. Li Hongzhang had just been appointed the superintendent of the three northern ports, meaning in essence, Li Hongzhang was the guy in charge China's policy toward Korea. Kind of like a foreign minister of China. Li Hongzhang was afraid that China might lose Korea. If you know anything about the sinocentric world order, you know that Korea was a tributary of China. They paid tribute four times a year the Chinese emperor. Did the cow tow, and older brother and younger brother in that sort of sense. Li Hongzhang wanted to keep it that way, what he didn't want was to allow Korea to either the Russians or to the Japanese.
Why was he afraid? Well because the Russians were making inroads in the far western part of China in the Ili river valley. Being very aggressive there and the Japanese had just, not to many years earlier attacked Taiwan and had annexed [foreign language 00:14:49] to their own Beijing kingdom. So Li Hongzhang said "well, we've got to make sure that Korea stays in our orbit." Now Sadae, the concept that I told you about which means serve the great, had two functions, or two attributes. One was that China did not interfere in Korea's affairs unless asked and secondly, China was a benevolent older brother to the younger brother, Korea.
Li Hongzhang is going to decide that he's gotta scrap at least one of those two aspects and that is the non-interference aspect. Li Hongzhang is going to decide that he has to interfere in Korea's affairs to make sure Korea stays in the Chinese orbit. Just to give you an example of one of the things he did, and there were more, but the one more interesting for us as Americans was when Korea signed a treaty with the United States in 1882, Li Hongzhang was the guy that negotiated on the part of the Koreans. In other words, the American that signed the treaty never met a Korean, he only met this guy named Hongzhang. Li Hongzhang said "in this treaty you have to put in that Korea is a tributary to China." The American naval commander whose name was Shufelt said "wait a second, we can't sign a treaty with a country that's not sovereign." So Li Hongzhang said "okay, I'll send a letter to President Arthur", which President Arthur promptly ignored.
You see the drift here. He was trying to make sure that this relationship between the elder brother, China and the younger brother, Korea would be maintained. It was about at this time in 1982, you recognize Mollendorf here, Korean name Mok Indeok. Li Hongzhang had been approached by the Koreans. The Koreans had ask him, "Mr. Li, or Viceroy Li, we would like to set up a customs service just like you have here in China, can you give us some advice?"
He said "yes I can, you should do exactly we Chinese did, hire a westerner to be in charge of the customs service, we hired Sir Robert Hart, you should hire a westerner." Once again, instead of letting the Koreans make their own mind up, Li Hongzhang said "I've got just the person for you to be the head of customs, and his name is Mok Indeok, or Mr. Mollendorf, and I'm gonna second hat too, he's not only gonna be in charge of your customs service, he's gonna give you foreign policy advice." In other words, he's gonna be your main foreign policy advisor.
Of course, you could imagine what kind of advice he's supposed to give to the Koreans, stay in the Chinese orbit, don't go off to Russia, don't go off to Japan. So as soon as Mollendorf finds out he's gonna go off to Korea, he starts wearing Korean clothes, so he's dressed like a young Don here, and starts to study Korean. He's already fluent by the way in Chinese.
So Mollendorf goes over to Korea and meets the Korean King whose name is Gojong. He's the first westerner that Gojong had ever met and he took an office here and here is Mollendorf's office right here, you can see the British Consulate here, the American Consulate here and here is the back of the Royal Palace. Just before Mollendorf left China to go to Korea, he went to his friend in Tianjin, Lovatt and said "hey, I've just been named the head, Chief Commissioner of customs in Korea and Korea now has three open ports, thanks the treaty in 1876 with the Japanese, how would you like to be commissioner in one of them? Pusan to be specific?"
Lovatt knew Mollendorf very well, and he knew Mollendorf was a little flaky and besides Lovatt had been now in China for almost 20 years, he was fluent in Chinese, he knew the drill, Tianjin wasn't such a bad place. So it took him a year to decide whether to go over to Korea or not. In the end he decided if Mollendorf could get this custom service in Korea up and running, sure I'll go over there because I'll get a raise, 200 tails to 300 tails, I'll get promoted from tide surveyor to commissioner and the weather in Pusan is good, and I'll be near Nagasaki where I can mail from home.
So in late 1883, Lovatt comes over to Seoul and stays with his friend Mollendorf in his house here in Seoul. Now, before the Pusan customs house did open, they had to renegotiate the 1876 treaty between Japan and Korea because while it opened up three ports, there was no provision for collecting duty to make money. The three ports were Wonsan, Inch'on and Pusan. So they had to have a negotiation and there's Mollendorf right there and by the way, Gisaeng came to the negotiating table. Gisaeng are like the Korean equivalent of Geisha or something like that, so it's rather interesting.
Anyhow, Mollendorf was successful in getting the Japanese okay for the Koreans to collect customs and so now you could open up the three customs offices in the three treaty ports and Lovatt was going to go down to Pusan. The title of the book is "In the Service of His Korean Majesty", so I thought I should put in a picture of King Kojong, later Emperor. Here he is, right here. Lovatt took a few pictures of Seoul. Here's a Namdaemun, a south big gate in 1883.
His family is grown by this time. He's gonna call for his wife who has gone back to Minnesota to come and join him in Pusan with their youngest daughter Mabel. While the three older ones stay back in Minnesota and go to school. So Jenny moved over here and the youngest Mabel, are gonna join Lovatt in Pusan. So they're gonna be the first western family in Pusan in this [inaudible 00:22:56] period, this open ports period.
So we have a few photographs of the customs house and you can always tell by the flag pole. I'll go through these rather quickly there's the flag pole. This came from a Swedish book, I don't know how I cam across that. Okay, so, where did Lovatt live? Where is the customs house? Well, Lovatt's house is right here, and the customs house is right here. So this is a map from Pusan taken from the Japanese book, Pusan Chi. The main in street in Pusan was Benten-dori which is up here and Lovatt lived on Monochorionic. Of course, they're not called that now. Here's Lovatt's house here and if you've got really great eyesight you can see the flagpole of the customs house there. So he only had to walk a couple hundred yards to get to his house to his place of work.
I went back to Pusan a couple years ago to find if the house is still there, of course it isn't. This is where the beach was, but they filled in so the beach is now kind of a quarter of a mile to your right, but his house would have been right about here. This is the old Honmonchidori and you can see that it was largely a Japanese city because before 1876, this area of Pusan was called the Waegwan, the Japan house and only Japanese were allowed to live there. Koreans had to live farther up the way. Here is the main street of Pusan, Benten-dori, you can see the Japanese style houses here. Here's where it's gonna be filled in as you can see. This is Benten-dori, now it's called Gwangbok-no, but Benten-dori obviously and it turns out there's actually a Pusan, Saiguan, Pungalguan or Pusan customs museums and that's the curator right there, standing on Gwangbok-no.
So it's largely a Japanese city so you see the first post office in Pusan, you'd see Japanese flags here, and you've got one Korean fellow here in white and three or four Japanese wearing western style clothing here. One Korean, three or four Japanese. Here's the Japanese consulate half way up the Yong du son, the mountain in the center of Pusan, Japanese style roofs here. Japanese war ships in the bay, steamers, Japanese steamers. I mention that this is the old Japan house and before 1876, only Koreans could live here, so Koreans lived south of this gate, I'm sorry, Japanese lived south of this gate, Koreans lived north of the gate. Here's a close up, here's the shore here, here's the gate. Koreans there, Japanese there.
Lovatt took a picture of this, of course now after 1876, people could live wherever they want. But in the back of this picture he says "this tree is where the border was between the Koreans on this side, and Japanese on this side." Here's the Korean section for those of you who've ever been to Pusan, this is now called Pusanjin, which is about 3 miles north of the center part of town. You see the different style roofs, these are Korean style roofs, not Japanese style roofs.
Lovatt used to go picnicking and hiking on Yung-do that's what it's called now, it used to be called Chun Yung-do. There are a couple bridges that go across here now. They used to buy fish from the Korean fisherman who came up right behind the house. He took pictures of Korean houses like this one right here. The local Yamen, the magistrates' office. This will give you an idea of some of the sources I used. The primary source, you see he used the old, he's trying to save money, so up here it says "his Korean Majesty's Customs" 28th of October 1884, obviously this is stationary from Inchon, using the Chinese pronunciation Wren-chen, he's crossed it off and written in Phusong. He's trying to save a few bucks by using the Inchon stationary.
We found this, there was a fire back in 1885 that's wiped out all the documents, but this one somehow was saved and the Seoul customs found this about eight years ago, unfortunately it's Inchon and not [inaudible 00:28:52] is another word for Inchon and not Pusan. Okay. So here's our bad guy, Yuen Churkai, Juan Se Gay in Korean. How does he come to the scene? Well, it turned out that there were two things that worried Li Hongzhang very much. Remember, he didn't want Korea to go over to Japan or to Russia. But there were two things that happened within 6 months of each other that threw him into a panic. The first one was in December of 1884, when a pro Japan group in Korea, pro Japanese, pro western called the Kai Wa Don, I believe it's on your sheet there, the progressive we usually, Kai means to open up, Wa means change, Don is party, tried to overthrow the government and establish a pro Japanese government. It's called the Cop Chin Chung Bien, okay.
The only reason it didn't succeed is because the Korean government, faced with this revolt called on the Chinese, the big brother to put it down. They came very close to succeeding, and if they had succeeded, Korea might have gone off to the possession of Japan and of course left the Chinese orbit. So this is the first shoe that's about to drop in Li Hongzhang's in a panic. The second shoe that's gonna drop occurred about five months later when Mollendorf who had been sent specifically to Korea to keep Korea in the Chinese orbit decided he didn't like China being the big brother and he approached the Russians in secret, essentially saying "how would you like to become Korea's big brother, replacing China?"
Of course loose lips sink ships and Mollendorf couldn't keep his mouth shut and so the secret initiative to the Russians got out. Now luckily, for Li Hongzhang the Russians said "thanks but no thanks", but what if the Russians had said yes? This is in the spring of 1885 and so within this 5 or 6 month period, Korea came so close to getting sucked up by first the Japanese, and then the Russians and so Li Hongzhang said he had to take even stronger interfering actions in Korea. So what he's gonna do is, one of the things he's gonna do is send his lieutenant Yuen Churkai here dressed in a Prussian army uniform to go to Korea as the Chinese resident. Notice he calls himself resident and not ambassador because that would imply equality. Resident means he's above and Korea is below.
But there's somebody else on that ship in the fall of 1885 that's gonna go from China to Korea and that guy is Henry Murrell. Here's Henry Murrell right here, here's his Harvard graduation picture, age 22. He didn't go to Swarthmore, went to Harvard. Why is Henry Murrell gonna go off to Korea? Li Hongzhang said when he found out that Mollendorf had approached the Russians, Li Hongzhang said to Mollendorf "you stabbed me in the back, you're a traitor, you've betrayed me" and he told the Korean government, this guy right here, fire Mollendorf for going to the Russians.
So Kim Yuen Chic who is pro Chinese, a member of the Sadae Dong, the pro Chinese faction is gonna do whatever Li Hongzhang tells him to do. So Kim Yuen Chick fires Mollendorf. So now, Korea has no foreign policy advisor and Korea has no customs commissioner. So Kojong, the King of Korea says to Li Hongzhang, remember, Li Hongzhang is kind of the older brother, "now that Mollendorf is fired, I need a new customs commissioner, please send me an American, I trust Americans."
So Li Hongzhang went to Robert Hart and said "do you have anybody that we can send over to Korea to head up the Korean customs service now that Mollendorf has been fired" so Robert Hart says "yes indeed I do, his name is Henry Murrell and he works for me, and I'd be happy to let him go over to Korea and be in charge of the Korean customs service." And so, Hart calls Murrell to Beijing and he's gonna have 2 interviews, he's gonna have 1 interview with Li Hongzhang he wants to make sure that Henry Murrell doesn't do what Mollendorf did, and that is to go over to the Russians or maybe the Japanese. That he's just gonna stay out of, and run the business. The other interview he has is with his boss, Sir Robert Hart. Here's what Hart is gonna say "I'm gonna take over the Korean customs service, but I don't want you to tell anybody, it's just gonna be our secret, you and me, we're the only ones that are gonna know. You can't tell anybody."
Here's what he said to Murrell "keep steadily in view, the possibility, I hope that we shall soon be able to say of certainty of union between Korean and Chinese customs. They, the Koreans [inaudible 00:35:31] added beforehand, so keep the takeover plan to yourself." In other words it's a conspiracy of silence, right? Conspiracy of silence. Who do they not want find out? Well, obviously the Koreans, but there's someone else that they don't want to find out and that's Li Hongzhang. Because Li Hongzhang has come to the conclusion that there are people in China who want to take over Korea. On your handout there you see one group called the Ching Leo Dong the purist party. They're the hawks. That's one group that just want to annex Korea. They want to make it a colony or another province of China.
So the Ching Leo Dong is one. Another one is Yuen Churkai himself. He wants China to annex Korea. Of course he's working for Li Hongzhang and the third person who wants to take over Korea is Sir Robert Hart who works for China. So you've got on the one had, these three groups, or individuals, Hart, the Ching Leo Dong and Yuen Churkai want to take over Korea directly and Li Hongzhang on the other hand who says "if we try to take over Korea directly the diplomatic blow back will be such that all of our chances of Korea will be ruined. We can control Korea indirectly, not directly like these folks, but indirectly and that's why I sent Yuen Churkai to boss the Koreans around."
Now Murrell is gonna agree to Hart's plan to annex Korea's customs. Why? Not because he wants China to augment it's power in Korea, but because he's found out that Mollendorf is a lousy administrator and he things that by annexing it to the Chinese customs service it'll become much more efficient. So here's what Hart tells him to do "when you take over the Korean custom service, I want you to publish the Korean returns of the appendix to our own returns to lead up to the demonstration that Korea is China's tributary." [inaudible 00:37:57] see you have to learn Latin, you have to learn Latin, right?
This will also be the best way of gradually accustoming people in various directions to the union we have in mind. What else is Hart gonna tell Murrell? Not only are we gonna take over and annex the Korean customs service, but in the process and in addition to publishing the Korean returns in our own documents, you have to fire all three commissioners. Including Lovatt. Why? Because they work for Korea and I want commissioners who will work for me and China. So you've got to fire all three of them.
So, Lovatt's in Pusan and he finds out of course his buddy and his friend has been fired, Mollendorf and replaced by Murrell, so Lovatt says I shall wait patiently until I have an official statement of the new arrangements before me and then if I find that I'm unfairly treated I shall draw up a statement and forward it either to the British consul or Sir Robert Hart. Now, you see what this quote means? It means Lovatt has no idea what's in store for him. He doesn't know that Hart is gonna try to take over the Korean customs service. He doesn't know that Hart is gonna have him fired any minute.
So on that ship that's going over from China to Korea, whose on that ship? Yuen Churkai, in the fall of 1885 is gonna boss the Koreans around for the next 10 years, Murrell, and Murrell's assistant, is at the bottom of your page, Jonathan Hunt. These are the only three people who know about Hart's secret plan to annex the Korean customs service. Now, you see Lovatt, any time you take a job and the person who hired you gets fired, you know you're on thin ice right, because the new person may want to come in and have their own team right, and you may not be part of that team.
So he's saying lets see what's gonna happen. So Murrell gets to Korea and he starts doing research, looking into the custom service and he says "of the three commissioners, with the exception of Mr. Lovatt, the three commissioners do not appear to have administered their offices satisfactorily." In other words, he's writing back to Hart, wait a second, Lovatt doesn't deserve to be fired, he's a good commissioner, the other two, their no good, but Lovatt's good, we shouldn't fire him. Here's what hart says in return "Lovatt is a very decent man, but he's not the stamp of a man to have charge of a port an excellent tide surveyor but that's all." In other words, Hart has just told Murrell I don't care how good he is, fire him because he's working for Korea and not for me and China.
Now, Lovatt doesn't know this yet, Lovatt doesn't know that Hart is behind this. The first thing that Murrell does when he gets to Korea he sends his assistant, whose in on the secret, down to Pusan because there are gonna be new reporting, filling out the forms. Lovatt's gonna try to butter him up to find out what his boss, Murrell has in store for him. So he puts him up at his house, he takes him on picnics and hikes and hunting on deer island, takes him out to the local Japanese restaurants in downtown Pusan on [inaudible 00:41:50].
After spending a week there, he gets Hunt to spill the beans. In other words he pries the secret out of Hunt. Hunt spills the beans to Lovatt, in other words in time, the whole Korean service will go into the hands of Sir Robert Hart and there's no doubt that we will be gotten rid of. We Mollendorfians will be ordered to quit bagging baggage at any early date, sayonara. I'm not gonna surrender my position without pretty generous treatment.
What he's setting up for himself is what we call a golden handshake, right? The golden parachute. Give me what I want, because I'm in on the secret now, I know what's behind all this, I know about Hart's secret plan. Remember, Mollendorf wore two hats, one was a foreign policy advisor, Kojong wants another American to be a foreign advisor, so this fellow from Oregon, [inaudible 00:42:56] comes over to be the foreign policy advisor, he's gonna turn against the Chinese and here's Kim Yuen Chic.
Anyhow, Murrell, now that he's found out that Lovatt is a good commissioner and yet Hart, his boss tells him to fire him anyhow, here's what Murrell says to Hart "from a strictly business point of view, it is right to fire them. Yet if they know you are going to annex this service they would expect no other fate, but I cannot tell them that. My aim is to have done with the present commissioners, including Lovatt at once without making any trouble, my aim is to get each man to resign quietly." So what he's gonna ask is Hart, they're gonna be unemployed, if you want me to fire them, they're gonna be unemployed, give them a job back in China. Hart says "okay, I'll give them a job back in China so they won't make a fuss, they can leave quietly and I can replace them with people who work for me." Sir Robert Hart
About this time, there's a new American in town, his name is George Faulk, he's there with his Japanese wife, Kanai. Yuen Churkai's been in Korea now for only about 6 months but he's already made a nuisance of himself. Not only do this Faulk hate him, and hate the Chinese for bossing the Koreans around, but now there's an anti-Chinese faction that's developed in the last 6 months because Yuen is such a jerk.
Remember, Loveseat's in on the secret, okay. He knows that Hart is behind this, so here's what he's gonna demand to get his golden parachute. I want a lot of money, I want a long paid leave of absence. I want a letter of recommendation before I quit, before I get fired. I want re-employment in the Chinese customs service at commissioner by the way, and I want to get to resign rather than being dismissed. When Murrell heard these demands he said "well, this is a pretty bold statement, these are pretty bold demands, where do you come off giving these outrageous demands?" And here's what Lovatt says to Murrell "If you don't give me what I want I'm gonna ask for an outside third party, neutral observer, someone with no interest in this what so ever. Someone like, oh I don't know, Sir Robert Hart."
As soon as Murrell heard that, Murrell knew that Lovatt was in on the secret. Murrell now knows that Lovatt's gonna take over the Korean customs service and blow everything sky high. So Murrells in a panic, so he writes to Hart "I could not place you, Hart, in the position of arbitrating a matter in which you are officially interested, nor yet could I give any hint that you were so interested. His reference to you was his way of discovering how much you had to do with the contemplated change."
In other words, alert, Lovatt knows that you're behind all this. Lovatt knows that you're about to take over the Korean customs. What kind of cards did Lovatt have to play? In other words, whose he gonna blow the whistle to if you don't give him what he wants? Well, he's gonna go public by complaining to the western representatives in Seoul, most notably, George Faulk, the American representative you just saw a moment ago, and/or he can go public to the anti-Chinese faction by that we mean the anti-UN faction in the Korean government. And if he blows the whistle there, it blows everything out of the water and we the Chinese will lose all influence we have in Korea.
Here's what Murrell wrote to Hart "suppose the worst should happen, that Lovatt by raising the cry of Chinese interference, and by Chinese of course we mean Hart, because Hart is working for China. By Chinese interference and by arousing the anti-Chinese element and possibly some of the foreign representatives like George Faulk should succeed in obtaining the issue of instruction to me to continue that mans service." What am I gonna do?
At any rate, Lovatt by threatening to blow the whistle by showing that he knew what Hart was about was in the driver's seat. He had the upper hand. So Lovatt demanded a lot of money. The initial offer that he got was $3,500. Lovatt wrote back to Murrell, "that's not enough. Give me $4,500.", so Murrell says "Okay, I'll give you $4,500." This is when Lovatt says "That's still not enough, lets ask Sir Robert Hart for his idea." In other words, this is when Murrell found out that Lovatt was in on the secret. So what did Lovatt end up getting? $6,000. Now, $6,000 in 1886 is a lot of money. A lot of money.
He got a long paid leave of absence, 18 months leave of absence. What's the reason? Well, who knows what can happen in Korea in 18 months, maybe Murrell will get fired, or kick the bucket or something like that and he can go back to his job, which he likes and, which he's good at. How many times have you been able to get a letter of recommendation before you leave your position? Never right? He got a letter from Murrell, glowing letter of recommendation, oh he's great, etcetera.
He did get the offer to be re-employed in the Chinese customs service. Now, the rank was not specified initially Lovatt said I want to go back as commissioner, I was a commissioner here in Korea, I want to go back to China as commissioner, not as tide surveyor, but it was never spelled out and here was the deal. The deal that Murrell and Hart offered was you'll get $6,000 if you're unemployed, you'll get $1,500 if you take a job back in China.
Lovatt said "I think I'll take the $6,000 and be unemployed, thank you very much." And then he got to resign rather than being dismissed outright. So basically, by threatening to blow the whistle and blowing the secret plan to take over the Korean custom service to smithereens, Lovatt pretty much got just about everything he wanted. So he didn't have to use his two cards, he didn't have to go public to the anti-Chinese faction or to the foreign elements, representatives, and he resigned in June of 1886.
Here's Sir Robert Hart here, and over here on your left is gonna be Lovatt's replacement, a french guy by the name of Puree in 1881 here. Here's Puree sitting here in a chaise lounge or something, he's got a Korean servant here. Here is Yon Do here in the background here.
Jenny had gone back earlier to Minnesota because she'd gotten pregnant back in Pusan with their fifth and final child, so here is William Herald, "Willie" Lovatt. Here he is at the age of 10 standing next to his folks. Here's what happened. If Jim Palloy were here, he's the guy that says "so what", why is all this story important?
Is Lovatt an important guy? Well, maybe not such an important guy, but the customs episode here that I've just described you is pretty much a microcosm of the relationship between China and Korea. That is the Ching Lio Dong, Hart and Yuen did not exceed in annexing Korea. Li Hongzhang won out by controlling Korea indirectly rather than directly. So just as the two customs services came closer together, the Chinese and Hart never annexed the Korean custom service. China never annexed Korea for the next ten years in which we call this Korea's Chinese decade, Korea remained independent and the Chinese, the Korea's custom service remained independent, although closer to China.
How do we bring this to an end? Lovatt went back to Minnesota, he was on an 18 month leave of absence, he was getting $226 a month when his leave of absence ran out he had to tender his resignation, but he still didn't like the weather in Minnesota, he still didn't want to be a farmer, and so he wanted to go back to China, but he'd already said no. So he wrote to Murrell and Murrell to Hart and says "take this guy back will ya?" So Hart actually took Lovatt back into the Chinese service, not as a commissioner, not as a Tide Surveyor, but Assistant Tide Surveyor because the fact that he had taken $6,000 prior to that.
So he was in FuJo in 1888 as Assistant Tide Surveyor. He made it up eventually back to Tide Surveyor, he never made commissioner because Hart had it in for him, right? He had betrayed Hart and then he had blackmailed Hart. Give me what I want or I'm gonna go public. So here they are, I believe they are back in Honko now, Jenny has joined him. Here's little Willie, he's about 10 years old here. Here's Willie all grown up, he went to school in England and I just put his picture in here because his son is still alive. He lives in Andora, I don't if any of you know where Andora is, between Spain and France. The municipality is very old. .
By the way, you've all heard of Captain Morgan right? Well, there's another brand called Admiral Nelson Rum, and they used this guy's son on the label. They had him dressed up, he had a spy glass and he had one of those ruffly white shirts that are open down to the navel, he was in the spy thing up there like this, so they wanted someone who was related to Admiral Nelson and who had some sort of sea faring expertise because his son was in the British Navy.
Here's our last photograph of William Nelson Lovatt, this is her daughter Ida. Her grandchildren now live in Nevada, the family name is DeCarvonale. Here he is, here's Jenny kind of hidden behind Mr. DeCarvonale here, he's French. He's gonna die the next year in 1904 at the age of 66, some of you may know that China has 4 furnaces and one of the furnaces is Wuhan and he died of heat stroke walking around the race track at noon in July and you know back in those days they didn't wear shorts and a t-shirt, they dressed to the nines. So he died at the age of 66 in 1904.
Final photo, he had a reunion, a Lovatt family reunion on the centennial of his death in Minnesota where Jenny was from and where she's buried. This is one great grandson, great granddaughter, great granddaughter, all named DeCarvonale and you might be wondering where did I get these documents that I used?
If you see the lady in the white hair here, turns out also from Nevada, just a coincidence. I ran into her in China in the early 1980's, she found out what I did for a living, and she said "oh I have the papers of a sea captain who lived in Asia back in the 19th century, would you be interested?" I said "sure" and of course she hadn't read the documents and it was the letters and correspondence of William Nelson Lovatt, nobody had ever seen them. They were just up in her attic, so when I opened it up and looked at it I said "this is a gold mine" you know, that's what historians like are primary documents. So this is the lady from whom I got the documents and these are other various, this is me right here. Had more hair back then, and these are other descendants of Lovatt. This is a cup that was given at one of his treaty ports for services rendered. At any rate, that's the end of my little story. I've used up pretty much an hour of your time, so thank you very much for your rapt attention.