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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Acting under orders from Ke Ying


Troubles in China]

[Sidenote: Bogue forts recaptured]

[Sidenote: A Chinese protest]

Next, new troubles arose with China. During the previous year riots broke out in Canton, by reason of a superstitious belief that a weather-vane on top of the flagstaff over the American Consulate interfered with the spirits of the air. A Chinaman was shot during the riots. The British had to interfere on behalf of the threatened Americans. The outraged feelings of the Chinese populace were allayed by a conciliatory declaration of Emperor Taouk-Wang, to the effect that the Christian religion could be commended as a faith for inculcating the principles of virtue. At the same time he sent a special commissioner, Ke-Ying, "amicably to regulate the commerce with foreign merchants at Canton." Trouble again broke out in March, when a small English hunting and fishing party violated the agreement confining them to the foreign concession at Canton. They were pelted with stones by the natives. Sir John Davis denounced this incident as international outrage, and, in disregard of the accepted treaty provisions, proclaimed "that he would exact and acquire from the Chinese Government that British subjects should be as free from molestation and insult in China as they would be in England." On April 1, all the available forces at Hong Kong were summoned to Canton. Three steamships, bearing two regiments of

soldiers, convoyed by a British man-of-war, attacked the Bogue forts. The Chinese, acting under orders from Ke-Ying, made no resistance. A British landing force seized the batteries and spiked the guns. Next, the forts opposite Canton were captured without a blow. Without a shot fired, Canton, on April 3, lay at the mercy of the British guns. Ke-Ying accepted the British ultimatum that the whole city of Canton should be opened to Englishmen two years from date. The agreement was closed with this significant statement on behalf of the Chinese Emperor: "If mutual good-will is to be maintained between the Chinese and foreigners, the common feelings of mankind, as well as the just principles of heaven, must be considered and conformed with."

[Sidenote: Nicaragua coerced]

[Sidenote: Threatened intervention in Portugal]

A new phase in Great Britain's boundary dispute with Nicaragua was reached by a British squadron's abrupt seizure of the harbor of San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua's only seaport on the Atlantic coast. In regard to the demands made for the free navigation of the La Plata River, the Argentine Republic at last came to terms. The joint squadrons of England and France thereupon raised their blockade of Buenos Ayres. At London a conference of English and French statesmen, to which Spain was likewise admitted, had come to an agreement to interfere on behalf of Queen Maria II., in Portugal. When this was made known, Bandiera, one of the chief partisans of Dom Pedro, announced his submission. Nonetheless, Pedro's followers persevered, and on June 26 the Junta at Oporto had to capitulate to Pedro's army.

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