Document 30: Excerpt of letter to Thomas Burke from Canton, China, May 17, 1920

Thomas Burke Papers, 1785-1925. Manuscripts and University Archives, University of Washington Libraries.

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The success of my own business here has been a satisfaction to me, not on my own account, but because it has resulted in great good to this part of China, and will always stand as proof of the high value of American influence on such of us Chinese as have been or may in the future be privileges to put ourselves in contact with it.

All that I have been able to do here for the good of China and co-incidently to the benefit of the United States has been due entirely to my American business training and association, and I continue my mind in a constant state of gratitude to the citizens of Seattle with Judge Hanford and yourself at the head, who rendered to my family and myself and to my countrymen the unforgettable service in 1886. I hope my feeling of gratitude will in some measure cancel a debt which I will never be able to repay.

This prompts me to say that there seems little prospect of a continuation of the great benefit to China -- and to the United States -- of the privilege in the future of our contact and association with you. Through the American officials stationed in China it has been made so increasingly difficult for Chinese business men to go to the United States that few of them now submit to the ordeal of the searching and sometimes humiliating examination imposed. I have taken up this subject in greater extent with Mr. Lysons, and have asked him upon his return to confer with you and other persons of influence with a view to correcting this condition. It is particularly unfortunate that it should exist just at this time when England and France and other foreign countries are inviting Chinese immigration and its resulting Chinese trade.

My railroad business has been as prosperous as I could hope until within the past couple of years when unsettled business and political conditions in China have made it less so. I have been handicapped through having no coal supply along my line, consequently having to buy coal at high mine and transportation rates. Some time ago I discovered a coal mine off the line of my road, but in a section of our valley which offered an inviting field for a branch line. I started the building of this line past the coal mine and on through the fertile valley, a distance of about eighty miles, when I was overtaken by the present revolutionary political conditions in this Province, and have been unable to complete it beyond a distance of about twenty miles.

I am desirous of securing a loan of $3,000,000 to complete this road. In my anxiety I wrote to Mr. Rockefeller and solicited his investigation of the project and the loan of the money. I have not yet had an answer from him. Do you see any way, either through Mr. Rockefeller or in any other direction that you might secure this money for me? My financial statement of the road's affairs, made from the books of the Company, I am sure will show satisfactory security and assurance of repayment at maturity. Knowing your connection with the great financial interests of the United States I am indulging myself in the hope that you may be able to favor me in this respect....

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