[This is a typed copy of a handwritten letter dated 6 April 1847 from the U.S. Consul in Singapore, J.(oseph) Balestier to the Secretary of State and discusses the incident in which the USS Constitution killed many Vietnamese in Danang harbor, Vietnam in May, 1845. (See 1st Report below.) This and other documents were gathered to support an unpublished manuscript "Neglected Antecedents" by Ira Bodry, ne Van Lee written sometime before 1970. While the photo copy of the original is difficult to read and there are thus omissions (?) and probably some errors, the form and spelling is replicated.]

Received 7 Aug? '47
Record of

Consulate of the U. States
Singapore, 6th April 1847


I have the honor to make known to you for the information of those concerned in the ship "Mary Ellen" of Boston Captn L. G.(?) Dearborn that the said ship was wrecked and totally lost with the cargo of teas on the island of Subi South Nation? As on the 9th Febry. Last on her passage from N.hamp(?) on in China to New York.

Captn Dearborn and 18 of the crew whose names, station and places of residence are here amended succeeded in reaching Subi but not with out losing two of the crew whose strength failed them and they were drowned among the reefs and breakers & their names are also here amended.

The whole surviving party arrived here on the 16th March with the clothing only they stood in when they effected a landing in the Subi and they have been taken charge of and supplied with food & necessities by me until an opportunity presents to send them to the United States.

I am happy to bring to the notice of the President through you the humane & kindly treatment of the Radja of Pooloo(?) Subi who from the

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The same Captain Dearborn & his crew presented (???) (???) before him in their distressed state until he provided a conveyance for them to this port in one of his own (???) and notwithstanding the inconvenience he was put to in supplying with proper food so large a company for a Month never for a moment abated in his attentions and parental care.

The island of Subi lays close to that part of Borneo(?) recently ceded to the British Government and has a population of about five hundred persons whose chief subsistence consists of Sago?, Cocoanut & fish. They are poor and not given to trade & a present of a few pieces Red Cloth, a few yards of Gold Lace & fifty Muskets, Balls & powder would be a very acceptable reward for the Radjah's handsome conduct towards the crew of the Mary Ellen at the hands of any of our naval commanders visiting these seas.

Such a mark of public acknowledgment from the United States is very desirable at this time when impressions extremely unfavorable to us arising from certain acts committed two years ago in Cochin China by the commander of the US Ship "Constitution" Percival (or prevail) in these parts and until an investigation is gone into as to the motives which could have compelled a resort in our parts to such extreme measures as the taking away the lives of many unoffending Cochin Chinese & a satisfactory explanation of the same it is to be apprehended that the presence of our countrymen will be looked upon

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upon with more dread than pleasure wherever the report of the transaction has reached.

[1st report of the attack, emphasis added, Ed] A year ago some Mandarins of the King of Cochin China who came here as usual in his ships applied to me for redress for ill treatment received at the hands of the commander of the "Constitution." They represented that they were ashore on the King's business when the "Constitution" anchored at the Port of Turong [Danang Harbor]; that on the commanders making known his wants of food & water they willingly supplied him & held friendly communications with him. But on another day he came ashore with a party of from his ship and ordered them to deliver some French Priests who he represented were persons in the country to which they replied they knew nothing and that it would be better for him to go to Hue' the capital, a sea port, and apply to the King. Upon this they were handcuffed and degraded in the presence of their dependents & servants & finally taken to the "Constitution" where they were kept prisoners for many days and daily threatened with execution if the French Roman Catholic Priests were not delivered to him.

Other mandarins confirmed the above and stated that as they knew nothing of the detention of the foreigners and as moreover they had no power to release them it was so stated to him daily. That

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That on a certain day they saw many boats leaving the ship full of armed men but as they ?? The people of the town apprehended no danger a crowd was gathered to see them land, after affecting which the strangers were formed in a line & fired on the crowd and as it fled towards the town they ran after them, seventeen persons, men, women, & children were killed. In the mean time the "Constitution" had taken a position near the Port which it soon destroyed and fired on the Rice Junks in the River which caused many to be killed and wounded by the shots & others to drown in the Junks as they Sunk. I represented to them that I had no power to act in such a grave matter & requested them to say so to the King at the same time telling them to assure their Sovereign that any communication he might be pleased to make to the President on the Subject if sent to me would be transmitted with care and that such a communication would meet all the attention the importance of it merited. The Kings ships returned a month since & the Mandarins have called on me to say that the King according to usage decline to enter into foreign correspondence and they at the same time intimated that he abides the opportunity of a signal Vengeance doubtless on some of our defenseless or ship wrecked

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wrecked countrymen.

I wish not to constitute myself the messenger(?) of Captain Percival, or to bring before the Government any thing that has not already appeared in the news papers of India & Europe but I have considered it my duty in bringing to your notice the hospitable conduct of the Radja of Subi and to recommend a proper national acknowledgment of it and at the same time consider it in my lone of Official duty to appraise you of the unfavorable impressions that prevail against our national character in that quarters and which if not removed will certainly lead to the sacrifice of innocent lives under the most horrible torture as practiced on his enemies by the King of Cochin China.

The French Bishop & the priests above alluded to were a short time after the Visit of the "Constitution" in Cochin China delivered over on application to the Commander of the French Sloop of war "Acmene(?)"

I have the honor to be

To Sir

Your Most Obedient
The Honble The
Secretary of State (Signed) L. Balestier
Washington USA

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