Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
FORMOSA (Tai-wan), a fertile island 90 miles distant from the coast of China, which is about 240 miles long and 70 miles wide, intersected by a chain of mountains along its length. The eastern half of this island was from the fifteenth century claimed by the Japanese; the Chinese, as their maps made by the Jesuits show, claiming only the western half. The Dutch were, in 1662, driven from their settlements at Zeelandia on Formosa by the Japanese half-breed Koku sen-ya ("Coxinga"), and Dutch and Japanese Christianity on the island was extirpated. In March, 1867, the American brig Rover was wrecked off the southern shore, and the crew put to death by the natives. In June, 1867, Commodore Bell with the United States steamships Hartford and Wyoming, by orders of our government, landed a force to chastise the savages (Botans), but was repulsed. Unable to obtain redress from the Peking government, which disclaimed responsibility over eastern Formosa, our consul at Amoy, Gen. Charles Le Gendre, visited the chief of the eighteen tribes, obtaining from him a promise to protect the lives of shipwrecked Europeans and Americans. On June 8, 1874, a Japanese force of 1,300 men, under Gen. Saigo, occupied for six months a point at Liang Kiao bay, with the object of punishing the Botan savages who three years before had massacred the crew, numbering fifty-four men, of a vessel from the Riu Kiu (Loo Choo) islands. The Chinese government demanded the withdrawal of the troops, and war was imminent. Okube, the mikado's representative in Peking, firmly demanded that proper indemnity should be paid, and China agreed to assume responsibility over eastern Formosa. The Chinese paid the indemnity of 700,000 taels, and the Japanese on the 3d, having lost 700 men and spent $5,000,000, disembarked, having accomplished something for the benefit of the world. The fertility and position of Formosa make it a desirable island for European powers ambitious of influence in the East, but as yet China has not shown any evidences of a willingness to part with it.
W. E. G.
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