Today, the Cleveland Presidential One Dollar Coin remembers when he met with Viceroy Li Hung Chang in New York on August 29, 1896.
From the Salt Lake Herald on the following day:
Li Hung Chang and Cleveland Meet at the Whitney Mansion
New York, Aug 29.
In the magnificent white and gold ballroom, just off the main hall of the mansion of William C. Whitney in Fifth avenue, the president of the United States at 1 o’clock today formally received the respects of the emperor of China through the medium of the great Chinese statesman Li Hung Chang.
The oriental ambassador left the Waldorf hotel at 10:40 o’clock, escorted by the Sixth United States cavalry and attended by his secretary and interpreter, Lo Fung Luh, and Secretary of State Richard Olney.
In the next carriage was the Chinese minister, Yang Yu, and his secretary with General Ruger.
The third vehicle contained the viceroy’s two sons and Colonel Davis, commissioner of Chinese customs.
J. B. Drew, with a staff officer, was in the last carriage.
Earl LI wore his famous yellow jacket and peacock feather. The party reached the Whitney residence at 11 o’clock sharp and Li Hung Chang was received by the president a few minutes later.
Secretary Carlisle, Assistant Secretary of State Rockhill, General James Wilson, John Russell Young, John W. Foster, Private Secretary Thurber and William C. Whitney were the only others present at the reception, the character of which was changed at the last moment from a public to a private one.
The representatives of the two press associations who had been invited were not permitted to be present.
Mr. Cleveland made an address of welcome as follows:
“Your Excellency: It gives me great pleasure to receive from your hand the personal letter from your august sovereign and to greet you a his personal representative.
“Since our two countries became better acquainted, many incidents have occurred calculated to increase our friendly relations, and not the least gratifying of these are the kindly expressions contained in the letter of your emperor and the visit to our country of his most distinguished subject, who has been so honorably and prominently connected with public affairs in his own country and with all that has been attempted in the direction of its advancement and improvement.
“Your visit to us at this time is made more impressive by the thought that it serves to join in one alliance the most ancient civilization of the east and the best type of a newer civilization in the western world. Notwithstanding the widely different characteristics of the two countries, the welcome which is tendered you by the government and citizens of the United States illustrates in the strongest possible manner the kinship of nations.
“We feel that in the arrangement of your tour you have not allotted to your sojourn among us sufficient time to gain an adequate observation of all we have accomplished as a nation.
“It will not, however, escape your notice that a rich and fertile domain has here been quickly created by those who were assured that they would reap where they had sown, that a strong and beneficent government has been here established by those who loved freedom and that we have a patriotic and generous people who love their government because it is theirs; controlled by them, administered for them and protected and saved from harm by them. We heartily wish that your stay with us may be most pleasant, and that at its close you may enjoy a safe and agreeable return to your home and your field of duty and usefulness.”
The translation of Li Hung Chang’s remarks is as follows:
“Your Excellency: It affords me great pleasure to have the honor to be presented to your Excellency. The reputation of your highly-esteemed virtues is widely known throughout the world, and in you the citizens of the United States of America have invariably placed their confidence, consequently both the interior administrations and the exterior relations of this great republic are in a state of prosperity.
“It will also be the desire of my august master, the emperor of China, to maintain the most cordial relations with America whose friendly assistance rendered to the government of China after the China-Japanese war and whose protection for the safety of the Chinese immigrants in America are to be highly appreciated.
“I am specially appointed by my august master, the emperor of China, to present to your Excellency the letters of credence, and to convey to your Excellency the assurances of his most friendly feelings toward the United States of America, in the hope that your Excellency will reciprocate his sentiments, and cooperate with him to promote the friendly intercourse between our two countries for the cause of human kind.
“I trust that your Excellency’s government will continue to afford protection and kind treatment to the Chinese immigrants in America and to render friendly assistance to the Chinese government when required.
“May the people of our two nations enjoy the benefits of perpetual peace.”
The letter from the emperor of China which Li Hung Chang presented to President Cleveland was a very elaborate affair, done in Chinese on parchment and wrapped in a yellow silk covering, upon which was the Chinese dragon worked in red, blue, green and white. The parchment resembled a large music roll.
After Mr. Cleveland finished his remarks, he introduced Secretaries Carlisle and Lamont, Attorney-General Harmon, Mr. Whitney and the other gentlemen present whom Li Hung Chang had not met. Ex-Secretary of State John W. Foster was cordially greeted by Li Hung Chang. The official interpreter, Lo Fung Luh, introduced the two sons of the viceroy and the others who accompanied him to President Cleveland.
After this there was some informal talk and pleasant words exchanged. Li Hung Chang did not indulge in his propensity for asking questions to any great extent, and half an hour after the arrival of the guest of honor the reception terminated. The party entered carriages in the same order in which they had arrived, and, escorted by Uncle Sam’s cavalry, drove back to the hotel.
President Cleveland and Secretaries Olney, Carlisle and Lamont took luncheon with Mr. Whitney.
Mr. Cleveland left on the yacht Sapphire for Gray Gables this afternoon. He was accompanied by Mr. Olney and Private Secretary Thurber.
Seventy men who had been either ministers of our government to China or members of the various legations within the last score of years or consuls assigned to certain treaty ports of the empire, assembled in the Astor hall room at the Hotel Waldorf tonight and broke bread with Li Hung Chang.
It was a notable gathering, in some respects the most notable that New York has seen for many years.
During the dinner there was never any expression of weariness upon the viceroy’s countenance.
Then amid impressive silence, an address was read to Li Hung Chang, which voiced the sentiments of Americans as to his services in promoting the cordial relations between the two countries.
Ex-Minister Seward called upon Dr. Mott. Dr. Mott’s address was highly complimentary to the distinguished guest, and his remarks when translated, pleased the viceroy greatly.
Li responded through his interpreter as follows:
“I need not say here or at this time how pleased I am with my visit, and how delighted I have been that I have had an opportunity to meet again so many of my old-time friends. You have expressed your praise of what I have done for my country, and you have been kind enough to tell me that you have appreciated my endeavors in behalf of civilization and the everlasting friendship between my government and the countries of the western world. I can only hope that when I return to my land I will be able to so arrange the continuation of friendly relations which have existed, and to extend those improvements which we have begun and which I have seen carried out so magnificently in my travels, that China will be regarded as the equal in modern science and advancement of any nation upon the earth. I beg of you, my friends, therefore, to bring to me your help, the help of our old-time friendship, the aid of old-time friends.”
After some addresses had been made by ex-Secretary of State John W. Foster, J. D. Purdon and Rev. Dr. Baldwin, the ambassador arose, and as he did so the wide ring of his hosts arose with him. The time was come when he should say goodnight. He did it with a courtly bow in acknowledgment of his appreciation of the hospitalities which had been extended to him as has ever been made within the walls of the Waldorf.
The Cleveland Presidential One Dollar Coin shows with images of Viceroy Li Hung Chang, circa 1890s.