1866 - 1867 - 1868 - 1869 - 1870 - 1871 - 1872 - 1873 - 1874 - 18751876 - 1977 - 1878 - 1879 - 1880 - 1881 - 1882 - 1883 - 1884 - 18851886 - 1887 - 1888 - 1889 - 1890 - 1891 - 1892 - 1893 - 1894 - 18951896 - 1897 - 1898 - 1899 - 1900 - 1901 - 1902 - 1903 - 1904 - 19051906 - 1907 - 1908 - 1909 - 1910 - 1911 - 1912 - 1913 - 1914 - 19151916 - 1917 - 1918 - 1919 - 1920 - 1921 - 1922 - 1923 - 1924 - 1925

1866 August
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The General Sherman, an American merchant schooner seeking to open trade with Korea was attacked when it went aground off Pyongyang. The ship was burned and crew who did not drown, were executed.

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1870
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The American Minister to China, Frederick F. Low, sought the assistance of the Chinese Government in preparing for a mission to negotiate a "shipwreck" convention and a commercial treaty with Korea.

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1871
May-June
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An expedition of five U.S. steamships under the joint command of Low and Rear Admiral John Rogers anchored in the Salee River below Seoul. When an upriver surveying party was fired upon by a Korean fort, and a requested apology was not received, troops were landed. In the ensuing action five forts were destroyed and 350 Koreans were killed or wounded. When efforts to negotiate a treaty with Korean high officials were unsuccessful, the squadron withdrew to China.

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1880
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Commodore Robert W. Shufeldt, with Japanese support, attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate a treaty of friendship and commerce with Korea.

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1882
May 22
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The first treaty with Korea, the "Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation", was signed by Shufeldt and Korean Commissioners. It provided for the appointment of diplomatic and consular representatives; stipulated that U.S. vessels in distress or needing fuel could enter any Korean port or harbor and that American citizens in Korea would receive the protection of local authorities. It also specified that Korean subjects could pursue their "various callings and avocations" throughout the United States, however U.S. citizens could only do business in Korean open ports. The treaty was ratified in 1883.

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1883
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The U.S. appointed its first Minister to Korea, Lucius Foote. Instructions from the Secretary of State specified that, "As far as we are concerned, Korea is an independent sovereign power...; in her relations to China we have no desire to interfere unless action should be taken prejudicial to the rights of the United States." The King of Korea appointed Min Yong Ik to serve as Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to the U.S. A special mission, headed by Hong Yeng Sik, visited the U.S. to study the customs and postal service, the public school system, fortification, etc.

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1885 August 18
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Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard, reiterated U.S. policy. "The Government of the United States has no concern in these matters beyond that of a friendly State which has treated with Corea as independent and sovereign and hopes to see her position among the nations assured."

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1887
June
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The U.S. recalled its representatives in Seoul at the request of China, as a result of disagreements between the Chinese and American representatives stationed there.

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July
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Bayard wrote to Hugh A. Dinsmore, American Minister Resident in Seoul, "If ... the progress of Chinese interference at Seoul should result in the destruction of the autonomy of Korea as a sovereign state with which the United States maintain independent treaty relations, it will be time then to consider whether this Government is to look to that of China to enforce treaty obligations for the protection of the persons and interests of citizens of the United States, and their commerce, in Korean territory as a dependency of China."

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September
October
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Dinsmore expressed concern at efforts by the Chinese Minister at Seoul to prevent the recently appointed Korean Minister to the U.S. from leaving for Washington. The Chinese Minister denied this, and stated that since the Treaty of 1882 stipulated that Korea was a "vassal state to China", Korean missions to foreign nations were subject to "obligations that are binding her to China" and that the U.S. should not interfere. The U.S. expressed "surprise and regret" at this action.

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1888
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Chung Yang Pak was received in Washington as first resident Minister of Korea "on a footing of diplomatic equality with the representatives of other States which maintain treaty relations with the United States.

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1989
May
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Secretary of State James G. Blaine, informed Dinsmore that the King of Korea was "under some form of feudal subjection to the Chinese Crown" in internal affairs, but not in foreign affairs.

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1890
August
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State Department instructions to Seoul reiterated the U.S. view that the Treaty of 1883 was with "a responsible government, for the fulfillment of all obligations of international intercourse, independently of China."

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1894
June 25
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The U.S. Minister in Korea, having been instructed to "use every possible effort to preserve peace", joined British, French and Russian representatives in sending a joint note to the Chinese and Japanese representatives requesting that they withdraw troops from Korea.

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July
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China asked the U.S. to take the initiative in urging the Western powers to request Japan to withdraw its troops from Korea. The State Department instructed its Minister in Tokyo to state to the Japanese government "that the President will be painfully disappointed should Japan visit upon her feeble and defenceless neighbor the horrors of an unjust war." When the British asked the U.S. to join in an intervention to avert war, the U.S. stated a policy of neutrality.
 
This was reiterated in the response by Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham to the request for intervention by the Korean Minister in Washington.

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August
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Sino-Japanese War breaks out.

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October
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The U.S. again stated its neutrality when Britain asked if the U.S. would join with other Western powers and intervene in the war.

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1895
April 17
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In the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed by China and Japan, China recognized Korean independence.

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October 8
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The King of Korea was deposed and the Queen murdered in a Japanese fomented revolution.

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November
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The U.S. Minister reported to the State Department that he and the British, French and Russian ministers had urged the Japanese to protect and restore the King. Secretary of State Richard Olney informed him of the standing instructions that: "Intervention in political concerns of Korea is not among your functions and is forbidden". Further instructions stated that: "Confine yourself strictly to protection of American citizens and interest. You have no concern in internal affairs..."

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1897
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The King of Korea assumed the title of Emperor. Secretary of State John Sherman cautioned the American Minister in Seoul to exercise "the most absolute reserve and prudence", and to abstain "from any influence, advice or suggestion in any quarter, however urgently you may be invited..." as tensions continued to grow between Russia and Japan.

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1899
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The Emperor of Korea requested the U.S. take the initiative in getting the Western powers to guarantee the integrity of Korea. President William McKinley and Secretary of State John Hay instructed Minister Horace N. Allen to deliver a negative response.

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1900
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The Korean Minister to Japan requested the American Minister in Tokyo, Alfred E. Buck, to urge the U.S. to take the lead in getting cooperation from the Western powers to guarantee the independence and neutrality of Korea. Buck responded that the request should be submitted through the Korean Minister in Washington. This response was approved by Hay.

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1902
January 30
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Great Britain recognized Japan's special interest in Korea in a treaty (pdf) marking an Anglo-Japanese alliance.

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July
November
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The State Department instructed Allen to open negotiations to revise the 1882 Treaty with the objective of giving the U.S. more commercial rights.
 
The Koreans refused.

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1903
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The U.S. proposed opening the port of Uiju on the Korean side of the Yalu River, near the recently opened port of Antung on the Chinese side. The British andJapanese were in favor of a different port, and the Russians yet another. The U.S. sought to avoid any political alignment by maintaining support for Uiju, and the outbreak of war stopped any further negotiation.

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1904
February 8
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The Russo-Japanese War broke out, following rivalry between Russia and Japan for control of Korea and Manchuria.

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February 23
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Korea became a protectorate of Japan under the terms of a treaty in which Japan took over foreign affairs while guaranteeing Korea's integrity.

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1905
September 5
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The Russo-Japanese War was ended by a treaty signed in Portsmouth, N.H. in which Russia recognized Japan's "paramount interest" in Korea

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November 17
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A Japanese-Korean agreement formalized Korea's status as a Japanese Protectorate.

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November 24
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The State Department instructed the Minister at Seoul to close the Legation and withdraw from Korea.

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November 28
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The U.S. Legation at Seoul was closed. Subsequently all diplomatic business relating to Korea was conducted in Tokyo.

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December 16
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The Korean Legation in Washington was closed.

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1908
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The U.S. and Japan signed a treaty for the protection of trademarks and copyrights in Korea. Under its terms the U.S. surrendered its extraterritorial jurisdiction over cases in which American citizens infringed treaty provisions. The U.S. agreed that these citizens were to "be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Japanese courts in Korea".

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August
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Japan annexed Korea on August 29 under the provisions of a treaty signed in Seoul on August 22.
 
Japan issued a declaration regarding foreign trade with Korea and the rights of foreigners. The existing tariff schedule would be in effect for ten years and equally applied to Japan. Extraterritoriality in Korea was abolished.

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September
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The U.S. accepted the annexation.

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1914
April
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The U.S. and the foreign powers accepted Japan's abolition of foreign settlements in the Korean treaty ports.

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1916
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The U.S. Senate requested that President Woodrow Wilson provide the diplomatic correstpondence between the U.S. and Korea relating to the Japanese annexation of Korea. Secretary of State Robert Lansing selected the materials for inclusion in the report, which was approved by the Preseident and forwarded to the Senate. For these two decisions, please consult the bibliography for references to the appropriate documentation.

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1919
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The U.S. rejected requests for aid by Korean Nationalists. The U.S. Ambassador to Japan was instructed that: "The Consulate [at Seoul] should be extremely careful not to encourage any belief that the United States will asisst the Korean nationalists in carrying out their plans and it should not do anything which may cause Japanese authorities to suspect Maerican government sympathizes with Korean nationalist movement."

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Sources