Durham Stevens

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  • Death: March 23rd, 1908
  • Full name: Durham White Stevens

Durham White Stevens was born in Washington, D. C, and was educated there and at Oberlin College, from which institution he graduated in 1871. He then studied law, and was admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia.

In 1873 he was appointed secretary of the United States Legation at Tokyo by President Grant. The Minister, appointed about the same time, was the Hon. John A. Bingham, a distinguished public man and lawyer, and Stevens accompanied him to Japan.

Mr. Stevens served in the capacity of secretary of the United States Legation at Tokyo under Bingham from October, 1873, until July, 1883, and on one occasion as Charge d Affaires ad interim, in 1878-79. during his chief s absence in the United States. In July he resigned the office and returned to the United States. In November of that year he entered the service of the Japanese Government as English Secretary to the Imperial Legation at Washington. In 1884 he was ordered to Tokyo for service in the Foreign Office. In the winter of 1884-85 he accompanied Inoue Kaoru to Korea, when the latter went as ambassador to negotiate a settlement of the difficulties arising from the assault of Takezoe Shinichiro, the Japanese Minister to Korea, and the murder of a number of Japanese subjects. For services rendered on that occasion Stevens received from the Emperor the decoration of the Third Class of the Order of the Rising Sun.

At the conference for the revision of the treaties between Japan and the foreign powers held at Tokyo in 1885-87, Stevens was made a member of the Bureau du Protocole of the conference, and served in that capacity until the adjournment of the conference. He then returned to the Legation at Washington, having been given the rank of Honorary Counsellor of Legation. He served under Mutsu Munemitsu when the latter was Minister at Washington, and during that time assisted in the negotiation of the Treaty with Mexico, which was the first treaty made by Japan fully recognizing her right to exercise all the sovereign powers of an independent state. He also served under Kurino Shinichiro at Washington at the time the present treaty between Japan and the United States was negotiated.

For services rendered during the war between Japan and China, Stevens received the decoration of the Second Class of the Sacred Treasure. Subsequently he was also granted the decoration of the Second Class of the Order of the Rising Sun.

On several occasions Stevens had been recalled to Japan for temporary service in connection with public business, and on two occasions, in 1900 and 1901, he was sent to Hawaii to assist in settling the claims of Japanese subjects for losses occasioned by the destruction of their property on account of the prevalence of bubonic plague in the Hawaiian Islands in 1899.

While working for the Japanese ministry in San Francisco, Stevens was assassinated on March 23, 1908, by Korean nationalists including Chang In-whan, for his role in advocating Japanese control over Korea.