Charles LeGendre

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Charles LeGendre was a French-born American diplomat who served for a time as US ambassador to Amoy, and later as an advisor to both the Meiji government in Japan and to Emperor Gojong of Korea. He played a key role in the events surrounding the Taiwan Incident of 1871 and Taiwan Expedition of 1874.

In 1867, he met with Taiwanese aboriginal leaders and received a promise from some of them that vessels flying the US flag would not be attacked.

After a number of Miyako Islanders were killed by members of the Paiwan people on Taiwan in 1871, LeGendre and Charles DeLong advised the Japanese government that, according to the standard (Western) international law of the time, since the Qing Empire explicitly stated that it did not exert effective (de facto) control over certain sections of Taiwan - those dominated by aborigines - the territory was therefore essentially terra nullius; DeLong and LeGendre advised the Japanese that if Japan were to occupy the territory, Western/modern international law could regard that territory as rightfully becoming Japan's.[1]


  1. Jordan Walker, "Archipelagic Ambiguities: The Demarcation of Modern Japan, 1868-1879," Island Studies Journal 10:2 (2015), 214.