Welsh Journals

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certainly shocked by the news and in March and April 1867 he sent copies of two letters he had received from China to the Cambrian newspaper: the one from Edkins and another from Anson Burlingame, the American ambassador at Beijing, who ventured the view following a conversation with a Korean official during the winter, that Thomas's death grew out of a misunderstanding. He adds: 'This seems to be the best authenticated statement. According to this your son was beheaded WHILE TRYING TO APPEASE THE KOREANS', (His capitals). He ends his letter with these words: 'Your son was most favourably known at the Legations and by the Missionaries of the East. He was a remarkable scholar, when he died a great light went out'. There is no evidence that the LMS or the British government sent any messages of sympathy to Thomas's parents. Indeed, in the official history of the LMS there is only one brief sentence about Thomas and it is not very positive: 'In 1866, Thomas B.A., was appointed, but never settled down to work in the capital, and is supposed to have been drowned while on a voyage to Korea'. He is even described as a 'naughty missionary' in one unpublished document. A college friend, Jonathan Lees, who was based at Tientsin criticized Thomas severely. He was not very sorry about his death but rather he 'proved so disastrous to himself and so dishonourable to the missionary name'. Not being aware of his death, Joseph Mullens, wrote to Thomas on 10 December advising him not to visit Korea 'until the number of our missionaries in China proper is considerably increased'. He would be in danger of involving himself in the political affairs of another nation. Two different perspectives of mission are seen in the correspondence. The LMS was cautious and wished to work within the already laid out system and organization whereas Thomas had a 'radical' view of mission; he never wanted to be restrained within a system or organization or to be confined to one place. He undoubtedly relished travel and we know that he journeyed to a number of places in China and tried to visit Mongolia and Russia, places where the LMS had not even considered going. He was obviously eager to go to Korea but his death 'brought about serious political and diplomatic problems within the countries involved with the General Sherman incident'. Conflict became inevitable between Korea and America and in 1871 a chastising expedition conveying a total force of seven hundred and fifty-nine men was dispatched, of whom one-hundred-and-five were marines, in a fleet of steam- launches and boats with heavy armaments. But it was repulsed and it was only in 1882 that a peace treaty between the two countries was signed allowing limited access to Korea for commerce and for Christian, especially American, missionaries. It is however important to emphasize that the General Sherman incident or as it is frequently called the Thomas incident has provided different generations and