rather by anxiety than work, Paul Bert succumbed to his troubles in November 1886, seven months after his arrival in the country. His successors possessed neither the strength nor the insight necessary to grapple with the situation. M. Constans, however, appointed “provisional” governor-general after the death of M. Filippini, succeeded to a certain extent in reviving commerce in the towns of the delta. MM. Richaud, Bihourd and Piquet, successors of M. Constans, were all powerless to deal with the uninterrupted “bush-fighting” and the augmentation of the deficit, for no sooner was the latter covered by grants from the mother country than it began to grow again. At the close of the financial year in 1890 France had paid 13,000,000 francs. In April 1891 the deficit again approached the sum of 12,000,000 francs. The rebels held almost all the delta provinces, their capitals excepted, and from Hanoi itself the governor-general could see the smoke of burning villages at the very gates of his capital.
At this point a complete change of policy took place. M. de Lanessan, a Paris deputy sent on a mission in the course of 1887, made himself acquainted with the government and the court of Hué. He recognized the absolute falsity of the story which represented the Tongkingese as the oppressed subjects of the Annamese. He demonstrated the consanguinity of the populations, and after intercourse with the regents, or ministers, of Hué he realized that the pacification of the country depended upon harmonious relations being established between the general government and the court. Appointed governor-general with the fullest powers on the 21st of April 1891, he presented himself at Hué, concluded with the comat an agreement based on the principle of a “loyal protectorate,” and reassured the court, up to this point uneasy under menace of annexation. The comat shortly issued a proclamation under the great royal seal, never hitherto attached to any of the public acts imposed upon the king by the governors, who had been unaware of its existence. In this proclamation the king ordered all his subjects to obey the governor-general and to respect him, and commanded rebels to lay down arms. The effect was immediate—disorders in the delta ceased. The pirates alone, in revolt against the king of Annam and all authority, continued their brigandage. But the governor-general instituted four “military districts,” the commanders of which were commissioned to destroy the pirates. At the same time he placed a force of native police, the linh co, at the disposal of the mandarins, hitherto regarded with suspicion and intentionally deprived of all means of action. Order was restored within the delta. In the mountainous districts infested by pirates roads were opened and posts established. The chief haunts of the pirates were demolished, and during 1893 the foremost pirate chiefs gave in their submission. The Indo-Chinese budget regained its balance. On the Chinese frontier agreements were concluded with Marshal Sou, in command of the Chinese forces, regarding the simultaneous repression of piracy in both countries. But on the Mekong difficulties arose with the Siamese. For centuries Siam had occupied the right bank of the Mekong, and her troops had crossed the river and occupied the left bank. Luang-Prabang was in the hands of the Siamese, who had also established posts at Stung-treng and elsewhere. Friction occurred between the French agents and Siamese soldiery. After the death of Inspector Crosgurin on the 5th of June 1893 the French government occupied Stung-treng and Khong. France demanded explanations and redress at Bangkok, but the court refusing concessions, an ultimatum was presented to the king by M. Pavie, French minister to Siam. The terms of the ultimatum not having been complied with within the given time, the French flotilla, consisting of the gunboats “L'Inconstant” and “La Comète,” crossed the bar of the Menam on 13th July 1893, forced the entrance of the channel, and anchored at Bangkok, before the French legation. A second ultimatum was then presented. It contained the following conditions:—First, the occupation of Chantabun by the French until the Siamese should have entirely evacuated the left bank of the Mekong; secondly, the Siamese to be interdicted from maintaining military forces at Battambang, Siem-Reap, and generally from establishing fortified positions within 155 m. of the right bank of the Mekong; thirdly, Siam to be interdicted from having armed boats on the great lake Tonle-Sap. This agreement was executed immediately, the Laotians being eager parties to it. On the 29th of September 1893 the king of Luang-Prabang made his submission to the French government, and besought it to use its influence with the court of Siam for the return to their families of the sons of princes and mandarins then in schools at Bangkok. The Siamese evacuated the left bank of the Mekong, and France took possession of Laos, a treaty, on the basis of the ultimatum, being signed on the 1st of October 1893. The disputes to which this affair with Siam had given rise between France and Great Britain were amicably settled by an agreement concluded on the 15th of January 1896. This “declaration,” virtually ratifying the treaty concluded in 1893 between France and Siam, settled the limits of the zones of influence of the two contracting powers in the north of the Mekong regions and on the frontiers of Siam and Burma. Great Britain resigned to France the regions of the Muong-Sing which she had previously occupied. The great part of Siam included in the Menam basin was declared neutral, so also the Me-ping basin in the north, Meklong Pechaburi and Bang Pa Kong rivers in the south. The neutral zone, 15½ m. wide on the right bank of the Mekong, was formally recognized.
In 1904, by a new Franco-Siamese treaty setting aside that of 1893, Chantabun was evacuated and the neutral zone renounced in return for the cession of the provinces of Bassac and Melupré and the district of Dansai (comprising the portion of Luang Prabang on the right bank of the Mekong) and the maritime district of Krat. By a further convention in 1907 Siam ceded the provinces of Battambang, Siem-Reap and Sisophon, and received in return the maritime province of Krat and the district of Dansai ceded in 1904. At the same time France abandoned all designs on territory of Siam by giving up certain areas, obtained for the purposes of railway building on the right bank of the Mekong.
After the recall of M. de Lanessan in 1894 (see above), and before his successor, M. Rousseau, was able to acquaint himself fully with the condition of the country, military expeditions began again and the deficit soon reappeared. Tranquillity, however, being restored, attention was given to public works. On the 12th of October 1895 M. Rousseau left to ask parliament to vote a loan of 100,000,000 francs. On the 10th of February 1896 a law was passed authorizing a loan of 80,000,000 francs, and on the 14th of March 1896 an office for the financial control of the government-general of Indo-China was established. In the interval a French company had obtained from China a concession to prolong the railway from Langson to Lungchow on a tributary of the Canton river. M. Rousseau, who died on the 10th of December 1896, was replaced by M. Doumer, previously minister of finance, under whose government was realized, as has been before stated, the union of Indo-China. On the 20th of December 1898 M. Doumer obtained from parliament authorization to contract a loan of 200,000,000 francs, the proceeds of which were appropriated to the construction of railway lines.
Authorities.—M. J. F. Garnier, Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine (Paris, 1873); J. M. A. de Lanessan, L'Indo-Chine française (Paris, 1889); P. Doumer, L'Indo-Chine française (Souvenirs) (Paris, 1905); F. Bernard, Indo-Chine (Paris, 1901), L. Salaun, L'Indo-Chine (Paris, 1903); A. Girault, Principes de colonisation et de législation coloniale (Paris, 1907); M. Petit, Les Colonies françaises (2 vols., Paris, 1902); J. C. Gervais Courtellemont, L'Indo-Chine (Paris, 1902); A. Neton, L'Indo-Chine et son avenir économique (Paris, 1904); A. Pavie, Mission Pavie Indo-Chine (1879-1895); Geographie et voyages (Paris, 1901-1906); H. Lorin, La France: puissance coloniale (Paris, 1906); M. Monnier, La Tour d'Asie: Cochinchine, Annam, Tonkin (Paris, 1899); E. Bonhoure, L'Indo-Chine (Paris, 1900); R. Castex, Les Rivages indo-chinois (Paris, 1904); L. de Reinach, Le Laos (Paris, 1902) (this work gives a very complete bibliography); Annuaire général administratif, commercial et industriel de l'Indo-Chine (Hanoi); Revue Indochinois (Hanoi); C. Madrolle, Guide-Books (Paris, 1904-1907); Bulletin économique de l'Indo-Chine (Saigon).