One of the basic aims of American foreign policy has been to maintain the right of all countries to trade with China on an equal basis. The first formal declaration of this aim came with the sending of the Open Door notes in September, 1899. The origin of these notes has received much attention from historians in recent years, and certain aspects of their origin, particularly the part played by W. W. Rockhill and the Englishman, Alfred Hippisley, have become very well known. At least one aspect, however, has been entirely overlooked: namely, that special business interests in the United States were concerned over the possible loss of the Chinese market; were eager to have the government take just the sort of action which it did take; and were active in bringing pressure to bear on the government. It is the thesis of this article that they were partly responsible for the sending of the notes and, consequently, for America's Open Door policy.

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