Commodore Perry Notes

for The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

Site Search

Also sponsored by Peace Pins

Popular pages:

U.S. War Against Asia
Barack Obama
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Natural Liberation


Page 3 of 5

They first anchored off the city of Uraga [now part of Yokosuka]. Japanese officials tried to board the Saratoga: “They attempted to climb up by the chains, but the crew was ordered to prevent them, and the sight of pikes, cutlasses, and pistols, checked them, and when they found that our officers and men were very much in earnest, they desisted from their attempts to board.” [229]

The Japanese officials handed to the Mississippi an order, written in French, to leave. The chief Japanese functionary present asked to board the Susquehanna, but was refused. The Americans tried to convey in Japanese that the Commodore would not receive anyone but “a functionary of the highest rank,” but their Japanese was bad. A Japanese present then spoke to the Americans in Dutch, and a Mr. Portman was able to converse in that language from the armada side. After negotiations the vice-governor or Uraga was allowed on to talk, not to Perry, but to his aide, Lieutenant Contee. Here started the whole struggle over the presentation of the letter brought by Perry from President Fillmore addressed to the Emperor. Perry was directed to go to Nagasaki. Perry said no. [230-231]

Perry threatened to disperse the Japanese coast guard boats around his armada by force. The vice-governor ordered the Japanese boats away, then left to seek guidance from higher officials. “The question of landing by force was left to be decided by the development of succeeding events; it was, of course, the very last measure to be resorted to, and the last that was desired; but in order to be prepared for the worst, the Commodore caused the ships constantly to be kept in perfect readiness, and the crews to be drilled as thoroughly as they are in time of active war. [231]

On July 9, 1853 a boatload of Japanese artists arrived and sketched the armada. The governor of Uraga arrived and was also snubbed by Perry, but had a discussion with officers Buchanan, Adams and Contee, in which he again said the Fillmore letter must be delivered to Nagasaki and the ships must leave. Perry, through his officers, replied that if government would not receive the documents at Uraga, “the Commodore, whose duty it was to deliver them, would go on shore with a sufficient force and deliver them in person, be the consequences what they might.” Perry gave 3 days for the acceptance of his demands. He also had boats survey the Japanese waters despite being told explicitly that such was illegal. [234]

The Japanese soldiers on shore were armed with “spears and match-locks.” [235]

On July 11 Perry purposefully sent the Mississippi further up the bay, and was “satisfied that the very circumstance of approaching nearer to Yedo with a powerful ship would alarm the authorities, and induce them to give a more favorable answer to his demands.” [237]

On July 12 the Japanese offered to have a high official receive the letter at Uraga, but send the reply to Nagasaki. Perry demanded to deliver the letter to the Emperor or his foreign secretary, and in writing stated: “if this friendly letter of the President to the Emperor is not received and duly replied to, he will consider his country insulted, and will not hold himself accountable for the consequences.” [240]

Numerous conversations about protocols followed over a period of weeks. Whenever the Japanese gave in on a point, usually because Perry threatened violence, Perry would add a new demand. [240 -]

The Japanese who negotiated with the Americans, “were not only well-bred, but not ill-educated, as they were proficients [sic] in the Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese languages, and not unacquainted with the general principles of science and of the facts of the geography of the world. When a terrestrial globe was placed before them, and their attention was called to the delineation on it called the united States, they immediately placed their fingers on Washington and New York,” knew their status, and could pick out various European nations. [243-244]

Next Page

III Blog list of articles