Commodore Perry Notes

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

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On July 14, 1853, the letters were delivered by Perry to Todo, prince of Idzu, and Ido, prince of Iwami. [251] Fillmore’s letter is reproduced on pages 251-253.

Before leaving, in defiance of an Imperial order to leave now that the letter had been delivered, Perry took his armada ten miles closer to Tokyo and anchored, then sent out smaller survey boats even further up the bay. Then he took the Mississippi yet another ten miles towards Tokyo, to near Kanagawa. The armada did not head out of the bay until July 17. [260-269]

Perry had told the Japanese he would return the next year, to Tokyo. They had told him he should get a response to his letters in Nagasaki. He stopped by Okinawa, where he had left the Supply, on his way to China. He demanded that the Japanese there allow the Americans to trade. In a letter to the authorities he said, “I wish a suitable and convenient building for the storage of coal … Say if they [Okinawan police] continue to follow the officers about, it may lead to serious consequences, and perhaps to bloodshed  … should any disturbance ensue, it will be the fault of the Lew Chewans, who have no right to set spies upon American citizens who may be pursuing their own lawful business.” He tells them they have “no power to enforce” their own laws on the Americans, and threatens trouble if they try to enforce the law. [272]

When the Okinawan authorities did not agree to Perry’s threats, “the Commodore rose and prepared to leave, declaring that if he did not receive satisfactory answers to all his demand by noon the next day, he would land two hundred men, march to Shui, and take possession of the palace there, and would hold it until the matter was settled.” [275]

When Perry departed Okinawa for China on August 1, 1853, a market was opened to American specifications, and the coal storage building was framed. [278]

After refitting in Hong Kong, the fleet sailed again for Japan on January 14, 1854. The reinforced fleet now included the Susquehanna, Powhatan, and Mississippi steam war ships; the storeships Lexington and Southampton; Macedonian, Vandalia, Saratoga, and Supply. [294] Perry had meanwhile learned that the Japanese Emperor had died, and that the Japanese wished him to postpone his return visit. Instead he speeded it up. [311]

Again, Naha (or Napha), Okinawa was the first port of call. In case the trip to Japan proper was a failure, “He had arranged, provided the Japanese government refused to negotiate, or to assign a port of resort for our merchant or whaling ships, to take under surveillance of the American flag the island of Great Lew Chew [Okinawa], a dependency of the Empire of Japan. This if necessary, was to be done on the ground of reclamation for insults and injuries well known to have been committed upon American citizens.” In fact he had already issued a proclamation assuming “limited authority on the island of Great Lew Chew.” [312]

On February 11, 1854 the fleet reached the Bay of Yedo [Tokyo Bay]. After a mishap with the Macedonia running aground, the Armada ignored Japanese officials in ships trying to get them to anchor near Uraga, and proceeded to the “American anchorage,” about 20 miles from Tokyo, near the villages of Otsu and Torigasaki. [316]

Japanese officials then asked the armada to return to Uraga to meet on land there. Perry through subordinates said he would not return to Uraga, and would go all the way to Tokyo if the Japanese would not meet near the American anchorage. [317]

Further negotiations back and forth, with Perry all along violating reasonable requests from the Japanese government, including sailing his war ships to within 8 miles of Tokyo, continued until they agreed on March 1 to meet at the village of Yoku-hama (Yokohama) near the American anchorage. [318-327]

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