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Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan Performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the Command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States.

Date: 1856
Overall: 260 x 185 x 55 mm
Medium: Paper, fabric, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased from USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00050945

User Terms

    When Perry returned to the United States in 1855, Congress voted to grant him a reward of $20,000 in appreciation of his work in Japan. Perry used part of this money to prepare and publish a report on the expedition in three volumes, titled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. This is the 1st of two abridged editions, the 2nd published in 1857; the text of this edition is the more complete of the two.
    SignificanceThe United States Naval Expedition to Japan (1852-1854) opened up this country to American trade and commerce. Up to this time Japan had limited their foreign trade to the Dutch and Chinese as earlier attempts to open trade routes had failed. This Expedition facilitated not only trade and commerce but also the scientific exploration of the Pacfic.
    HistoryIn 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of the East India Squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo (modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time.

    As he arrived, Perry ordered his ships to steam past Japanese lines towards the capital of Edo, and position their guns towards the town of Uraga. Perry refused to abide to demands to leave. He then demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, and threatened to use force if the Japanese boats around the American squadron did not disperse. Perry's ships were equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of wreaking great destruction with every shell. The term "Black Ships", in Japan, would later come to symbolize a threat imposed by Western technology. After the Japanese agreed to receive the letter from the American President, Perry landed at Kurihama (in modern-day Yokosuka) on July 14, 1853 presented the letter to delegates present, and left for the Chinese coast, promising to return for a reply.

    Perry returned in February 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the demands in Fillmore's letter. Perry signed the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, 1854 and departed, mistakenly believing the agreement had been made with imperial representatives. The agreement was made with the Shogun, the de facto ruler of Japan.

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