When Commodore Perry forced the negotiation of the treaty of 1854, which opened Japan, in a limited way, to American enterprise, he laid the foundation for a less celebrated but far more comprehensive commercial treaty four years later. This agreement was largely the work of our consul general at Shimoda, Townsend Harris. Laboring against Japanese obstruction and evasion, as well as American neglect and indifference—he was without word from the State Department for twenty months— Harris almost singlehandedly produced the treaty of July 29, 1858, whereby access to Japanese ports was broadened, greater trade and residential rights were afforded, reciprocal diplomatic representation arranged, and extraterritoriality for Americans to some extent instituted. Harris’ justifiable pride in a treaty which has been called “a foundation stone of Japan’s foreign relations to near the end of the century” was, to use his words, “enhanced by the reflection that there has been no show of coercion, nor was menace in the least used by me to obtain it. There was no American man-of-war within one thousand miles of me for months before and after the negotiations.”1 Unlike Perry, whose black ships moving up the Bay of Yedo had been viewed with consternation by the natives, Harris did not see an American naval vessel for fourteen crucial months. “Where, oh! where is Commodore Armstrong?” he lamented in his diary.2
But although American naval vessels and naval officers took virtually no part in forging the treaty of 1858, theirs was a large and responsible role in implementing it. According to the fourteenth clause, an exchange of ratifications was to be effected at Washington. Just as the first modern foreign mission to Japan had come from America, so Harris planned that the first mission sent overseas by the Japanese should go to America. Official Japanese opinion as to the propriety of such a step was by no means entirely favorable; their national administration was in these years being victimized by a tug-of-war between pro-foreign and anti- foreign sympathizers. But the persistence of Harris and the eagerness of some influential Japanese to visit America finally won the day, and in September, 1858, the Japanese government formally applied for the use of an American man-of-war to convey the mission to Washington, December 7 being the suggested date of departure.
The Japanese had no vessel which would answer the requirements. During the years of seclusion from which they were emerging restrictions on the capacity of ships had prevented the development of an effective merchant marine. It is worthy of note, however, that a few days before the departure of the Powhatan, carrying the embassy, the Kanrin Maru sailed for San Francisco. She was skippered by Katsu Rintaro, later Count Katsu Awa, the organizer and historian of the modern Japanese Navy, and was a Dutch screw steam corvette of about 300 tons, purchased by the Shogunate in 1857. She was the first Japanese vessel to cross the Pacific, her voyage being to some extent a training cruise to perfect the Japanese in modern techniques of navigation, which they had begun to study only five years before at Nagasaki. At the request of the Japanese government, Lieutenant John M. Brooke, of the ill-fated American survey schooner Fenimore Cooper, and several members of his crew took passage home on the Kanrin Mam, Brooke acting as a consultant during the voyage. Though she reached Mare Island without mishap nearly two weeks before the Powhatan arrived, such a ship and such an experimental cruise could scarcely have been expected to serve the needs of the lordly ambassadors.3
Harris, moreover, was determined that the cost of the mission should be borne by his government, and the transportation afforded by the United States Navy. He reminded the Secretary of State that when he had visited Yedo (Tokyo) his coolies had been paid and his guards and servants fed by the Japanese; “I am inclined to think,” he added, “they are not ignorant of the fact that when the Burmese ambassador visited Paris, and when the Siamese envoy visited England and France, all the expenses of these three emissaries were borne by the governments to which they were respectively accredited.”4 There was also some fear that the English might undo his good work; Lord Elgin was supposed to have requested the Shogunate to send an ambassador to England first, promising to provide any conveyance which they might request; and later the interpreter, Namura, confided to Lieutenant Johnston of the Powhatan that
a large and comfortable steamer had been placed at the disposal of the Government to convey the Embassadors as far as Aden, on the overland route to England, with suitable arrangements for the continuance of the journey, and that, as an additional and rare inducement, the Great Eastern was to have been employed for the return trip around the Cape of Good Hope.5
Upon being informed of the Japanese request, Commodore Tattnall, then in command of our East India squadron, took it upon himself to place one of his ships at their disposal. His action was commended by the Secretary of the Navy, Isaac Toucey, but it was not until February 27, 1859, that the steam frigate Mississippi arrived at Shimoda, prepared to carry the embassy to Panama, where Flag-Officer McCluney had orders “to receive them as they crossed the Isthmus at Panama, and convey them in a public vessel to the port of New York.” The Mississippi’s preparations were all for naught, however; reactionary interests were sabotaging the mission, invoking the ancient penalty of death for any Japanese who might leave his country. This led to the postponement of the voyage until February 22, 1860. The Mississippi was ordered to return to the United States and discretionary instructions, received in September, were “given to Flag- officer Tattnall, on being relieved by his successor, to return home with the Powhatan by way of Japan, and, if the commissioners were ready to embark, to give them a passage to Panama.”6 By the same post Tattnall learned that the Hartford had sailed from the United States for Hongkong, bringing Flag-Officer C. K. Stribling, who arrived to relieve him in November.7
In the meantime Tattnall laid his plans for escorting the embassy. In October he learned that it was to consist of nineteen officials and fifty-two attendants, which did not please him. Feeling that “so large a body of attendants would prove a great inconvenience ... in the United States” and an even greater one on board a ship, he tried through Harris to effect a reduction, but to no avail. He urged an earlier date of embarkation than February 22, which had been suggested by Harris with the aim of having the Japanese visit Washington in the choicest spring weeks.8 He championed the Cape of Good Hope route for the voyage, instead of the transpacific one advocated by the Department, as more pleasant “at that boisterous season,” recommending it to the ambassadors at a formal interview held at the palace of the Prime Minister a week before they sailed, at which Harris and Captain Pearson of the Powhatan were also present. But the Japanese favored the Pacific-Panama route, “as they had always contemplated going that way, and had therefore made it a subject of special study.”9 Their wishes were complied with, to their subsequent physical discomfort.
As the date of departure neared, the Powhatan left her station at Hongkong and on January 11 anchored off Yokohama. A first- class sloop, she had been launched at the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1850. She was a bark- rigged wooden ship of 2,415 tons, with auxiliary side wheel propulsion, and had been Commodore Perry’s flagship when the original treaty of 1854 was signed. On January 16 two of the Japanese officers detailed to accompany the mission, as well as Townsend Harris and the English consul, came aboard to inspect the ship, where they were received with a 17-gun salute. The Japanese expressed their gratification to Commodore Tattnall and informed him that their compatriots could not possibly embark before February 9—evidence that his determination to speed the mission on its way had not been entirely fruitless.10
During the following days the ship hummed with activity. It was found that the special staterooms already erected on deck would not meet the embassy’s needs, and the ship’s carpenters were set to work constructing additional cabins. To make room, several guns were dismounted and secured. The crew was busy scraping and painting. Japanese artisans came aboard to fit mats in the embassy’s quarters. A special galley was provided for the Japanese, and a huge cooking- range was installed, lessening the apprehension that the additional mouths to feed would “interfere materially with the already limited and inconvenient cooking arrangements provided for the officers and crew.” Supplies of all sorts poured into the ship: bullocks, sheep, pigs, poultry, and “an endless variety of indescribable Japanese comestibles, done up in equally strange looking tubs and packages.” Six baskets contained champagne for the embassy. Coal filled not only the bunkers but “every available spot on the upper deck”; hundreds of bundles of charcoal and of wood also came over the side. On February 1 the ship proceeded to Yedo and a more precious cargo was freighted: numerous iron- bound boxes containing gifts from the Mikado to President Buchanan, and many “small packages securely bound with ropes of straw,” filled, according to Lieutenant Johnston, with no less than 100,000 Mexican dollars belonging to the embassy, the stowage of which evidently dispelled whatever doubts still lingered regarding the ultimate embarkation of the commissioners.11
At last, on February 9, the commissioners and their suite came aboard and were ceremoniously received by Commodore Tattnall at the gangway, with the Japanese flag at the fore, the ship’s officers on the starboard side of the quarter-deck, the marine guard on the opposite side, the guns booming and the band ready for the down-beat. All 71 were there, ranging in dignity from the first and second ambassadors, Shinmi Masaoki, Buzen-no- kami, and Muragaki Yosaburo Norimasa, Awaji-no-kami, to the doctors, interpreters, guards of the treaty box, artists, and servants. With them came, according to Lieutenant Johnston, over 50 additional tons of baggage—an endless variety of “chests, boxes, bales, tubs, bundles, buckets, bowls, cooking utensils” and the like. When the 30 boats of the commissioners had been unloaded the Powhatan departed for Yokohama, where she anchored toward evening. Here there was a halt for several days, occasioned partly by the “arrival of sundry boat loads of noisy domestic animals, for whose accommodation a large addition had been made to the ordinary supply of coops, pens, etc.,” and partly by an investigation, sponsored by Tattnall, of charges that certain officers of the Powhatan had received preferential treatment from the Yokohama customs officials—charges which the Americans regarded as a British attempt to interfere with the mission, and which were cleared.12 At Yokohama several high Japanese officials came to bid farewell to the commissioners; they included the Secretary and Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary for Education, and the Governor of Yokohama.13 On February 13 the Powhatan weighed anchor, sailed from the Bay of Yedo, and entered the broad Pacific.
The Japanese seem to have adapted themselves without much difficulty to the completely foreign routine of a long ocean voyage. Lieutenant Johnston marveled that,
in the course of an hour these seventy-one strangers, but few of whom had ever before been on the deck of any vessel larger than one of their native junks, were as quietly and comfortably quartered as if they had spent their lives in a man-of-war.
They created space in their cramped cabins by crossing the timbers overhead “with small strips of wood, or with a network of twine, which made a snug receptacle for many small or light articles.” Whether they slept in their bunks or on the deck seemed a matter of little consequence. Each cabin was provided with the “indispensable fire-box, containing a living coal surrounded by ashes.” They subsisted largely on rice and at all hours of the day drank tea, for the provision of which “the servants were incessantly clattering along the deck in their wooden clogs, or straw sandals.” To enforce the orders which applied to them while aboard they provided their own police, and their sobriety and good conduct seem to have created a favorable impression.14
Far from seeking seclusion, the principal officials, according to Johnston, “walked in and out without ceremony, at all hours of the day, frequently remaining in the mess- room until the lights were extinguished at 10:00 P.M.” Several were in the habit of appearing in the messroom around noon, their objectives being a bit of luncheon, a glass of toddy, and information regarding the position of the ship and the distance of the day’s run, of wffiich they kept an accurate record. The Americans were impressed by their powers of observation, and Johnston notes that their artists seemed “to regard nothing as too insignificant to merit a place in their sketch-books.”15 Their curiosity stimulated the naval officers to give them instruction in geography, astronomy, navigation, agriculture, and the American Constitution. Twice each day Chaplain Henry Wood conducted classes in English, geography, and general science, which on Sundays became “thinly- disguised Sunday school sessions.” Books, maps, and slates were provided, and Bibles were promised upon reaching New York. The youthful interpreter, Tateise Onogero, known as “Tommy,” a great favorite on shipboard and later in the United States, was induced to read the first chapter of Genesis, despite the injunction of the Japanese administration to the contrary.16
Despite their adaptability, it was a rough apprenticeship. The Powhatan encountered such stormy seas that Commodore Tattnall, faced with a shortage of coal and concerned with damages sustained by the ship, was forced to abandon his plan to steam directly for San Francisco, and on February 27 decided to steer for Honolulu. The Japanese, who had suffered from seasickness, and whose somewhat flimsy quarters had been frequently flooded, were therefore greatly cheered when land was sighted on March 5. On the same day the ship found her anchorage in Honolulu Harbor and here she remained for nearly two weeks.17 While leaks were being eliminated and coal was brought aboard, the Japanese moved ashore. Captain Algernon S. Taylor, of the Marines, had secured an entire hotel for them, but they availed themselves of these accommodations for but three days; they then expressed a preference for the Powhatan, “as they felt more at home, and consequently more comfortable on board than they could do in any palace on the island.” It was felt, moreover, that the likelihood of unpleasant incidents would be greatly reduced by the regulations which permitted only a limited number to go ashore simultaneously. On March 9 the ambassadors, attended by Tattnall and other officers of the Powhatan, and escorted by Marines and eight Hawaiian lieutenants in full dress marching to the strains of “Hail Columbia,” were received by King Kamehameha IV; later this monarch visited the Powhatan, as did his Queen, Emma, where they were received with the proper formalities and entertained with a grand ball.18
On March 18, the earliest day on which tidal conditions enabled her to leave the harbor, the Powhatan sailed for San Francisco. The voyage seems to have been uneventful, and the afternoon of March 29 found them safely anchored off Mare Island. Here the Japanese bade farewell to Commodore Tattnall, who on April 5 boarded a mail steamer bound for Panama, with Washington as his destination, Tattnall deeming it essential that he return ahead of the embassy to consult with the authorities regarding its reception.19 On the same steamer traveled Captain Taylor, sent on ahead of the Powhatan by Tattnall in order to advise the commander of the Roanoke, waiting to receive the embassy at Aspinwall (now Colon), as to the habits of the oriental passengers. As for the Japanese, on March 31 they crossed to San Francisco in the steamer Active, and, established in a hotel, for the first time experienced the hospitality and witnessed the sights of an occidental metropolis. Interesting as were their activities here and in other American cities, they lie beyond the scope of this article and may be read elsewhere.20
In a few days the Powhatan was ready to resume her voyage; casting off from Mare Island on April 5, she anchored in San Francisco Harbor long enough for the Japanese to come aboard and settle themselves. On the 7th she sailed through the Golden Gate and, without touching anywhere en route, came to off the town of Panama on the 24th. On the following day the Japanese ceremoniously left the ship and traveled to Aspinwall by rail, the first journey of that kind in their lives. Awaiting them at Aspinwall was the Roanoke; she had been there for nearly a year, to her great detriment. She was a steam frigate of the Merrimack class, launched at Norfolk in 1855. Although she was larger than the Powhatan by about a thousand tons, it had been found necessary to remove six guns to provide for the erection of
six large and airy compartments ... on either side of the gun deck, which, with the Captain’s office and the Flag Secretary’s stateroom, accommodated the ambassadors and all the officers.21
The party embarked on the 25th, and was welcomed by Commodore William J. McCluney, who had been Captain of the Powhatan when Perry visited Japan, and Captain William H. Gardner; but McCluney’s invitation to British Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Milne to attend the formalities had been declined, reputedly on the ground that it was “a great farce, foolish and nonsensical.”22
The next morning the Roanoke weighed anchor and sailed to Portobello where, while the ship took on water, most of the Japanese went ashore. Some, however, indulged in swimming, much to the concern of the Americans who, apparently not knowing how to warn them of the danger of sharks, got them out of the water by telling them that it was poisonous. Thereafter the ship proceeded without mishap until she anchored off Staten Island on May 9. Here she remained, to the disgust of the crew, until the 11th, while the Captain sought further instructions regarding the reception of the embassy. There was uncertainty over whether the commissioners should go first to New York or Washington. Although Masakiyo relates that Captain Gardner went ashore to advise the authorities “that those aboard did not wish to go to Washington before New York,” he was ordered to proceed to Hampton Roads, which he reached on the 12th.23
On the following day the steamer Philadelphia came alongside, bearing the naval commission appointed by President Buchanan to escort the Japanese while they remained in the United States. It consisted of Captain Samuel F. Dupont and his aides, Commander Sidney S. Lee, brother of Robert E. Lee, and Lieutenant David D. Porter. They were assisted by a purser and an interpreter.24 With the commission were Captain Taylor, late of the Powhatan, and Mr. Ledyard, a representative of the State Department, who congratulated the Japanese upon their safe arrival, while in return the treaty,
wrapped in a case of red cloth and sacredly secured in a superb lacquered chest. . . transported by poles resting on the shoulders of four men,
was exposed to view.25 Meanwhile, the embassy and some of the baggage were transferred to the Philadelphia, and to the cheering of the seamen who manned the yards and the firing of 17 guns, the little steamer cast off, Captain Dupont in command, with Washington her destination. Arriving on the following day, the embassy was welcomed in the name of the President at the navy yard by the Commandant, Commodore Franklin Buchanan.26
With the exchange of ratifications at the State Department on May 22 the primary mission of the embassy was accomplished; thereafter the Japanese were entirely free, if not obliged, to study the progressive ways of the “savage” west. They showed themselves to be extremely observant, and their curiosity regarding the contrivances of the western world was more than gratified by the enterprise of American manufacturers, inventors, and publishers, who were so eager to demonstrate the excellence of their products that the naval commission was sometimes forced to come to the rescue of their charges, though not before they had acquired tons of presents, as various as hydraulic rams, sewing and washing machines, stereoscopes, cook- stoves, safes, the complete plans of Collins’ ship Adriatic, type, false teeth, and firearms from Mr. Colt.27 But private individuals were scarcely less obliging than our War and Navy Departments which, recognizing the budding Japanese interest in modern tools of war, placed practically everything at their disposal. Even before they reached Washington the Japanese were permitted to inspect Fortress Monroe, the largest fortification in the Union, where, still ignorant of the advantages of photography, they set their artists feverishly to work. Although the Japanese were tutored navally chiefly by the British, they must have learned some lessons in Washington in 1860. They visited the Coast Survey office. They were shown the Naval Observatory, probably by Commander Maury. They were given a list of American lighthouses. Commodore Buchanan called upon them, bringing with him a number of firearms of the latest make and explaining improvements over earlier models. A week later he guided them through the navy yard. Here they saw the famous Dahlgrens in action, inspected the new machinery for the Pensacola, and witnessed the casting of a howitzer. Muragaki, marveling at a giant anchor “cut from a large block of steel and finished while we watched,” and at the rapidity with which shells were manufactured, wrote in his diary, “I was filled with envy and with an ardent desire to see such works as this established in my own country.”28
To the huge cargo of Americana which the commissioners took back to Japan the War and Navy Departments contributed photographs and maps, four howitzers, with carriages, shot, shells, shrapnel, and canisters, 100 muskets, machines for driving fuses and filling caps, and 91 boxes of ordnance.29 In addition, two ordnance experts, Lieutenant Colonel James W. Ripley and Lieutenant Henry A. Wise, representing the Army and Navy, traveled with the commissioners to Japan “to give information to the Japanese in regard to our system of gunnery.” Ripley was inspector of arsenals and became, on his early return from Japan, Chief of Ordnance of the Army; while Wise was a recognized authority in his field, who had secretly investigated the new Krupp discoveries, and who rose to be Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance in 1864. They were accompanied by John Dudley, for years in charge of the Washington Arsenal. Wise, at least, expected to remain in Japan for a year, and took steps to learn Japanese; and it is almost unbelievable that upon their arrival their proffered counsel was rejected by the authorities, and there was nothing for them to do but come home.30 That the Japanese were quick to learn must have been borne home to some responsible individuals, despite the prevalent contempt for orientals, for they had brought with them rifles of their own manufacture, based on samples left by Commodore Perry, but praised by both Army and Navy officers as a “decided improvement over the original model.” With prophetic insight the New York Times remarked:
The Embassy takes back complete models of our best howitzers, and Dahlgren guns, with full instructions as to the manufacture and use of everything required both in offensive and defensive warfare. That they will profit by this excessive liberality on our part we may all rest assured. We can only hope that we may not find ourselves among the earliest victims of our over-zealous and mistaken benevolence.31
After 24 days in Washington the embassy, accompanied by the naval commission, departed by rail for Baltimore, where it spent a night. Thence it proceeded to Philadelphia for a week and to New York for nearly two. Popular interest in the Japanese had skyrocketed, and everywhere their activities attracted gaping crowds, thronging as to a circus. Invitations to Norfolk, Trenton, Jersey City, Brooklyn, Providence, and Boston were declined; a visit to Annapolis was contemplated, but canceled.32 The Japanese were beginning to arrange their homeward voyage.
As originally planned, they were to return the way they came. On May 10 Secretary Toucey ordered Captain William W. McKean, in command of the Niagara, to put to sea on the 15th, that he might reach Panama by the middle of July, pick up the embassy, and convey them direct to Yedo. But mechanical difficulties, developing soon after she left New York, forced the ship to return. Toucey thereupon ordered McKean to “receive the Japanese on board at New York and carry them to Japan by way of the Cape of Good Hope.”33 The Niagara, placed in commission in 1857, was a screw sloop of war of 4,580 tons. Designed by George Steers, famous for his America, she was at the time of her launching the largest and supposedly the speediest ship in the world.34 To provide for the embassy five guns were sacrificed and a structure was erected which, to quote from Lieutenant Wise’s journal, took in “90 feet of the after part of the upper deck and what with velvet carpets, furniture and outfit, cost at least $30,000.” The press also featured the accommodations as lavish, but Masakiyo would have us believe that his “cabin was only six feet square and eleven people had to sleep in it.”35 Baggage and presents—save for a “quantity of friction matches,” which Captain McKean caused to be thrown overboard—filled the orlop deck, depriving coal heavers and firemen of their usual quarters.36 On June 29, after an excursion up the North River on a revenue cutter to view the mammoth British Great Eastern, the embassy boarded the Niagara. Captain Dupont, Commander Lee, and Lieutenant Porter also came aboard to bid the commissioners farewell, and each was presented with a Japanese sword blade “in recognition of their unceasing kind services during our stay in this part of the country.”37 On the following day, to a salute of guns from Fort Hamilton, the Niagara set sail.
Because of the commissioners’ desire to return without delay, McKean had been instructed to touch at as few points as possible. The voyage lasted for 132 days, of which 30 were spent in four ports: two at Porto Grande, in the Cape Verde Islands, nine at Loanda, on the west coast of Africa, ten at Batavia, and nine at Hongkong. At the request of the Japanese McKean abandoned his intention to stop at Mauritius and Singapore. This meant long and monotonous stretches at sea, which were drawn out still further by the time spent in searching for favorable winds, Captain McKean having been ordered to spare the machinery as much as possible and not to use the engines when the ship could make a speed of 7 or 8 knots under canvas.38 In the Atlantic he seems to have encountered more than his share of head winds; these, his critics asserted, might have been avoided had he chosen the St. Helena route. Critical shortages developed: according to a New York Herald correspondent on the ship, there was barely enough coal to bring the ship into Loanda, and the water supply was so low that no tea or coffee was served for nearly a week. On the 46-day, 8,000-mile run from Loanda to Batavia, everyone on board was rendered “uncomfortable and unhappy from being kept on salt provisions,” and “even whiskey became scarce.” We are told that both the captain and the first lieutenant were “generally disliked, not only by the Japanese, but by the officers, especially the engineer corps, and by the sailors.” At Loanda an assistant engineer was sent home for a “trifling offense,” and soon after this the ship’s surgeon was suspended. After rounding the Cape cold and stormy weather prevailed for three weeks, and navigation was complicated by the fear of icebergs.39 Upon entering the Bay of Yedo the ship grounded on a rock ledge, thereafter dubbed “Niagara Rock,” and hung there until the next tide, fortunately without suffering damage.40 It is not surprising that the Japanese made odious comparisons between this ship, on which they lived for four months, and the Powhatan and Roanoke, which together had housed them for less than three.
Their daily routine was similar to that on the other ships. Observers noted that they mixed freely with the officers and spent much of their time “in eating seven or eight repasts a day, smoking small whiffs & playing chess,” picking their toes, and cracking nuts. Armed with English dictionaries and grammars, they were constantly “flitting about . . . in all parts of the ship, seeking instruction from any who are willing to communicate it.” Particularly in demand was Lieutenant Wise; one officer from Nagasaki came to him every day “for hints on artillery.” A few essayed a knowledge of French and Spanish, as well as English. Against some of the ways of the west, however, they set their faces. Wise observed that the ambassadors had no sooner reached their quarters “than they kicked all the elegant furniture out & then squatting down on the floor resumed their normal positions.” The baths, “fitted up at a most immense expense, and hitherto unknown on board government ships, in fact considered as effeminate and subversive of discipline,” were shunned, and the “spit- bath” substituted, an attendant filling his mouth with water and ejecting it upon the bather’s body.41 Nor did the numerous religious services on the Niagara meet with favor. Noted for his piety, McKean ardently supported the revivalist efforts of his Chaplain, Stewart, who on this voyage conducted three prayer meetings a day. On the Powhatan and Roanoke only Sunday services had been held, and the Japanese appear to have regarded Stewart’s prayer meetings “as a sort of second edition of Portuguese Jesuitism of two hundred years ago,” deliberately sponsored by the United States Government. At first they remained in the background to observe the proceedings, but before long studiously avoided them.42
The monotony of the voyage was scarcely broken by the brief stop at Porto Grande, where there was little to see. But equatorial waters were a novelty, and Winfield Schley, who served as a midshipman on this cruise, tells us that “most of the Japanese on board stayed up the greater part of the twenty-four hours the ship was in the neighborhood of the Equator, in order to observe what would occur when she would cross it,” which she did on July 29.43 Arriving at Loanda, the station of the African Squadron, they found the harbor crowded with American, British, and Portuguese warships. Although provisions were scarce and dear, the Japanese are said to have purchased several thousand dozen eggs to carry home with them, causing the price to quadruple. On September 30 they arrived at Batavia where, because of their greater familiarity with Dutch, they were doubtless more at home than they had been since leaving Japan. Here they enjoyed Japanese food ashore, and were presented to the Dutch Governor-General.44 The Dutch do not seem to have exerted themselves to honor the commissioners. Wise believed that they were embittered because commercial rights which they had once monopolized were passing to others, and “indignant that our Govt sent them [the Japanese] here to flaunt the triumph before their noses.” A noon-day “breakfast” was tendered the ambassadors and 16 others of lower ranks, accompanied by the captain, first lieutenant, and interpreter; later the other officers came in and “took wine with the Captain.” According to the Herald correspondent, the company drained 86 bottles of champagne, 115 of claret, and “any quantity” of other liquors, the cost of which “was paid by ‘Uncle Sam’ out of the Japanese fund”; and Wise observed that “the Japs got immensely scurved & when they departed to embark could scarcely steady themselves long enough to light their pipes.”45 After this convivial interlude the Niagara proceeded to Hongkong. During this stage of the voyage the Japanese kept a monkey, which alienated the crew by its malicious disregard for the cleanliness of the decks. Observing its acrobatic feats in the rigging, someone greased its tail, with the result that on its next venture aloft it lost its grip and fell to a watery grave. The affair was investigated, and Midshipman Schley, who had been on watch at the time of the accident, fell under suspicion; but international complications were averted by the suggestion, to which the commissioners raised no objection, that the animal had committed suicide.46 Hongkong was reached on October 22, where the ship took on coal and other supplies while the embassy went ashore.
Departing on the 30th, on November 9 the ship stood in for the harbor of Yanagawa. Here she was greeted by the American consul, Mr. Dorr, and a boat was sent ashore with Lieutenant Guest and a party of Japanese, who were to proceed by land to Yedo and report the arrival of the embassy. Later on the same day she anchored a few miles off Yedo, and the labors of disembarking were begun. On the morrow the Niagara bade farewell to the ambassadors. With all hands on deck, or in the rigging, and with the officers in full regalia lined up between the poop deck and the gangway, the dignitaries emerged from their cabin. Pausing to shake hands with each officer, they went over the gangway as the marines presented arms and the band played “Auld Lang Syne.” At the final gun of a minister’s salute the sailors in the yards gave three hearty cheers, to which the ambassadors, in their native boats, responded by waving their fans three times.47
Although Captain McKean had been ordered to proceed without unnecessary delay to Hongkong, where he was to pick up the homeward-bound American Minister to China, John E. Ward, the Niagara was detained at Yedo because the Japanese government had neglected to prepare a storeroom for the innumerable gifts.48 This gave the officers over a week to seek entertainment ashore. A palace, previously used by Lord Elgin, was fitted up for them, and they were provided with horses and norimons, the sedan chairs of the country, with the necessary guides and bearers. Though Wise scorned the palace as “a huge dislocated mass of sticks & rice paper,” regarded the fare as “the queerest collection of grub that ever a mortal nibbled at,” and grumbled that transportation was but grudgingly afforded, the youthful Schley enjoyed the city and its surrounding tea gardens and found the “exhibitions of falconry, kite-flying, juggling, top-spinning, wrestling and other original acrobatic and athletic sports . . . most interesting and wonderful.”49
On November 16 Captain McKean, accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Ripley, Lieutenant Wise, and several of the ship’s officers, was presented by Townsend Harris to the Prime Minister, who thanked him for the attentions shown the embassy in the United States and on the ships of our Navy.50 On the following day Japanese lighters finally arrived for the cargo of presents and two days later returned with over thirty boxes containing gifts for the President of the United States, the mayors of the cities visited by the embassy, and the officers of the Niagara.51 This ship had now made her contribution to the success of Harris’ treaty and was free to sail for home.
1. Living Age, LX, 572-3 (Feb. 26, 1859).
2. M. E. Cosenza, ed., The Complete Journal of Townsend Harris (1930), 377.
3. Chitoshi Yanaga, “The First Japanese Embassy to the United States,” Pacific Historical Review, IX (1940), 118.
4. Dispatch No. 29, Sept. 6, 1858, in Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 25, 36 Cong., 1 sess., 1859-60 (Serial No. 1031).
5. J. D. Johnston, China and Japan: being a Narrative of the Cruise of the U. S. Steam-Frigate Powhatan in the Years'1857, ’58, ’59, and ’60 (1860), 333.
6. Report of the Secretary of the Navy (Dec. 1, 1860), 1148.
7. Johnston, op. cit., 278; C. C. Jones, Jr., The Life and Services of Commodore Josiah Tattnall (1878), 115.
8. East India Squadron Correspondence, vol. Feb. 1858-Dec. 1859, f. 182 (Tattnall to Toucey, Oct. 21, 1859), in Naval Records Collection of the Office ’of Naval Records and Library, National Archives.
9. Johnston, op. cit., 313,318.
10. Powhatan log, Jan. 16, 1860; Johnston, op. cit., 309-10. Dates referring to the movements of the ships carrying the embassy have been determined from the logs in Naval Records Collection, National Archives.
11. Johnston, op. cit., 309, 312, 321-22; Powhatan log, Jan. 17-21, 27, and Feb. 5-7.
12. Johnston, op. cit., 324-26,332-33.
13. Yanagawa Masakiyo, The First Japanese Mission to America (1860), (1937), 2; Powhatan log, Feb. 10.
14. Johnston, op. cit., 325-26, 335-36, 342.
15. Ibid., 340-41,355.
16. A. B. Cole, “Japan’s First Embassy to the United States, 1860,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, XXXII, No. 2 (Apr. 1941), 138-39.
17. Johnston, op. cit., 346-49.
18. Ibid., 349-51; Masakiyo, op. cit., 15-16; “Diary of the First Japanese Embassy to the United States, written by Muragaki-Awaji-no-Kami, Vice-Ambassador,” in The First Japanese Embassy to the United States of America, sent to Washington in 1860 (etc.) (1920), 16; Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, XXI, 115 (June, 1860).
19. Jones, op. cit., 122.
20. See articles by Cole, Yanaga, Gowen, and Dubois, and the diaries of Muragaki-Awaji-no-Kami and Masakiyo, cited in my footnotes.
21. Memorandum on U.S.S. Roanoke, Naval Records Collection, National Archives; Roanoke log, Mar. 21 el seq.; Muragaki, op. cit., 178.
22. H. H. Gowen, “The First Japanese Mission to America,” Washington Historical Quarterly, XVI (1925), 12; Patterson Dubois, “The Great Japanese Embassy of 1860: a Forgotten Chapter in the History of International Amity and Commerce,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, XLIX (1910), 249.
23. Masakiyo, op. cit., 42.
24. J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, V,- 743; Roanoke log, May 13.
25. Muragaki, op. cit., 32-33; Dubois, op. cit., 249.
26. C. L. Lewis, Admiral Franklin Buchanan (1929), 156.
27. Cole, op.cit., 161-62; Yanaga, op. cit., 130: A.B. Cole, ed., “Private Journal of Henry A. Wise, U.S.N., on Board Frigate Niagara, 1960, in Pacific Historical Review, XI, No.3 (Sept., 1942), 328.
28. Cole, “Japan’s First Embassy,” 145, 148; Lewis op. cit., 156; Muragaki, op cit., 48-49.
29. Cole, “Japan’s First Embassy,” 161-62.
30. New York Herald, June 28, 1860, p. 5; Oct. 6, p. 2; Jan. 28,1861, p. 2.
31. Yanaga, op. tit., 125; New York Times, May 16, 1860, p. 8; The New Yorker, Jan. 24, 1942, p. 46.
32. Cole, “Japan’s First Embassy,” 148, 152.
33. Confidential Letters, No. 4, ff. 294-95, 302 (May 10, 31, 1860) in Naval Records Collection, National Archives.
34. Memorandum on U.S.S. Niagara, Naval Records Collection, National Archives.
35. Wise, “Journal,” 321; New York Times, June 21, p. 8, July 2, p.4; New York Herald, Aug. 20, 1860, p. 1; Masakiyo, op. cit., 77.
36. Captains’ Letters, II (1860), June 30 (McKean to Toucey), in Naval Records Collection, National Archives; Niagara log, June 30.
37. Muragaki, op. cit., 75-76.
38. Confidential Letters, No. 4, f. 306 (June 22, 1860); Captains’ Letters, IV (1860), Oct. 6, 1860 (McKean to Toucey).
39. New York Herald, Dec. 15, 1860, p. 10.
40. Ibid., Jan. 28, 1861, p. 2; .W. S. Schley, Forty-five Years under the Flag (1904), 17.
41. New York Herald, Oct. 6,1860, p. 2; Nov. 18, 1860, p. 3; Wise, “Journal,” 321-22. The “spit-baths” may have been necessitated by the water shortage.
42. New York Herald, Oct. 6,1860, p. 2; Dec. 15, 1860, p. 10.
43. Schley, op. cit., 14-15.
44. New York Herald, Oct. 18, 1860, p. 10; Nov. 18, 1860, p. 3; Dec. IS, 1860, p. 10; Masakiyo, op. cit., 80.
45. Wise, “Journal,” 326-27; New York Herald, Dec. 15,1860, p. 10.
46. Schley, op. cit., 16-17.
47. New York Herald, Jan. 28,1861, p. 2.
48. Captains’ Letters, IV (1860), Dec. 13 (McKean to Toucey).
49. Wise, “Journal,” 329; Schley, op. cit., 19.
50. Loc cit.
51. Niagara log, Nov. 17, 19.