‘Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.’ Demosthenes (384 BC–322 BC)
The so-called Black Ships of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry’s two visits to Japan in 1852–54 were the symbols for better or worse of what the outside world had to offer the Japanese. The imposing and foreboding ships were featured in a number of contemporary Japanese prints, such as this one from about 1861. The size of the rowboat near the ship’s paddlewheel reinforces the apparent massiveness of the American warship, which could be one of three steamers in Perry’s squadron: the USS Powhatan, Susquehanna, or Mississippi.
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