Monday, October 4, 2010

1854 Arrival of the U.S.S. Saratoga and Rev. Damon's Editorial

Rev. Samuel C. Damon reported on page one in the May 6, 1854 edition of The Friend of the “news respecting the negotiations with Japan. He derived his information from the ‘Polynesian Extra’ dated May 1 in Honolulu.

Four pages later Damon quotes the Polynesian in reporting on the arrival of the U.S.S. Saratoga –one of Commodore Perry’s Black Ships- carrying the signed Treaty of Amity and Friendship with the Empire of Japan.

The following is a transcription of Rev. Damon’s editorial remarks from the cover page of the May 6, 1854 edition of The Friend, published in Honolulu:


We copy from the “Polynesian Extra” of May 1st, a summary of the news respecting the negotiations with Japan. The time has not yet arrived for a full account of the expedition, for although a treaty has been signed by the Commissioners of Japan and the United States, still the document must receive the sanction of the government at Washington before it can be made public. While the negotiations were in progress, many interesting incidents occurred.

The Japanese finally met Commodore Perry, not as an enemy, but friend. There was no display of soldiers on military parade. It will be recollected that at the interview in July last, the Japanese Commissioners were attended by several thousand of their soldiers.

The Japanese made particular inquiries respecting Capt. Cooper, who commanded the American whaleship “Manhattan,” when she visited the Bay of Yedo, in the spring of 1845. An account of his visit was originally published in “The Friend,” of Feb. 2d, 1846, having been prepared with much care by Dr. Winslow.

An officer of the “Saratoga” remarked thus, that the influence of American whaleships had probably been very great in inducing the Japanese to open their ports. It appears that the Japanese have been close observers of whale ships, cruising about their islands. The Japanese informed the Americans, that they had counted 180 American whale ships in one year, passing thro’ the Matsmai, or Sangar Straits.

While the fleet lay in the Bay of Yedo, a Marine died, belonging to the steamer “Mississippi.” Although, at first much against the wishes and prejudices of the Japanese, Commodore Perry obtained permission to bury the man on shore, under military honors, and attended by the chaplain, observing all the rites of a christian burial. On the monument erected at the grave, it was stated that the deceased was born in Ireland! This circumstance led to an explanation of our naturalization laws, which rendered it possible for an American, to be born in Japan!

The officers of the “Saratoga” report that they saw no cattle, no sheep, no goats, no swine, but very good horses. They saw growing, crops of wheat, rice, oats, barley, millet, and tobacco. The land was well cultivated. The Japanese have a very good plough, and fanning machine.

We understand that trade is not to be opened until March 1855. To facilitate trade, hereafter, the Japanese received specimens of American coins, and furnished specimens of Japanese coins, for the purpose of having their relative value ascertained.

On the party of the Japanese Commissioners, it was, at first much insisted upon, that the U.S. Government should allow a treaty stipulating that no American lady should ever visit Japan! So preposterous a demand was not countenanced, for a moment, by the gallant Commodore. Who can imagine the ferment which would have been excited in the U. States, has an article of this nature, been inserted into the treaty? The news –“No white ladies allowed to visit Japan,” would have been the occasion of fitting another expedition to Japan! Ladies themselves, would have commanded the expedition, and the Japanese would have been taught what they now seem partially convinced of, that America is a great country!

It has been referred to, as a matter of surprise, that the Japanese should have understood the policy of the U. States, in regard to Mexico, and the Mexican War. This circumstance surprised the Japanese, that after the Americans had conquered the country, they then surrender it, even purchasing a portion from the conquered people and paying for the same, a large sum of money. –This is not the usual method pursued by conquerors! We hope the Japanese may never have the occasion to entertain a different idea of American policy and American magnanimity. Would that no Americans, or foreigners of other nations, should ever visit Japan, for other purposes than lawful and honorable commerce, or some object of genuine philanthropy; then might be reasonably hope, that the Japanese would become an enlightened people. If the Japanese could be persuaded to pass the “Maine Law,” and an “Anti-Opium Law,” what incalculable evils it would prevent. We hope the frown and indignation of the civilized world will be visited upon the first Yankee, who carries thither intoxicating liquors. Let the mark of Cain be stamped upon him; let him be treated as an outlaw among the nations; let him be classed among pirates, for he would deserve no other punishment than that of a murderer of the Japanese! Other interesting items respecting the Japanese have come to our knowledge, but our want of room prevents us from additional remarks in this number of our paper.

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