Monday, October 25, 2010

Diplomatic Letters Between HI and Japan, US

The March 17, 1860 edition of the Polynesian published, “by authority, the official correspondences previous to the reception, on the 9th instant, by their Majesties the King and Queen, of their Excellencies the Princes Ambassadors of the Emperor of Japan, sent by his Imperial Majesty, with credentials to his Excellency the President of the United States.” Details of the reception by Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma were also published on the first page.

“This being quite an event in the history of this Kingdom,” continued the article, “the public will read with interest the extracts which we subjoin, showing the formalities with which ambassadors coming accredited to the sovereign, are received at the highest of imperial and monarchical courts, and showing what treatment they are entitled to while only passing through the dominions of a friendly sovereign.” This was the first time an ambassadorial delegation of such significance from any country had visited the Hawaiian Islands.

What followed was a translation by Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs R.C. Wyllie from the Baron de Marten’s Diplomatic Guide. These excerpts outline the rules and protocols of 19th century diplomacy. Then, the article features exchanges between Wyllie and James W. Borden, the American Commissioner at the United States Legation in Honolulu.


Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands,

8th March, 1860.

To His Excellency R.C. Wyllie, Minister of Foreign Relations,

&c., &c., &c.

SIR- I have the honor to inform your Excellency that, on Monday, the 5th instant, the United States steamer Powhatan arrived at this port.

This frigate is commanded by the Honorable Josiah Tatnall, U.S. Navy, who is conducting an Embassy sent by His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan to the President of the United States.

Admiral Tattnall has signified to me that, accompanied by Capt. Pearson, the officers of the Powhatan, and the Embassadors with their suite, he would be pleased to have an opportunity, with them, of paying his respects to His Majesty the King.

I have, therefore, respectfully to ask you to make known this request to His Majesty, and to assure him that an audience as such time as will suit his convenience will be the occasion of sincere gratification to the officer of the Powhatan, to the Japanese Ambassadors as well as to

Your Excellency’s

Most obedient servant.



City of Honolulu, 8th March, 1860

SIR- I have had the honor to submit to the King your official note of the same date, announcing the arrival of Admiral Tatnall in the United States steamer Powhatan, conveying to Washington Ambassadors from the Emperor of Japan to the President of the United States, and requesting an audience of His Majesty for the Ambassadors, for Admiral Tatnall and Captain Pearson, with the officers of that ship.

The King has commanded me to reply that he will be pleased, if it suit you and the Admiral, to receive you and him, Captain Pearson and the officers of the Powhatan, in the Palace, to-morrow, at half-past one o’clock, and that, at 2 P.M., in your presence, and in that of the Admiral and of his suite, His Majesty will receive their Excellencies the Ambassadors with their suite.

The King commands me further to say that it is His Majesty’s wish to receive the Ambassadors with as much respect as if they were accredited to his own Court, and that, therefore, He will send His own carriages to their residence, escorted by a guard of honor to convey them to the Palace. His Majesty regrets not having carriages enough for their full suite, but he hopes that you, as the representative of the President, will be able to arrange for their proper conveyance, as is usual, in the reception of Ambassadors.

Although the Ambassadors are not accredited to His own Court, the King, viewing them as virtually illustrious guests of the President, believes that He cannot show a higher honor, both to Him and to His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan, than by receiving them and treating them, while passing through this Kingdom, with as much respect as if they had come with the Emperor’s credentials to Himself.

I hope that you and the Admiral will duly understand the desire of my Sovereign.

I have it further in command from the King to make known to you the pleasure of Her Majesty the Queen to receive the Ambassadors, yourself and the Admiral, immediately after the audience of His Majesty has terminated.

I am happy to have this occasion to repeat to you the assurance of the high respect and consideration with which I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,


Hon. JAMES W. BORDEN, Commissioner of the United States, &c., &c., &c.


Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, 9th March, 1860.

To his Excellency, R.C. WYLLIE, H. H. M. Minister of Foreign Relations, &c.

SIR: -I have the honor to send herewith one piece of crape and two boxes of lacquer, which their Excellencies the Ambassadors of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan, to the United States, have requested to be presented through this Legation, in their name, to his Hawaiian Majesty.

These articles are presented, not so much for their value, but are designed, according to the usage of their country, to be received by his Majesty as a memento of the highly interesting ceremony at the audience which their Majesties the King and Queen did them the honor to grant on this day.

I avail myself to this occasion to renew the assurances of the high respect and distinguished consideration with which I have the honor to be,

Sir, your most obedient servant,



City of Honolulu, 9th March, 1860.

SIR: -I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of this date, which you had the great courtesy to deliver, in person, along with the presents for his Majesty the King, from their Excellencies the Princes Ambassadors of his Majesty the Emperor of Japan, to which your note refers.

It became my agreeable duty to send those presents and your note immediately to the palace, along with the explanation which you requested me to make to my Sovereign, on behalf of their Excellencies; -namely, that the presents were not of the value that their Emperor would have ordered them to offer to the King if his Imperial Majesty had foreseen that his Ambassadors would appear at the Hawaiian Court.

You can assure their Excellencies that King Kamehameha IV, while he thanks them for their presents, requires no such valuable considerations to enhance his respectful appreciation of their high character, as Ambassadors of his Imperial Majesty of Japan, accredited to his great and good friend, the President of the United States, and, even while in this city, the illustrious guests of his Excellency.

I am happy to have this opportunity of again assuring you of the very high respect and very distinguished consideration with which I have the honor to be,

Sir, your most obedient and humble servant,


Hon. JAMES W. BORDEN, Commissioner

Of the United States, &c., &c.

The undersigned, Minister of Foreign Affairs of his Majesty King Kamehameha IV, has the honor to state to their Excellencies the Ambassadors of his Majesty the Emperor of Japan, that the King, much pleased with their arrival at his Court, and animated by sentiments of high regard for his Imperial Majesty, and by a desire that the most kind and friendly relations should ever subsist between his dominion and those of his Imperial Majesty, for the mutual advantage of the two nations, which are so near to each other, has empowered the undersigned to negotiate with their Excellencies a solemn treaty of perpetual friendship, commerce and navigation, precisely similar to that which it has pleased his Majesty the Emperor of Japan to grant to the United States.

The undersigned is commanded to state that his Majesty the King is well aware that their Excellencies can have no special powers from the Emperor to make a treaty with this kingdom; but the Sovereign of the undersigned intrusts in him to say that their Excellencies the Ambassadors, if they so pleased, might agree to such a treaty as is proposed, it being well understood on both sides that the agreement is to be binding or not, according as it may be ratified or not by his Majesty the Emperor; or if their Excellencies, in their discretion, should so prefer, they might ask powers from their Emperor to negotiate such a treaty as is herein proposed, to be sent to them at Washington, and the treaty to be concluded with the King’s Charge d’Affairs and Consul General for the United States.

The King further orders the undersigned to offer to their Excellencies to forward to Japan, through his Majesty’s Charge d’Affairs and Consul General for the Empire of China, residing in Canton, any dispatches or letters which their Excellencies may leave to be forwarded to the Government of their Emperor.

Lastly, the undersigned is commanded to state to their Excellencies by his Sovereign, that the President of the United States being one of his greatest and best friends, cannot fail to be pleased with the extension to this friendly kingdom of the treaty between the United States and the Empire of Japan.

The undersigned has the honor to offer to their Excellencies the Ambassadors of his Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the homage of his highest respect and consideration.


To his Excellency the Prince SIMMI-BUZEN-NO-KAMI,

First Ambassador, and his Excellency the Prince MURAGAKI-AWAKI-NO-KAMI, Second Ambassador, of his Majesty the Emperor of Japan.

Department of Foreign Affairs,

Honolulu, March 18, 1860.

The following copy of the English translation of the reply, in Japanese, of the Ambassadors, is printed precisely in the form presented by their Excellencies:

To His Excellency R. C. WYLLIE Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sandwich Islands, &c., &c.

We have received and well understand your letter, dated 18th March of your country; For the mutual advantage of your and my countries desiring to conclude the same Treaty of Amity, as the United States, you are appointed to negotiate with us, but as you written, we are proper not commanded to conclude the Treaty with your country, and because the concluding the Treaty shall be the firm and lasting foundation of the friendship between both countries, it is now impossible to answer to it, without the offering to His Majesty the Tycoon after our return at Japan, and therefore also we cannot send our dispatches through the Consul General of your country for China, thus we will answer thereinto after our return to Japan. For the answering into your letter we express the abovementioned.

With respect and consideration, the 25th day of second month of the seventh year of Ansey.







Friday, October 22, 2010

Poet’s Corner: Opening of Japan to the Gospel 1860

Opening of Japan to the Gospel

The Friend: Honolulu, April 1860, page 29. Rev. Samuel C. Damon, Publisher.

Ho! For Japan’s fair isles-

The God of glory smiles

On millions there;

In Jeddo’s temple gates

Praise for Jehovah waits,

Praise and true prayer.

Where her grim idols stood-

Idols of stone and wood-

(Now clothed with shame),

Christians –a stronger throng-

Lifting their choral song,

Praise Jesus’ name.

Since Nagasaki heard

Tidings of Christ the Lord,

Lo! Dawning light

Led by the morning star,

Breaks from the skies afar

On her long night.

Soon shall her millions feel

Jesus hath power to heal

Sin’s deadly wound;

Since there the Savior smils,

Soon shall Japan’s fair isles

Be hallowed ground.


-Boston Recorder

‘Right Men in the Right Place" and Dr. Charles F. Guillou

In the October 24, 1857 edition of Honolulu’s Polynesian came word that Abner Pratt, U.S. Consul at Honolulu, appointed new leadership at the American Consular Hospital.

Under the headline ‘Right Men in the Right Place’ we glean the following:

Mr. Pratt, the U.S. Consul has recently made the appointment of the officers of the American Consular Hospital, and short as is the time since his arrival the parties selected are equally those whom the community, if it was any business of theirs to speak in the matter, would have pointed out.

Dr. Cha. F. Guillou, the Consular Physician and Surgeon, enjoys a professional reputation of the highest order, whilst his urbanity of manners renders his visits agreeable to his patients. There is a great deal of truth in that. But the Doctor’s long experience as surgeon in the U.S. Navy, makes him especially fit to take charge of the hospital. He knows Jack’s ways and wants, and had a good inkling of his tricks.”

After the Japanese ambassadorial delegation arrived in Honolulu on March 5, 1860 Dr. Guillou would host a welcoming ball at his residence on Hotel Street. The house is no longer there, but news of this celebration can be gleaned here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Destruction of the U.S.S. Fenimore Cooper in Japan

Just before the American Steamship U.S.S. Powhatan departed for the Hawaiian Islands and the west coast of the United States in early 1860 it had on board a contingent of sailors formerly of the U.S.S. Fenimore Cooper. This ship was destroyed in a typhoon.

The Fenimore Cooper had previously been in Honolulu. As reported in the March 5, 1859 edition (second page) of the Polynesian:

“To-day the Fenimore Cooper leaves, in prosecution of her surveying cruise to the westward, as far as Japan and adjacent seas. We wish her a hearty “God speed,” now and ever, for we look upon her, and her likes –no matter what colors they may fly- as the Noah’s doves of peace, commerce and civilization. We shall anxiously look for the report of Lieutenant Commanding Brooke, believing that no gentleman, short of Lieutenant Maury himself, can do better justice to so vast a subject and so important a mission as the surveying and sounding of the North Pacific Ocean, over the traveled, ordinary routes to Manila, China and Japan. Lieut. Brooke has been singularly fortunate in obtaining so talented and gentlemanly a draughtsman as Mr. Kern.”

The January 21, 1860 edition in the Foreign News section on Page 2 is the following, which I posted earlier this year:

By the arrival of the Russian steamers Rynda and Novick we received San Francisco dates to Jan. 1, and by the bark Yankee, Capt. Lovett, we have European and American papers in advance of the regular mail. Dates from New York are to Dec. 5, Europe Nov. 20, San Francisco Jan. 3:

MORE OF THE “FENIMORE COOPER.” –About the 1st of October a violent hurricane occurred at Yeddo Bay, during which the U.S. surveying schooner Fenimore Cooper was driven on the beach, and was afterwards condemned and sold; no lives were lost, and Captain Brooke saved all his valuable instruments and surveys. The Japanese Government showed great kindness to the shipwrecked crew, sending men to save everything possible, and the officers say that not a single dollar’s worth was stolen. They were provided with good quarters, and furnished with provisions, servants and money. Most of the crew were afterwards taken on board the Powhatan, after her arrival from China. The officers and the balance of the crew would leave for the United States on the above vessel on the 22d February next.

The same column also announced the route of the Japanese Embassy for the United States from letters sent by Townsend Harris, American Minister at Yeddo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Story of Joseph Heco, First Naturalized American from Japan: His Hawaii Connection

Rev. Samuel C. Damon, publisher of the Honolulu-based monthly newspaper The Friend, published an interesting article in the July 1862 edition about a Japanese national named Joseph Heco. At the time of the news story Heco had been appointed interpreter to the U.S. Consul at Kanagawa. He was in Honolulu on his way back to Japan to begin his duties.

Years before Joseph Heco was among the Japanese who found themselves swept out to sea due to typhoons, only to find himself and the crew of his “junk” rescued by an American ship. They were taken to San Francisco. That was only the beginning of a colorful life for young Joseph Heco. His future would include an American education, an American government service position, voyages on the Black Ships Powhatan, Susquehanna among other vessels, and an act of diplomatic mediation that saved Yokohama from destruction by the Russian fleet –leading to the ceding of the northern section of Sakhalin Island to the Russian Empire.

He was appointed Secretary to the Captain of the Fenimore Cooper. That ship was lost in a typhoon in Japan. The American crew would go on to board the Japanese warship Kanrin Maru that, along with the U.S.S. Powhatan, would traverse the Pacific Ocean with the Japanese Embassy in early 1860.

He also worked for U.S. Consul Townsend Harris in Kanagawa.

Damon’s article quotes an article from the San Francisco Evening Bulletin:

It afford us pleasure to meet again this gentleman. He is young in years, but old in adventures. We learn from him that he has been appointed interpreter to the U.S. Consul at Kanagawa, and is now proceeding thence to enter upon his duties. His sympathies are unmistakably with the North in the great struggle. During his last visit to America, he spent several weeks in Baltimore, where he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with the sentiments of Secesh! He is taking with him plans and specifications of iron-clad vessels of war, for the information of the Japanese Government, which will doubtless induce the Japanese to countermand the order which they have sent to the United States for building a first-class gun-boat after the old style.

The following notice of Mr. Heco, we copy from a late Evening Bulletin:

THE STORY OF JOSEPH HECO, THE JAPANESE. –Among the late arrivals from the Eastern States was Joseph Heco, who, although Japanese by birth, in an American by education and citizenship, and has been from time to time, during the last ten years, a resident of San Francisco. Mr. Heco’s adventures have been so varied and curious, that we have requested him to give us a slight sketch of his history. He has done so, and it forms the basis for the following narrative, which will be found quite interesting.

It seems that Heco’s father was a wealthy landed proprietor, residing about thirty miles from Osaka, an important seaport in the southern part of Japan, in which city resided his brother, who has engaged in commerce. Young Heco, at the age of 13, was sent to Osaka to learn commerce and navigation from his uncle. In the summer of 1850, he went in one of his uncle’s junks to Jeddo. The junk arrived safely at its destination, discharged, and having taken in a return cargo, sailed for Osaka via Worangawa. After leaving the latter place, the junk fell in with a typhoon, was disabled and blown out to sea. After remaining fifty days at the mercy of the waves, the wreck was fallen in with by the American bark Auckland, Capt. Jennings, who took off the crew (in all 17 persons) and brought them to San Francisco. They arrived here in February, 1851. The Collector of the Port placed all these persons on board the revenue cutter, and wrote to the Government at Washington for instructions as to their disposition.

Government, with the laudable desire to set an example of humanity, and to cultivate good fellowship with Japan, sent the sloop of war St. Marys to take these castaways back to their own country. They accordingly embarked on board this vessel, and sailed for Hong Kong, where they were transferred on board the U.S. steamer Susquehanna, to await the arrival of the Japanese expedition under Commodore Perry.

After several months of delay, Heco determined to return to San Francisco, took passage on board the bark Sarah Hooper, and arrived here in the fall of 1852. He was accompanied by the second mate, and one of the sailors. The Second mate, Toro, will be remembered by many of our readers as a porter at the bank of Wells, Fargo & Co.

At that time Beverley C. Sanders was Collector here, and took Heco, who was then about 15 years old, under his protection, with the intention of educating him, thinking that he might some day be very useful, both to his own country and ours. With this view Mr. Sanders took him to the Eastern States and placed him at school in Baltimore. Heco afterwards returned to San Francisco and continued his schooling here, until early in 1856, when he entered the counting-house of Macondray & Co., in this city, where he received a thorough mercantile education.

Heco then accompanied Dr. W.M. Gwin to Washington, in hopes of obtaining from the United States Government some appointment in their service at Japan, which would secure him from any fear of molestation from his own countrymen. He succeeded in obtaining the position of Secretary to the Captain of the Fenimore cooper, which vessel was to sail from San Francisco on a surveying expedition in the Pacific Ocean and on the coast of Japan. Owing to severe illness, Heco was obliged to leave the Fenimore cooper at Honolulu. After his recovery he took passage for Hong Kong in the clipper ship Sea Serpent. From Hong Kong he went to Shanghae in the U.S. steamer Powhatan, and thence to Jeddo in the U.S. steamer Mississippi.

Shortly after Heco’s arrival in Japan, the Fenimore Cooper was lost, and he was left to his own resources. He entered into business as commission agent, custom-house broker and interpreter, and was of great service to our Consul at Kanagawa, owing to his knowledge of the English and Japanese languages. On one occasion, a lieutenant from one of the Russian frigates was murdered by the Japanese at Yokohama. The Russian Admiral applied to the Japanese authorities for the delivery of the murderers. Receiving no satisfaction from the Government, he determined to destroy Yokohama; but the U.S. Consul, Mr. Dorr, advised him to employ Heco as mediator, which he did. Heco not being able to find the assassins, arranged with the Japanese Government to compromise the matter by ceding to Russia a portion of the Saghalien Island, and in that way saved Yokohama from bombardment and destruction by the Russian fleet.

Owing to the peculiar distinctions made by the native Japanese between Government officials and persons engaged merely in mercantile pursuits, Heco found his position in Kanagawa a disagreeable one, and decided to try his luck again in Washington. He returned to San Francisco, and proceeded to Washington, taking with him strong letters of recommendation to the most influential persons both in and out of Congress. His visit was highly successful, and he has been appointed Interpreter to the Consulate at Kanagawa. This appointment enables him to wear a diplomatic uniform, and will give him among his countrymen a rank equal to that of Lieutenant-Governor of Kanagawa owing to his being Acting Vice-Consul, in the event of the absence of the U.S. Consul.

Mr. Heco informs us that he has also the privilege of transacting business on his own account at Kanagawa. There are but few instances where a shipwrecked lad of thirteen has, in the space of ten years, by his own energy and courage, mastered a new language, and become thoroughly acquainted with the habits and customs of a nation of whom he had never heard before. The future career of this young gentleman will be watched with interest by all Americans, and more especially by the people of this city, among whom he has lived so long, and to many of whom he is personally known. In Mr. Heco, Americans will, we believe, always have a true and it may be a powerful friend in Japan; and we and all our people most heartily wish him every success in the commercial pursuits to which he is now about to turn his attention in that country.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The Wonders of Japan"

When news that the Japanese Embassy to the United States was due to stop in Hawaii one can imagine what the perceptions people in the island held of a country and people secluded for so long. Those perceptions were at least in part framed by news accounts furnished by visitors to Japan.

The March 5, 1859 edition of Honolulu’s Polynesian newspaper featured such travelogue copied from the Liverpool Courier. In the beginning of the piece the text references Lord Elgin and his tour of China and a short trip to Japan.

Here is the transcription:

"The description given to Japan by some of the members of Lord Elgin’s suit, rivals that of the enchanted island of the Arabian Nights. Nothing can exceed the picturesque beauty of the bay of Nagasaki, and the situation of the city at its extremity. Swelling hills covered with verdure rise from the water’s edge. The thatched roofs of snug cottages peep from out the dense foliage amid which they nestle. Precipitous walls of rock are mirrored in the azure blue of the waters at their base. The Japanese are courteous, affable, gentlemanlike and good natured, quite different from the description our disinterested friends, the Dutch, gave of them.

“Jeddo, the capital, is larger than London, and contains 3,000,000 of people. The leading street is ten miles long, and closely packed with stuccoed houses. Here are the palaces of 360 of the hereditary princes, each a sovereign in his own dominions, but compelled to reside in the metropolis for six months of the year. Some of the mansions are built to hold 10,000 retainers. The palace of the secular king is surrounded by a triple wall, and gives lodging to 40,000 people. The streets are spacious, clean and airy; no dirt, no smell, no street obstructions.

“In this country, every cottage, temple and teahouse is surrounded by gardens laid out in exquisite taste. Tea-houses are found in every shady nook, or by pleasant rivers. The tea is served by the ministrations of fair damsels; who glide noiselessly and rapidly about, suspecting no indecorum and meaning none.

“Strange that we should have known so little of this modern Atalanta, this beauteous isle set in the silver sea! Stranger still that they should have worked our so perfect and yet so grotesque a species of civilization, like the devices in their own ware, odd, startling, but minutely finished off. Here we have two kings; one spiritual, who can his lineage for 2,500 years; the other secular, who commands the forces, both dwelling in the same city like brothers. The Japanese seem to be the most impressible nation on earth; whatever they see they imitate –telescopes, aneroids, steam engines, spy glasses, &c. –and yet they have hitherto locked themselves up within an impenetrable barrier.

“Our exports to Japan, last year, amounted to L200. Surely this wonderful people must have something to export and something to import, too. They will not export any manufactured articles, but they will readily import them. Our warm woolens and stout cottons are just the thing for the northern districts. We trust that our manufacturers are awake to this market, and will not allow themselves to be beaten as they were in China, by the Americans and Russians, even in our staple manufactures.” [Liverpool Courier]

Friday, October 8, 2010

Official Correspondence: Secretary of State Lewis Cass Expresses His Thanks

The July 28, 1860 edition of the Polynesian features transcripts of official correspondences between Secretary of State Lewis Cass, U.S. Legation Representative James W. Borden, and Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs R.C. Wyllie:


Honolulu, H.I., July 23d, 1860


I have the honor to send herewith a copy of a dispatch from Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State, to me, dated May 18th, 1860.

It affords me great pleasure in being the medium of conveying to His Hawaiian Majesty the thanks of the President of the U. States, for his courtesies to our Nation’s guests, the Japanese Ambassadors.

I can but add my hope to the wish expressed by the President, that His Majesty’s Government and people may be among the first to reap the reward of the growing commerce of Japan.

In conclusion, I deem it a proper occasion to remark, that the local position of this Archipelago seems to make it the entrepot for the commerce of the Northern Pacific, and it is sincerely to be hoped that in adjusting your revenue system, you may, by abolishing all transit and export duties, and removing every restriction on trade, not inconsistent with the wants of His Majesty’s Exchequer, induce shippers to make it a place for the warehousing of merchandise, a central sport for the shipment of goods to the different foreign marts, which are, one by one, gradually opening up in every direction around the group of islands which forms His Hawaiian Majesty’s Kingdom.

I avail myself of the occasion to renew the assurances of the high respect, and very distinguished consideration with which

I have the honor to be,


Your obedient servant,





Washington, May 18, 1860.


&c., &c., &c.


Your depatches to No. 27 inclusive have been received.

You will have learned from the public papers of the safe arrival at San Francisco of the Japanese Embassy, and this mail will inform you through the same channel of their equally safe arrival at this Capitol.

In connection with this subject, your No. 27 has been perused with much interest. Your own conduct in extending courtesies to our national guests, on the occasion of their momentary sojourn at Honolulu, is highly appreciated by the President, and whilst thus acknowledging the patriotic spirit which prompted you to sustain, as you did so successfully, the disposition and intentions of your government in the hospitable entertainment of their visitors, en route to this country, the President directs me particularly to instruct you t make known to His Majesty Kamehameha IV., through the proper channel, that he has learned with much satisfaction of the brilliant and cordial reception which His Majesty extended to the Embassy, in compliment to their quality and mission as guests of the United States.

The President desires His Majesty entirely to appreciate his recognition of the cordial friendship displayed towards this Government on the occasion referred to, and he trusts that His Majesty’s Government and people will be among the first to reap the advantages which may be anticipated from the opening of commerce with a rich and hitherto secluded country, as they were the first to display to the intelligent travelers from that land, the benefits which any people may derive from a judiciously organized and wisely administered government of constitutional law.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

(signed) LEW. CASS.


Honolulu, 24th July, 1860.


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 23d instant, enclosing copy of the official communication received by you from the Honorable Secretary of State, directing you to make known to His Majesty Kamhemahema IV, through the proper channel, that the President had learned with much satisfaction, of the “brilliant and cordial reception” which His Majesty extended to the Ambassadors of Japan, in compliment to their quality and mission, as guests of the United States.

The King commands me to say, that he is much pleased to find that the President so well understood his intention to shew, in the persons of the Ambassadors, the highest respect, due alike to their own rank, to the President to whom they were going, and to the Emperor whose credentials they bore. The King only regrets that the limited means of his Kingdom did not enable him to mark that high respect in a more signal manner.

The King’s Government thanks the President for his wish that the Hawaiian Kingdom may be among the first to participate in the benefit of the growing commerce of Japan; and they thank yourself for your expression of the same wish, in connexion with such a liberal fiscal system as will best conduce to that result.

Every since the regular organization of the Hawaiian Government, its fiscal laws have been the most liberal of any independent nation situated in this Ocean, and so, it is to be hoped, they will continue to be.

I am glad to have this new occasion to renew to you the assurances of the high respect and consideration with which I have the honor to be,


Your most obedient, humble servant,



Commissioner of the U.States.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Black Ship U.S.S. Saratoga Returns to Boston from Japan and the Hawaiian Islands

The January 1855 edition (page 3) of The Friend, published in Honolulu by Rev. Samuel C. Damon of the American Seamen’s Friend Society, reported the return of the Black Ship U.S. Saratoga from Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, quoting the September 6, 1854 edition of the Boston Atlas:

After the inspection of the U.S. ships Saratoga and Cyane, on Monday, the latter was put out of commission, in consequence of requiring extensive repairs. The Saratoga will also be repaired to considerable extent.

Shortly after the inspection by Commodore Gregory, the crews of both vessels received their discharge; and as a large number of “land sharks” were hovering around the vessels, with a view of securing the sailor’s hard earnings, Rev. Phineas Stowe, accompanied by Mr. Morrill of Amesbury, the other benevolent gentlemen, engaged the National Brass Band, and proceeded to the Navy Yard for the purpose of inducing the sailors to take up quarters at temperance boarding houses. They were well received on board ship by all classes.

A flag and various Japanese curiosities were presented to Mr. Stowe, and nearly 150 out of 200 on board the Saratoga, accompanied the apostle of temperance and humanity, the band leading the way. The procession marched through some of the principal streets of this city, to the Bethel on the corner of Lewis and Commercial streets, which had been beautifully decorated for the occasion.

After listening to addresses and music they were almost all safely housed in temperance quarters. Later in the evening, a temperance meeting was held in the Bethel, where addresses were made by the Mayor, Mr. Williams of New York, Messrs. Norrill and Stowe, and one of the crew of the Saratoga. Many took the pledge, and the occasion was a deeply interesting one.

To-morrow there is to be a picnic at Framingham, the company marching from the Bethel. Seldom has any benevolent enterprise been crowned with greater success than has thus far attended this. –Boston Atlas, Sept. 6.

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.

1854: U.S.S. Saratoga Arrives in Honolulu with Treaty of Amity and Friendship with the Empire of Japan

Rev. Samuel C. Damon reported in the May 6, 1854 edition of The Friend of the arrival on April 30th of the U.S.S. Saratoga. This was one of the famous Black Ships under Commodore Matthew Perry. Damon's article quotes one of the same published in the Polynesian.

The significance of the arrival of the Saratoga was that it brought Captain H.A. Adams, U.S.N., who brought with him dispatches from Commodore Perry to the U.S. Government. Among those dispatches was the actual signed Treaty of Amity and Friendship with the Empire of Japan.

This, in turn, would lead to the 1860 arrival of the Japanese Embassy delegation in Honolulu on its way to the United States.

Below is a transcript of the story from The Friend:

The American Sloop-of-war SARATOGA, Capt. Walker, arrived at this port on the 29th ult., in 25 days from Japan, which is the shortest passage ever made.

The S. brings Capt. H.A. Adams, U.S.N., as bearer of despatches to the Government in Washington.

The point of interest in this intelligence is the fact that Com. Perry concluded a TREATY OF AMITY AND FRIENDSHIP WITH THE EMPIRE OF JAPAN, at Kennegawa, near the city of Yedo, on the 28th of March, 1854. The long doubtful attempt has been entirely successful, and to the United States belongs the honor of making the first international treaty with Japan!

It will be recollected that in July last year, Com. Perry with two ocean frigates and two sloops of war, paid a visit to Japan, as bearer of a letter to the Emperor from the President of the United States, asking them to relax the restrictive policy which has so long closed that empire to foreign intercourse. Having overcome the reluctance of the Japanese to hold intercourse with them, and by a firm but altogether peaceful course of proceedings, induced them to receive some presents and the letter from the President of the United States, Commodore Perry took his departure, with the assurance to the Japanese officials that he should return in the spring for an answer.

Having visited Loo Choo and China in the Autumn and winter of 1853, the squadron, as spring approached, made their rendezvous at the Loo Choo group in February, and thence sailed for Japan. The fleet consisted of the Steam Frigates Susquehanna, Mississippi and Powhatan, the Sloops of war Saratoga, Macedonian and Vandalia, and the store-ships Supply, Lexington and Southhampton.

On arriving at Yedo Bay, Commodore Perry was informed by the Japanese authorities that they were disposed to give the President’s letter a most favorable consideration. They seemed remarkably conversant with the affairs of the United States, - understood the peculiarity of associated sovereignties under one federal head, -knew all about the Mexican war, its object, occasions and results, -and expressed much admiration for the nation altogether. With such feelings it required but little preliminary arrangement to fix upon Yocohama, (beach,) in the district of Kennegawa, as a suitable place for negotiation. This places is situated some 40 or 50 miles from the mouth of Yedo Bay, and a convenient locality for the purpose.

The various articles brought from the United States, and designed as presents to the Japanese authorities, were landed, and at an appointed time were exhibited. These consisted of a rail-road, steam engine, cars, magnetic telegraph, improved implements of husbandry, boxes of books, maps, charts, &c., &c., which were received by the Japanese, and elicited much interest and admiration.

After frequent meetings between Com. Perry on the part of the United States, and the High Commissioners deputed by the Emperor on the part of the Japanese, the terms were agreed upon, and the Treay finally concluded on the 28th of March.

We have not, of course, seen the document now in transit for the United States, but we understand that it opens to American citizens and American trade, the port of Samodi, (the Odowari, perhaps of the maps,) on the island of Niphon, some 40 or 50 miles west of the entrance of Yedo Bay, and the port of CHICKADADA, on the island of Yesso, in the district of Matsmay, on the Straits of Sanga. The former was selected as the most convenient place for a depot, and arrangements were made with the Japanese for a supply of coal at that point. This is a place of considerable commercial importance, having a good harbor and a population of fifteen or twenty thousand. Its proximity to the manufacturing districts, which are not otherwise approachable by the sea, renders it an important position, as a port for foreign trade. The vicinity of the latter place has been frequently visited by American whaleships, where they have had great difficulty in procuring supplies, on account of the restrictive policy of the Japanese.

We understand the treaty arranges for intercourse at both of these places, -for the residence of American citizens there, and for the residence of Consuls, if, in future, either party should desire it. It also stipulates, that Americans residing in or visiting these ports, shall be free to visit the interior to the distance of ten or twelve miles without molestation.

It is said that the Japanese did not hesitate to enter into the unqualified stipulations for the protection of seamen or others thrown on their shores; indeed, they affirmed that it was already a part of the law of the Empire, by special edict. They even insisted that the respective governments should pay the expenses of providing for the necessities of the citizens of the other, who might, by their misfortunes, need aid and comfort.

This disposition of the Japanese to treat with care and attention shipwrecked men, is quite contrary to the generally received opinion of the world in this respect, and in justice to the Japanese, it is but fair to state, that the restraints hitherto imposed upon American seamen, about which so much has been said and written, were rendered necessary by their overbearing lawlessness and vicious conduct.

So much for the treaty concluded between the United States and Japan. Its details can only be known after it is promulgated by the government at Washington. It is not a commercial treaty, but one of Amity and Friendship, concluded in amity and friendship, and not an imposition of the strong upon the weak, whether they were willing or not.

It is said that no supplies can be had for ships, except wood and water. There is no beef, stock or poultry, and ships, at present, can depend upon nothing in the way of recruits.

It is the first international treaty ever made by the empire of Japan, although repeated attempts have formerly been made to enter into relations with them of this character. The privileges enjoyed by the Dutch, were a mere grant to a private Company, having its principal foreign seat at Batavia.

The Russian fleet, consisting of a steamer, frigate, sloop-of-war and store-ship, has been at Nangasaki all winter importuning Japan for a treaty, but left in the month of February, unable to effect their object. It remained for the United States, by her skill in peaceful diplomacy, to over come obstacles hitherto considered insurmountable, the attempt to accomplish which, has excited the sneers, the ridicule and the contempt of a portion of the public press, as well in the United States as in Europe.

A Treaty has been made with Japan! The wedge has been entered, which will not fail to open that empire to the ultimate free residence, egress and ingress of Americans, and probably of all other commercial nations; -Com. Perry has proved himself a skilful diplomatist, additional distinction has been earned for the American name and nation.

Had we time or space, we might enlarge upon the probable effects of this important measure; -its influence upon the commerce of the Pacific; upon the Atlantic and Pacific railroad; upon a line of trans-Pacific steamers, touching at these Islands, &c., &c. But we must close, for the present moment, merely with the expression of the belief, that in all these particulars, the opening of Japan by Com. Perry will exert a most important influence, and may possibly prove the only additional spur that was needed to put them all in motion.

Officers of the U.S.S. Saratoga.

Commander – W.S. Walker.

Lieutenant- John R. Goldsborough.

Surgeon- T.S. Smith.

Purser- J. Geo. Harris.

Acting Master- John Madigan.

Ass’t. Surgeon- T. Steele.

Passed Midshipmen – J.G. Clark, A. Allmand, C. Gray, R.W. Scott.

Midshipman- O.F. Stanton.

Captain’s Clerk- J.S. Sewall.

Acting Boatswain- James Cline.

Gunner- W.H. Hamilton.

Carpenter- Leonard Moses.

Sailmaker- H.F. Stocker.

PASSENGERS. – Commander H.A. Adams, U.S.N., bearer of Despatches from Commodore Perry to the U.S. Government.

W.L. Wayne, Lieut. U.S.N.; J.B. Randolph, Lieut., U.S.N.; Jacob Zeilin, Bvt. Major, U.S.M. Corps; C.W. Addott, Clerk to Bearer of Despatches.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Broadway Pageant by Walt Whitman (1860)

Walt Whitman is considered to be one of America's most revered literary poets. Though he did not witness the visit to Honolulu of the Japanese ambassadors, Whitman was a witness among the throngs of New Yorkers who welcomed the Japanese Embassy to the city in 1860.

To commemorate the event, Whitman penned the poem 'A Broadway Pageant.' It was originally published in the New York Times in June, 1860, and in Leaves of Grass.

Edward Whitley of Lehigh University discusses this work in his article Whitman's Occasional Nationalism: "A Broadway Pageant" and the Space of Public Poetry in the March 2006 edition of Nineteenth-Century Literature. As the abstract states:

Despite the attention given to New York City as a source of the poetic imagery and democratic energy in Walt Whitman's poetry, the space of mid-century New York has never fully been explicated as a site of convergence for Whitman's conflicting allegiances to a local working-class urban subculture, the global community, and the United States itself. The reason for this critical lacuna stems in part from a tendency to focus on Whitman's private lyrics rather than on the type of poetry that is necessarily connected with a specific geographic space-namely, public occasional verse. In "A Broadway Pageant" (1860), the only occasional poem that Whitman wrote after publishing the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855 and before the outbreak of the Civil War, New York City is presented as a site where city workers and international merchants converge during a moment of national celebration. Originally published in the New York Times to commemorate a parade held for the Meiji Japanese ambassadors who had come to Manhattan in 1860 to ratify a trade agreement with the United States, "A Broadway Pageant" demonstrates how the requirements of occasional poetry allow Whitman to articulate the local and global framework within which his otherwise nationalist poetics operates.