Saturday, June 4, 2011

CHINA AND JAPAN , by LT James D. Johnston, U.S.N. (1860)

(Picture Credit: Naval History and Heritage Command of the US Navy. The uniform is a Confederate States of America one; he joined the CSA when the Civil War started in 1861).

The number of historical books, journals and diaries available in online formats continues to rise daily, much to my satisfaction. As the co-founder of History Education Hawaii, Inc., recently designated as the official "Hawaii Council" of the National Council for History Education, I see the increased use of the Internet as a vehicle for increasing historical literacy in the USA.

US Navy Lieutenant James D. Johnston was the executive officer of the USS Powhatan, a state-of-the-art steamship that brought the Japanese ambassadorial delegation to the west coast of the United States via the Hawaiian Islands in 1860. I was delighted to find that his first-hand account of his voyages to China, Japan, Hawaii and back to the United States is available online:

"James D. Johnston, lieutenant, U.S. Navy, executive officer of the Steam-Frigate Powhatan, wrote an account of the trip of the Powhatan to open diplomatic relations with China and to transport the first Japanese ambassadors to the United States less than seven years after Commodore Matthew C. Perry forced his way into Japan in 1853. These were also the last years before the Civil War, before Southerners such as Johnston entered the Confederate Navy.

"This book is now annotated to show what was meant by passing references which were much clearer at the time it was written, and also to trace events in the lives of the participants after the voyage.The preliminary part of the book includes a table of contents explaining what the various chapters listed below actually cover. Or just start reading the book from the beginning."

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