Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ambassadors Return to Japan -It was not a warm welcome

The December 15, 1860 edition of The Polynesian featured news of the return of the Japanese ambassadors to their homeland. Dated from Kanagawa on November 13, the article initially presented news about currency questions, the death of Prince Meto (who opposed the presence of foreigners, an assault on an attache from the French legation, the failure of an unnamed Prussian admiral to secure a treaty, and so on.

The following is the text of the middle section of the article:

The Niagara, with the Japanese Commissioners, arrived on the 10th Nov., all well. Off Yokohama a courier was sent ashore to proceed over land to Yeddo. No notice was taken of their arrival at Kanagawa by the Japanese, nor did they themselves exhibit any signs of curiosity or interest on their near approach to home. They appeared entirely indifferent, and Tommy, the ladies man, looked as dirty as though his face had not been washed since the belles of Washington had last kissed him. 

No notice was taken of them or the Niagara at Jeddo, except the usual salute to the ship. The Commissioners were not permitted to land in the ship's boat, but were quietly landed in a common Custom House boat in a remote part of the town, without any attention paid them. No official notice had been taken of the Niagara's arrival by the Government, no thanks presented nor gratitude expressed for the courtesies extended to them in America. The  Niagara would remain until the 15th, two days longer, to give them an opportunity should they desiree to improve it. 

The common talk on the streets of Kanagawa was that Uncle Sam had been sold. It was said that none of these Commissioners were men of rank, except what might have been conferred upon them temporarily, but that they were merely spies sent to ascertain the strength and condition of the American people, that when they had made their report, they would pass away and be heard of no more.