Matthew Galbraith Perry (1794 - 1858) MP

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Birthplace: Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Death: Died in New York, New York, United States
Cause of death: cirrhosis of the liver due to alchoholism
Occupation: Commodore, Captain US Navy, Served in US Navy during War of 1812 (as aide on USS President) and Mexican-American War (as Capt. of USS Mississippi); Commodore in US Navy (1840-1854); "Opener of Japan", Commodore of the U.S. Navy, Commodore of the Navy
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About Matthew Galbraith Perry

Click here to view the Commodore Perry page at Wikipedia.

Matthew Calbraith Perry (April 10, 1794 – March 4, 1858) was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy who compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.

In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of a squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo (modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time.

Perry refused to leave and demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, threatening force if he was denied. Perry ordered his ships to attack several buildings around the harbor to demonstrate US naval power. The Commodore was fully prepared for more hostilities if his negotiations with the Japanese failed, and threatened to use unrestrained fire if the Japanese refused to negotiate. He sent two white flags to them, telling them to hoist the flags when they wished a bombardment from his fleet to cease and to surrender. Perry's ships were equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of wreaking great destruction with every shell. The Japanese military forces could not resist Perry's modern weaponry; the term "Black Ships", in Japan, would later come to symbolise a threat imposed by Western technology.

The Japanese government was forced to let Perry come ashore to avoid further naval bombardment. Perry landed at Kurihama (in modern-day Yokosuka) on July 14, 1853 presented the letter to delegates present, and left for the Chinese coast, promising to return for a reply.

Perry returned in February 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the demands in Fillmore's letter. Perry signed the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, 1854 and departed, mistakenly believing the agreement had been made with imperial representatives. The agreement was made with the Shogun, the de facto ruler of Japan.

When Perry returned to the United States in 1855, Congress voted to grant him a reward of $20,000 in appreciation of his work in Japan. Perry used part of this money to prepare and publish a report on the expedition in three volumes, titled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. He was also advanced to the grade of rear-admiral on the retired list (when his health began to fail) as a reward for his services in the Far East. Perry was known to have suffered severe arthritis that left him in frequent pain, that on occasion precluded him from his duties.

Perry died on March 4, 1858 in New York City, of liver cirrhosis due to alcoholism. His remains were moved to the Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island on March 21, 1866, along with those of his daughter, Anna, who died in 1839.

Early life and naval career

Matthew Perry was the son of Navy Captain Christopher R. Perry and the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry. Matthew Perry received a midshipman's commission in the Navy in 1809, and was initially assigned to the USS Revenge, under the command of his elder brother. Under his brother's command, Matthew was a combatant in The Battle of Lake Erie aboard the Flagship Lawrence and the replacement flagship, Niagara.

Commodore Perry's early career saw him assigned to several ships, including the USS President, which had been in a victorious engagement over a British vessel, HMS Little Belt, shortly before the War of 1812 was officially declared. Aboard the USS President he served as aide to Commodore John Rodgers. He transferred to the USS United States, and saw little fighting in the war after that, since the ship was trapped in port at New London, Connecticut. Following the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the conflict, he served on various vessels in the Mediterranean. Perry served under Commodore William Bainbridge during the Second Barbary War. He then served in African waters aboard USS Cyane during its patrol off Liberia from 1819-1820. After that cruise, Perry was sent to suppress piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies. Later during this period, while in port in Russia, Perry was offered a commission in the Imperial Russian Navy, which he declined.

Command assignments, 1820s-1840s

Opening of Key West

An exact replica of the Gokoku-ji Bell which Commodore (Cdre.) Perry brought back from Japan as a gift from the Ryukyuan Government. Currently stationed at the entrance of Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. The original bell was returned to Japan in 1987.

Perry commanded the USS Shark, a schooner with 12 guns, from 1821-1825. In 1763, when Britain possessed Florida, the Spanish contended that the Florida Keys were part of Cuba and North Havana. Certain elements within the United States felt that Key West (which was then named Cayo Hueso, meaning "Bone Key") could potentially be the "Gibraltar of the West" because it guarded the northern edge of the 90 mile (145 km) wide Straits of Florida -- the deep water route between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1815 the Spanish governor in Havana deeded the island of Key West to Juan Pablo Salas of Saint Augustine. After Florida was transferred to the United States, Salas sold Key West to U.S. businessman John W. Simonton for $2,000 in 1821. Simonton lobbied the U.S. Government to establish a naval base on Key West, both to take advantage of its strategic location and to bring law and order to the area.

On March 25, 1822, Perry sailed the Shark to Key West and planted the U.S. flag, physically claiming the Keys as United States property.

Perry renamed Cayo Hueso "Thompson's Island" for the Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson and the harbor "Port Rodgers" for the president of the Board of Navy Commissioners. Neither name stuck.

From 1826-1827 Perry acted as fleet captain for Commodore Rodgers. Perry returned to Charleston, South Carolina for shore duty in 1828, and in 1830 took command of a sloop-of-war, the USS Concord. He spent the years 1833-1837 as second officer of the New York Navy Yard (later the Brooklyn Navy Yard), gaining promotion to captain at the end of this tour.

Father of the Steam Navy

Perry had a considerable interest in naval education, supporting an apprentice system to train new seamen, and helped establish the curriculum for the United States Naval Academy. He was a vocal proponent of modernizing the Navy. Once promoted to captain, he oversaw construction of the Navy's second steam frigate the USS Fulton, which he commanded after its completion. He was called "The Father of the Steam Navy",[2] and he organized America's first corps of naval engineers, and conducted the first U.S. naval gunnery school while commanding Fulton in 1839-1841 off Sandy Hook on the coast of New Jersey.

Promotion to Commodore

Perry received the title of Commodore in June 1840, when the Secretary of the Navy appointed him commandant of New York Navy Yard. The United States Navy did not have ranks higher than captain until 1862, so the title of commodore carried considerable importance. Officially, an officer would revert to his permanent rank after the squadron command assignment had ended, although in practice officers who received the title of commodore retained the title for life, and Perry was no exception.

During his tenure in Brooklyn, he lived in Quarters B at Admiral's Row, a building which still stands today, but is threatened with demolition by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. In 1843, Perry took command of the African Squadron, whose duty was to interdict the slave trade under the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, and continued in this endeavor through 1844.

The Mexican-American War

In 1845, Commodore David Connor's length of service in command of the Home Squadron had come to an end. However, the coming of the Mexican-American War persuaded the authorities not to change commanders in the face of the war. Perry, who would eventually succeed Connor, was made second-in-command and captained the USS Mississippi. Perry captured the Mexican city of Frontera, demonstrated against Tabasco and took part in the Tampico Expedition. He had to return to Norfolk, Virginia to make repairs and was still there when the amphibious landings at Veracruz took place. His return to the U.S. gave his superiors the chance to finally give him orders to succeed Commodore Connor in command of the Home Squadron. Perry returned to the fleet during the siege of Veracruz and his ship supported the siege from the sea. After the fall of Veracruz Winfield Scott moved inland and Perry moved against the remaining Mexican port cities. Perry assembled the Mosquito Fleet and captured Tuxpan in April, 1847. In July 1847 he attacked Tabasco personally, leading a 1,173-man landing force ashore and attacking the city from land.

The Perry Expedition: Opening of Japan: 1852-1854

In advance of his voyage to the Far East, Commodore Perry read widely amongst available books about Tokugawa Japan. His research even included consultation with the increasingly well-known Japanologist Philipp Franz von Siebold, who had lived on the Dutch island of Dejima for eight years before retiring to Leiden in the Netherlands.

Precedents

Perry's expedition to Japan was preceded by several naval expeditions by American ships:

  • From 1797 to 1809, several American ships traded in Nagasaki under the Dutch flag, upon the request of the Dutch, who were not able to send their own ships because of their conflict against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. Japan limited foreign trade to the Dutch and Chinese at that time, under the policy of sakoku.
  • In 1837, an American businessman in Canton named Charles W. King saw an opportunity to open trade by trying to return to Japan three Japanese sailors (among them, Otokichi) who had been shipwrecked a few years before on the coast of Washington. He went to Uraga Channel with Morrison, an unarmed American merchant ship. The ship was attacked several times, and sailed back without completing its mission.
  • In 1846, Commander James Biddle, sent by the United States Government to open trade, anchored in Tokyo Bay with two ships, including one warship armed with 72 cannons, but his requests for a trade agreement remained unsuccessful.[7]
  • In 1849, Captain James Glynn sailed to Nagasaki, leading at last to the first successful negotiation by an American with "Closed Country" Japan. James Glynn recommended to the United States Congress that negotiations to open Japan be backed up by a demonstration of force, thus paving the way for Perry's expedition.[8]

First visit, 1852-1853

The cannons of Odaiba, built in 1853-54, now at the Yasukuni Shrine, 80-pound bronze, bore: 250mm, length: 3830mm. They were built to prevent an American intrusion.

In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of a squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo (modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time (see Sakoku).

Threat of force

Japanese coastal wooden cannon built by the Daimyos at the Bakufu's order for Commodore Perry's arrival. 1853-54.

Perry refused to leave and demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, threatening force if he was denied. Perry ordered his ships to attack several buildings around the harbor to demonstrate US naval power. The Commodore was fully prepared for more hostilities if his negotiations with the Japanese failed, and threatened to use unrestrained fire if the Japanese refused to negotiate. He sent two white flags to them, telling them to hoist the flags when they wished a bombardment from his fleet to cease and to surrender. Perry's ships were equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of wreaking great destruction with every shell. The Japanese military forces could not resist Perry's modern weaponry; the term "Black Ships", in Japan, would later come to symbolise a threat imposed by Western technology.

The Japanese government was forced to let Perry come ashore to avoid further naval bombardment. Perry landed at Kurihama (in modern-day Yokosuka) on July 14, 1853[13] presented the letter to delegates present, and left for the Chinese coast, promising to return for a reply.

Fortifications were built in Tokyo Bay at Odaiba in order to protect Edo from a possible American naval incursion.

Second visit, 1854

Perry returned in February 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the demands in Fillmore's letter. Perry signed the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, 1854 and departed, mistakenly believing the agreement had been made with imperial representatives. The agreement was made with the Shogun, the de facto ruler of Japan.

On his way to Japan, Perry anchored off Keelung in Formosa (modern day Taiwan), for ten days. Perry and crew members landed on Formosa and investigated the potential of mining the coal deposits in that area. He emphasized in his reports that Formosa provided a convenient mid-way trade location. Formosa was also very defensible. It could serve as a base for exploration as Cuba had done for the Spanish in the Americas. Occupying Formosa could help the US to counter European monopolization of the major trade routes. President Pierce declined the suggestion, remarking such a remote possession would be an unnecessary drain of resources and that he would be unlikely to receive the consent of Congress.

Return to the United States, 1855

When Perry returned to the United States in 1855, Congress voted to grant him a reward of $20,000 in appreciation of his work in Japan. Perry used part of this money to prepare and publish a report on the expedition in three volumes, titled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. He was also advanced to the grade of rear-admiral on the retired list (when his health began to fail) as a reward for his services in the Far East.[16] Perry was known to have suffered severe arthritis that left him in frequent pain, that on occasion precluded him from his duties.[17]

Last years

A map of Coal Mines distribution on Formosa Island in the Narrative of the Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry's Expedition to Japan.

Perry died on March 4, 1858 in New York City, of liver cirrhosis due to alcoholism. His remains were moved to the Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island on March 21, 1866, along with those of his daughter, Anna, who died in 1839.

Family

  • His mother was a descendant of Scotland's hero William Wallace.
  • His brother was Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
  • His wife Jane Slidell was sister of US Senator John Slidell and sister-in-law of US Navy Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, the commanding officer involved in the "Somers Affair" mutiny plot and court-martial in 1842. Mackenzie was the father of US Navy Lt. Commander Alexander Slidell MacKenzie who fought in the Civil War.
  • His sister Anna Maria married Commodore George Washington Rodgers. Their son Rear Admiral Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers married Julia Slidell. Raymond and Julia Slidell were the parents of Rear Admirials Thomas Slidell Rodgers and Raymond Perry Rodgers. Raymond Perry Rodgers was married to Gertrude Stuyvesant-who was descended from the Livingston family of New York. George Washington Rodgers was the brother of Commodore John Rodgers, an officer in the War of 1812 who was the father-in-law of Union General Montgomery C. Meigs and grandfather of Lt. John Rodgers Meigs. General Meigs was the great-grandson of Colonel Return J. Meigs, Sr., who was the father of Return J. Meigs, Governor of Ohio.
  • A daughter, Caroline Slidell, married August Belmont, a 19th century banker/businessman.
  • A grandniece married Joseph Grew, Ambassador to Japan.
  • A great-granddaughter married Jay Pierrepont Moffat, Ambassador to Canada.
  • A great-great grandson, son of Jay Pierrepont Moffat, served as Ambassador to Chad.
  • A great-grandson was aviation pioneer Cal Rodgers.
  • A great-grandson was John Rodgers (naval officer, World War I), who was also a great grandson of Commodore John Rodgers.
  • A great cousin was Jack M. Perry, the famous Landscape Architect of Miami-Dade County
  • As part of a Japanese TV program to find descendants of famous figures in Japanese History, the third great grandson was found, a Dr. Frederic Hone Nichols. He revealed in the program that a famous photograph used in Japanese textbooks of Commodore Perry had a button painted on.[18]

A diplomatic note

Among other mementos, Perry presented Queen Victoria with a breeding pair of Japanese Chin dogs, previously owned only by Japanese nobility.

Perry's flag and legacy

Commodore Perry's flag (upper left corner) was flown from Annapolis to Tokyo for display at the surrender ceremonies which officially ended World War II

A replica of Perry's US flag is on display on board the USS Missouri (BB-63) memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It is attached to the bulkhead just inboard of the Japanese surrender signing site on the port side of the ship. The original flag was brought to Japan for the Japan surrender ceremony and was displayed on that occasion at the request of Douglas MacArthur, who was himself a blood-relative of Perry. Some photographs of the signing ceremony show that this flag was actually displayed backward—reverse side showing (stars in the upper right corner). The cloth of the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the Naval Academy Museum directed that a protective backing be sewn on it, leaving its "wrong side" visible; and this was how Perry's 31-star flag was presented on this unique occasion.[19] Some sources insist the flag was flown from the Missouri's masthead, but this is demonstrably mistaken. Today, the flag is preserved at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The pattern for the Union canton on this flag is different from the standard 31-star flag then in use. Perry's flag had columns of five stars save the last column which had six stars. Perry's US flag was unique when it was first flown in Tokyo Bay in 1853-1854. A replica of this historic flag can be seen today on the Surrender Deck of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor. This replica is also placed in the same location on the bulkhead of the veranda deck where it had been initially mounted on the morning of September 2, 1945[19] by Chief Carpenter Fred Miletich.[20]

Burials

Commodore Perry was originally buried at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, Manhattan, New York. Later, he was moved to Island Cemetery in Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island.

Perry's Statue in Touro Park

  • In his birthplace, Newport, Rhode Island, there is a memorial plaque in Trinity Church, Newport, and a statue of Perry in Touro Park designed by John Quincy Adams Ward erected in 1869 and dedicated by his daughter. He was buried in Newport's Island Cemetery, near his parents and brother. There are also exhibits and research collections concerning his life at the Naval War College Museum and at the Newport Historical Society.
  • There is a Perry Park in Kurihama, Japan which has a monolith monument (dedicated July 14, 1901) to the landing of Perry's forces.[21] Within the park there is a small museum dedicated to the events of 1854. Admission is free, and the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Matthew C. Perry Elementary and High School can be found on Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The U.S. Navy's Perry-class frigates (purchased in the 1970s and 1980s) were named after Perry's brother, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
  • On December 2, 2008, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced that the ninth ship of the Lewis and Clark class of dry-cargo-ammunition vessels would be named USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE-9) for Commodore Perry.

Fictional depictions

  • The story of the opening of Japan was the basis of Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman's Pacific Overtures.
  • Actor Richard Boone played Commodore Perry in the highly fictionalized 1981 film The Bushido Blade.
  • The coming of Commodore Perry's ships was indirectly part of a plot in one of the arcs of the anime series Rurouni Kenshin, and in the first episode of Hikaru no Go. Another anime series in which Perry briefly appears is Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan. The manga Fruits Basket also refers to the event while the main character is studying. The anime Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei also depicts Commodore Perry as a "troubled foreigner who isn't satisfied by opening ports and needs to open everything".
  • The anime series, Samurai Champloo, in an episode entitled "Baseball Blues", depicts a fictional character named 'Admiral Joy Cartwright' who challenges the Japanese locals to a baseball (Yakyū) game in order to establish trade relations. The character is named after Alexander Joy Cartwright ("the father of baseball") and obviously modeled after Commodore Perry.
  • Perry's visit is also mentioned in the 1965 Hideo Gosha film Sword of the Beast.
  • The faster-than-light spaceship in the novel Homeward Bound is named Commodore Perry.
  • The manga Rozen Maiden plays homage to Perry through the eyes of the character Suiseiseki.
  • Popotan has several references to Perry throughout the series.

Perry, Matthew Calbraith. (1856). Narrative of the expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, 1856. New York : D. Appleton and Company. [digitized by University of Hong Kong Libraries, Digital Initiatives, "China Through Western Eyes."

____________________________________

Wikipedia Early life and naval career

Perry was the son of Navy Captain Craig Christopher R. Perry and the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry. Matthew Perry got a midshipman's commission in the Navy in 1809, and was initially assigned to Revenge, under the command of his elder brother.

Commodore Perry's early career saw him assigned to several ships, including the President, which was in a victorious engagement over a British vessel, HMS Little Belt, shortly before the War of 1812 was officially declared. Aboard the USS President he served as aide to Commodore John Rodgers. During that war Perry was transferred to USS United States, and as a result saw little fighting in that war thereafter, since the ship was trapped at New London, Connecticut. After that war he served on various vessels in the Mediterranean and Africa (notably aboard USS Cyane during its patrol off Liberia in 1819-1820), and was sent to suppress piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies. Later during this period, while in port in Russia, Perry was offered a commission in the Russian navy, which he declined.

Opening of Key West Perry commanded the Shark from 1821-1825. In 1763, when Britain possessed Florida, the Spanish contended that the Florida Keys were part of Cuba and North Havana. Certain elements within the United States felt that Key West (which was then named Cayo Hueso, which means "Bone Island") could potentially be the "Gibraltar of the West" because it guarded the northern edge of the 90 mile (145 km) wide Straits of Florida -- the deep water route between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1815 the Spanish governor in Havana deeded the island of Key West, Florida to Juan Pablo Salas of Saint Augustine, Florida. After Florida was transferred to the United States, Salas sold Key West to U.S. businessman John W. Simonton for $2,000 in 1821. Simonton lobbied the U.S. Government to establish a naval base on Key West, both to take advantage of its strategic location and to bring law and order to Key West town.

On March 25, 1822, Perry sailed the schooner Shark to Key West and planted the U.S. flag, physically claiming the Keys as United States property.

Perry renamed Cayo Hueso "Thompson's Island" for the Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson and the harbor "Port Rodgers" for the president of the Board of Navy Commissioners. Neither name stuck.

From 1826-1827 Perry acted as fleet captain for Commodore Rodgers. Perry returned to Charleston, South Carolina for shore duty in 1828, and in 1830 took command of USS Concord. He spent the years of 1833-1837 as second officer of the New York Navy Yard (later the Brooklyn Navy Yard), gaining promotion to captain at the end of this tour.

Father of the Steam Navy

Perry had a considerable interest in naval education, supporting an apprentice system to train new seamen, and helped establish the curriculum for the United States Naval Academy. He was also a vocal proponent of modernizing the Navy. Once promoted to captain, he oversaw construction of the Navy's second steam frigate, USS Fulton, which he commanded after its completion. He was called "The Father of the Steam Navy",[2] and he organized America's first corps of naval engineers, and conducted the first U.S. naval gunnery school while commanding Fulton in 1839-1840 off Sandy Hook on the coast of New Jersey.

Promotion to Commodore

Perry was received the title of Commodore in June 1840, when the Secretary of the Navy appointed him commandant of New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn.[3]

Despite the added responsibilities of his new posting, Perry's official naval rank remained unchanged. The title "commodore" added nothing to his pay or to his permanent rank of captain. Until 1862, four years after Perry's death in 1858, the title commodore would not come to signify a higher grade or an increased salary; but now, nearly a 150 years later, Commodore remains inextricably linked with the name of one of his nation's most well-known naval heroes.[3]

In 1843, Commodore Perry he took command of the African Squadron, whose duty was to interdict the slave trade under the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, and continued in this endeavor through 1844.

The Mexican-American War

In 1845, Commodore David Connor's length of service in command of the Home Squadron had come to an end. However, the coming of the Mexican-American War persuaded the authorities not to change commanders in the face of the war. Perry, who would eventually succeed Connor, was made second-in-command and captained the USS Mississippi. Perry captured the Mexican city of Frontera, demonstrated against Tabasco and took part in the Tampico Expedition. He had to return to Norfolk, Virginia to make repairs and was still there when the amphibious landings at Veracruz took place. His return to the U.S. gave his superiors the chance to finally give him orders to succeed Commodore Connor in command of the Home Squadron. Perry returned to the fleet during the siege of Veracruz and his ship supported the siege from the sea. After the fall of Veracruz Winfield Scott moved inland and Perry moved against the remaining Mexican port cities. Perry assembled the Mosquito Fleet and captured Tuxpan in April, 1847. In July 1847 he attacked Tabasco personally, leading a 1,173-man landing force ashore and attacking the city from land.[4]

The Opening of Japan: 1852-1854 In advance of his voyage to the Far East, Commodore Perry read widely amongst available books about Tokugawa Japan. His research even including consultation with the increasingly well-known Japanologist Philipp Franz von Siebold who had lived on the Dutch island of Dejima for eight years before retiring to Leiden in the Netherlands.[5] Precedents

Perry's expedition to Japan was preceded by several naval expeditions by American ships: From 1797 to 1809, several American ships traded in Nagasaki under the Dutch flag, upon the request of the Dutch, who were not able to send their own ships because of their conflict against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. Japan limited foreign trade to the Dutch and Chinese at that time, under the policy of sakoku. In 1837, an American businessman in Canton named Charles W. King saw an opportunity to open trade by trying to return to Japan three Japanese sailors (among them, Otokichi) who had been shipwrecked a few years before on the coast of Washington. He went to Uraga Channel with Morrison, an unarmed American merchant ship. The ship was attacked several times, and sailed back without completing its mission. In 1846, Commander James Biddle, sent by the United States Government to open trade, anchored in Tokyo Bay with two ships, including one warship armed with 72 cannons, but his requests for a trade agreement remained unsuccessful.[6] In 1848, Captain James Glynn sailed to Nagasaki, leading at last to the first successful negotiation by an American with "Closed Country" Japan. James Glynn recommended to the United States Congress that negotiations to open Japan should be backed up by a demonstration of force, thus paving the way to Perry's expedition.[7]

First visit, 1852-1853

In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of a squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo (modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time (see Sakoku). Perry refused to leave and demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, threatening force if he was denied. The Japanese military forces could not resist Perry's modern weaponry; the "Black Ships" would then become, in Japan, a threatening symbol of Western technology.[8]

The Japanese government let Perry come ashore to avoid a naval bombardment. Perry landed at Kurihama (in modern-day Yokosuka) on July 14, presented the letter to delegates present, and left for the Chinese coast, promising to return for a reply.[9]

Second visit, 1854 Perry returned in February 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the demands in Fillmore's letter. Perry signed the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, 1854 and departed, mistakenly believing the agreement had been made with imperial representatives.[10]

In his way to Japan, Perry anchored off of Keelung in Formosa (modern day Taiwan), for ten days. Perry and crew members landed on Formosa and investigated the potential of mining the coal deposits in that area. He emphasized in his reports that Formosa provided a convenient mid-way trade location. Formosa was also very defensible. It could serve as a base for exploration like Cuba had done for the Spanish in the Americas. Occupying Formosa could help the US to counter European monopolization of the major trade routes. The United States government did not respond to Perry's proposal to claim sovereignty over Formosa.[11]

Return to the United States, 1855 When Perry returned to the United States in 1855, Congress voted to grant him a reward of $20,000 in appreciation of his work in Japan. Perry used part of this money to prepare and publish a report on the expedition in three volumes, titled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. He was also advanced to the grade of rear-admiral on the retired list (when his health began to fail) as a reward for his services in the Far East.[12]

Last years Perry died on March 4, 1858 in New York City, of liver cirrhosis due to alcoholism. His remains were moved to the Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island on March 21, 1866, along with those of his daughter, Anna, who died in 1839.

References Cullen, L.M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Griffis, William Elliot. (1887). Matthew Calbraith Perry: A Typical American Naval Officer. Boston: Cupples and Hurd. Hawks, Francis. (1856). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan Performed in the Years 1852, 1853 and 1854 under the Command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy, Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson by order of Congress, 1856; originally published in Senate Executive Documents, No. 34 of 33rd Congress, 2nd Session. [reprinted by London: Trafalgar Square, 2005. Sewall, John S. (1905). The Logbook of the Captain's Clerk: Adventures in the China Seas, Bangor, Maine: Chas H. Glass & Co. [reprint by Chicago: R.R. Donnelly & Sons, 1995]

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Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry's Timeline

1794
April 10, 1794
Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, United States
1814
October 24, 1814
Age 20
New York, New York, New York, United States
1816
February 29, 1816
Age 21
New York, New York, New York, United States
1818
January 8, 1818
Age 23
New York, New York, New York, United States
1819
October 31, 1819
Age 25
New York, New York, New York, United States
1821
October 6, 1821
Age 27
New York, New York, New York, United States
1824
May 24, 1824
Age 30
New York, New York, New York, United States
1825
August 9, 1825
Age 31
New York, New York, New York, United States
1828
May 20, 1828
Age 34
New London, New London, Connecticut, United States
1829
August 23, 1829
Age 35
New York, New York, New York, United States