Thursday, November 5, 2015

Admiral Perry’s expedition to JAPAN

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Admiral Perry’s expedition brought a camera to Japan in 1853. Admiral Perry of the United States arrived with his warships in Japan in 1853 (after the US informed the Japanese, through the Dutch in 1852 that they would be arriving the next year). Between 1852 and 1853, before Admiral Perry’s arrival in Japan, there had been many articles written in American and European newspapers speculating on what effect his arrival would have on potential trade with Japan. The London Times, most notable, wrote a major article on this topic in 1852. Admiral Perry’s arrival was not unexpected, as is often mis-published. Admiral Perry’s photographer took an estimated 100 photographs in Japan in 1853 and brought these photographs back to America. Sadly, in 1857, the Washington warehouse where the photographs were stored, burnt to the ground and the photographs are said to have been lost. However, before this historically tragic event occurred, etchings of Japan were made from the photographs and published in a special report to Congress in 1856 and 1857. It should be noted that at that time, a method of printing photographs in a book had still not been developed so that all photographs had to be published in etched format. It is this writers belief that it is possible that an original photograph of Admiral Perry’s visit to Japan could still exist. Perhaps a member of the expeditions family has one or perhaps a photograph might have been given by Perry to the Japanese delegation
Matthew Perry (1794-1858), American naval officer, who commanded the expedition that established United States relations with Japan. Matthew Calbraith Perry was born on April 10, 1794, in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the brother of Oliver Hazard Perry. He began his naval career as midshipman at the age of 15; he advanced to lieutenant in 1813 and to commander in 1826. He supervised the construction of the first naval steamship, the Fulton, and upon its completion in 1837 he took command with the rank of captain. He was promoted to commodore in 1842. In 1846-1847 he commanded the Gulf squadron during the Mexican War.
In 1853 Perry was sent on the mission to Japan, a country that had been closed to outsiders since the 17th century. On July 8, he led a squadron of four ships into Tokyo Bay and presented representatives of the emperor with the text of a proposed commercial and friendship treaty. To give the reluctant Japanese court time to consider the offer, he then sailed for China. With an even more powerful fleet, he returned to Tokyo in February 1854. The treaty, signed on March 31, 1854, provided that humane treatment be extended to sailors shipwrecked in Japanese territory, that U.S. ships be permitted to buy coal in Japan, and that the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate be opened to U.S. commerce. Perry’s mission ended Japan’s isolation, a prerequisite for its subsequent development into a modern nation. Perry died in New York City on March 4, 1858.
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