Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, New Series, Volume XIV, October 1900-October 1901, Worcester, Massachusetts, published by the Society, 1902, 520 pp.
As reported in the semi-annual meeting of April 24, 1901, pages 176-180.
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Page 176 THE PERRY MONUMENT. Forty-eight years ago, on the 8th of July in the 6th year of Kayei, an American envoy arrived in Japan, on a mission which was destined to become an epoch-making event in the history of Japan. This envoy was none other than Commodore Perry, U.S.N., who, by order of the President of the North American Republic, came to this country for the purpose of concluding a treaty of commerce and friendly intercourse between the two nations. On the 14th of the month above mentioned, the envoy landed at Kurihama, Miura-gori, in the province of Sagami, and there held conferences repeatedly with the officials of the Tokugawa Regency. The object of his mission Footnote. 1. It was evidently desirable that the several papers forming the subject of Mr. Davis's paper should be published in connection with this paper, but they were manifestly too voluminous for our Proceedings. It has been concluded therefore, after consultation, that it would be better that the communications, the papers on our Court nies, and the manuscripts sent by Mr. Stevens should be separately published, in book form, and this we understand Mr. Davis purposes to do. --COM. Page 177 successfully accomplished, the Commodore sailed home shortly after. This visit of Commodore Perry was in a word the turning of the key which opened the doors of the Japanese Empire to friendly intercourse with the United States, and subsequently to the rest of the nations of Europe on similar terms, and may in truth be regarded as the most memorable event in our annals, an event which paved the way for and accelerated the introduction of a new order of things, an event that enabled the country to enter upon the unprecedented era of national ascendency in which we are now living. There is a reason then -- a strong reason -- that this visit of Commodore Perry, no less than the spot where those memorable conferences took place, should be perpetuated in the memory of the Japanese people. True Japan has not forgotten -- nor will she ever forget -- that next to her reigning and most beloved Sovereign, whose high virtues and great wisdom are above all praise, she owes, in no small degree, her present prosperity to the United States of America, in that the latter rendered her the great and lasting service already referred to. After the lapse of these 48 years her people have, however, come to entertain but an uncertain memory of Kurihama, and yet it was there that Commodore Perry first trod on the soil of Japan and for the first time awoke the country from a slumberous seclusion of three centuries -- there it was where first gleamed the light that has ever since illumined Japan's way in her new career of progress. Even writers seldom mention the place now, and the spot where the American envoy landed and which should forever be remembered in our history threatens to be forgotten altogether. Last fall we had the pleasure of meeting Rear-Admiral Beardslee, U.S.N., who, as a naval cadet and a member of the crew under Commodore Perry, landed at Kurihama on the historical occasion, and who after these 48 years once more came back to pay a visit to this country. Beckoned by the memories of the past the Admiral went to Kurihama immediately after his arrival in Japan, but he was only able to ascertain the spot where the envoy and his party had landed half a century ago by the help of an old survivor of those by-gone days. We were greatly moved Page 178 by his account of his second visit to Kurihama, and we immediately set on foot a movement to erect a fitting monument which may perpetuate the place in question in the memory of our posterity. We have since made such progress with this movement that a site for the monument has already been selected. It is our determination to accomplish the end in view with all possible promptitude and to hold the ceremony of unveiling the monument on the coming anniversary of the landing of the American envoy at Kurihama, the 14th of July this year. We hope that those who are interested in the matter will favour us by endorsing our undertaking in a substantial manner. BARON KENTARO KANEKO, President, Bei-yu Kyo-kai, (American Association of Japan). Tokyo, January, 1901. P.S. -- Subscriptions should be sent to the office of Bei-yu Kyo-kai, 12 Yamashiro-cho, Kyobashi-ku, Tokyo. Subscription list will be closed on the 30th May, 1901 After reading the circular, Senator HOAR continued: -- "This is a movement for a memorial to not only one of the greatest events in the history of Japan, but one of the greatest events in the history of the United States, where in her power and prosperity she took by the hand this infant nation and led her into civilization without a thought of her own advantage, of extending her own empire, or of setting her own flag over the territory of an unwilling people." In connection with the same subject, THOMAS C. MENDENHALL, LL.D., said: -- "I can certainly add nothing to the impressiveness with which Senator Hoar has presented this interesting document, representing an important epoch in the history not only of Japan but of the United States. I might add a word which would be of interest. I had the pleasure of knowing very well the signer of that paper, and being his travelling companion for more than a month, and know his Page 179 great interest in and the great indebtedness which he always acknowledged to the United States. While in Japan I had a very interesting personal experience in relation to Commodore Perry's visit, that came to me quite unexpectedly, and might he worthy of mention at this tune. During the progress of the treaty with Japan many presents of value and beauty were made by Commodore Perry in the name of the President of the United States. When the Shogun was for a time exiled, perhaps before that, a great many of these were turned over to the University, such as globes, charts, etc. On one occasion I wanted to find something which I had heard was a part of that gift of the President of the United States, -- a certain globe which I wanted to use in one of my lectures, -- and I learned on inquiry that all those things of an educational nature or character were stored away in a certain place. I spent several hours in exploring, but instead of finding what I wanted, I found something more interesting and valuable. I found a large oaken box about three or four feet long, covered with dust, and on removing the cover found a brass plate indicating that this was a present from the President of the United States to the Emperor of Japan. When we got it out and opened it, -- a thing which had not occurred before for perhaps twenty-five years, I was greatly delighted to find a very beautifully finished and completely equipped set of telegraph instruments that the President had sent to the Emperor. The natives were impressed with the wonderful working of this telegraph, by which messages were transmitted from one point to another, and perhaps this present had as much to do with accomplishing the treaty as anything connected with it. It happened at that time that I was engaged in giving a course of public lectures to government officers, in which was engaged also my friend and our associate, Professor Edward S. Morse. My own course happened to be on the subject of electricity and its application. So Page 180 I had very great pleasure in taking that set of instruments as presented twenty-five years before by the President, and setting them up again in this course of lectures and using them as an illustration and example of the method by which messages were transmitted by telegraph. The instruments were also useful, of course, as illustrating the type of instrument in use twenty-five years before, shortly after the application of electricity to telegraph purposes." Professor EDWARD S. MORSE, being called upon, said: "It occurs to me as being rather curious, that Commodore Perry's visit to Japan resulted in a change in my life. As a young man I was interested in shells, and my first visit to Washington in 1865 was for the purpose of examining a collection of shells, and I was very much interested in the difference in shells between the east and west. During that visit I saw a beautiful screen that had been presented to Commodore Perry by some high official of Japan. I had never seen Japanese art before, and was so impressed with it that out of six days that I spent there, I spent three in copying that screen. I then read of Commodore Perry's trip, and resolved to go to Japan, and in ten or fifteen years I was enabled to do so. That brought about an entire change in my work, and the catalogue recently published by the Museum of Fine Arts is a result of Commodore Perry's visit to Japan."