Dr. James Morrow
Frontispiece (Portrait of Dr. Morrow)
Note: The illustration is facing the page noted above. Illustrations (2) through (8) are black and white photographic reproductions of lithographs found in Volume 1 of the original Narrative of the Expedition. Item (1) is photographic extracted from a engravings plate found in Volume 2 of the Narrative of the Expedition (Narrative, Volume II, after page 113). The photographic plates are on a glossy paper stock which is different from the other pages of the book. The photographic pages are not numbered.
Dr. Morrow at Work
By an Unknown Japanese Artist
From The Black Ship Scroll
This book and Dr. Morrow's participation in the Perry Expedition to Japan offer several significant insights into important aspects of the expedition which are not found elsewhere. Dr. Morrow was a key scientific member of the expedition. Not only was he a respected agriculturalist, he was also a medical doctor. Below I will discuss two matters which are illustrated by Dr. Morrow's role in the expedition.
The Political Conflict. Dr. Morrow was actually appointed to serve on the expedition by the Department of State which had control of the US Agricultural Bureau. He was probably the only key member of the expedition that Perry did not personally approve. To further complicate matters, his appointment directed him to keep a journal that would turned over directly to the Department of State on his return. Probably because of this requirement, he was much less diligent in filing a report with Commodore Perry, at least in the view of the Commodore.
Dr Morrow's Status. Although Dr. Morrow was a key expedition member, he had to seek out and obtain his position. When he joined the expedition, at the age of thirty-three, he actually enrolled in the Navy as an "Acting Master's Mate" with a monthly salary of $25.00. He is shown in the listing of Officers as "Rated Acting Master's Mate." The noted travel writer, Bayard Taylor, the expedition artist, Wilhelm Heine, and the expedition photographer, Eliphalet Brown were all listed with the same title and attachment to various ships of the expedition. These positions were at the bottom of the pecking order from an officer rank perspective. However all these men occupied positions very critical to the success of the expedition. Clearly the rank was not commensurate with the responsibilities. After the expedition, Dr. Morrow successfully lobbied for additional compensation and Congress approved $3,000) ($1,500 for each year he served with the Expedition). Commodore Perry and the artist, Heine, also received additional compensation by act of Congress.
Dr. Morrow's Duties. Morrow's primary charge was to collect seeds and plants during the expedition and record this information and return specimens to the United States. He also was responsible for assembling and demonstrating the agricultural instruments that they brought on the expedition as gifts for the Emperor as well as distributing seeds which were also brought as gifts for the Japanese. He apparently was very successful in his efforts in obtaining plant specimens as he returned to the United States with 17 cases of plants, both dried and living. It is estimated that Morrow returned with between 1,500 and 2,000 speciments of plats (living or dried). Morrow also returned with implements, household utensils and fabrics that he obtained in China, Okinawa and Japan and these were placed in the National Gallery. Immediately on his return Morrow filed reports with the Departments of State, Interior and Commissioner of Patents. It appears that Morrow's allegiances were more to the Department of State than Commodore Perry and the Department of the Navy.
Where's the Beef? Perry intended that Volume II of the narrative be devoted primarily to botanical aspects of the expedition. It is abundantly clear that although Dr. Morrow may have been underpaid and under appreciated, Commodore Perry expected much more of him than was produced. In a letter reproduced in Volume II of the Narrative Commodore Perry stated the following:
...botanical specimens were gathered and prepared by...and Morrow.Perry was unhappy that Dr. Morrow had not observed his directive that all journals written during the Expedition remained Navy property until returned to the writer. It is clear that Perry wanted to include Morrow's writings and drawings in Volume II of the Narrative but was not able to do so because they were not provided in a timely manner.
The most visible result of Dr. Morrow's participation in the expedition is a section in Volume II of the Narrative entitled, "Observations of the Agriculture, etc, of Lew Chew, Made During a Stay on that Island from the 22d January to the 7th of February, 1854." This is found at pages 15 to 20 of Volume II. These observations are found at pages 91 to 106 of the Morrow Journal. However, the Narrative version does not include Dr. Morrow's account of Lew Chew "Hedges" (pages 107-108) or "Roads" (pages 109-11). Volume II also contains a report by Professor Asa Gray on the classification of various plant specimens taken by Dr. Morrow. It contains no illustrations.
What happened to Dr. Morrow's drawings of plants (the beef)? No one seems to know. Some attribute this situation to a turf battle between the Department of State and Commodore Perry. This story goes that the Department of State (Agriculture Bureau) intended to publish all of Morrow's work in a subsequent report. This was never done. It appears that much of Morrow's work (including his drawings) can not be accounted for today.
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