Perry Expedition to Japan
(Correspondence To and Within)

 
10 Pieces of Correspondence, Perry Expedition to Japan
Click here or on the picture above for larger image.

 

This is a unit of 10 pieces of correspondence related to the Perry Expedition to Japan. None of the items have postal markings or cancels. One letter is addressed to Commodore Perry. The other nine are addressed to Dr. James Morrow (b. 1820, d. 1865). Dr. Morrow was the expedition's agriculturalist/botanist. It is most fortunate that his journal from the expedition was published in 1947. The journal serves as an aid in authenticating the correspondence and places it in historical context.

  1. - 1853.1.4 - A.P. Happer to Dr. James Morrow - Hong Kong (Susquehanna)
  2. - 1853.6.5 - Townsend Harris to James Morrow - Hong Kong
  3. - 1853.??.?? - Sarah (mother) and James Bull (stepfather) to James Morrow - Hong Kong
  4. - 1853.12.15 - A.P. Happer to James Morrow M.D. - Macao
  5. - 1854.3.7 - Harris (Saratoga) to Commodore M.C. Perry - Yedo Bay, Japan (letter only)
  6. - 1854.3.8 - R.S. Maclay to James Morrow Esqr - Canton
  7. - 1854.4.6 - W.S. Brewster to Dr. James Morrow - Japan
  8. - 1854.4.20 - D(aniel) J(erome) Macgowan to James Morrow - Japan
  9. - 1854.7.21 - A.P. Happer to Dr. James Morrow - Hong Kong
  10. - 1854.8.1 - W.S. Brewster to James Morrow - Hong Kong (Southampton)
  11. -- 1861.12.19 - Morrow Letter, Not Related to the Japan Expedition.

It is my experience that correspondence to and from the Perry Expedition is very scarce. With the exception of the material discussed below, I have only seen two other piece of correspondence outside of material that has been published in the standard works on the expedition. They are discussed here. One item has a postage paid handstamp and a Hong Kong receiving backstamp. It was directed to a member of the expedition via South Hampton, England to Hong Kong where it was picked up by an expedition ship (the Supply) and delivered to the addressee in Yedo Bay, Japan. The other item was an "On Public Service" cover containing a letter from Commodore Perry ordering the movement of one of the squadron's ships. This cover was a part of the Ryohei Ishikawa collection of known as The Forerunner Foreign Post Offices in Japan: British-US-French, Ryohei Ishikawa's Collection.

None of the ten pieces of correspondence discussed below have postal markings (origin or receiving). The US origin item (#3) was probably mailed to China via the US and British postal systems in a double envelope with the outer envelope addressed to the American Consul containing postal markings. The Consul removed the letter and served as a forwarding agent to get it to the expedition. No markings would have been applied in that process. The China based items (#1, #2, #4, #6~#10) probably past through the various British Postal Agency offices to forwarding agents/US Consul who then provided them to the expedition. At this time this type of mail did not receive postal markings. It is also possible they were hand carried to the forwarding agent or handled under separate cover as the US based item. For information on this practice, click here. The letter from Harris to Commodore Perry (#5) was probably delivered from one ship to another as the squadron was at anchor in Yedo Bay, Japan. For general comments on the movement of mail to and from the expedition, see below

 

#1 - 1853.1.4 - A.P. Happer to Dr. James Morrow - Hong Kong (Susquehanna)

  • Addressed to:
    Dr. James Morrow
    Amer. Steam Frig "Susquehanna"
    Victoria Harbor
    Care of American Consul,
    Hong Kong
  • From: A.P. Happer, Canton
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1853.1.4
  • Folded Letter (size): Folded size (11 x 5.4 cm).
  • Format of Contents: Three page letter written on the a folded page which was then used as a folded letter.
  • Contents
  • A.P. Happer Signature
  • Comments. Based upon the date of this letter, it appears to have actually been written to Morrow before he left the US. He left the US aboard the Vandalia which departed Philadelphia in early March of 1853. He reached China (Macao) on July 21. The letter is in response to a letter that Morrow had written so perhaps the writer was anticipating his arrival in China. The writer probably assumed that Morrow would be arriving with Commodore Perry aboard the Mississippi which departed the United States on November 24, 1852 and arrived in Hong Kong on April 6, 1853. A.P. Happer was a medical missionary and represented the American Presbyterian Board of Foreign missions in Canton. In his journal of the expedition, Morrow has an entry on October 5, 1853 (at page 30) recording a meeting with "Revd. Dr. Happer" in Canton and noting he spent the night at the home of a man he characterized as "a kind missionary."

    In the letter Dr. Happer notes:

    I hope you will write during your cruise any matters of interest - and send under cover for H.N. Hitchcock, Esq.

    This is indicative of a prevalent practice at the time of sending correspondence inside an outer envelope to be forwarded to the actual address.

 

#2 - 1853.6.5 - Townsend Harris to James Morrow - Hong Kong

Outside and Inside Covers

  • Addressed to:
    Outer Envelope (13 x 7 cm)
    Dr James Morrow, U.S.N.
    Hong Kong
    China
    Care of American Consul
    Inner Envelope (10 x 6 cm)
    Doctor Morrow
    Agriculturalist
    Frigate Susquehanna
  • From: Townsend Harris
  • Date of Letter/Contents: June 5, 1853
  • Envelope/Folded Letter (size): Two Envelopes.
  • Format of Contents: Two page letter written on the first and second pages of a folded page.
  • Outside Cover
  • Inside Cover (with "TH" wax seal)
  • Contents
  • Townsend Harris Signature
  • Comments. The letter is from Townsend Harris to Dr. Morrow asking for information regarding cotton cultivation in the US. Apparently Harris intended to compare the US practices with those in the Far East. Harris also comments on various cotton types found in Java, Borneo and Celebis as well as a hill or "dry" rice grown in Borneo. At the time this letter was written, Morrow was en route to China aboard the Vandalia which departed Philadelphia in early March, 1853. He reached China (Macao) on July 21.

    Townsend Harris would later become the first high level US diplomat to enter Japan after the Perry Expedition. He was appointed as the first Consul General for Japan by President Franklin Pierce and he arrived in Shimoda in August of 1856. He departed Japan in 1861 and while there successfully negotiated a trade treaty between the two countries.

    Townsend Harris wanted very much to accompany the Perry Expedition to Japan. His desire was so intense that he traveled to China arriving there before Perry. When Perry arrived in Shanghai on May 4, 1853, Harris was on-hand and requested that he include him on the Japan Expedition. Perry refused but Harris, while greatly disappointed, did not give up his efforts to go to Japan. In April of 1855 Harris was returning to the US via India with a stop in Penang. In Penang he learned that he received an appointment, confirmed by the Senate on August 2, 1854, as US Consul for the Chinese Treaty Port of Ningpo. However, Harris continued his return to the US and appointed Daniel Jerome Macgowan his Vice-Consul for Ningpo. Harris had his eye on the American Consul post in Shimoda that was required under the treaty concluded by Commodore Perry on March 31, 1854 and approved by the US Senate on July 15, 1854. On arriving back in New York in July of 1855, Harris began his successful lobbying efforts to obtain this post. While Perry would not allow Harris to accompany the expedition to Japan, he recommended him for the post to the President. President Pierce ultimately did appoint Townsend the first US Consul to Japan and the appointment was confirmed by the Senate on July 31, 1856.

    Entries in Townsend Harris' journal shed light on how correspondence was passed at this time. In June 1856 he was at sea on his trip to Japan. His entry for that day states:

    Monday, July [June] 23, 1856. Send By W.C. Bradley, Esq., the following letters, under cover to N. Dougherty: [14 letters to are then listed]. The following per mail: [2 letters listed]

    Monday, September 1, 1856. List of letters bearing date to-day and sent to Russell & Company, Shanghai, by the San Jacinto, to be forwarded as directed: [19 letters are listed, including one to D.J. Macgowan]

    (Source: The Complete Journal of Townsend Harris, First American Consul to Japan and Minister to Japan, Mario Emilio Cosenza, Rutland Vermont and Tokyo, Charles E. Tuttle Company, Second Edition (revised), 1959, 616 pages, at page 167 & 217-8)

    From these entries it is clear that at this time two major avenues for sending correspondence were in use. First, a forwarding system was used which could well have kept the correspondence outside of normal postal channels. Under this system it was a standard practice for correspondence to be consolidated under one cover (envelope) which was dispatched to a forwarding agent who would the distribute the individual letters to the addressees. Second, British postal systems were in use. The British Postal Agency was operating in Hong Kong (starting in February of 1841), Macao (as early as 1838) and the various Chinese Treaty Ports (Amoy, Canton, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai - all starting in 1844) and this system would have provided a convenient means of transmitting and receiving letters at this time. Initially mail originating in the treaty port postal agencies was forwarded to Hong Kong without any postal markings. I believe that was the situation at the time these letters were posted. Hong Kong datestamps (large and small) are frequently found on the back of stampless covers during this period but I don't believe they were applied to all covers transiting that post office. I believe that mail originating in one of the treaty port postal agencies could well have made it to Hong Kong and then to a local forwarding agent/US Consul without receiving any form of postmark or postal markings.

 

#3 - 1853.??.?? - Sarah (mother) and James Bull (stepfather) to James Morrow - Hong Kong

  • Addressed to:
    Doctor James Morrow, Agriculturist
    Under Commodore M.C.
    Perry, Pacific Squadron,
    Coast of China
    To the care
    of the American
    Consul, Hong Kong
  • From: Sarah and John B. Bull, Bordeaux P.O., Abbeville Dist., South Carolina
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1853 (month and day indistinct) probably October ~ December, 1853 as they acknowledge receipt of his letter dated September 3, 1853.
  • Envelope/Folded Letter (size): Envelope (14 x 8.5 cm) with letter contents.
  • Format of Contents: One page letter written on the first page of a folded page.
  • Contents
  • John B. (Baxter) Bull Signature
  • Comments. This is a letter written by Morrow's stepfather, John B. Bull on behalf of his mother (Sarah) and Mr. Bull. The letter notes that they are following Morrow's instructions on sending mail and the last letter was mailed via England. Mr. Bull cautions his stepson, then a 32+ year old medical doctor, "...we unitedly entreat you to be diligent, industrious in your calling and strictly cautious and circumspect in all your movements. Remember that obedience and good conduct never disgraced any person." The letter has been taped in two places and this has caused staining and loss of text as the glue from the tape has aged.

    The letter states the following regarding the actual way mail was being transmitted to members of the expedition:

    We much regret that you had not then received any of our letters. "Pa" has tried regularly to write every time we received your kind letters. And we have invariably and strictly observed your directions in sending them, hoping that they would go safe. Mefs? Adams & Frost with the advice of Mr. Huger the Post Master in Charleston, sent the last we wrote, by the English overland route, via Southampton. [We - ??] humbly trust that you have received that letter ...[by -???]... this time.

    I suspect that Adams and Frost were forwarding agents in Charleston. It would appear that correspondence such as this was provided to the third party forwarding agent who then made arrangements for transmitting it to the expedition via the US Consul in Hong Kong. Part of the process probably involved using the British postal system from England to Hong Kong. Perhaps the mail traveling this way was consolidated under one cover destined for Hong Kong and that would explain the lack of any postal markings on individual pieces of correspondence.

    The letter refers to Morrow's stepfather as "Pa." It is interesting to note that in the introduction to Dr. Morrow's journal a letter from Dr. Morrow to his parents is published. It is addressed to "Dear Pa & Mother." (See Morrow Journal at page xvii)

 

#4 - 1853.12.15 - A.P. Happer to James Morrow M.D. - Macao

  • Addressed to:
    James Morrow M.D.
    Agriculturist of the Japan Expedition
    Macao
  • From: A.P. Happer, Canton
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1853.12.15
  • Envelope with Letter Contents: Envelope (10.9 x 6 cm)
  • Format of Contents: Two page letter written on one folded page
  • Contents
  • R.S. Maclay Signature
  • Comments. Dr. Happer acknowledges receipt of a Morrow's note from Macao. He discusses the progress of establishing a school. At the time this letter was sent Morrow was in Macao and the Squadron did not leave the Macao/Hong Kong area for Okinawa until January 15, 1854.

 

#5 - 1854.3.7 - Harris (Saratoga) to Commodore M.C. Perry - Yedo Bay, Japan (letter only)

  • Addressed to:
    Commo M.C. Perry
    Com ? U.S. Naval Forces
    East India, China and
    Japan Seas
  • From: Harris, J. George - (Saratoga)
  • Date of Letter: 1854.3.7
  • No Envelope - Manuscript/Letter only
  • Format of Contents: Eight page letter written on two folded sheets. Unfolded the sheets measure 38.2 x 31 cm. When folded each page measures 19.1 x 31 cm.
  • Contents, Sheet 1, Pages 1-4
  • Contents, Sheet 2, Pages 5-8
  • Harris Signature
  • Comments. This is a manuscript/letter without any cover/envelope which might have been used to transmit it. It is correspondence from a member of Perry's squadron directly to Commodore Perry. The correspondence was attached to a box of tobacco samples. The writer is advising Commodore Perry of the 11 varieties ("sorts or classes") of manufactured smoking tobacco he procured in Shanghai over the previous winter (winter of 1853). He comments on the implements used for smoking. Regarding the possibility of exporting American grown tobacco to China he is pessimistic. He outlines the "simple" method used by the Chinese to manufacture smoking tobacco and notes the same method is observed in Loo Choo (Okinawa) and Japan. He also observes "...the prevailing habit of smoking, and the characteristics of the pipes in use, in China, Japan and Loo Choo, exhibit little or no difference."

    At the time of this letter, Perry had assembled eight of his nine ship squadron (the Supply would arrive on March 18) in Yeddo (Yedo) Bay. The second landing in Japan would occur the next day. The Saratoga joined the other seven ships late, arriving on station on March 4.

    The Writer. The signature appears to be an initial ("J") followed by indistinct word (George) and then "Harris." There was only Harris listed in the roster of officers and chief petty officers of the expedition. This was a "Reuben Harris" who is listed as a "P. Mid and Act. Mast." (Past Midshipman and Acting Master's Mate). He is listed as assigned to the Susquehanna. I believe that this is the Harris who signed this document and that the name he commonly used was J. George Harris, not Rueben Harris.

    • It was not uncommon for members of the expedition to be shifted from one ship to another. While the listing of ship assignments shown in Volume II of the Narrative is generally accurate, it reflected a moment in time (probably the individual's initial assignment) and could not track all subsequent movements between ships. The expedition's agriculturist, James Morrow, is listed as assigned to the Vandalia and Flagship. However, his only contact with the Vandalia was that he was on it for the voyage to Hong Kong. After that he shifted from ship to ship (primarily on the Southampton) but very seldom actually served his duty on Perry's designated flagship. The Susquehanna and the Saratoga were sister ships in the Squadron. The Saratoga was a sails ship-of-war and I believe she was formally associated with the Susquehanna who was one of the cornerstone steam frigates. The Susquehanna would often tow the Saratoga as was a common practice for the sails and steam frigates during the expedition. I suspect that as Harris demonstrated his skills he was assigned more challenging duties in the Squadron. The Saratoga was already in China when the expedition began assembling. She departed Hampton Roads in September of 1850 and was long overdue to return to American. It is very likely that crew replacements were needed for the ship.

    • In the preface to Volume I of the Expedition Narrative, Commodore Perry notes Harris in these terms:
            The Commodore, unwilling to appropriate what may
            belong to others, desires here to acknowledge the 
            use of the journals of the Captain of the fleet, 
            Commander Adams,....those of Purser Harris.
            (Volume I, page iv, footnote - emphasis added)
      
    • The Susquehanna had an individual carrying the rank of Purser (John W. Bennett). The roster does not list that position on the Saratoga and it is quite likely that Harris was assigned that rank and position on the Saratoga.

    • In an appendix to his journal, Dr. Morrow, has the following entry:
      Appendix C
      List of Seed procured through the kindness of Purser J. Geo. Harris of the U.S.S. Saratoga at Shanghai Novr 1853 & sent to the United States Dept of State in Decr 1853. [A listing of 48 items follow] (See Morrow Journal at page 222-224)

      The list of seeds noted in the Morrow journal is very similar to the tobacco samples which are the subject of this correspondence.

 

#6 - 1854.3.8 - R.S. Maclay to James Morrow Esqr - Canton

  • Addressed to:
    James Morrow Esqr
    U.S Str "Susquehanna" (crossed out)
    Powhatan
    Canton (crossed out)
    somewhere
    Care of
    Messrs Williams, Anthon ??
    Hong Kong
  • From: R.S. Maclay, Fuhchau
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1854.3.8
  • Envelope with Letter Contents: Envelope (13.6 x 7.8 cm)
  • Format of Contents: Four page letter written on one folded page
  • Contents
  • R.S. Maclay Signature
  • Comments. At the time of this letter was written, Perry's squadron was in Yeddo Bay and the second landing in Japan was occurring. At this time Morrow was aboard the Southampton.

    The letter discusses the gathering of seeds as well as general comments on the weather, family matters and political matters including the "Rebellion." Regarding the political turmoil, Maclay writes:

    We have not had lately much definite intelligence from the Rebellion. It would seem however that the cause is advancing. The country must suffer terribly if this state of things continues long. I would wish the question might soon be decided. It seems probable the Rebels will succeed, but if the war is long protracted the country will not soon recover from the wounds she is now receiving. At Fuhchau matters remain quiet. We have here a very efficient local Government and no one dares to create any disturbance.

    R.S. Maclay was a Methodist missionary who arrived in China in 1847. He later went on to serve as a missionary in Japan. While in Japan he visited Korea in April of 1885. While he did not actually establish a mission he is believed to be the first Methodist missionary to actually visit that country. At the left on the front page of the folded page a colorless oval embossed seal is imprinted. It reads "Commercial Post." The letter was sent in care of Messrs Williams, Anthon. I have seen this company listed as a forwarding agent in Singapore but not Hong Kong. However, Williams & Company was a know forwarding agent in Hong Kong. C.D. Williams, representing his firm of Williams, Anthon & Co, was involved in China trade and in June of 1855 obtained a license for the export of camphor from China. It would appear that Williams, Anthon & Company were operating as a trading company and forwarding agent in China and probably had an office in Hong Kong through which this correspondence was passed to the American ship.

 

#7 - 1854.4.6 - W.S. Brewster to Dr. James Morrow - Japan

  • Addressed to:
    James Morrow M.D.
    Japan
  • From: W.S. Brewster, Canton
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1854.4.6~18
  • Folded Letter (size): Folded size (10.8 x 6.5 cm).
  • Format of Contents: Seven page letter written on two folded pages which were then used as a folded letter.
  • Contents
  • W.S. Brewster Signature
  • Comments. While the letter is first dated as April 6, it has continuation sections dated 14 and 18 April. On the first date of the letter, Dr. Morrow was with Perry's squadron as it lay at anchor in Yeddo Bay. The second landing was accomplished on March 8, 1854. Subsequently, the Emperor's reply to the President's letter was received and the Treaty of Kanagawa was concluded on March 31, 1854. After concluding the treaty, the squadron began to breaking up to perform various missions assigned by Commodore Perry. Based upon the address on the letter, Mr. Brewster realized the squadron was still in Japan but he, of course, had know way of knowing the actual location of the ships. I believe that the writer, W.S. Brewster, was a Christian missionary in China.

 

#8 - 1854.4.20 - D(aniel) J(erome) Macgowan to James Morrow - Japan

  • Addressed to:
    J. Morrow Esq M.D.
    Com. M.C. Perry
    Commander in Chief of the
    U.S. Naval Forces ?.?.?.
    China
  • From: D(aniel) J(erome) Macgowan, Ningbo (China)
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1854.4.20
  • Envelope with Letter Contents: Envelope (9.2 x 5.7 cm)
  • Format of Contents: Eight page letter written on two folded pages.
  • Contents Sheet 1, Pages 1-4
  • Contents Sheet 2, Pages 5-8
  • D. J. Macgowan Signature
  • Comments. The writer is offering his assistance to Morrow in gathering plants and seed in China. On the date of this letter Dr. Morrow was in Japan. According to his journal, part of the squadron had relocated from Yeddo Bay to Shimoda. In this letter D.J. Macgowan (Daniel Jerome Macgowan) was an American Baptist medical missionary who came to Ningbo, China in 1843. In 1855 he served as the U.S. Vice-Consul in Ningbo. In 1858 Macgowan spent five weeks in Nagasaki teaching English and medicine as he was returning to the United States. During the American Civil War he served as a surgeon for the North. In 1865 he returned to China and died there at the age of seventy-nine on in July of 1893.

 

#9 - 1854.7.21 - A.P. Happer to Dr. James Morrow - Hong Kong

  • Addressed to:
    Dr. James Morrow, U.S.N.
    Hong Kong
    Care of Williams
    Anthon & Co.
  • From: A.P. Happer, Canton
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1854.7.21
  • Envelope with Letter Contents: Envelope (13.2 x 7.5 cm)
  • Format of Contents: Three page letter written on the a folded page.
  • Contents
  • A.P. Happer Signature
  • Comments. In this letter Reverend Happer advises Dr. Morrow that he has learned of his return to China in the Southampton, This is consistent with Morrow's journal where he notes that the Southampton departed Japan on June 25th and anchored in Hong Kong on July 15. At this time Dr. Morrow was deeply involved in tending to the plant specimens that had been gathered and trying to keep the living specimens alive. Happer updates Dr. Morrow on his wife's failing health and states that he hopes to receive a "report" on Japan. The letter was sent in care of Williams Anthon & Company. I have seen this company listed as a forwarding agent in Singapore but not Hong Kong. However, Williams & Company was a know forwarding agent in Hong Kong. C.D. Williams, representing his firm of Williams, Anthon & Co, was involved in China trade and in June of 1855 obtained a license for the export of camphor from China. It would appear that Williams, Anthon & Company were operating as a trading company and forwarding agent in China and probably had an office in Hong Kong through which this correspondence was passed to the American ship.

 

#10 - 1854.8.1 - W.S. Brewster to James Morrow - Hong Kong (Southampton)

  • Addressed to:
    Dr. James Morrow
    Agriculturist to the Japan Expedition
    U.S. Vessel "Southampton"
    Care of U.S. Consul,
    Hong Kong.
  • From: W.S. Brewster, Macao
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1854.8.1
  • Envelope/Folded Letter (size): Envelope (11.7 x 7 cm) with letter contents.
  • Format of Contents: Four page letter written on the a folded page.
  • Contents
  • W.S. Brewster Signature
  • Comments. At the time this letter was written, Dr. Morrow was on the Southampton anchored in Hong Kong harbor and deeply involved in tending and conserving the plants gathered during the course of the expedition and planning their return to America. Final plans were being made for the return voyage to America. This letter was correctly directed to Dr. Morrow on the Southampton. It is from a Christian (probably a missionary) and contains many references to the faith. The writer notes that "I think that Mrs. Williams [the wife of the expeditions, translator Samuel W. Williams] will not greet the Commodore very cordially She does not feel the best towards him for sending her husband hither and thither."

 

-- 1861.12.19 - James Morrow, M.D. to Mr. President (Not Japan Expedition Related)

  • Addressed to:
    Mr. President
  • From: Jas. Morrow, M.D.
  • Date of Letter/Contents: 1861.12.19
  • Envelope/Folded Letter (no envelope).
  • Format of Contents: One page letter written on the a folded page.
  • Contents
  • Jas. Morrow, M.D. Signature Signature
  • Comments. Dr. Morrow departed Hong Kong aboard the Lexington on September 9, 1854. He arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on January 1, 1855. He returned to South Carolina and resumed the practice of medicine. During 1856 and 1857 he lobbied Congress to award him additional compensation for his work on the expedition and was successful in obtaining $3000.00. He served during the expedition for $25.00 a month. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army. He was appointed an acting assistant surgeon on Morris Island on December 30, 1860. On November 26, 1861 he was reassigned to James Island. This is a letter from Morrow to the President of the Confederacy requesting an appointment as a full surgeon noting that he had been performing those duties since the 1st of January. In April of 1862 Morrow was assigned non-medical duties. He was discharged from the Confederate Army in June of 1865. He died in December of 1865. This letter does not have the accompanying envelope. Strangely it was accompanied by a stamped envelope canceled in New York and addressed to "Colonel Moore, Private Secretary of the President, White House, Washington, D.C." To see the envelope, click here. I do not believe that the envelope had anything to do with Morrow's letter to the President of the Confederacy.

 
Helpful References Regarding These Items
 
Morrow, James (MD) (journal writer):
Cole, Alan B. (editor),
A Scientist with Perry in Japan, The Journal of Dr. James Morrow, Richmond, The University of North Carolina Press - Chapel Hill (William Byrd Press, Inc.), 1947, 307 pp, 15 x 23 cm (6 x 9 in), 8vo, portrait of Dr. Morrow as frontispiece and 8 black and white photographic plates (4 pages with photographs front and back), beige cloth, issued with dust jacket. The dust jacket is illustrated with a reproduction of a lithograph from the official Narrative of the Perry Expedition to Japan which is titled "Torigasaki, Yedo Bay." This is the day by day scientific journal of the expedition's agriculturalist who studied plant specimens and agriculture in Singapore, China, Java, Okinawa & Japan during the expedition. For more information on this book, click here.

 
Perry, Commodore M. C.,
Hawks, Francis L., compiler:
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, Volume 1, Original Narrative, 1856 (Tucker and Nicholson) & 1857 (Appleton). The first volume (Tucker, Nicholson & Appleton) (537 pages) is a chronological account or narrative of the expedition. Original editions as well and 1967 facsimile set (AMS) and 2000 facsimile of Volume 1 (Dover). For more information on the Narrative, click here.

 
Perry, Commodore M. C.,
Morison, Samuel Eliot, introduction
Pineau, Roger, editor:
The Japan Expedition 1852-1854. The Personal Journal of Commodore Matthew C. Perry. This one volume work was published by Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, in 1968. The book contains 30 black & white illustrations and 49 color plates. It measures 8 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches (21½cm x 28½cm) and is 241 pages long. Perry's journal was incorporated into the official Narrative of the expedition. However, certain personal matters were omitted and numerous drawings were not made a part of the official Narrative.

Williams, Samuel Wells (Journal)
Williams, Frederick Wells (Preface & Editor):
A Journal of the Perry Expedition to Japan (1853-4), Yokohama, 1910, Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan (TASJ), Volume XXXVII, Part II, published by Kelly & Walsh, Ltd, printed by the Fukuin Printing Co., 8vo, black and white tissue guard protected collotype frontispiece (portrait of Perry), color chromolithograph plate depicting Dr. S. Wells Williams as drawn by a Japanese artist, 2 other black and white collotype plates of drawings/paintings ("Perry Landing at Kurihama, 14 July, 1853" and "View of Yokohama Harbor when Perry Was First Sighted"), 9 page "Prefatory Note (i-ix), 263 pp. Williams was the official translator for the Commodore Perry during the Expedition to Japan. In this very critical position, he observed all the major events that occurred as the Japan expedition progressed. This is his personal journal recorded on a day by day basis. The journal covers 1853-54. It was made available to the Asiatic Society of Japan by his son, F. W. Williams. Considered by many to be the most important contemporary journal published by a member of the expedition. More than one third of the journal relates to activities on Okinawa. For more information on this book, click here.

 
Harris, Townsend,
Cosenza, Mario Emilio (Intro/notes):
The Complete Journal of Townsend Harris, First American Consul General and Minister to Japan, New York, Doubleday - Doran & Co, 1930 (first edition), maroon cloth, 8vo, preface, introduction and notes by Mario Cosenza, 616 pp. Contains nine appendices which include the Convention of Shimoda concluded on June 17, 1857 and the very important Treaty of Amity and Commerce concluded in Yedo (Tokyo) on July 29, 1858. Published for the Japan Society, New York. Contains 16 black and white illustrations to include frontispiece (picture of Harris), a picture of the "Ginkgo Tree at the Zempuku-ji," drawings of Shimoda and the Consulate in Shimoda and 12 other pictures of documents and the Harris seal. Townsend Harris was the first high level US diplomat to enter Japan after the Perry Expedition. He arrived at Shimoda in 1856 and departed Japan in 1861. During his tenure, he negotiated a trade treaty with Japan. This was the first complete publication of the Harris journal and includes the earlier portion on his mission to Siam, which is published for the first time. Other parts were published in 1895 with omissions and they are restored here. Contains Harris's journal entries from 1856 to 1858 with notes on travel, diplomatic and social life, Japanese scenery, life and customs and encounters with King of Siam and other oriental notables. In the preface the Cosenza discusses Harris's failed efforts to join the Perry Expedition to Japan in Shanghai when Perry first arrived there in 1853 on the first leg of the expedition.

Subsequent editions:

  • 1959, Tuttle, Tokyo, second edition, 616 pp, 12mo, with dust jacket, preface by General Douglas MacArthur II.
  • 1959, Tuttle, Tokyo, second edition (Revised), 616 pp, large 12mo, (15.2 x 22 cm -- 6 x 8 3/4 in), with dust jacket, preface by General Douglas MacArthur II. Cover is cloth with a simulation of a journal entry by Townsend.
  • 1968, Tuttle, Rutland, VT, with dust jacket, third edition.

 
Ishikawa, Ryohei:
The Forerunner Foreign Post Offices in Japan, British - U.S.- French, Tokyo, Japan Philatelic Publications, Inc, printed by Kyodo Insatsu, 1976, large 8vo (7 1/4 x 9 in), red covers with gilt titles on front cover and spine, no dust jacket, numerous illustrations (most in color), 164 pp. The book is primarily in Japanese but the key illustrations have English descriptive titles. Accompanying the book is an 11 page English language pamphlet that discusses the early foreign post offices in Japan. The book presents philatelic material (covers and stamps) from Ishikawa's award winning philatelic collection of foreign mail and post offices (British, United States and France) operating in Japan from the 1860s through the 1880s. Numerous covers (franked envelopes) and canceled stamps are presented in color with descriptive titles. A key reference for this very rare material. The first cover pictured in the book is an official (Public Business) cover from Commodore Perry aboard the Susquehanna with a letter dated May 23, 1853. This letter would have been written while Perry was en route to Okinawa (arriving May 26) from China.

 
Heine, William
Frederic Trautmann (Translator, Introduction and Annotations):
1990, Translated from German to English. Portions of the original memoir were republished in With Perry to Japan, A Memoir by William Heine, Translated, with an Introduction and Annotations by Frederic Trautmann, University of Hawaii Press, 3/1/1990, 235 pp, 6 1/4 x 9 1/2 format (8vo large), 16 pp of black and white illustrations - primarily of Heine's works. Trautmann provides a 5 page preface, 22 page introduction, 8 page chronology, 30 pages of notes, a 10 page bibliography and an 11 page index that supplement the Heine memoir. In total, Trautmann provides 86 pages of invaluable supplemental information which helps the reader understand the Heine memoir and place the expedition to Japan in historical perspective. The Heine memoir is not the choppy journal entry type style you often find in such literature. Instead, it is a rich and flowing narrative style chronicle of events by a key member of the expedition. ISBN 0-824-1258-1.

  
General Comments Regarding the Movement of Mail/Correspondence To and From the Expedition.

The presence of the Perry Squadron in Japanese waters can be viewed as the first American postal system to operate in Japan. Despite the unwelcome presence of the American Squadron in Japanese waters, United States mail/correspondence was moving to and from Japan and Okinawa as a result of the expedition.

Ryohei Ishikawa, an eminent Japanese philatelist, formed a collection which is know as The Forerunner Foreign Post Offices in Japan: British-US-French, Ryohei Ishikawa's Collection. In 1976 a catalogue of this collection was published. It is interesting to note that the first "forerunner" cover shown from the collection is a Japan Expedition cover. It is an "On Public Service" cover (unfranked) showing a return address of "U.S. Steam Frigate Susquehanna." The enclosed letter from Commodore Perry was dated May 28, 1853 and he directed the US Steamship Caprice to proceed to Naha, Loo Choo island. The letter indicated the Susquehanna was off the China coast when it was written.

It appears that expedition mail/correspondence could flow through several possible avenues.

  • Inbound and outbound mail could be passed directly to ships and work it's way to and from Japan in this manner independent of any established governmental postal system.
  • In and outbound mail could flow via commercial forwarding agents to and from Hong Kong* and the squadron independent of any established governmental postal system.
  • Inbound mail could pass through postal systems in the United States and Europe and make its way to the British Postal Agency in Hong Kong* or Shanghai** where it would then be forwarded to ships of the expedition.
  • Outbound mail could pass from the expedition to the British Postal Agency in Hong Kong and then flow through postal channels to the destination.
  • Local (China) mail to and from the expedition could flow through the Chinese Local Posts in the treaty ports and the British Postal Agency in Hong Kong.
  • Local (China) mail to the expedition could flow through commercial forwarding agents outside the British Postal Agency and then be passed to ships of the expedition.

The main operating base of the squadron was Hong Kong. For this reason, inbound correspondence was very often addressed in "care of" the United States / American Consul in Hong Kong.

* J.W. Spalding who served on the Expedition writes in his book, The Japan Expedition:

Letters: considering the rapid occurrences of events of moment now-a-days, and the lightening transmission of intelligence, it was with joy we got letters on our arrival at Hong Kong, having been for over half a year, so far as news was concerned, inhumed in a remote country. .... Many a poor fellow got letters that had been waiting for him in Hong Kong a long time, and at the same time letters from others of later date, that told that the writers of the former ones could never write again. (at page 345, The Japan Expedition)

** In his memoir of the Expedition, Wilhelm Heine commented:

We sailed the next day and returned to Loo Choo on June 21 (1853). Meanwhile the [American barque] Caprice [a collier chartered by Perry], one of our aviso ships, brought mail from Shanghai--a bag of it, carried to the Chinese port by the British overland postal service. (Heine Memior at page 55, see above)

** In his journal of the Expedition, S. Wells Williams stated:

Tuesday, August 2nd (1853). -- This evening, to the gratification of everyone, we met the "Vandalia" on her way to Napa, and obtained letters from her, among which I was happy to find one for me informing me that all at Macao and Canton were in good health a week ago. (Williams Journal at page 82, see above)

 



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