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Collection William Speiden Journals

Part 3: January 1854 to 2 July 1854

A timeline of Commodore Perry’s second landing in Japan and the negotiation of the Kanagawa Treaty with the Tokugawa Shogunate.

  • Jan. 1, 1854

    The New Year is celebrated at Victoria, Hong Kong. Commodore Perry provides egg nog for the officers aboard the flagship Susquehanna.

  • Jan. 6, 1854

    A theatrical entertainment is held aboard the U.S. steam frigate Mississippi, with Perry as guest. Speiden reports the ship was beautifully decorated with flags and the guests were some 200 in number.

  • Jan. 8, 1854

    Court Martial sentences are rendered for cases of disgraceful conduct.

  • Jan. 14, 1854

    Letters from home written in November 1853 are received by mail steamer, as the Powhatan gets underway and stands out of the harbor with the Lexington in tow, followed by the Mississippi towing the Southampton, and the Susquehanna coming last with the Commodore aboard.

  • Jan. 21, 1854

    At anchor at Naha, Lew Chew [at the island of Okinawa, in the Nansei, or Ryukyu, Islands].

  • Jan. 22, 1854

    William Speiden, Jr., visits friends on shore, including a local resident named Usesato and Elizabeth Bettelheim, wife of the Church of England missionary Rev. Dr. Bettelheim.

    Peri raikō. Section of drawings of Commodore Perry’s delegation, Japan, c. 1853-54. Artist unknown. Japanese prints and drawings collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
  • Jan. 23, 1854

    Speiden visits the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Shuri, for the first time and is surprised by the contrast with other parts of Okinawa Island.

  • Jan. 25, 1854

    Experiment with a new oven with 100 pounds of flour yields 106 pounds of bread, or 39 loaves. These are distributed to officers’ messes and the sick, as well as to the different ships.

  • Jan. 29, 1854

    Speiden goes on shore with his friend Arthur Sinclair, Jr., a captain’s clerk on the Supply. They engage local children in play-marching to the amusement of local spectators, until the practice is halted by intervening adults.

  • Feb. 1, 1854

    The U.S. Marine guard engages in drills on shore.

  • Feb. 3, 1854

    Speiden notes in his journal that the actual Prince Regent of Lew Chew is still a small child and it is his representative, acting as Regent on his behalf, who meets with Commodore Perry. Speiden takes part in the landing party that accompanies Perry on his visit to the Prince Regent at the palace at Shuri. He offers a long description of the event in his journal. Sho Tai would serve as the last King of the Ryukyu Kingdom (which would end in 1879, with the creation of the Okinawa Prefecture).

  • Feb. 12, 1854

    Speiden reports the Mississippi at anchor at the Bay of Ha-wat-su. The frigates discover the Macedonian run aground and come to her aid. She is hauled off with steam power and towed to safe anchorage. The Lexington and Vandalia are also at anchor.

    Drawing. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, insert, c. Feb 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • Feb. 13, 1854

    The squadron moves up Edo Bay with the Susquehanna, Powhatan, and Mississippi towing the Lexington, Vandalia, and Macedonian. Speiden goes to the deck and views at a distance Mount Fuji covered in snow. The squadron reaches anchor near Uraga. Japanese authorities board the Powhatan. Captain of the Fleet Henry A. Adams acts as Perry’s representative in the exchange.

  • Feb. 13-14, 1854

    Japanese officials visiting the Powhatan express support for the terms of President Millard Fillmore’s letter asking for greater cooperation between the nations on matters of interaction and trade. Speiden notes that “They remarked also, that the President’s letter said that we had come for amiable purposes, and they thought it singular that we would never yield to their requests.” The Americans request permission to survey the bay and erect signal staffs on shore. The Japanese reply that they hope the Americans will refrain from surveying until the preliminary negotiations regarding the presidential letter have been completed.

    Japanese Freight Junk. Color drawing by Edward C. McCauley. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, c. Feb. 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • Feb. 18, 1854

    Commodore Perry hauls down his Broad Pennant from the Susquehanna and hoists it on board the Powhatan. The Americans continue to survey the bay.

  • Feb. 19, 1854

    Japanese officials visit the Powhatan, bearing fresh produce and other presents, and report that “the Mandarin who was at Uraga had with him the Emperor’s answer to the President’s letter, and that he had full power to treat in regard to anything it contained, and they hoped the Commodore would go there to receive it and negotiate.”

  • Feb. 21, 1854

    The Vandalia gets underway and goes to Uraga with Adams on board to meet officials from Edo.

  • Feb. 22, 1854

    Adams lands at Uraga and meets with Japanese dignitaries, including Hayashi, prince counselor of Daigaku (Hayashi-Daigaku-no-kami). Discussion is carried on in Japanese, English, and Dutch translation with the aid of interpreters.

  • Feb. 24, 1854

    Speiden observes the busy boat traffic in Edo harbor.

    View of Uraga, Yedo Bay. From image by Wilhelm Heine. Lithograph, Philadelphia: T. Sinclair, c. 1856. Plate from Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan ... in ... 1852, 1853, and 1854, under ... M.C. Perry ... Matthew C. Perry ; Francis L. Hawks, comp. Washington : A.O.P. Nicholson, printer, 1856. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-99473.
  • Feb. 25, 1854

    The squadron gathers near Yokohama. The Vandalia returns from Uraga, with Adams on board. Speiden notes that “Capt. A was told . . . that it had been the custom of the Japanese for many years past to hold no intercourse with any other people than the Dutch, and that with them it was very limited, but that while we were away the Emperor had called a meeting of the principal great men of the Empire, and had taken the vote, whether the Americans should be received and treated as friends or not. They accordingly agreed that the Americans should be received and treated as friends.” Meanwhile Russians endeavoring to make a treaty at the same time were reportedly to be told to “leave Japan immediately.” Commodore Perry was also invited to Uraga to come to receive a letter from the Emperor to the President.

  • Mar. 3, 1854

    Japanese officials for the first time board the Mississippi. ”They were very friendly and sociable” and interested in the functions of the ship.

  • Mar. 5, 1854

    Speiden reports that it is his duty as purser’s clerk to muster the men.

  • Mar. 6, 1854

    Marine Robert Williams dies of a head injury he received while on liberty at Cum Sing Moon. The Americans soon negotiate for his burial on shore. The ship is listed to starboard for purposes of caulking below the waterline.

    Diagram of the second landing of Americans in Japan. Drawing by William Speiden, Jr. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, c. Mar. 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • Mar. 8, 1854

    “This has been an important and great day and on which the Second grand landing of the Americans in Japan took place” Speiden notes in his journal. Although he had been able to go ashore for the first landing, on this occasion he was among those who remained on board. He makes note of the events of the day as furnished to him by the ship chaplain. Commodore Perry goes ashore with some 500 persons, including selected officers from each ship, marines and their officers, sailors, and three bands of music. Negotiations are to take place in a large house erected for the purpose. The Americans feel optimistic that more than one port will be opened to American commerce. While the American officers walk along the shore, Japanese artists make sketches of their dress and appearance, including uniforms, pistols, and swords and other items carried on their persons. Speiden inserts into his journal a drawing of his father, purser William Speiden, Sr., and a branch in bloom done by a Japanese boy of about eleven years of age, as well as a sketch of Perry done by another lad. Speiden also inserts a copy of the answer to the President’s letter conveyed by the Imperial Commissioners (dated 23 Feb. 1854 and May 1, 1854), in reply to the letter the Perry expedition had delivered the previous year (. . .”for us to continue bigotedly attached to the ancient laws, seems to misunderstand the spirit of the age, and we wish rather to conform to what necessity requires” . . .). A new Emperor is ascended to the throne since Perry’s first landing, and the message states that the Japanese will comply with the American request for provisions and aid to sailors in distress.

    Copy of Answer to the U.S. President’s Letter to the Emperor of Japan, c. Feb-May 1854. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, insert. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • Mar. 9, 1854

    Speiden gives detailed account of the burial of Robert Williams at Yokohama, with the attendance of the American chaplain and a Buddhist priest. Speiden was not able to attend, but renders the account based on the description provided by one of the officers who went ashore.

    Delivery of the American presents at Yokohama. Lithograph, New York: Sarony, c. 1856. Plate from Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan ... in ... 1852, 1853, and 1854, under ... M.C. Perry ... Matthew C. Perry ; Francis L. Hawks, comp. Washington : A.O.P. Nicholson, printer, 1856. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-8127.
  • Mar. 13, 1854

    The Americans convey presents for the Emperor and Empress and commissioners of Japan. The gifts include rifles, swords, and pistols; whiskey, champagne, and wine; perfumes and teas; a box of books and volumes of Audubon’s Birds of America and Quadrupeds; clocks, a telescope, telegraph instruments and wire, a miniature locomotive with passenger car and rail; agricultural implements, and other items.

  • Mar. 17, 1854

    Treaty negotiations continue, with Commodore Perry involved. Members of the expedition with special functions, including the daguerreotypist Eliphalet M. Brown, Jr., telegraphists William B. Draper and John P. Williams, an agriculturist/botanist, Dr. James Morrow, and some engineers are allowed to go on shore for purposes of making preparations and set up their equipment. A railway is laid with locomotive and car, as gift from the U.S. President to the Emperor of Japan.

    Conference Room at Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan, March 1854. Drawing by Anton L.C. Portman. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, insert, c. Mar. 1854.
  • Mar. 19, 1854

    The Supply arrives with coal and stores, bringing the U.S. squadron strength to nine vessels.

  • Mar. 24, 1854

    Perry receives gifts by order of the Japanese authorities, including items of manufacture, lacquerware, silks, finely painted porcelain, fans, pipes, dolls, soy, charcoal and four small Japanese spaniel dogs of a rare breed, intended to be conveyed to the U.S. President.

  • Mar. 27, 1854

    Speiden gives account of the Japanese commissioners being welcomed aboard the Macedonian and the Powhatan. Speiden attends the banquet given aboard the latter, during which the health of the Emperor of Japan and the President of the United States are toasted. Speiden’s father gives the toast “California and Japan, next door neighbours, may they soon step in and spend the evening with each other.” The Japanese are treated to a minstrel entertainment after the banquet. After the evening is over, Speiden speculates to his journal that “I truly believe that the new era which is now about to take place in the History of the Japanese Empire, will be one in which far more greater changes will occur than we have at this time any reason to anticipate, and that too before many years have passed.”

    Drawings of William Speiden, Sr., and flowering branch. Unidentified Japanese artist. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, c. Mar. 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • Mar. 28, 1854

    Rumor circulates that in the negotiations the Japanese have agreed to open two ports to Americans, including Shimoda.

  • Mar. 31, 1854

    Speiden records the historic day of agreement in the matters of negotiation. He was among the few permitted to land for the occasion and proceed to the House of Reception with Commodore Perry. Per treaty, Shimoda and Hakodate will become open ports to the United States.

  • April 4, 1854

    Commander Henry A. Adams is dispatched to convey the newly signed Kanagawa treaty to officials in the United States. He departs on board the Saratoga to begin his homeward journey.

  • April 6, 1854

    The Americans make a gift to the Japanese of their twelve-pound Howitzers, with boat and field carriage and other equipment.

  • April 10, 1854

    Americans draw within sight of Edo and then turn and stand for Yokohama.

    William Speiden, Jr., Map of Yedo Bay. From Speiden Journal, vol. 1, c. Mar. 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • April 18, 1854

    At the bay of the island of Oshima, “a small harbour but a very pretty place.”

  • April 21, 1854

    Commodore Perry goes ashore to return an official call of the Governor. The men make jest of a Marine who took a misstep while attempting to land and fell overboard (“So up sprang Jones to lead the way / When overboard he tumbled in the Bay”).

  • April 22, 1854

    Officers receive permission to visit Shimoda, staying within ten miles of shore. Shore leave has been restricted since an incident of unauthorized leave that took place earlier during negotiations raised objection by the Japanese. Speiden goes ashore with his friend Anton L. C. Portman and others. They walk out into the country. Speiden notes the picturesque scenery, the presence of many children, and a visit with some young Japanese ladies.

    Japanese women, Shimoda. Lithograph by T. Sinclair after daguerreotype by Eliphalet M. Brown, Jr. Plate from Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan ... in ... 1852, 1853, and 1854, under ... Matthew C. Perry. Washington : A.O.P. Nicholson, printer, 1856. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-5773.
  • April 26, 1854

    Court Martial sentences are read for two men.

  • May 6, 1854

    An accidental fall from the foretopsail yard takes the life of a sailor named Parish, who is buried in a Buddhist temple yard on shore.

  • May 7, 1854

    The Mississippi is approached by a boat carrying two Japanese men who have heard of America and wish to visit it, but cannot do so due to laws forbidding Japanese travel abroad. They hope the Americans will allow them passage. Refused in their request, they return to shore. They are later reported seen detained as prisoners. Near this point in his journal, Speiden inserts a four-page copy of “A Translated letter from two Intelligent Japanese.”

    Copy of letter from two . . . Japanese, 1854, p. 1. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, insert c. May 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • May 17, 1854

    At Hakodate, Japan, Speiden reports seeing many whales. He proclaims the harbor “magnificent” and one that “will accommodate a great many vessels.”

  • May 19, 1854

    Commodore Perry meets on board ship with Japanese officials, They report that residents have heard little of the 31 March 1854 treaty and that the inhabitants at Hakodate, believing the American ships have evil intentions, have been packing up their goods and leaving the city for the interior.

    Drawing of Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Unknown Japanese artist. Speiden Journal, vol. 1, c. Mar. 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • May 20, 1854

    Speiden goes ashore. His party takes a walk and visits a Buddhist temple, which he deems “the handsomest one I have ever seen in Japan.” They shop at the local stores and admire the large scale of the streets and the houses. Speiden notes special processes that should be used in shopping and paying for goods that differ from those to which Americans are accustomed.

  • May 23, 1854

    Japanese authorities lay complaint with Perry that Americans who came ashore rummaged through shopkeeper’s wares, paid inadequately for goods, or removed items without paying, having been allowed to do so in some cases by intimidated store owners. Americans are also accused of desecrating temples by playing cards on the premises. The Commodore inquires among the officers as to the circumstances of these reports of poor conduct. Shore leave is temporarily suspended.

  • May 24, 1854

    Americans are allowed on shore to shop at a Japanese bazaar, at which items are made available for sale with specific prices marked on them. The Southampton sets off to survey Volcano Bay.

  • May 28, 1854

    Speiden attends the funeral of a crew member of the Vandalia, who is buried on shore near a small temple.

  • May 30, 1854

    Speiden attends a concert of the Japanese Olio Minstrels on board the Powhatan. “A large number of the Japanese were on board and seemed highly pleased.”

  • June 7, 1854

    At Shimoda. “Early this morning we had a peep at our old friend Mt. Fuji-towering high into the heavens.”

  • June 12, 1854

    Commodore Perry has an interview with seven Princes, including some Treaty commissioners.

  • June 15, 1854

    The remains of American Robert Williams are moved for internment.

    Dinner given to Japanese Commissioners on board the Powhatan. From image by Wilhelm Heine. Philadelphia: P.S. Duval, c. 1856. Plate from Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan ... in ... 1852, 1853, and 1854, under ... M.C. Perry, Matthew C. Perry ; Francis L. Hawks, comp. Washington : A.O.P. Nicholson, printer, 1856. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-10442. (See also Speiden Journal, vol. 1, Image 258.)
  • June 28, 1854

    The Mississippi and Powhatan get under way, towing the Southampton. The Macedonian and Supply await favorable winds.

  • June 29, 1854

    Off the island of Oshima.

  • June 30, 1854

    The Americans encounter and board the English ship Great Britain, from Shanghai bound for London. Her captain explains he thought the American ships were Russians, and tried to evade, since England and France had entered hostilities with Russia. The Mississippi arrives within sight of the port of Naha, Lew Chew, and anchors there the morning of July 1. At this point in volume one of his journal, Speiden inserts “Lines found in a Japanese Tea box” as translated by Rev. S. Wells Williams.

    Lines found in a Japanese Tea box [translation.] Speiden Journal, vol. 1, insert c. June 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • July 1, 1854

    The Mississippi and Powhatan anchor at port at Naha, Lew Chew.

  • July 2, 1854

    Rev. Mr. G. H. Morton (Moreton), an English missionary at Lew Chew, delivers the sermon for Divine Service aboard the Mississippi. Speiden concludes volume one of his journal, writing: “This day I close this book, I know that there are a great many mistakes in it, such as misspelt words, words left out & tautology. I have endeavored to please myself. I do not know how it will please others, hope, well.” He follows the entry with a roster of officers of the Mississippi, penned in the last pages of the journal.

    Last dated entry in Speiden Journal, vol. 1, 2 July 1854. Speiden Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
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