Commodore Matthew C. Perry and the Opening of Japan

Related Resources:
Biography of Commodore Matthew C. Perry
Documents in the Navy Department Library
Navy Museum Exhibit: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan

Navy Museum Lesson Plans:
Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan
Permanent Friends: The Treaty of Kanagawa
Treaty of Kanagawa



In the mid-nineteenth century, Japan was largely a closed society, resistant to diplomatic and commercial contact with foreigners. Attempts by the United States and other nations to establish formal relations with Japan were repeatedly rebuffed. In response to this situation, in March 1852, President Millard Fillmore ordered Matthew C. Perry to command the U.S. Navy's East India Squadron and to establish diplomatic relations with Japan. Perry initially delivered President Fillmore's request for a treaty to a representative of the Japanese emperor in July 1853. Perry returned with a larger force in 1854, arriving in Edo (Tokyo) Bay, and obtained the signature of Japanese authorities to the Treaty of Kanagawa on 31 March 1854. As a result of this treaty of permanent friendship, a U.S. consul was stationed at Shimoda, U.S. vessels were allowed access to the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to obtain provisions, and shipwrecked seamen from U.S. vessels were to receive the assistance of Japanese authorities. This treaty led to significant commercial trade between the United States and Japan, contributed to opening Japan to other Western nations, and ultimately resulted in the modernization of the Japanese state.

Verso of medal:

"Presented to Com. M.C. Perry Special Minister from the U.S.A. by merchants of Boston in token of their appreciation of his services in negotiating the Treaty With Japan signed at Yoku-hama, March 31, and with Lew Chew at Napa July 11, 1854."

Naval History and Heritage Command Curator Branch Collection, item #60-274-2

 

 Bronze Medal - Verso of medal: "Presented to Com. M.C. Perry Special Minister from the U.S.A. by merchants of Boston in token of their appreciation of his services in negotiating the Treaty With Japan signed at Yoku-hama, March 31, and with Lew Chew at Napa July 11, 1854."  Naval Historical Center Curator Branch Collection, item #60-274-2

Bronze Medal

 

List of Gifts Commodore Matthew C. Perry Took With Him To Japan

1 box of arms, containing:
5 Hall's rifles
3 Maynard's muskets
12 cavalry swords
6 artillery swords
1 carbine
20 army pistols
2 carbine, cartridge box and belts, containing 120 cartridges
10 Hall's rifles
11 cavalry swords
1 carbine, cartridge box & belts, and 60 cartridges
60 ball cartridges
1 box books, Emperor
1 box dressing-cases, Emperor
1 box perfumery, 2 packages, Emperor
1 barrel whiskey, Emperor
1 cask wine, Emperor
1 box distribution
1 box containing 11 pistols, for distribution
1 box perfumery, for distribution
A quantity of cherry cordials, distribution
A quantity of cherry cordials, Emperor
A number of baskets champaigne, Emperor
A number of baskets champaigne, commissioners
1 box chinaware, commissioners
A quantity of maraschino, commissioners
1 telescope, Emperor
Boxes of tea, Emperor
1 box of tea, commissioners
2 telegraph instruments
3 Francis's life-boats
1 locomotive & tender, passenger car and rails complete
4 volumes Audubon Birds of America
3 volumes Audubon Quadrupeds
several clocks
10 ship's beakers, containing 100 gallons whiskey
8 baskets Irish potatoes
3 stoves
Boxes standard United States Balances
Boxes standard United States bushels
Boxes standard United States gallon measures
Boxes standard United States yards
1 box coast charts
4 bundles telegraph wires
1 box gutta percha wires
4 boxes batteries
1 box machine paper
1 box zinc plates
1 box insulators
1 box connecting apparatus
1 box machine weights
1 box acid
1 box seed
Large quantity of agricultural implements, etc. etc. etc..

 Contemporary Japanese print depicting two of the U.S. Marines with Commodore Perry's command,
 Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph #NH42759.

Contemporary Japanese print depicting two of the U.S. Marines with Commodore Perry's command, Naval Historical Center Photographic Branch #NH42759.

Source: "List of Gifts Commodore Matthew C. Perry Took With Him to Japan." Unpublished, undated typescript located in Matthew C. Perry ZB file, box 176, Navy Department Library.


Ships of the Expedition to Japan

Steamer Mississippi, Commander H.A. Adams, flagship.
Steamer Powhatan, Captain McCluney.
Steamer Susquehanna, Commander Buchanan.
Sloop-of-war Macedonian, Captain Abbot.
Sloop-of-war Plymouth, Commander Kelly.
Sloop-of-war Saratoga, Commander Walker.
Sloop-of-war Vandalia, Commander Pope.
Storeship Supply, Lieutenant Arthur Sinclair.
Storeship Southampton, Lieutenant Boyle.
Storeship Lexington, Lieutenant Glasson.

 

Source: Navy Department, Library and Naval War Records. "Memorandum Concerning Matthew Calbraith Perry, U.S.N." Unpublished typescript, dated 30 January 1904, located in Matthew C. Perry ZB file, box 176, Navy Department Library.

 

Image of model in Navy Museum - USS Powhatan

 Image of model in Navy Museum - USS Powhatan