Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Station, to George Goodwin Dewey

 

Flagship Olympia

Yokohama Japan.

23d January. /98

My dear Son.

     It is Yokohama not Yokehama as you addressed your last letter to me which was received in due time on our arrival here the other day- The “Gaelic” is to sail for San Francisco in four days so I will have this note ready.

     You must write on both sides of your letter paper as they charge double postage over half and ounce- Capt. Shackford is from Portsmouth,1 he knew your mother2 well and married a great friend of hers- I am glad you know this family. And I am glad you have so many pleasant homes to visit. It is not good for a man to live altogether with men- I Know this well from a long experience.

     Nagasaki was pleasant and interesting but I had to come up here on Squadron and other duties.

     One is to have an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan3 at Tokio next week. It would have come off to-morrow or next day, but the Empress is ill- In about a fortnight I expect to go down to Hong Kong where I shall probably find the “Raleigh” and “Petrel”. The “R” is now at Colombo and should reach Singapore by next Sunday and Hong Kong a week later, I hear this ship is soon to return home and am anxious to know what they will send me for a flagship. Perhaps the “Baltimore” which is now the flagship of Admiral Miller4 at Honolulu. On some accounts the “Baltimore will make a better flagship for this station than the “Olympia”- The latter needs some repairs and a new crew and officers.5 Capt. Gridley6 is the Captain and I should be sorry to lose him. I send a few slips taken from the newspapers out here. They have not much to write about although great events are formulating at their very doors-

     But there is not much “freedom of the press” in Japan. To-morrow or next day I am going off to Tokio to call on the U.S. Minister-7 They say it is an interesting place and I expect to enjoy the visit. You should see my Chinese servants in their long robes, reaching almost to the ground- I have four, a cook, steward, pantry man and valet and they are the best. servants I have ever seen or expect to see- The cook and steward were with Admirals’ Carpenter and McNair-8 I will not close this until the sailing day of the steamer as something of interest may turn up.

                        Your affectionate father

                             George Dewey

Source Note: ALS, DN-HC, PGGD, Box 1. On “Flagship Olympia” stationery. Also included are a typed transcript and photocopy of the original envelope.

Footnote 1: Possibly, William G. Shackford who served as an Acting Master in the Navy. A reference to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Footnote 2: Dewey’s deceased wife, Susan Boardman Goodwin Dewey.

Footnote 3: Emperor Mutsuhito and his wife Masako Ichijo. Mutsuhito was later given the title Meiji the Great.

Footnote 4: Commander of on the Pacific Station RAdm. Joseph N. Miller.

Footnote 5: Olympia was scheduled to return to the Pacific Station at Honolulu, Hawaii, but escalating diplomatic tensions with Spain forced Acting Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt to revoke these orders. See: Roosevelt to Dewey, February 26, 1898.

Footnote 6: Capt. Charles V. Gridley.

Footnote 7: United States Minister Plenipotentiary to the Empire of Japan, Alfred E. Buck.

Footnote 8: Dewey’s two predecessors, RAdm. Charles C. Carpenter, who retired, 27 February 1896, and Commo. Frederick V. McNair.

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