commodore matthew perry by Crossofchanges


									Journal Writing Assignment: Commodore Perry and the Black Ship Scrolls
Niskayuna High School, Niskayuna Central School District, Niskayuna, New York
World Connections: An Interdisciplinary 10th grade class
February 2005

Kathy Gisin, 10th grade student

Dear Journal,

       My name is Commodore Matthew Perry. I am a naval officer well known for my

strict rules and courage. In the year 1852 President Millard Fillmore selected me to lead

an expedition to Japan, to open political and trade relations with Japan.

       Before my voyage Americans had tried many different attempts to have good

relations with Japan. All of these missions did not go very well, most of them completely

failed. For example, in 1837 several American missionaries and an American

businessman in Shanghai tried to send an unarmed ship, the Morrison, to Edo Bay. The

purpose was to return several Japanese castaways, and they hoped this humanitarian

move would cause the Japanese to open the country to western nations. But the Morrison

was fired on by Edo shore batteries and withdrew.

       I led this voyage which had three purposes. The first was better treatment for

shipwrecked Americans. Another reason is that steamships needed refueling stations.

These were necessary in order for ships to reach China. A port in Japan where coal could

be purchased was a high priority for the Navy. The third purpose was to expand formal

trade. America’s Manifest Destiny, the idea of extraordinary territorial growth of the

United States, included domination in the Pacific. In addition, the American Church,

which possessed its own task of “civilizing and christianizing Asia,” saw Japan as a
particularly important target for its activities. The Church wanted Japan to accept

Christianity as a religion.

        My job also involved gathering information on Japan and surveying Japanese

coastal waters. My voyage later became known as the Perry expedition.

        I gathered a lot of adventurous people to join me on my mission. William Heine,

an artist, came with me. Eliphalet M. Brown was an official photographer on my

expedition. Dr. James Morrow was the agricultural and botanist specialist onboard. I also

hired a Chinese scholar by the name of S. Wells Williams, who had worked as a Japanese

interpreter with the Morrison in 1837. There were also many other sailors on my

expedition. Sam Patch was a Japanese castaway who helped with translating. These

individuals were all aboard the black ships. The reason these ships were called the black

ships was because of the smoke and coal of our steam ships.

        I brought with me to Edo Bay four ships, which we anchored off Uraga on July 8,

1853. I refused to negotiate with anyone who was not of the highest rank. I came back to

Japan in February of the year 1854. This time I brought with me ten vessels; three steam

ships, four sloops and three supply ships. This was about one quarter of the entire United

States Navy.

                                                     -Commodore Matthew Perry

Dear Journal,

        There are a few reasons why I traveled by steam ship to Japan. The first and the

most important reason were because this was the fastest way to travel long distance. My

crew and I left for Japan the first time from Norfolk, Virginia on November 24, 1852. We
traveled through many cities and countries including Madeira, St. Helena, Capetown, Sri

Lanka, and Singapore. Finally, on July 8th, 1853 we arrived on the shore of Edo Bay.

       Another reason why we used steam ships was because of Shimoda Harbor, in

Japan, was a safe distance from Edo bay. Another reason was because this harbor was

deep enough for large ships to enter. All of this was excellent for my crew and me for our

arrival in Japan.

       I was highly clever as a delegate and succeeded in negotiating the treaty of

“Friendship and Amity” also called the Kanagawa Treaty. By signing this treaty the

Japanese agreed to open the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American ships. This

treaty promised to provide supplies to American vessels. The Japanese also agreed to

treat shipwrecked sailors well. The last, but not the least, agreement was to establish an

American consulate in Shimoda and to exchange officials between the United States and

Japan. The Kanagwa treaty was signed on March 31, 1854. This was an important

milestone in the relationship of the two countries. The festivities were a blast!

       I am so glad that we successfully completed our expedition in Japan.

                                                      -Commodore Matthew Perry

Dear Journal,

       We presented the Japanese with gifts today, including a miniature railroad, a

telegraph apparatus, modern fire-fighting equipment, various agricultural tools, books

and many other useful gifts. The Japanese presented us with a sumo wrestling match, 36

pieces of fine silk, four boxes of seashells, 35 bundles of oak charcoal, and many other

valuable objects.
       After all the exchanges of gifts the captain, whose was named Henry Adams, sped

home with the signed treaty. Us Americans wanted Japan as soon as possible to provide a

safe place for United State’s sailors from fleets who became ship wrecked near Japan’s

shores. We also wanted Japan to allow American steamships to be supplied with coal and

water in Japanese ports.

       During the expedition to Japan a Japanese artist drew many pictures of the Black

Ship included in the Black Ship Scrolls. These paintings were passed from town to town

in Japan and the curiosity about the American quickly spread. These paintings began a

pleasant period in the first American encounter with Japan. During our stay, we were

invited to join the Japanese in their daily activities, for example, participating in the local

tradition of making sticky rice cakes.

       I did not allow officers and other men to send home journals, notes, drawings, or

specimens from the voyage without printing it in newspapers. At least some of my crew

obeyed my order, so most of the information known about my expedition comes from my

own personal journal.

       There were many gifts exchanged by the Americans and the Japanese and because

of this expedition the two countries have expanded their relationship. I am very pleased

that our mission was accomplished.

                                                       -Commodore Matthew Perry

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