Mr. Seward to Mr. Harris.

No. 17.]

Sir: Your despatch of May 8 (No. 20) has been received, together with the letter mentioned therein, written by the Tycoon of Japan to the President, and the letter from the ministers of foreign affairs addressed to myself.

All these papers relate to a proposition of the Japanese government that the opening of the cities of Yedo and Osacca and the harbors of Hiogo and Neegata, as stipulated in our existing treaty, shall be postponed. Your own counsel, as given in your despatch, is that discretionary power be given to the diplomatic agent of the United States to act in concert with his colleagues, the representatives of other powers standing in relations towards Japan similar to those of the United States.

The course suggested is, as you doubtless were aware, different from what has been contemplated by the President. He holds, however, your ability and discretion in high consideration, and therefore care will be taken to review the subject fully, upon consultation, if possible, with the representatives here of the other powers concerned. As soon as the subject shall have been thus considered you will receive a definitive communication in relation to it.

In the meantime you will inform the Tycoon and the ministers for foreign affairs that their letters have been received and taken into consideration, with a [Page 814] due desire to establish the intercourse between the United States and Japan on the best and surest foundations.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Townsend Harris, Esq., &c., &c., Yedo.