Mr. Seward to the ministers for foreign affairs of Japan.
To their excellencies the ministers for foreign affairs of his Majesty the Tycoon of Japan:
I have carefully read and considered the letter which you have addressed to me concerning a postponement of the time for the opening of Yedo to residence by American citizens, and of certain ports to American commerce, stipulated in our existing treaty with Japan. I have also received the instructions of the President of the United States thereupon.
Your letter presents very important considerations in a strong light and in a good and liberal spirit towards the United States and other western nations. The subject, however, has been complicated by the yet unpunished and unatoned homicide of Mr. Heusken, our late secretary of legation. You must be aware that the first element of national fraternity is the safety of the persons charged with the conduct of their mutual intercourse and relations. The spirit of this government is liberal and friendly towards Japan, but it is obliged to ask that its messengers to that country shall be protected by the government of Japan. I have reason to know that the same spirit animates, all the western powers.
I shall fully instruct Townsend Harris of the views and opinions of this government, and I sincerely trust that he will be able to negotiate with you upon a basis that shall render the future intercourse between your great country and our own a perpetual source of benefit to both.[Page 822]
I offer to your excellencies the assurance of my very high and distinguished consideration.