Mr. Portman to Mr. Seward.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, inclosure No. 1, copy of the affidavit of Mr. George Lewis Squires, an American citizen and a pilot for this port, setting forth that, while cruising outside the bay on the 6th instant, he was suddenly attacked by his crew and narrowly escaped death, this crew consisting of four native sailors, leaving, with his boat and all he possessed, for parts unknown.

He was picked up by a native fishing-boat and landed at Misaki, and after traveling on foot in his disabled condition from that place to Yokohama, a distance of about forty miles, he reached here on the 8th instant, in a pitiable state.

[Page 626]

After having his wounds dressed, he proceeded to the consulate for the purpose of obtaining redress and the recovery of his property.

Mr. Stahel being absent on a visit to Hiogo and Osaka, he made his statement to Mr. Jay, an American merchant, who is temporarily acting as consul at this port. This gentlemen omitted to give me any notice, and it was not before the 10th instant that I heard of the outrage. I immediately called at the consulate, and then learned that on the previous day (the 9th) Mr. Squires’s case had been brought to the notice of the local authorities, it being supposed that he was an American, as he asserted.

As soon as convinced of his nationality, I caused his affidavit to be taken, and also procured a certificate from his surgeon, copy of which I herewith transmit, inclosure No. 2. This was done with all possible dispatch. When furnished with these documents, on the 11th instant, I addressed a letter to the Sorogin and minister for foreign affairs, copy of which I also transmit, inclosure No. 3, urging the immediate issue of orders for the arrest of the criminals and the recovery of the boat and other property, in order that this matter might be fully and promptly investigated.

To see the minister at his residence in Yedo would have involved delay, as personages of that rank still hedge themselves in with many ceremonies and formalities, and a notice of twenty-four hours at least is required before an interview can be obtained. I was well aware that the jurisdiction of the governors of a port does not extend beyond the treaty limits, and at an interview I had with the local governor on Monday, the 13th instant, he readily admitted that such was the case. On that occasion the governor also informed me that on the previous day, (the 12th,) thus three days after he received the first notice of the outrage from the consulate, he had dispatched an officer to the province of Idsu; and further, if necessary, to request the local authorities to lend their aid in procuring the arrest of the boatmen and the recovery of the boat. On the way this officer met a messenger, from whom he learned that a boat and two sailers had been taken in charge at Atami, in the province of Idsu, and it was hoped that this boat and the sailors might be identified by Mr. Squires as those his officer was in search of. The boat and the prisoners would be sent to this port as soon as possible.

The Sorogin can order where a governor only can request, and it was with great pleasure, therefore, that I received a letter from the Yedo governor of Kanagawa, by order of the Sorogin, stating that the orders applied for had been issued.

Five days have now elapsed, however, and neither boat nor the arrested boatmen have as yet made their appearance.

The return of Mr. Stahel, our consul, is now daily expected, and I hope still to be able to inform you by this mail that the prisoners and the property have arrived here, and that a commencement with the investigation of this matter has been made in a proper manner.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

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No. 1.

Affidavit of George Lewis Squires.

Consulate of the United States of America, Kanagawa, Japan.

On this 11th day of January, A. D. 1868, before me, A. O. Gay, acting consul of the United States of America for Kanagawa and the dependencies thereof, personally appeared George L. Squires, a Yokohama pilot, who, being duly sworn on oath, deposed and said as follows, viz:

That ever since his arrival in Yokohama he has pursued the trade of pilot, and is the owner of a large Japanese house-boat, fitted out as a pilot-boat and manned with a Japanese crew of four men; that on or about the 1st January, 1868, having come down to Yokohama to get fresh provisions, he had engaged an entirely new crew; that on the 2d January he left Yokohama and went cruising outside the bay; that on the morning of the 6th January, 4½ o’clock a. m., about three or four miles off Cape Sagami and Misaki, heading northwest, he gave the boat in charge to the head sendo (boatman) and went below to get some sleep, and had scarcely laid down when he received a heavy blow on the left part of the forehead from one of the boatmen. He then got up to defend himself. One was in the cabin and two in the door in the companion way. He got hold of the first and tried to put him out; they then gave way until he reached the deck, when they seized him and threw him overboard. While he fell he grasped the fore halliards with the right hand and the gunwale with the other. They then tried to cut one hand with a hatchet, and struck him on the other with a stick, so as to get him clear of the boat. He managed to roll himself back into the boat, and tried to get the hatchet from one of them, in which he did not succeed, and was thrown for a second time over-board. He then got clear of the boat and swam to the forecastle, and got again into the house. They stopped abaft, and did not interfere until daylight.

The other pilot schooner was then within about two miles of them, and he tried to make signs to them to come and assist him, but they did not see it. When his boatmen saw the flag, they put right off to Ohodima. He then tried to get the dingy out, which was lying abreast of the boat-house, and managed to get it half-way overboard before they perceived it. They then tried to smash the boat to prevent him from going into her. He managed to get the boat off, though, and to get into it, defending himself as well as he could. He shoved off and got clear about 9 a.m. They then commenced to sail as fast as they could towards Ohodima; when they were near the island—the last he saw of them—they were steering to the westward, in the direction of Simoda. He was left in the dingy without oars until about 11 o’clock p. m., when a fishing-boat very reluctantly took him on board. About 2 a. m., on the 7th January, he was landed by the said boat at Misaki.

This boat was Japanese-rigged; though no money was left in her, he estimates the value of the property in her belonging to him, among which were his papers, personal effects, tackle, sails, ropes, &c., to amount to about $2,000. The boat is painted black, with a white house with green blinds. The names of his sendo (boatmen) are unknown to him; they were four in number, all stout, strong-built, thickset men, of medium size; they were treated with kindness and never complained, nor had they any reason to do so; they always seemed to be satisfied, and they never had any hard words together.

That he was born in the year 1841, in the city of New York, New York, United States of America, and that the papers proving his identity are on board of the above-mentioned pilot-boat.

Given under my hand and seal of this consulate, the day and year in this certificate first above written.

[seal.] A. O. GAY, United States Acting Consul.

No. 2.

Certificate by Surgeon J. J. R. Dalliston, of Yokohama, in the case of George Lewis Squires, wounded by his Japanese boatmen on the 6th January, 1868.

Yokohama, January 11, 1868.

I saw Mr. Squires first about 4 p. m. on Wednesday, the 8th instant. I dressed four wounds on his arms and legs, my assistant, Mr. Lightfoot, dressing five others. They were wounds inflicted by some sharp instrument, three of them being arrested by bone. At this time they seemed to have been done about from twenty-four to thirty-six hours ago; were none of them serious—but from the inflammation which had already set in—[Page 628]with the exception of one on the left wrist, which, having opened the joint, might be attended with injury to the use of his hand. The arm to-day is much swollen, and there is erysipelas present, which has commenced at the wound in the wrist. He is under treatment, but I am not able to say whether lasting injury will result until the inflammation subsides.

No. 3.

Mr. Portman to Osasawara Iki No Kami.

No. 4.]

I regret to have to inform your excellency that Mr. George L. Squires, an American citizen, and a pilot for this port, while in his boat off Cape Sagami, on the 6th instant, was suddenly and savagely assaulted by his Japanese crew, consisting of a head boatman and three other sailors.

I transmit herewith inclosure No. 1, the sworn statement of Mr. Squires, from which you will perceive that he succeeded in effecting his escape in the dingy or small boat, and that the crew, with his pilot-boat and all he possessed on board, were last seen by him apparently making for Simoda.

A preliminary notice of this outrage was already given by the United States acting consul to the governor of Kanagawa on the 9th instant; yet, as it has not been committed within the Kanagawa jurisdiction, I intended at once to address your excellency on the subject. Mr. Squires’s wounds, however, were quite severe; he was twice thrown overboard; he was then, during a whole day, (the 6th instant,) drifting in an open boat, and finally obliged to walk from Misaki to Yokohama, where he arrived on the 8th instant, utterly exhausted from loss of blood, painful inflammation, and fatigue. It was not, therefore, until to-day that his sworn statement could be procured.

I also transmit No. 2, a certificate by Surgeon Dalliston, of Yokohama, of the state of his wounds.

It is now my duty respectfully to urge upon your excellency the immediate issue of orders for the apprehension of the four boatmen mentioned, and for the recovery, on behalf of Mr. Squires, of his pilot-boat and her contents, in order that this matter may be promptly and fully investigated and due justice be done.

I trust your excellency will permit me to observe that those boatmen can, no doubt, easily be tracked from the spot where the boat put in; that these men are probably still with her, and that it cannot be difficult to discover her whereabouts from the description submitted in Mr. Squires’s affidavit; and, moreover, a Yokohama house-boat is of an entirely different construction from those used in any other part of Japan.

While reserving such action as may be warranted by the result of the prompt investigation I now beg to solicit, I have, in conclusion, to request that your excellency will be pleased to inform me, at your earliest convenience, that the orders as above applied for have already been issued.

With respect and esteem,


His Excellency Osasawara Iki No Kami, Minister for Foreign Affairs, &c., &c., &c., Yedo.