Mr. Van Valkenburgh to Mr. Seward.

No. 13.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you, marked inclosure No. 1, copy of a memorandum made by all the representatives of foreign powers, and bearing upon my order to Mr. Portman to delay the delivery of the Stonewall. This matter was fully discussed by us in our conference of the 18th instant, at which our notices of neutrality were agreed upon, but the memorandum was only signed to-day.

The position of affairs is, as near as I have been able to learn, as follows: The government of the Mikado is in the hands of Satsuma, Chos-hui, Tosa, Etchizen, Owari, and several other Daimios. The southern or western portion of the country submit to his authority, while east of the Hakim Mountains the Tycoon’s party is strong. It is said to-day that the Tycoon has become “inkio,” or retired from power, and that the Prince of Kiusiu has been declared head of the Yokugawa family and successor of the Tycoon.

I have no reason to doubt this report, as it comes very well authenticated from Yedo, What effect this will have upon the present position it is impossible to tell, but I trust through it may be found an end to the war. If the Prince of the Kiusiu submits, all will be well.

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Mr. Roches, the late minister of France, yesterday returned to this port with four French vessels of war. What this advent portends I cannot say, as he has been, during his recent absence from here, in consultation with the late Tycoon at Yedo. Perhaps he may again resume his functions as minister, and it may be that he is only en route to France.

Yesterday we received from Higashi Kuse Saki No Sho Sho a letter announcing that the punishment of the officer ordering the fire on the foreign residents at this place, on the 4th instant, will be inflicted soon at Hiogo. I inclose a copy, marked No. 2. The apology of the Mikado’s government, I presume, will accompany this act.

We believe it will have a good effect upon this government. Since the opening of the country to foreigners the Tycoon has never been able to punish any retainer of a large Daimio who committed an offense against a foreigner, and if now we have found a power equal to such an emergency, it is certainly something new and worth cultivating.

The foreign legations are being prepared for us at Osaka. After receiving the reparation we have demanded we shall probably re-establish ourselves at Osacca for a brief period, and then, I hope, return to Yedo or Yokohama, to watch the progress of affairs. It has been intimated to us that we will be invited to an audience with the Mikado at Kioto, but such invitation has not yet been received.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


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


Present, the representatives of France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Prussia, and the United States.

Taking into mature consideration the fact that hostilities have broken out in Japan between his Majesty the Mikado and the Tycoon, and that the only way to preserve a perfect neutrality between the contending parties is to regard them both as belligerents, the undersigned, having learned that vessels of war have been ordered by princes belonging to both the contending parties in Europe as well as in America, and are expected to arrive shortly in Japan, have come to the following conclusions:

That the fact of the delivery to either of the contending parties of any vessel of war arriving in the Japanese waters under the flag of one of the above-mentioned powers, and being therefore still under the jurisdiction of such power, would constitute a breach of neutrality.

1. That the possession of such vessel of war might enable either of the contending parties not only to blockade the open ports in Japan, and therefore to completely ruin the foreign commerce in this country, but also to offer formidable opposition to the naval forces of the treaty powers, in these seas, in case any difficulties should happen to arise between either of the belligerents and the treaty powers, a case not unlikely to occur in the present disturbed state of affairs in this country.

2. That, taking into consideration the above-mentioned reasons, the undersigned agree to use severally their utmost endeavors to prevent the delivery to either of the contending parties of vessels of war arriving in these waters; and they further agree that this understanding shall remain in force until they shall receive the instructions of their respective governments on this question, or until the restoration of peace shall render the continuance of such measures unnecessary.

3. This vote is executed by the undersigned this day in virtue of an understanding already arrived at by them on the 18th instant.

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Sir: The Bizen retainer who gave the order to fire against the legations of the treaty powers is at present in the province of Bizen. He will be at once dispatched to Hiogo, and punishment will be inflicted on him. With respect and consideration,


His Excellency R. B. Van Vankenburgh, American Minister.