Mr. Van Valkenburgh to Mr. Seward.

No. 14.]

Sir: I had the honor, in my No. 13, to inform you of a rumor that the Tycoon had abdicated, and that the Prince of Kiusiu had been named as his successor as the head of the Tokugawa family; that Mr. Roches, the French minister, had returned to this port, but whether to resume his position or en route to France, I was not then aware. On yesterday, the 29th of February, the foreign representatives held a conference, at which he was present. He announced his determination to resume his functions and delay his departure, having received, by the last mail which reached Yokohama during his recent stay there, instructions from his government to remain until his successor arrived. He held conferences with the Tycoon while at Yedo, on the 12th and 19th February. The Tycoon in the first interview declared his intention of submitting to the will of the Mikado; but at the same time denying his right to invade or deprive him of his possessions as the head of the Tokugawa family, insisting upon protecting them to the utmost. At the same time he repeated the history of this struggle as I have attempted to give it in my previous dispatches, and alleged that the Mikado was in duress and not acting of his own free will. On the second interview he informed Mr. Roches that he had abdicated and that the Prince of Kiusiu, a boy of about seventeen years of age, was his successor as head of his family; that he, the late Tycoon, would act for the prince, and be the manager of his affairs; that it was intended only to protect their patrimonial estates and no further than that, to carry on the war against the Mikado.

This abdication was promulgated at Yedo on the 19th February, but as yet we have received no official notice of it. I trust this act, by which Japan is left without a Tycoon, and with but a single government, that of the Mikado, will result in peace; but it is difficult to say, there are so many discordant elements and separate interests, that dissensions and strifes may yet continue.

I inclose, marked No. 1, copy of Mr. Roches’ letter, announcing his return, which was received by me late last night.

Yesterday, Date Iyo No Kami, one of the officers charged with the conduct of foreign affairs, arrived from Kioto and paid me a visit of ceremony. He arranged for a business conference for to-day, at one o’clock, with all the foreign representatives, and it is just concluded. He said to us that the officer ordering the fire upon foreigners on the 4th instant had been examined and found guilty of a grievous offense, and been sentenced to death, and that to-morrow had been assigned as the day of execution. That we should also receive to-morrow the [Page 680] apology from the Mikado’s government. We then arranged to go to Osaka on Thursday, the 5th instant, reopen our legations for a short time, and return to Yokohama. The Costa Rica mail closes in a few moments, and I have no further time to write.

From Nagasaki I hear all is quiet. The new governor of that port, appointed by the Mikado, sails to-morrow for that place. I inclose copies of two official communications received by me yesterday from the United States consul there, marked Nos. 2 and 3.

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


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


Sir and Dear Colleague: I had the honor to inform you, by my letter of the ninth February, for what motives I thought it necessary, without separating the action of France from the collective action of the foreign representatives, to leave Hiogo and return to Yokohama.

During the few days that I have passed at Yokohama and at Yedo I have convinced myself that it was more convenient and in the interests of my government that I returned to you and communicated to you the information and impressions I had collected. Acting like this, I had thought that even my absence might be useful for the general interests we represent in Japan, and that to the gratification of giving you this information would be added the one of informing you personally of the state of things, and of one of the phases of our present situation, as well as to recommence with you the community of views and work which has been so happily maintained by the Baron Brin.

I am happy to approve everything which Baron Brin has done in conjunction with you, and to thank you for the help you have lent him during the interview I had charged him with. I have, therefore, only to felicitate myself for having left and having returned.

I am, sir, and dear colleague, with assurances of my consideration,


His Excellency General Van Valkenburgh, Minister Resident of the United States of America.


No. 22.]

Sir: By her Britanic Majesty’s ship Adventure, which leaves here very shortly for Hiogo, I hasten to give you some information concerning the situation of affairs at this port.

Considerable excitement has existed here during the last week, in consequence of the news received from Osaka of the defeat of the forces of the Tycoon by those of Satsuma and other princes.

The governor of the port, Kawaza Izu No Kami, finding he had not a sufficient force at his command to hold the place in the event of an attack being made by the men of Satsuma, Tosa, and other Daimios hostile to the Tycoon’s government, considered it prudent to resign his authority here, and on the eighth instant left for Yokohama in the steamer Courier, accompanied by all the Yedo officials who had been connected with him in the management of aifairs at this port. When on the point of leaving he addressed a letter to each of the consuls of the treaty powers, stating that he had left the city of Nagasaki under the protection of the Princes Hiziu and Chickuzen, according to previous instructions from his government. His hurried departure was doubtless owing to his having received information the night before that his house would be attacked and burnt during the night by a number of Rouins, about eighty, said to be in town. It was also reported that the foreign settlement would probably be attacked and the custom-house and bonded warehouse fired; consequently an armed force from the Shenandoah and two English naval vessels in port was landed for their protection. No attack, however, was made, though we learned on the following day that Tosa’s [Page 681] men took possession of the governor’s house during the night, but found the governor had already left. The agents here of different Daimois, fourteen in number, the most prominent ones being Hiziu, Chickuzen, Satsuma, and Tosa, on the day of the governor’s departure notified the foreign consuls that pending the appointment of a governor for this port by the Mikado they had assumed control of affairs here, and all business would be transacted by themselves in conjunction with the local officers; and at an interview just had with them they assured us that no action would be taken on their part to endanger the lives and property of foreigners, but that their interests would be properly cared for. I have therefore adopted the course pursued by my colleagues, with the exception of the French consul, who refuses to recognize any one but the Princes of Hiziu and Chickuzen, and recognized these agents as constituting the government de facto at this port, and trust that by doing so my action will meet with your approval.

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

D. L. MOORE, United States Consul.

Gen. R. B. Van Vankenburgh, United States Minister Resident in Japan, Hiogo.


No. 25.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on the twelfth instant, of your dispatches, Nos. 20, 26, and 28, all relating to the disturbances at Osaka, and instructing me how to act should war occur at this port between the contending factions.

My dispatch No. 22, of the eleventh instant, will acquaint you with all that has transpired here up to that date, since when the excitement has entirely subsided; the business of the port, both native and foreign, is being conducted as usual, and foreigners visit the native city without being molested, though the number of two-sworded men in town has considerably increased of late.

Although the princes’ agents, now in authority, have so far conducted matters satisfactorily, yet it is very desirable that a governor be sent here as soon as possible, as nearly all of them are largely indebted to foreigners, and as long as they have control here it will be a difficult matter to obtain a settlement with them. Claims to a considerable amount against several of them were some time ago forwarded by me to the late governor, but they still remain unsettled.

I have not yet been able to communicate with our consul at Hakodadi, as requested by you, no opportunity having lately offered for that port.

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

D. L. MOORE, United States Vice-Consul.

Gen. R. B. Van Vankenburgh, United States Minister Resident in Japan, Hiogo.