Mr. Coombs to Mr. Foster.
Tokio Japan, August 25, 1892. (Received September 22.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith the report of the governor of Tokusima Ken upon the wreck of the American merchant vessel North American upon the coast of that prefecture, and, also, copy of correspondence with His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s minister for foreign affairs relative to the matter. From other sources it appears that the villagers who rendered such timely assistance to the crew of the ill-fated vessel are fishermen in the most indigent circumstances. The place where the vessel struck must be a terrible one when the waves are running high. The shore is precipitous: in places are overhanging cliffs undermined by the surf. The vessel struck upon a large mass of rocks about 50 yards out from a place of this kind, and it was with the utmost difficulty and at great peril to themselves that the villagers succeeded in securing the line let out from the ship, and afterwards in getting the crew up the face of the cliff.
I am informed by Mr. George N. Armstrong, first officer of the North American, that men were let down by ropes from a point 100 feet above the sea to assist the exhausted crew through the surf. After their rescue they were treated with the utmost kindness, the natives vying with each other in parting with their small household treasures and comforts to relieve the sufferings of the strangers whom they had saved from death.
The evidence of the rescue, as given by the officers of the wrecked vessel, is a story of courage and humanity rarely, if ever, surpassed.
Should Congress see fit to testify the appreciation of the people of the United States for the heroic conduct displayed by these poor people it would be a graceful and well deserved recognition.
I would recommend that such testimonial be in the substantial form of money so as to enable them to purchase fishing boats, nets, and other fishing gear, and such things as will assist them in the pursuit of an occupation which to them is life and sustenance.
I have, etc.,