Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 3, 1901
Mr. Buck to Mr. Hay.
Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 1901.
Sir: I have the honor to report the coming to Yokohama of Rear-Admiral Frederick Rodgers with his flagship, the New York, accompanied by the United States ships, New Orleans and Yorktown, comprising a part of the Asiatic squadron, and also to remark upon the courtesies extended to the admiral and the officers of his ships.
Acting under instructions of the Navy Department to represent the United States Navy upon the occasion of the ceremonies attending the unveiling of a monument at Kurihama, erected by the Japanese “American Association of Japan” in commemoration of the advent of Commodore Perry forty-eight years ago, which ceremonies were to take place on the 14th instant, Rear-Admiral Rodgers arrived at Yokohama with his ships on the 7th instant. He with his officers have been most cordially received by the officials of the Japanese Government and by the people, as also by their majesties, the Emperor and the [Page 379]Empress, to whom I have had the honor to present them. The governor of Kanagawa-Ken and the mayor of Yokohama have extended courtesies of entertainments at banquets, as have also the governor and the mayor of Tokyo, the minister of marine and several admirals of the Japanese navy, and more of such entertainments are announced to be given, to all of which the admiral is responding in like manner and spirit.
On the morning of the 14th instant the three United States war vessels steamed to the harbor of Kurihama, where there were already live Japanese war vessels.
I inclose herewith cuttings from the Japan Times (a Japanese publication), on the 16th and 17th instants, giving a detailed account of the proceedings incident to the unveiling of the monument.
The imposing monument of granite is itself a testimony of gratitude for what Commodore Perry did, and the extraordinary and spontaneous welcome accorded Rear-Admiral Rodgers and his officers and ships will doubtless be appreciated by the people of the United States as significant proof of the deep feeling of friendship of the Japanese Government and people for the United States and our people.
I have, etc.,
the unveiling of the perry monument.
Imagine a slightly sloping and open sand beach with a frontage of say 400 yards. Imagine intermittent showers coming down, now in torrents now in drizzling mist with short intervals of what can only be called a suspicion of sunshine struggling out through the thinner portions of the overhanging clouds. Imagine, excepting a fairly wide pathway in the center ending seaward in an improvised pontoon bridge, the whole frontage consisting of a continuous wall of humanity standing 30 or 40 deep and consisting of all ages and both sexes with the younger ones bathing their feet in the soft rippling sea—this human wall being made picturesque by karakasa and umbrellas of all shapes and shades overhead, and by a full display of the rustic taste for striking and fantastic contrasts in the way of colors in the dresses. Imagine once again thousands upon thousands of wondering eyes all looking anxiously seaward where, a mile or so off, lie three white men-of-war majestically riding at anchor together with our Shikishima, Hatsuse, and Amagi at short distances from each other, while nearer shore torpedo boats and catchers, racing yachts and innumerable other small craft dot the surface, looking smart with flags in full rig. Imagine all this and you have a rough picture of how Kurihama looked for a good part of the morning of the 14th at the particular part where the Perry celebration took place.
About 11 o’clock the good ship Hakuai Maru, with some 300 ladies and gentlemen, Japanese and foreign, from Tokyo and Yokohama, and which had started from the Yokohama pier, hove in sight of the beach. The anchor having been dropped soon after, landing by steam launches and steam-towed junks began. It was raining then, and the proceedings were, to say the least, tedious, even unpleasant. But good humor prevailed everywhere, and nothing failed to provoke merriment, which was indeed the supreme feature of the two hours’ voyage, and which was now prolonged for another hour, during which time the landing was completed. From launches on to the pontoon, then between the staring and wondering crowds, the landing parties came to a big gate of evergreens, which was in the shape of a double cross—one by the side of the other. Inside the gate they were most courteously received by Baron Kaneke, president of the Beiyu Kyokai, and other members of the association, who politely ushered them into the curtain-fenced inclosure. The inclosure must have measured at least 100 by 100 yards or so, and in the center, and somewhat to the rear, rose the object of the day’s celebration, still veiled in a piece of light white cloth. On the right of the monument were-seen Rear-Admiral Rodgers and his fellow-officers, in full uniform, and other American officials, seated under a tent. Similarly to the left were the ministers of state, and high naval and army officers. Then, leaving a good-sized hollow square in the center, rows of tents formed the two sides where [Page 380]the guests were variously distributed, the foreigners being all housed in the tents next to that of the American officers; while fronting the monument, and with their backs to the entrance, a naval band took up their post, behind which two companies of marines from our warships formed guards.
A few minutes after 12, when the last man had taken his seat, Baron Kaneko appeared in a little improvised green bowered stage at the foot of the monument and announced the commencement of the ceremony. Then walking up to Admiral Rodgers he led that officer to the monument, from the top of which a white rope hung. In the midst of impressive silence the admiral gave a pull at the rope and down came the white veil, and there stood in full view a huge slab of granite with inscriptions in bright gold, cut deep into it and telling in seventeen Chinese characters, chosen and penned by Marquis Ito, what the stupendous rock pillar was for. The unveiling formed a signal for loud and enthusiastic applause which took some time to subside. Hardly had the hand-clapping ended when Baron Kaneko was again on the stage and began to read an address from a scroll of paper. But by this time the news of the unveiling had reached the United States and Japanese warships out in the sea, and they now commenced to fire salutes. While boom! boom! went on the guns, the Baron continued to read his speech, and the scene did not fail to make a most thrilling impression on the vast assembly. We give below a liberal translation of the baron’s address.
president kaneko’s address.
“Here it was at Kurihama in the district of Miura Kanagawa that on the 14th of July, 1853, Commodore Perry, of the United States of America, by order of his Government, first landed and opened negotiations with the special commissioner of the Shogunate to conclude a treaty of amity and commerce between Japan and the United States. It was at this spot that the modern civilization of our Empire had its beginning. Rear-Admiral Beardslee, who was a midshipman under Commodore Perry, came a second time to Japan last year, and on that occasion he one day revisited this place led by the memories of the past. Subsequently at a meeting of the American Association of Japan he, giving his reminiscences of our country as it was forty-nine years ago, said that he had found the Empire strictly maintaining the policy of stern seclusion and forming by herself a world of her own. But, he continued, his second visit had revealed to him an entirely different country almost able to compete with the great powers of the world in the onward march on the path of civilization.
The progress made by Japan during the half century had been so rapid and vast that the admiral could but think that his two visits had been separated by ages. The admiral also remarked that Kurihama was the gate through which Western civilization was introduced into Japan, and that it was his earnest wish that this important spot should have some lasting mark so that it might be remembered by posterity. The members of the association then present were greatly impressed by the narration and at once passed a resolution to erect a monument marking the places of Commodore Perry’s landing at Kurihama. But the association from the very beginning never meant to erect a monument of great cost and grandeur, but on the contrary we decided upon as simple and modest a design as possible to mark for the future one of the most important places in the history of Japanese Empire. Therefore only a small area of ground has been allotted for the purpose. When, however, our intentions became public, the people of the United States at once showed a most keen interest and moreover the Government of that country ordered Rear-Admiral Rodgers, commander in chief of the United States fleet in the East, to attend the unveiling ceremony with three men-of-war. Our most August Emperor having also heard of our undertaking was most graciously pleased to make us a grant in money toward the monument fund, a grant which the association acknowledged as an unexampled honor.
“But the construction of a monument of a national event is necessarily a national work, and should not, we thought, be carried out by a private association, but by the whole country. Particularly so, when it was so warmly taken up both at home and abroad. We therefore decided to enlarge the scope of our original design so as to comprise all ranks and classes of the Japanese people. But the time was too short to fully put in practice all the ideas entertained by the association, and besides when we made the change in our programme we found that the stone had already been cut and engraved and did not allow any alteration, so we were compelled to adhere as we have done to our original plan.
“To-day is the forty-ninth anniversary of the first landing of Commodore Perry at this place. We have selected the day to unveil the monument. Four decades and [Page 381]some years ago when Commodore Perry set his foot on this shore, the Japanese Empire was enshrouded in the fogs of a seclusion of nearly three hundred years and all intercourse with foreign countries was strictly forbidden. But since the restoration of 1868, our Government has introduced the laws and customs of Western nations and the nation has undergone a complete and wonderful change, and to-day we behold the Japanese Empire in a prominent position among the civilized powers of the world, the country having concluded treaties on equal footing with the Western powers and having also adopted the constitutional form of government. All these marvelous changes have indeed flowed from the enlightened policy wisely adopted by our most revered Emperor, yet nobody will deny the great obligation we owe to the Government of the United States, which, of all the Western powers, first induced us to open our country to foreign intercourse. Moreover, the United States being the nearest of our Western neighbors, there is reason why our diplomatic and commercial relations with her should always be most amicable.
“Rear-Admiral Rodgers is the grandson of Commodore Perry. What a delightful coincidence that the grandfather sowed the seeds of the modern civilization at Kurihama and to-day the grandson unveils the monument built to the memory of his grandfather. This monument is erected to preserve on the stone our determination never to forget the friendship of the United States that sent Commodore Perry to induce us in a peaceful way to have intercourse with foreign powers and also to show to the whole world that our amicable relations with the great powers so happily maintained and all our Western civilization so securely implanted in our soil have had their beginnings at this humble little spot.
“The presence of the distinguished naval officers from the country most friendly to us, and of the ministers of states and of all the ladies and gentlemen present here has given a great luster to the occasion to-day. We only regret that the limits of space and time have prevented us from extending an invitation to all whose presence would have been a great honor to us. Considering that this place is lacking in facilities of communication both by land and sea, that so many should have favored us with their presence must be deemed a very great honor to us. On behalf of the monument committee I have the honor of giving this brief history of the facts and circumstances which led to the building of this monument, and, in conclusion, I hereby beg to express my sincere thanks to all present.”
At the conclusion of the baron’s speech the guards of honor presented arms while the band struck up the national anthem. Next followed the reading by Mr. J. M. Ferguson, second secretary of the United States legation, the address prepared for the occasion by Col. A. E. Buck, United States minister, who, owing to illness, was unable to come.
colonel buck’s address.
“Had some wise man of prophetic vision, a half century ago, foretold that Commodore Perry’s coming to Japan with his ships, landing at this place and having intercourse with the Japanese Government would be followed by so momentous consequences within fifty years as are now manifest, he would have been treated with derision. Nothing would have been more incredible. And yet, if the Commodore had never approached these shores some other similar incident might have followed with like result. The time was opportune and conditions were favorable for such a departure from the old and the beginning of a new era.
“That a nation with its peculiar civilization of more than two thousand five hundred years, existing wholly within itself, with little if any contact with the outside world, should have changed its feudal system of government to a constitutional government, entirely by its own initiative and by the grace of a wise Emperor within thirty-five years, is a marvel to the civilized world.
“Since the advent of Commodore Perry the Empire of Japan has, within herself and of her own volition, ceased to be a hermit nation; has made treaties of amity and commerce with the nations of the world; has opened the country to the people of all nations, welcoming them within her borders and throughout the land, granting to them like immunities and protection as given to native subjects. She has now become a world power, accepted in full fellowship into the family of nations on an equality with Western countries.
“In such a short period of time to have evolved an army so disciplined and efficient as to command the admiration of the world; to have built a navy of such strength as to force her recognition as one of the great sea powers, speaks volumes for the wonderful enterprise and ability of this the youngest in the family of recognized civilized nations.
“One can only understand this when he comes to know the people—their mental activity, their energy, their endurance, their independent and progressive spirit, [Page 382]their ambition, their pride of country, and their loyalty to their Emperor—then one will understand how it is, not only that such an army has been created and disciplined and such a navy built, but also the causes that have brought into existence their constitutional form of government; their modern educational system, so enlarged as to provide for all the youth of the Empire; their modern financial system; their new judicial system; their complete postal and telegraph systems; their extended railway and light-house systems; their hospitals, so well equipped; their Red Cross Society, so well conducted; their extensive textile manufactories and other thousand and one new industries by which they are successfully competing with Western nations in many articles of commerce; their large merchant ships traversing the seas, exchanging products with every country; and the many other evidences to be seen of changed conditions in so short a time, so astonishing to the world.
“For her progress in the direction of a new civilization the Empire of Japan has had no precedent. No conquering power has ever overrun this country or devasted its coast cities. No foreign power has attempted to conquer her, or has coerced or in any direction has shaped her course. She does not owe her marvelous progress and prosperity and her constitutional form of government to the control or direct influence of any other country. These grand results have been wrought out by the evolution of a wise people with inspiring impulses and great aspirations, possessed of that intelligent conviction and masterful courage that overcome the greatest difficulties and that insure to a people independence and power. Nowhere in the history of the world can be found a parallel. No one can foretell or set the limit to that degree of advancement the nation is yet destined to reach. The scroll of her future is not yet open to moral vision. Of that one can only judge from what her aspirations and ambition have already accomplished.
“As an American citizen I express my profound congratulations that these and other wonderful and beneficent consequences have followed Commodore Perry’s visit, and I am proud of the fact that from that time the most friendly relations have existed between the United States and Japan, and that the ties binding the two countries have been growing stronger the passing years.
“Mr. President and gentlemen, this shaft of granite that marks the spot where Perry landed, erected by your people in the honor of his memory, is the strongest evidence, not only of the recognition of the benefits following his coming, but of the friendship existing between your people and mine.
“I thank you and your people for this great tribute to the memory of that heroic naval commander, an American citizen, a tribute unprecedented and unaccountable to those not familiar with the character of your people and the spirit which animates them.
“Under the beneficent rule of a wise sovereign may your people ever continue in prosperity and happiness, and may everlasting peace and good will exist between the United States and the Empire of Japan.”
Colonel Buck’s address over, Prime Minister Viscount Katsura stepped on the stage and read an address, which was in substance as follows:
the premier’s address.
“On this auspicious occasion, on which the Beiyu Kyokai carry out the ceremony of unveiling the Perry monument, one naturally turns his thoughts to the coming of Commodore Perry, of the United States Navy, four decades and some years ago. Since those days the civilization originally possessed by this country has greatly advanced under the benign influence of Western civilization, and it gives me boundless joy to participate in this grand celebration at this moment when the light of our progress is sending forth its rays with increased brightness. Furthermore, we have to-day with us the United States fleet, dispatched hither for the special purpose of taking part in the celebration. This act of friendship, always characteristic of the American nation, will be most highly appreciated and will never be forgotten by our people, high and low.
“Considering it a matter of honor to be present on this felicitous occasion, I have great pleasure in saying these few words of congratulation.”
After the premier, Rear-Admiral Rodgers was led to the stage and made the following speech, a report of which we borrow from the Japan Mail:
admiral rodgers’ speech.
“As I stand here to-day, honored by this occasion, and representing, together with the officers and men under my command, the Navy of the United States, and appreciating as I do the courtesy and hospitality extended to us by the Imperial Government of Japan, realizing also the sentiments of good will and friendship which [Page 383]inspired, under the leadership of Baron Kaneko and his committee, the generous originators of this event, I feel for many reasons that it is for me an especially happy occasion.
Looking back for nearly half a century, I remember the departure from home of my grandfather, Commodore Perry, upon his diplomatic mission to Japan. I remember his return, bringing with him the first specimens of Japanese handiwork and art that ever reached the United States, and many of these are still treasured in my family. Naturally, the Perry family has always cherished sentiments of affection for Japan and the Japanese, and I have been impressed with them from childhood. I also remember the honor tendered to Commodore Perry by his fellow-citizens upon his return to the United States, including handsome presents, among others, a magnificent service of silver plate, in recognition of his successful execution of a delicate diplomatic mission. I believe it to be an interesting fact that Japan in 1854 received the first fully accredited ambassador from the United States. Commodore Perry had the honor to be the first diplomatic representative of our country empowered with the functions of an ambassador. The Navy of the United States has always cherished a warm and cordial feeling for Japan and its people. My inclinations have led me to know Japan, perhaps, as well as anyone could who never visited her shores, and no one could be more impressed than I am with the characteristics which have brought Japan with rapid strides to be the peer of the leading military and naval powers of the world. The presence of my friend, Rear-Admiral Beardslee, is a happy incident of this occasion. We all know of his connection with it, and of the interesting fact that he is one of those who landed here nearly half a century ago. May he long be a survivor of that expedition. That the cordial feeling which exists and has always existed between the United States and Japan may continue undisturbed is my earnest hope, and I believe that from no country will Japan receive more hearty good wishes than from that in which Matthew Galbraith Perry was born.”