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Title: Matthew Calbraith Perry - A Typical American Naval Officer
Author: Griffis, William Elliot
Language: English
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A  Typical American  Naval  Officer



Author of “The Mikado’s Empire”, “Corea the Hermit Nation”
and “Japanese Fairy World”

Cupples and Hurd
94  Boylston  Street

Copyright, 1887,
By Cupples and Hurd.
All Rights Reserved

The Hyde Park Press.

                           IN REVERENT MEMORY

                              OF MY FATHER

                            JOHN L. GRIFFIS

                         AND OF MY GRANDFATHER

                              JOHN GRIFFIS

                                 WHO AS


                        at the ends of the earth


                         OF THE YOUNG REPUBLIC


                              IS INSCRIBED

                             BY THE AUTHOR

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS.

                        OUR EARLY NAVY.

     Chapter                                                     Page
          I. THE CHILD CALBRAITH.—A REAL BOY                        1
               STARS                                               10
         IV. MEN, SHIPS, AND GUNS IN 1812                          28
               ON ALL SEAS                                         38

                 AFRICA.  SLAVERS AND PIRATES.

               PERRY GOES TO GUINEA                                50
               SLAVE TRADE                                         58

                     EUROPE AND DIPLOMACY.

               GREEKS                                              72
               AND KHEDIVE                                         81
               UP                                                  91


               LYCEUM.—MASTER-COMMANDANT PERRY                     99
               ON”                                                120
               TERM BETWEEN COURAGE AND CANNON.—CALORIC           138
               HOOK.—BOMB-GUNS AND THE COMING SHELLS              146
               MISSISSIPPI.—IRON-CLADS AND ARMOR                  156


               AND BALL AT BERRIBEE                               167
               AS A MISSIONARY AND CIVILIZER                      183

                        THE MEXICAN WAR.

        XXI. THE MEXICAN WAR                                      197
        XXV. FIGHTING THE YELLOW FEVER.—PEACE                     251


      XXVII. AMERICAN ATTEMPTS TO OPEN TRADE                      270
      XXXIV. LAST LABORS                                          375

                     THE MAN AND HIS WORK.

       XXXV. MATTHEW PERRY AS A MAN                               395
      XXXVI. WORKS THAT FOLLOW                                    409


     Chapter                                                     Page
          I. AUTHORITIES                                          427
         II. ORIGIN OF THE PERRY NAME AND FAMILY                  429
        III. THE NAME CALBRAITH                                   430
         IV. THE FAMILY OF M. C. PERRY                            431
          V. OFFICIAL DETAIL OF M. C. PERRY                       433
         VI. THE NAVAL APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM                      435
        VII. DUELLING                                             440
       VIII. MEMORIALS IN ART OF M. C. PERRY                      443


       INDEX                                                      447

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                             P R E F A C E.

AMONG the earliest memories of a childhood spent near the now vanished
Philadelphia Navy Yard, are the return home of the marines and sailors
from the Mexican war, the launch of the noble steam frigate
_Susquehanna_, the salutes from the storeship _Princeton_, and the
exhibit of the art treasures brought home by the United States
Expedition to Japan—all associated with the life of Commodore M. C.
Perry. Years afterwards, on the shores of that bay made historic by his
diplomacy, I heard the name of Perry spoken with reverence and
enthusiasm. The younger men of Japan, with faces flushed with new ideas
of the Meiji era, called him the moral liberator of their nation. Many
and eager were the questions asked concerning his career, and especially
his personal history.

Yet little could be told, for in American literature and popular
imagination, the name of the hero of Lake Erie seemed to overshadow the
fame of the younger, and, as I think, greater brother. The dramatic
incidents of war impress the popular mind far more profoundly than do
the victories of peace. Even American writers confound the two brothers,
treating them as the same person, making one the son of the other, or
otherwise doing fantastic violence to history. Numerous biographies have
been written, and memorials in art, of marble, bronze and canvas, on
coin and currency, of Oliver Hazard Perry, have been multiplied. No
biography of Matthew Calbraith Perry has, until this writing, appeared.
In Japan, popular curiosity fed itself on flamboyant broadside
chromo-pictures, “blood-pit” novels, and travesties of history, in which
Perry was represented either as a murderous swash-buckler or a
consumptive-looking and over-decorated European general. It was to
satisfy an earnest desire of the Japanese to know more of the man, who
so profoundly influenced their national history, that this biography was
at first undertaken.

I began the work by a study of the scenes of Perry’s triumphs in Japan,
and of his early life in Rhode Island; by interviews in navy yard,
hospital and receiving-ship, with the old sailors who had served under
him in various crusades; by correspondence and conversation with his
children, personal friends, fellow-officers, critics, enemies, and
eye-witnesses of his labors and works. I followed up this out-door
peripatetic study by long and patient research in the archives of the
United States Navy Department in Washington, with collateral reading of
American, European, Mexican and Japanese books, manuscripts and
translations bearing on the subject; and, most valued of all, documents
from the Mikado’s Department of State in Tōkiō.

As the career and character of my subject unfolded, I discovered that
Matthew Perry was no creature of routine, but a typical American naval
officer whose final triumph crowned a long and brilliant career. He had
won success in Japanese waters not by a series of happy accidents, but
because all his previous life had been a preparation to win it.

In this narrative, much condensed from the original draft, no attempt
has been made to do either justice or injustice to Perry’s
fellow-officers, or to write a history of his times, or of the United
States Navy. Many worthy names have been necessarily omitted. For the
important facts recorded, reliance has been placed on the written word
of documentary evidence. Fortunately, Perry was a master of the pen and
of his native language. As he wrote almost all of his own letters and
official reports, his papers, both public and private, are not only
voluminous and valuable but bear witness to his scrupulous regard for
personal mastery of details, as well as for style and grammar, fact and

Unable to thank all who have so kindly aided me, I must especially
mention with gratitude the Hon. Wm. E. Chandler and W. C. Whitney,
Secretaries of the United States Navy Department, Prof. J. R. Soley,
chief clerk T. W. Hogg and clerk J. Cassin, for facilities in consulting
the rich archives of the United States Navy; Admiral D. D. Porter and
Rear-Admirals John Almy, D. Ammen, C. R. P. Rodgers, T. A. Jenkins, J.
H. Upshur, and Captain Arthur Yates; the retired officers, pay director
J. G. Harris, Lieut. T. S. Bassett and Lieut. Silas Bent formerly of the
United States Navy, for light on many points and for reminiscences;
Messrs. P. S. P. Conner, John H. Redfield, Joseph Jenks, R. B. Forbes,
Chas. H. Haswell, Joshua Follansbee, and the Hon. John A. Bingham, for
special information; the daughters of Captains H. C. Adams, and Franklin
Buchanan, for the use of letters and for personalia; Rev. E. Warren
Clark, Miss Orpah Rose, Miss E. B. Carpenter and others in Rhode Island,
for anecdotes of Perry’s early life; the Hon. Gideon Nye of Canton; the
Rev G. F. Verbeck of Tōkiō; many Japanese friends, especially Mr. Inazo
Ota, for documents and notes; and last, but not least, the daughters of
Commodore M. C. Perry, Mrs. August Belmont, Mrs. R. S. Rodgers, and
especially Mrs. George Tiffany, who loaned letters and scrap-books, and,
with Mrs. Elizabeth R. Smith of Hartford, furnished much important
personal information. Among the vanished hands and the voices that are
now still, that have aided me, are those of Rear-Admirals Joshua R.
Sands, George H. Preble, and J. B. F. Sands, Dr. S. Wells Williams, Gen.
Horace Capron, and others. A list of Japanese books consulted, and of
Perry’s autograph writings and publications, will be found in the
Appendix; references are in footnotes.

The work now committed to type was written at Schenectady, N. Y., in the
interstices of duties imperative to a laborious profession; and with it
are linked many pleasant memories of the kindly neighbors and fellow
Christians there; as well as of hospitality in Washington. In its
completion and publication in Boston, new friends have taken a
gratifying interest, among whom I gratefully name Mr. S. T. Snow, and M.
F. Dickinson, Esq.

In setting in the framework of true history this figure of a
fellow-American great in war and in peace, the intention has been not to
glorify the profession of arms, to commend war, to show any lack of
respect to my English ancestors or their descendants, to criticise any
sect or nation, to ventilate any private theories; but, to tell a true
story that deserves the telling, to show the attractiveness of manly
worth and noble traits wherever found, and to cement the ties of
friendship between Japan and the United States. One may help to build up
character by pointing to a good model. To the lads of my own country,
but especially to Japanese young men, I commend the study of Matthew
Perry’s career. The principles, in which he was trained at home by his
mother and father, of the religion which anchored him by faith in the
eternal realties, and of the Book which he believed and read constantly,
lie at the root of what is best in the progress of a nation. No Japanese
will make a mistake who follows Perry as he followed the guidance of
these principles; while the United States will be Japan’s best exemplar
and faithful friend only so far as she illustrates them in her national

                                                               W. E. G.
  _Boston, July 1st, 1887_.

                               CHAPTER I.
                          THE CHILD CALBRAITH.

WHEN in the year 1854, all Christendom was thrilled by the news of the
opening of Japan to intercourse with the world, the name of Commodore
Matthew Perry was on the lips of nations. In Europe it was acknowledged
that the triumph had been achieved by no ordinary naval officer.
Consummate mastery of details combined with marked diplomatic talents
stamped Matthew Calbraith Perry as a man whose previous history was
worth knowing. That history we propose to outline.

The life of our subject is interesting for the following among many
excellent reasons:—

1. While yet a lad, he was active as a naval officer in the war of 1812.

2. He chose the location of the first free black settlement in Liberia.

3. He was, to the end of his life, one of the leading educators of the
United States Navy.

4. He was the father of our steam navy.

5. He first demonstrated the efficiency of the ram as a weapon of
offense in naval warfare.

6. He founded the naval-apprenticeship system.

7. He was an active instrument in assisting to extirpate the foreign
slave-trade on the west coast of Africa.

8. His methods helped to remove duelling, the grog ration and flogging
out of the American navy.

9. He commanded, in 1847, the largest squadron which, up to that date,
had ever assembled under the American flag, in the Gulf of Mexico. The
naval battery manned by his pupils in gunnery decided the fate of Vera
Cruz, and his fleet’s presence enabled Scott’s army to reach the

10. His final triumph was the opening of Japan to the world,—one of the
three single events in American History,—the Declaration of
Independence, and the Arbitration of the Alabama claims being the other
two,—which have had the greatest influence upon the world at large.

Sturdy ancestry, parental and especially a mother’s training, good
education, long experience, and persistent self-culture enabled Matthew
Perry to earn that “brain-victory” over the Japanese of which none are
more proud than themselves.

Let us look at his antecedents.[1] Three at least among the early
immigrants to Massachusetts bore the name of Perry. Englishmen of
England’s heroic age, they were of Puritan and Quaker stock. Their
descendants have spread over various parts of the United States.

He, with whom our narrative concerns itself, Edmund or Edward Perry, the
ancestor, in the sixth degree both of the “Japan,” and the “Lake Erie”
Perry, was born in Devonshire in 1630. He was a Friend of decidedly
militant turn of mind. He preached the doctrines of peace, with the
spirit of war, to the Protector’s troops. Oliver, not wishing this, made
it convenient to Edmund Perry to leave England.

By settling at Sandwich in 1653, then the headquarters of the Friends in
America, he took early and vigorous part in “the Quaker invasion of
Massachusetts.” On first day of first month, 1676, he wrote a Railing
against the Court of Plymouth, for which he was heavily fined. He
married Mary the daughter of Edmund Freeman, the vice-governor of the
colony. His son Samuel, born in 1654, emigrated to Rhode Island, and
bought the Perry farm, near South Kingston, which still remains in
possession of the family. The later Perrys married in the Raymond and
Hazard families.

Christopher Raymond Perry, the fifth descendant in the male line of
Edward Perry, and the son of Freeman Perry, was born December 4th, 1761.
His mother was Mercy Hazard, the daughter of Oliver Hazard and Elizabeth
Raymond. He became the father of five American naval officers, of whom
Oliver Hazard and Matthew Calbraith are best known. The war of the
Revolution broke out when he was but in his 15th year. The militant
traits of his ancestor were stronger in him than the pacific tenets of
his sect. He enlisted in the Kingston Reds. The service not being
exciting, he volunteered in Captain Reed’s Yankee privateer. His second
cruise was made in the _Mifflin_, Captain G. W. Babcock.

Like the other ships of the colonies in the Revolution, the _Mifflin_
was a one-decked, uncoppered “bunch of pine boards,” in which patriotism
and valor could ill compete with British frigates of seasoned oak.
Captured by the cruisers of King George, the crew was sent to the prison
ship _Jersey_. This hulk lay moored where the afternoon shadows of the
great bridge-cables are now cast upon the East River. For three months,
the boy endured the horrors of imprisonment in this floating coffin. It
was with not much besides bones, however, that he escaped.

As soon as health permitted, he enlisted on board the U. S. man-of-war
_Trumbull_, commanded by Captain James Nicholson, armed with thirty guns
and manned by two-hundred men. On the 2d of June 1780, she fell in with
the British letter-of-marque _Watt_, a ship heavier and larger and with
more men and guns than the _Trumbull_. The conflict was the severest
naval duel of the war. It was in the old days of unscientific
cannonading; before carronades had revealed their power to smash at
short range, or shell-guns to tear ships to pieces, or rifles to
penetrate armor. With smooth-bores of twelve and six pound calibre, a
battle might last hours or even days, before either ship was sunk, fired
or surrendered. The prolonged mutilation of human flesh had little to do
with the settlement of the question. The _Trumbull_ and the _Watt_ lay
broadside with each other and but one hundred yards apart, exchanging
continual volleys. The _Trumbull_ was crippled, but her antagonist
withdrew, not attempting capture.

By the accidents of war and the overwhelming force of the enemy, our
little navy was nearly annihilated by the year 1780. Slight as may seem
the value of its services, its presence on the seas helped mightily to
finally secure victory. The regular cruisers and the privateers captured
British vessels laden with supplies and ammunition of war. Washington’s
army owed much of its efficiency to this source, for no fewer than
eight-hundred British prizes were brought to port. So keenly did Great
Britain feel the privateers’ sting that about the year 1780, she struck
a blow designed to annihilate them. Her agents were instructed not to
exchange prisoners taken on privateers. This order influenced C. R.
Perry’s career. He had enlisted for the third time, daring now to beard
the lion in his den. Cruising in the Irish sea, he was captured and
carried as a prisoner to Newry, County Down, Ireland.

Here, though there was no prospect of release till the war was over, he
received very different treatment from that on the _Jersey_. Allowed to
go out on parole, he met a lad named Baillie Wallace, and his cousin,
Sarah Alexander. Of her we shall hear later.

After eighteen months imprisonment, Perry made his escape. As seaman on
a British vessel, he reached St. Thomas in the West Indies. Thence
sailing to Charleston, he found the war over and peace declared.

Remembering the pretty face which had lighted up his captivity, Perry,
the next year, made a voyage as mate of a merchant vessel to Ireland.
Providence favored his wishes, for on the return voyage Mr. Calbraith,
an old friend of the Alexanders and Wallaces, embarked as a passenger to
Philadelphia. With him, to Perry’s delight, went Miss Sarah Alexander on
a visit to her uncle, a friend of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Matthew Calbraith,
a little boy and the especial pet of Miss Alexander, came also.

An ocean voyage a century ago was not measured by days—a sail in a
hotel between morning worship at Queenstown and a sermon in New York on
the following Sunday night—but consumed weeks. The lovers had ample
time. Perry had the suitor’s three elements of success,—propinquity,
opportunity and importunity. Before they arrived in this country, they
were betrothed.

On landing in Philadelphia, the first news received by Miss Alexander at
the mouth of Dr. Benjamin Rush was of the death of both uncle and aunt.
Her relatives had committed her to the care of Dr. Rush and at his house
the young couple were married in October 1784.

The bride, though but sixteen years, was rich in beauty, character and
spirit. The groom was twenty-three, “A warm-hearted high-spirited man,
very handsome, with dashing manners, and very polite. He treated people
with distinction but would be quick to resent an insult.” The young
couple for their wedding journey traveled to South Kingston, R. I. There
they enjoyed an enthusiastic reception.

The race-traits of the sturdy British yeomanry and of the Scotch-Irish
people were now to blend in forming the parentage of Oliver and Matthew
Perry, names known to all Americans.

Away from her childhood’s home in a strange land, the message from the
45th Psalm—the Song of Loves—now came home to the young wife with a
force that soon conquered homesickness, and with a meaning that deepened
with passing years.

“Hearken, O daughter, and consider and incline thine ear, forget also
thine own people and thy father’s house.”

“Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children whom thou mayest make
princes in all the earth.”

Captain C. R. Perry entered the commercial marine and for thirteen years
made voyages as mate, master or supercargo to Europe, South America and
the East Indies. Even then, our flag floated in all seas. It had been
raised in China, and seen at Nagasaki in Japan. In 1789 and ’90, the U.
S. S. _Columbus_ and _Washington_ circumnavigated the globe, the first
American war vessels to do so. The cities of Providence and Newport
secured a large portion of the trade with Cathay.

The future hero of Lake Erie was ten years old, and two other children,
a son and a daughter, played in the sea-captain’s home at Newport, when
America’s greatest sailor-diplomat was born on the 10th day of April
1794. After her former young friend, at this time a promising young
merchant in Philadelphia, the mother named her third son Matthew
Calbraith Perry. The boy was destined to outlive his parents and all his

Matthew Perry was an eager, active, and robust child full of life and
energy. His early youth was spent in Newport, at courtly Tower Hill, and
on the farm at South Kingston. From the first, his mother and his kin
called him “Calbraith.” This was his name in the family even to adult
life. Few anecdotes of his boyhood are remembered, but one is

When only three years old, the ruddy-faced child was in Kingston. Like a
Japanese, he could not say _l_, as in “lash.” He walked about with a
whip in his hand which he called his “rass.” There was a tan yard near
by and the bark was ground by a superannuated horse. One of his older
brothers called him an “old bark horse.” This displeased the child. He
reddened with anger, and his temper exploded in one of those naughty
words, which in a baby’s mouth often surprise parents. They wonder where
the uncanny things have been picked up; but our baby-boy added, “If I
knew more, I would say it.” For this outburst of energy, he suffered
maternal arrest. Placed in irons, or apron strings, he was tied up until

That was Matthew Perry—never doing less than his best. Action was
limited only by ability—“If I knew more, I would say it.” The Japanese
proverb says “The heart of a child of three years remains until he is
sixty.” The western poet writes it, “The child is father of the man.” If
he had known more, even in Yedo bay in 1854, he would have done even
better than his own best; which, like the boast of the Arctic hero, was
that he “beat the record.”


[1] See Appendix.—Origin of the Perry Name and Family.

                              CHAPTER II.
                         BOYHOOD’S ENVIRONMENT.

IN the year 1797, war between France and the United States seemed
inevitable, and “Hail Columbia” was sung all over the land. The Navy
Department of the United States was created May 21, 1798. Captain Perry,
having offered his services to the government, was appointed by
President Adams, a post-captain in the navy June 9, 1798, and ordered to
build and command the frigate _General Greene_ at Warren, R. I. The
keels of six sloops and six seventy-four gun ships were also laid. In
May, 1799, the _General Greene_ was ready for sea.

With his son Oliver as midshipman, Captain Perry sailed for the West
Indies to convoy American merchantmen. He left his wife and family at
Tower Hill, a courtly village with a history and fine society. Matthew
was five years old. He had been taught to read by his mother, and now
attended the school-house, an edifice, which, now a century old, has
degenerated to a corn-crib.

Mrs. Perry lived in “the court end” of the town, and, after school,
would tell her little sons of their father and brothers at sea. This
element was ever in sight with its ships, its mystery, and its beckoning
distances. From Tower Hill may be seen Newport, Conanticut Island, Block
Island, Point Judith, and a stretch of inland country diversified by
lakes, and what the Coreans call “Ten thousand flashings of blue waves.”

After two brilliant cruises in the Spanish Main, and a visit to
Louisiana, where the American flag was first displayed by a national
ship, Captain Perry returned to Newport in May, 1800. Negotiations with
France terminated peacefully, and the first act of President Jefferson
was to cut down the navy to a merely nominal existence. Out of forty-two
captains only nine were retained in service, and Captain Perry again
found himself in private life.

The first and logical result of reducing the nation’s police force on
the seas, was the outbreak of piracy. Our expanding commerce found
itself unprotected, and the Algerian corsairs captured our vessels and
threw their crews into slavery. In the war with the Barbary powers, our
navy gained its first reputation abroad in the classic waters of the

Meanwhile at Newport the boy, Matthew Calbraith, continued his education
under school-teachers, and his still more valuable training in character
under his mother. The family lived near “the Point,” and during the long
voyages of the father, the training of the sons and daughters fell
almost wholly on the mother.

It was a good gift of Providence to our nation, this orphan Irish bride
so amply fitted to be the mother of heroes. Of a long line of officers
in the navy of the United States, most of those bearing the name of
Perry, and several of the name of Rodgers, call Sarah Alexander their
ancestress. One of the forefathers of the bride, who was of the
Craigie-Wallace family, was Sir Richard Wallace of Riccarton, Scotland.
He was the elder brother of Malcom Wallace of Ellerslie, the father of
Sir William Wallace. Her grandfather was James Wallace, an officer in
the Scottish army, who signed the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643,
but resigned his commission some years later. With other gentlemen from
Ayrshire, he took refuge from religious persecution in North Ireland.
Though earnest Protestants, they became involved in the Irish rebellion
in Cromwell’s time and were driven to resistance of the English

As a young girl Sarah Alexander had not only listened to oft-repeated
accounts of the battles and valor of her ancestors but was familiar with
the historic sites in the neighborhood of her childhood’s home. She
believed her own people the bravest in the world. Well educated, and
surrounded with the atmosphere of liberal culture, of high ideas, of the
sacredness of duty and the beauty of religion, she had been morally well
equipped for the responsibilities of motherhood and mature life. Add to
this, the self-reliance naturally inbred by dwelling as an orphan girl
among five young men, her cousins; and last and most important, the
priceless advantage of a superb physique, and one sees beforehand to
what inheritance her sons were to come. One old lady, who remembers her
well, enthusiastically declared that “she was wonderfully calculated to
form the manners of children.” Another who knew her in later life writes
of her as “a Spartan mother,” “a grand old lady.” Another says
“Intelligent, lady-like, well educated;” another that “she was all that
is said of her in Mackenzie’s Life of O. H. Perry.” Those nearest to her
remember her handsome brown eyes, dark hair, rich complexion, fine white
teeth, and stately figure.

The deeds of the Perry men are matters of history. The province of the
women was at home, but it was the mothers, of the Hazard and the
Alexander blood who prepared the men for their careers by moulding in
them the principles from which noble actions spring.

Discipline, sweetened with love, was the system of the mother of the
Perry boys, and the foundation of their education. First of all, they
must obey. The principles of Christianity, of honor, and of chivalry
were instilled in their minds from birth. _Noblesse oblige_ was their
motto. It was at home, under their mother’s eye that Oliver learned how
to win victory at Lake Erie, and Matthew a treaty with Japan. She fired
the minds of her boys with the ineradicable passion of patriotism, the
love of duty, and the conquest of self. At the same time, she trained
them to the severest virtue, purest motives, faithfulness in details, a
love for literature, and a reverence for sacred things. The habit which
Matthew C. Perry had of reading his Bible through once during every
cruise, his scrupulous regard for the Lord’s day, the American Sunday,
his taste for literature, and his love for the English classics were
formed at his mother’s knee.

The vigor of her mind and force of her character were illustrated in
other ways. While personally attractive with womanly graces, gentle and
persuasive in her manners, she believed that self-preservation is the
first law of nature. Training her sons to kindness and consideration of
others, and warning them to avoid quarrels, she yet demanded of them
that they should neither provoke nor receive an insult, nor ever act the
coward. How well her methods were understood by her neighbors, is shown
by an incident which occurred shortly after news of the victory at Lake
Erie reached Rhode Island. An old farmer stoutly insisted that it was
Mrs. Perry who had “licked the British.”

There was much in the social atmosphere and historical associations of
Newport at the opening of this century to nourish the ambition and fire
the imagination of impressible lads like the Perry boys. Here still
lived the French veteran, Count Rochambeau of revolutionary fame. Out in
the bay, fringed with fortifications of Indian, Dutch, Colonial and
British origin and replete with memories of stirring deeds, lay the hulk
of the famous ship in which Captain Cook had observed the transit of
Venus and circumnavigated the globe. Here, possibly, the Norsemen had
come to dwell centuries before, and fascinating though uncertain
tradition pointed to the then naked masonry of the round tower as
evidence of it. The African slave-trade was very active at this time,
and brought much wealth to Newport and the old manors served by black
slaves fresh from heathenism. Among other noted negroes was Phillis
Wheatly the famous poetess, then in her renown, who had been brought to
Boston in 1781 in a slave-ship. What was afterwards left to Portuguese
cut-throats and Soudan Arabs was, until within the memory of old men now
living, prosecuted by Yankee merchants and New England deacons whose
ship’s cargoes consisted chiefly of rum and manacles. At this iniquity,
Matthew Perry was one day to deal a stunning blow.

Here, too, had tarried Berkeley, not then a bishop, however, whose
prophecy, “Westward the star of empire takes its way” was to be
fulfilled by Matthew Perry across new oceans, even to Japan. Once a year
the gaily decked packet-boat set out from Newport to Providence to carry
the governor from one capital to the other. This was a red-letter day to
little Calbraith, in whose memory it remained bright and clear to the
day of his death. When he was about ten years old, Mr. Matthew Calbraith
now thirty years old and a successful merchant, came from Philadelphia
to visit the Perrys. He was delighted with his little namesake, and
prophesied that he would make the name of Perry more honorable yet.

The affair of the _Leopard_ and _Chesapeake_ in June 1807 thrilled every
member of the family. Matthew begged that he might, at once, enter the
navy. This, however, was not yet possible to the boy of twelve years, so
he remained at school.

What Providence meant to teach, when an American man-of-war with her
decks littered up and otherwise unfit for action was surprised by a
hostile ship, was not lost upon our navy. The humiliating but salutary
lesson was learned for all time. Neatness, vigilance and constant
preparation for the possibilities of action are now the characteristics
of our naval households. So far as we know, no other ship of our country
has since been “leopardized.”

Even out of their bitter experience, the American sailors took
encouragement. The heavy broadsides of a fifty-gun frigate against a
silent ship had done surprisingly little damage. British traditions
suffered worse than the timbers of the _Chesapeake_, or the hearts of
her sailors. The moral effect was against the offenders, and in favor of
the Americans. The mists of rumor and exaggeration were blown away, and
henceforth our captains and crews awaited with stern joy their first
onset with insolent oppressors. If ever the species bully had developed
an abominable variety, it was the average British navy captain of the
first decade of this century.

Providence was severing the strings which bound the infant nation to her
European nurse. If the mere crossing of the Atlantic by the Anglo Saxon
or Germanic race has been equivalent to five hundred years of progress,
we may, at this day, be thankful for the treacherous broadsides of the

Having a well-grounded faith in the future of his country, and in the
speedy renown of her navy, Captain Perry wished all his sons to be naval
officers. He had confidence in American ships and cannon, and believed
that, handled by native Americans, they were a match for any in the
world. His sons Oliver and Raymond already wore the uniform. Early in
1808, he wrote to the Department concerning an appointment for Matthew.
His patience was not long tried. Under date of April 23, 1808, he
received word from the secretary, Paul Smith, that nothing stood in the
way. The receipt of the warrant as midshipman was eagerly awaited by the
lad. On the 18th of January 1809, the paper arrived. He was ordered
March 16th to the naval station at New York, where he performed for
several weeks such routine duty as a lad of his age could do. He then
went aboard the schooner _Revenge_, his first home afloat.

In those days, there being no naval academy, the young midshipmen
entered as mere boys, learning the rudiments of seamanship by actual
practice on ships at sea. Thus began our typical American naval
officer’s long and brilliant career of nearly half a century.

Matthew Perry was born when our flag bearing the stars and stripes was
so new on the seas as to be regarded with curiosity. It had then but
fifteen stars in its cluster. Civilized states disregarded its
neutrality, and uncivilized people insulted it with impunity. The
Tripolitan war first compelled barbarians to respect the emblem. France,
one of the most powerful and unscrupulous of belligerents, had not yet
learned to honor its right of neutrality. Great Britain, to the insults
of spoliation, added the robbery of impressment. Matthew Perry entered
the United States navy with a burning desire to make this flag respected
in every sea. He lived to command the largest fleet which, in his
lifetime ever gathered under its folds, and to bear it to the uttermost
parts of the earth in the first steam frigate of the United States which
ever circumnavigated the globe.

                              CHAPTER III.

THE schooner _Revenge_, commanded by his brother Oliver, to which
Matthew Perry was ordered for his first cruise, had been purchased in
1807. She mounted twelve guns, had a crew of ninety men, and was
attached to the squadron under Commodore John Rodgers, which numbered
four frigates, five sloops, and some smaller vessels. His duty was to
guard our coasts from the Chesapeake to Passamaquoddy Bay, to prevent
impressment of American sailors by British cruisers. The _Revenge_ was
to cruise between Montauk Point and Nantucket Shoals.

Boy as he was, Matthew Perry seems not to have relished the idea of
serving in a coasting schooner. Having an opportunity to make a voyage
to the East Indies, the idea of visiting Asia fascinated his
imagination. It seemed to offer a fine field for obtaining nautical
knowledge. Bombay was at this time the seat of British naval excellence
in ship building, and an eighty-gun vessel, built of teak or India oak,
was launched every three years. A petition for furlough was not,
however, granted and the voyage to Asia was postponed nearly half a

Under such a commander, and with his brother Oliver, the boy Matthew was
initiated into active service. The _Revenge_ kept look-out during summer
and winter, and in April went southward to Washington and the Carolinas.

As there was as yet nothing to do but to be vigilant and to prepare for
the war which was—unless Great Britain changed her impressment
policy—sure to come, daily attention was given to drill. The sailors
were especially taught to keep cool and bide their time to fire. All the
Perrys, father and sons, were diligent students of ordnance and gunnery.
They were masters of both theory and practice. Among the list of
subscribers to Toussard’s Artillerist, written at the request of
Washington, and published in 1809, is the name of Oliver H. Perry.

On the 12th of October, 1810, Midshipman M. C. Perry was ordered from
the _Revenge_ (which was wrecked off Watch Hill, R. I., January 8, 1811)
to the frigate _President_. This brought him on the flag-ship, the
finest of the heavy frigates of 1797, and directly under the eye of
Commodore Rodgers. On the 16th of October she went on a short cruise of
ten days and returned to her port for the winter, where Raymond Perry
joined him. News of the whereabouts of the British ships _Shannon_ and
_Guerriere_ was regularly received, and the crew kept alert and ready
for work with the press-gang. This was the beginning of three years
service by the two Perry brothers on this famous ship.

From March 19, 1811, until July 25, 1813, Matthew kept a diary in which
he made observations relating chiefly to the weather and matters of
technical interest, with occasional items of historical value. The
boyish ambition for ample proportions in the book is offset by the
accuracy studied in the entries, and the excessive modesty of all
statements relating to himself, even to his wound received by the
bursting of a gun. It contains frequent reference to personages whose
congenial home was the quarter-deck, the lustre of whose names still
glitters in history like the fresh sand which they sprinkled on their
letters—now entombed in the naval archives at Washington.

From the first, the bluff disciplinarian, Commodore Rodgers, took a
kindly interest in his midshipman. He was especially exacting of his
juniors whom he liked, or in whom he saw promise. His dignity,
discipline and spirit, were models constantly imitated by his pupils.

One day, while on duty on that part of the deck which roofed the
commodore’s cabin, Matthew Perry paced up and down his beat with, what
seemed to the occupant below, an unnecessarily noisy stride. Irate at
being disturbed while writing, the commodore rushed out on deck,
demanded the spy glass and bade Perry to put himself in his superior’s
place in the cabin, and sit there to learn how the iniquity of his heels
sounded. Then with ponderous tread, exaggerated stride, and mock
dignity, the commodore of the whole fleet gave a dramatic object-lesson.
It profited the lad no less than it amused the spectators.

Soon after this, Perry was made commodore’s aide.

The diary shows that constant exercise at the “great guns and small
arms” was practiced. Rodgers knew that his men were to meet the heroes
of Trafalgar, and he believed that American gunnery would quickly settle
questions over which diplomacy had become impotent.

The _President_, leaving New London for New York, set sail April 22 for
Annapolis, casting anchor opposite Fort Severn, May 2. Here the vessel
lay for ten days. As everything was quiet along the coast, Commodore
Rodgers went to his home at Havre de Grace, seventy miles distant, to
visit his family. The purser and chaplain took a trip to Washington, and
on board all was as quiet as a city church aisle in summer.

Late at night, May 6, there came dispatches from the Navy Department.
Two men had been taken from the merchant brig, _Spitfire_, within
eighteen miles of New York. One of the young men impressed, John Deguys,
was known to the captain to be a native of Maine. The _Guerriere_,
Captain Dacres, was, as usual, suspected.

The news created great excitement, for the constant search of American
ships and the impressment of such men, as the arrogant English captains
chose to call British “subjects,” had roused our sailors’ ire. They
burned to change this disgraceful state of things and to avenge the
_Chesapeake_ affair. The officers of the _Guerriere_, painting the name
of their frigate on her topsails, in large white letters, had been
conspicuous for their bravado in insulting American merchant captains.

This was the age of British boasting on the sea, of huge canvas and
enormous flags. For during nigh two score years, the British sailors,
“lords of the main,” had ruled the waves, rarely losing a ship, and
never a squadron, in their numerous battles. Uninterrupted success had
bred many bullies. The trade of New York had been injured by these
annoying searches and delays. The orders to Commodore Rodgers were to
proceed at once to stop the outrageous proceedings. The vexed question
of impressment had, since 1790, caused an incredible amount of
negotiation. It was now to pass out of the hands of secretaries into the
control of our naval captains, with power to solve the problem.

To get the dispatches to the commodore was the duty in hand. Neither
steamer nor telegraph could then help to perform it; but hearts and
hands were true, and Matthew Perry was ready to show the stuff of which
he was made. Captain Ludlow at once entrusted the delicate matter to the
commodore’s aide.

Matthew Perry set out before daylight in the commodore’s gig. The pull
of seventy miles was made against a head wind. Taking his seat at the
helm, he cheered on his men, but it was a long and hard day’s work. It
was nearly dark when the lights of the village danced in the distance.
At this moment one of the men dropped his oar, and sank back with the
blood gushing from his mouth and nostrils. In his over-strain he had
burst a blood vessel.

Rodgers at once took the boat, and with the wind in his favor hoisted
sail. At 3 P. M., May 7, as Captain Ludlow was dining on the sloop
_Argus_, near the _President_, the gig was descried five miles distant
bearing the broad pennant. Perry, in his journal, modestly omits, as is
customary with him, all reference to this exploit of bringing back the
commodore. But under the entry of May 10, he writes: “At 10 hoisted out
the launch, carried out a kedge and warped the ship out of the roads.”

The _President_ put to sea with her name boldly blazoned on her three
topsails like the _Guerriere’s_. All on board were ready and eager for
an opportunity to wipe out this last disgrace. Perry writes, on the
13th: “At 3 spoke the brig . . . . from Trinidad—informed us that the
day before she was boarded by an English sloop-of-war.” “At 7 the
_Argus_ hove to alongside of us. Captain Lawrence came on board—at 8
Captain L. left the ship.” Next day “at 3 exercised great guns”; “at
half-past 8 passed New Point Comfort. At 10 opened the magazine and took
out thirty-two twenty-four pound and twenty-four forty-two pound

At 1 o’clock in the afternoon of the 17th, a strange sail was
noticed—the ensign and pennant were raised, the ship was cleared for
action and the crew beat to quarters. The signals of the strange ship
were not answered. The two ships were at this time but a few leagues
south of Sandy Hook.

The stranger ship was none other than the British sloop-of-war _Little
Belt_, carrying twenty-two guns. As what took place really precipitated
the war of 1812, we give the record from Perry’s diary without

“At 7 P. M. the chase took in her studding-sails, distant about eight
miles. At ten or twelve minutes past 7 she rounded to on the
starboard-tack. At half-past 7 shortened sail. At half-past 8 rounded to
on her weather beam, within half a cable’s length of her; hailed and
asked ‘what ship is that’? to which she replied, ‘what ship is that’?
and on the commodore’s asking the second time ‘what ship is that’?
received a shot from her which was immediately returned from our
gun-deck, but was scarcely fired before she fired three other guns
accompanied with musquetry. We then commenced a general fire which
lasted about fifteen minutes, when the order was given to cease firing,
our adversary being silent and apparently in much distress. At 9 hauled
on a wind on the starboard-tack, the strange ship having dropped astern
so far that the commodore did not choose to follow, supposing that he
had sufficiently chastised her for her insolence in firing into an
American frigate. Kept our battle-lanthorns burning. After having
examined the damage, found that the ship had her foremast and mainmast
wounded and some rigging shot away—one boy only wounded—before
daylight the masts were fished, moulded and painted, and everything

“At 5 A. M. discovered the strange sail and bore down for her. At 8 came
alongside and sent a boat aboard her. She was lying in a very shattered
situation; no sail bent except her maintopsail; her rigging all shot
away; three or four shots through her masts; several between wind and
water; her gaft shot away, etc. At 9 the boat returned; she proved to be
the British ship-of-war _Little Belt_, Captain Bingham; permitted her to
proceed on her course, hoisted the boat up and hauled by the wind on the
larboard tack; ends clear and pleasant.”

In this battle the young midshipman first heard a hostile shot and
received his initial “baptism of fire.” The accounts of this affair
given by the two commanders, Rodgers and Bingham, cannot be reconciled.
Captain Bingham, acquitted of blame, was promoted February 7, 1812, to
post-rank in the British navy. The event widened the breach between the
two nations, and was the foreshadowing of coming events not long to be
postponed. Probably Rodgers’ chief regret was that the punished vessel
had not been the _Guerriere_.

The rest of the year, 1811, was spent by our sailors in constant
readiness and unremitting discipline in order to secure the highest
state of naval efficiency.  Exercise at the carronades and long guns was
a daily task. The coming war on the ocean was to be a contest in
gunnery, and to be won by tactical skill, long guns, and superiority in
artillery practice. Nothing was left to chance on the American ships.
Congress had neglected the navy since the Tripolitan war, and with
embargoes, non-intercourse acts, and a puerile gun-boat system,
practically attempted to paralyze this arm of defence. Commodore
Rodgers’ squadron was an exception to the general system, and his was
the sole squadron serviceable when the declaration of hostilities came.

Rodgers hoped by speedy victories to demonstrate the power of the
American heavy frigate to blow to atoms “the gun-boat system,” and
change British insolence into respect. Lack of opportunity caused him
personal disappointment; but his faith and creed were fully justified by
the naval campaign of 1812.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                      MEN, SHIPS AND GUNS IN 1812.

COMMODORE JOHN RODGERS was a man of the time, a typical naval officer of
the period. He was minutely careful about the food and habits of his
men, and made the _President_ as homelike as a ship could be. He was not
precisely a man of science, as was the case with his son in the monitor
_Weehawken_, for this was the pre-scientific age of naval warfare.
Indeed, it can scarcely be said with truth that he had either patience
with or appreciation of Robert Fulton, the Pennsylvanian whose
inventions were destined to revolutionize the methods of naval warfare.
This mechanical genius who anticipated steam frigates, iron armor,
torpedoes and rams, rather amused than interested Rodgers. To the
commodore, who expected no miracles, he seemed to possess “Continuity
but not ingenuity.” Fulton had not yet perfected his apparatus, though
he had in 1804 blown up a Danish frigate off Copenhagen, and in 1810 had
published in New York his “Torpedo War and Submarine Explosion.” This
book is full of illustrations so clear, that to look at them now
provokes the wonder that his schemes found so little encouragement. Five
thousand dollars were appropriated by Congress March 30, 1810, for
submarine torpedo experiments. Discouragement evidently followed: for
our government in 1811, following the example of France and England
rejected his plans for a submarine torpedo boat.

“The Battle of the Kegs” was too often referred to in connection with
Fulton’s projects. This threw a humorous but not luminous glow over the
whole matter. It gave to a serious scientific subject very much the same
air as that which Irving has succeeded in casting over the early history
of New York.

Having glanced at the typical American commander, let us now see what
kind of sailors handled the ships and guns of 1812. In an old order book
of Commodore Rodgers’, we find one to midshipman M. C. Perry, dated
“President off Sandy Hook 26th May 1813,” directing him to proceed to
New York and enter for the ship six petty officers and fifty seamen and
boys. From this we may guess the quality of the crews of American

“You are desired to be particular in entering none but American
citizens, and indeed, native-born citizens in preference.” He is
especially directed to ship good healthy men able to perform duty,
active and robust, while only those of good character and appearance are
to be accepted for the warrant and petty officers. As Matthew Perry was
but seventeen years of age, the order shows the confidence his commander
placed in his judgement. In Perry’s diary the simple entry under May 28
is “At 12 P. M. the pilot boat left the ship with Mr. Hunt and Midp. M.
C. Perry as a recruiting officer for the ship.”

It is the favorite idea of Englishmen who have formed their opinions
from James the popular historian of the British navy, that the victories
of American ships over their own in 1812 were owing to the British
deserters among the Yankees. James, with amazing credulity, believes
that there were two hundred Englishmen on the _Constitution_, that
two-thirds of the sailors in the navy of the United States were bred on
the soil and educated in the ships of Great Britain, and to these our
navy owed at least one half of its effectiveness.

It is much nearer the truth to state that nine-tenths of the American
crews were native-born, and but about one-twentieth of British
nationality, the rest being a mixture. Three-fourths of the natives were
from the northern states; half of the remaining quarter from Virginia,
and nearly all of respectable parentage.

Of the officers, the midshipmen were lads of from eleven to fifteen
years of age. There were in commission during the war about 500 naval
officers, 34,960 sailors and petty officers, and 2,725 marines. The
government possessed six navy yards.

In addition to the officer’s knowledge of the scientific principle of
gunnery, and the thorough familiarity of the gun-crews with their
duties, each ship’s company when away from its cannon was a disciplined
battalion. The manual of small arms comprehended every possible stroke
of offence and defence. Pikes, cutlasses and axes were the weapons
relied on, though a few rifles, in the hands of sharp shooters perched
in the crows-nests and in the tops, and a brace of pistols at each man’s
belt had their places. The Yankee cutlass had already crossed with the
Moorish scimiter at Tripoli, in more than one victory, and “our sailors
felt a just confidence in its merits.”[2] The pike was the boarding
weapon, the sailor’s bayonet, with which he charged the enemy on his own
decks, or repelled his attacks, and was not the least of small arms. The
war of 1812, with men speaking the same language, was practically a
civil war in which the sword was again to be taken up against equals in
every respect. Hence the need of constant practice in handling tools.
The uninterrupted drill bore its fruit in due season.

One potent secret of American excellence of naval service, which raised
our standard of war ships and guns even higher than the highest in
Europe, was the rule of promotion for merit. This nerved every sailor
and petty officer to do nothing less than his best at all times. In this
respect, the navy of the western world contrasted effectively with that
of Great Britain, where commissions were bought and sold in open market.

The Yankee captain taught his men to take pride in their guns as if they
were human. Of many an American sailor in 1812 it could be said:

                “His conscience and his gun, he thought
                His duty lay between.”

The American men-of-war went to sea with sights on their guns that
enabled a cannonneer to fire with nearly the accuracy of a rifle. In
their occasional use of sheet-lead cartridges, which required less
sponging and worming after firing than those of flannel and of paper,
they anticipated the copper shells of recent American invention.

The broadsides of that day may seem to us ridiculous in weight, as
compared to those of our time. A projectile from an iron-clad now
exceeds the entire mass of metal thrown by the largest of the old
line-of-battle ships. The heaviest broadside in the United States in
1812—that thrown by the _United States_ carrying fifty-four guns—was
but 846 pounds. Nevertheless the American ships had usually heavier and
better guns and of longer range than the British. The power of a
line-of-battle ship had been condensed into the space of a frigate. This
was the American idea, to increase the weight of metal thrown in
broadside without altering the ship’s rating.

With their guns every man and boy on board was constantly familiar by
daily practice, and the name and purpose of each rope, crook, pulley,
and cleet on the carriages were fully known to all. It must be
remembered that horizontal shell-firing was unknown sixty years ago.
Bombs could be thrown only from mortars as in a land siege, but never
from cannon in naval duels, though short howitzers were occasionally
employed in Europe to fire bombs. “Bomb-guns, firing hollow shot,” on
ships, were not invented until 1824. The seeming advantage to the old
time sailor, in his exemption from exploding shells, was in reality and
from a humane point of view, a disadvantage; since in navals annals
short sharp engagements were less common. A vast waste of ammunition
causing “prolonged mutilation and slaughter” was rather the rule. It was
the coolness of the American cannonneer, his economy in firing his gun
only when he was reasonably sure of hitting, his ability to hold the
linstock from the touch-hole till the word was given to fire, that made
the duels of 1812 short and decisive.

As a feeble substitute for bomb-shells, the Americans were driven to the
use of all sorts of hardware and blacksmith’s scraps as projectiles.
This kind of shot was called “langrel” or “langrage,” and the metal
magazine of a cruiser in 1812 would be sure to cause merriment if looked
into in our decade. In old and in recent times, each combatant aimed to
destroy the propelling power of the other. As the main design now is to
strike the boiler and disable the machinery, so then the first object
was to cut up the sails and rigging, so as to reduce the ship to a hulk.
For the purpose, our blacksmiths and inventors were called on to furnish
all sorts of ripping and tearing missiles and every species of
dismantling shot. Their anvils turned off “star shot,” “chain shot,”
“sausages,” “double headers,” “porcupines” and “hedge-hogs.” The “star
shot” made of four wrought iron bolts hammered to a ring folded like a
frame of umbrella rods. On firing, this camp stool arrangement expanded
its rays to the detriment of the enemy’s cordage and canvas. The
“sausage” consisted of four or six links, each twelve inches long and
when rammed home resemble a disjointed fishing pole or artist’s
sketching chair packed up. When belched forth it was converted into a
swinging line of iron six feet long which made havoc among the ropes.
The “double header” resemble a dumb bell. The “chain shot,” “porcupine”
and “hedge-hog” explain themselves by their names. Such projectiles,
with a small blacksmith’s shop of bolts and spikes, were to the weight
of half a ton, taken out of the side of the _Shannon_ after her fight
with the _Chesapeake_ and sold at auction in Halifax where most of them
were converted into horse-shoes and other innocent articles. In
preparing for the battle of Lake Erie, all the scraps of iron saved at
the forges were sewn in leather bags. This flying cutlery helped largely
to disable the enemy and bring about the victory. In battle, the
carronades charged with this “langrage” were tilted high and pointed at
the rigging, while the solid shot of the regular broadsides hulled the
enemy with decisive effect. This kind of projectile, though it had been
in use in Europe since 1720, was denounced by the British as inhuman and
uncivilized. As the history of war again and again proves, what is first
denounced as barbarous is finally adopted as fair against an enemy.

The British neglected artillery practice and knew little of nice
gunnery. Their carronades and long deck guns were less securely
fastened, and were often over charged. By their recoil they were often
kicked over and rendered useless during a fight. A terrible picture in
words is given by Victor Hugo in his “93” of a carronade let loose in a
storm on the deck of a French ship. British discipline too, had fallen
behind the standard of Nelson’s day. A nearly uninterrupted series of
victories had so spoiled with conceit the average English naval man that
he felt it unnecessary if not impossible to learn from an enemy. In the
autobiography of Henry Taylor, the author of “Philip Van Artevelde,” who
in his youth was midshipman on a British frigate in 1812, he tells us
that during a whole year he was not once in the rigging. Very little
attention was paid to scientific gunnery, and target practice was rare.
In some ships, not a ball was shot from a gun in three years. Dependence
was placed on the number of cannon rather than on their quality,
equipment or service. They counted rather than weighed their shot. Most
of the British frigates were over-gunned.

The carronade, invented in 1779, had become immediately popular, and by
1781 four hundred and twenty-nine British war vessels were equipped with
from six to ten carronades. These were above their regular complement
and not included in the rate or enumeration. Hence a “thirty-eight,” a
“forty-two,” or a “seventy-four” gun-ship might have many more muzzles
than her professed complement. The fearful effect of short range upon
the timber of ships enabled the British to convert their enemy’s walls
into missiles, and make splinters their ally in the work of death and
mutilation. Farragut’s “splinter nettings” were then unknown nor dreamed
of. Hence the terrific proverbial force of the British broadsides in the
Nile and at Trafalgar. After such demonstration of power, such manifest
superiority over foemen worthy of their steel, it seemed absurd in
British eyes to make special preparation, or abandon old routine in
order to meet the Yankees in their “pine board” and “fir built”
frigates. What they had done with the French they expected to with the
Americans, and more easily. They did not know the virtues of the
American long guns nor the rapidity, coolness, and unerring accuracy of
the American artillerists. They were now to learn new lessons in the art
of war. They were to fight with sailors who took aim.

At the outbreak of hostilities our naval force in ships consisted of one
hundred and seventy gun-boats afloat, three second class frigates under
repair, three old brigs rotten and worthless, with five brigs and
sloops, three first-class and two second-class frigates which were
seaworthy. After the embargo of April 14th most of the fast sailers in
the American merchant service were converted into privateers.

The British naval force all told consisted of over a thousand sail and
her sailors were flushed with the remembrances of Aboukir and Trafalgar.
Before hostilities and at the date of the declaration of war, there were
off our coast the _Africa_, one sixty-four gun-ship; the _Shannon_,
_Guerriere_, _Belvidera_, and _Eolus_, second class frigates; besides
several smaller vessels.

The war with Great Britain, our “second war for independence” was
declared when the treasury was empty and the cabinet divided. Some
pamphleteers stigmatized it as “Mr. Madison’s war.” So great was the
cowardly fear of British invincibility on the seas, and so shameful and
unjust were the suspicions against our navy that many counsellors at
Washington urged that the national vessels should keep within tide-water
and act only as harbor batteries. To the earnest personal remonstrance
of Captains Bainbridge and Stewart we owe it that our vessels got to sea
to win a glory imperishable.

Borrowing a point from the English who, in older days, usually chose
their time to declare war when the richly-laden Dutch galleons were on
their homeward voyage from the Indies, President Madison and Congress,
hoping to fill the depleted treasury, passed the act declarative of war
about the time the Jamaica plate fleet of eighty-five vessels was to
arrive off our coast. This sailed from Negril Bay on the 20th of May and
war against Great Britain was declared on the 12th of June, at least one
week too late.


[2] Roosevelt’s “Naval History of the War of 1812.”

                               CHAPTER V.
                      SERVICE IN THE WAR OF 1812.

IN these days of submarine cables, the European armies in South Africa
or Cochin China receive orders from London or Paris on the day of their
issue. To us, the tardiness of transmission in Perry’s youth, seems
incredible. Although war was declared on the 12th of June, official
information did not reach the army officers until June 20th, and the
naval commanders until the 21st. In Perry’s diary of June 20th 1812,
this entry is made: “At 10 A. M. news arrived that war would be declared
the following day against G. B. Made the signal for all officers and
boats. Unmoored ship and fired a salute.”

At 3.30 P. M. next day, within sixty minutes of the arrival of the news,
the squadron, consisting of the _President_, _United States_,
_Congress_, _Argus_, and _Hornet_, about one-third of the whole
sea-worthy naval force of the nation, moved out into the ocean.

The British man-of-war, _Belvidera_, was cruising off Nantucket shore
awaiting the French privateer, _Marengo_, hourly expected from New
London. Captain Byron had heard of the likelihood of war from a New York
pilot, and his crew was ready for emergencies. At eight o’clock next
morning, the look-out on the _President_ when off Nantucket Shoal,
caught sight of a strange frigate. Every stitch of canvas was put on the
masts and stays, and a race, which was kept up all day, was begun. The
_President_, being just out, was heavily loaded, and, until afternoon,
the _Belvidera_ by lightening ship kept well ahead. When it became
evident to Captain Byron, the British commander, that he must fight, he
ordered the deck cleared, ran out four stern guns, two of which were
eighteen pounders and on the main deck. He hoisted his colors at half
past twelve. His cartridges were picked, but his fusing was not laid on.
This was to avoid a _President_ and _Little Belt_ experience. By half
past four, the _President’s_ bow-chaser, or “Long Tom,” was within six
hundred yards distance, and the time for firing the first gun of the war
had come. The long years of patient waiting and self-control, under
insults, were over. The question of the freedom of the seas was to be
settled by artillery.

Commodore Rodgers desiring the personal honor of firing the first
hostile shot afloat, took his station at the starboard forecastle gun.
Perry, a boy of seventeen, stood beside ready, eager, and cool. Waiting
till the right moment, the commodore applied the match. The ball struck
the _Belvidera_ in the stern coat and passed through, lodging in the
ward-room. The corresponding gun on the main deck was then discharged,
and the ball was seen to strike the muzzle of one of the enemy’s
stern-chasers. The third shot killed two men and wounded five on the
_Belvidera_. With such superb gunnery, the war of 1812 opened. A few
more such shots, and the prize would have been in hand.

It was not so to be. Nothing is more certain than the unexpected. A slip
came between sight and taste, changing the whole situation.

Commodore Rodgers with his younger officers stood on the forecastle deck
with glasses leveled to see the effect of the shot from the next gun on
the deck beneath them. It was in charge of Lieutenant Gamble. On the
match being applied, it burst. The Commodore was thrown into the air and
his leg broken by the fall. Matthew Perry was wounded, several of the
sailors were killed, and the forecastle deck was damaged badly. Sixteen
men were injured by this accident. The firing on the American ship
ceased for some minutes, until the ruins were cleared away, and the dead
and wounded were removed. Meanwhile the stern guns of the _Belvidera_
were playing vigorously, and, during the whole action, this busy end of
the British vessel was alive with smoke and flame. No fewer than three
hundred shot were fired, killing or wounding six of the _President’s_
crew though hurting the ship but slightly, notwithstanding that, for two
and a half hours, she lay in a position favorable for raking. Having no
pivot guns, but hoping to cripple his enemy by a full broadside,
Commodore Rodgers, when the _President_ had forged ahead, veered ship
and gave the enemy his full starboard fire. Failing of this purpose, he
delivered another broadside at five o’clock, which was as useless as the
other. He then ordered the sails set and continued the chase. To offset
this advantage in his enemy, the British captain, equal to the
situation, ordered the pumps to be manned, stores, anchors and boats to
be heaved overboard to rid the ship of every superfluous pound of
matter. Fourteen tons of water were started and, lightened of much metal
and wood, the British ship gained visibly on her opponent. This
continued until six, when the wind, being very light, Rodgers, in the
hope of disabling his antagonist, “yawed” again and fired two
broadsides. These, to the chagrin of the gallant commodore, fell short
or took slight effect. At seven o’clock, the _Belvidera_ was beyond
range and, near midnight, the chase was given up.

The escaping vessel got safely to Halifax carrying thither the news that
war had been declared and the Yankee cruisers were loose on the main.
Instead of the electric cable which flashes the news in seconds, the
schooner _Mackerel_ took dispatches, arriving at Portsmouth July 25th.

Following the trail left in the “pathless ocean” by the crumbs that fell
from the British table,—fruit rinds, orange skins and cocoa-nut shells,
the American frigate followed the game until within twenty-four hours of
the British channel. It was now time to be off. The West India prize was

Turning prow to Maderia, Funchal was passed July 27th. Sail was then
made for the Azores. Few ships were seen, but fogs were frequent.
Baffled in his desire to meet an enemy having teeth to bite, Rodgers
would have still kept his course, but for a fire in the rear. An enemy,
feared more than British guns, had captured the ship.

It was the scurvy. It broke out so alarmingly that he was obliged to
hurry home at full speed. Passing Nantasket roads August 31st decks were
cleared for action. A strange ship was in sight. It was the
_Constitution_ which a few days before had met and sunk their old enemy
the _Guerriere_, two of whose prizes the _President_ had recaptured.

In this, his first foreign cruise in a man-of-war, full as it was of
exciting incidents, Perry had taken part in one battle, and the capture
of seven British Merchant vessels. Driven home ingloriously by the
chronic enemy of the naval household, he learned well a new lesson. He
gained an experience, by which not only himself but all his crew down to
the humblest sailor under his command, profited during the half century
of his service. In those ante-canning days, more lives were lost in the
navy by this one disease than by all other causes, sickness, battle,
tempest or shipwreck. “From scurvy” might well have been a prayer of
deliverance in the nautical litany.

Perry was one of the first among American officers to search into the
underlying causes of the malady. He was ever a rigid disciplinarian in
diet, albeit a generous provider. To the ignorant he seemed almost
fanatical in his “anti-scorbutic” notions, though he was rather pleased
than otherwise at the nick-name savoring of the green-grocer’s stall
which Jack Tar with grateful facetiousness lavished on him.

Across sea, the American frigates were described by the English
newspapers as “disguised seventy-fours;” and, forthwith, English writers
on naval warfare began explaining how the incredible thing happened that
British frigates had lowered their flag to apparent equals. These
explanations have been diligently kept up and copied for the past
seventy-five years. As late as the international rifle match of 1877 the
words of the naval writer, James, learned by heart by Britons in their
youth, came to the front in the staple of English editorials written to
clear up the mystery of American excellence with the rifle,—“The young
peasant or back-woodsman carries a rifle barrel from the moment he can
lift one to his shoulder.”

On the eighteenth of October, Rodgers left Boston with the _President_,
_Constitution_, _United States_ and _Argus_. Perry, unable to be idle,
while the ships lay in Boston harbor, had opened a recruiting office in
the city enlisting sailors for the _President_. Each vessel of the
squadron was in perfect order. On the 10th, without knowing it, they
passed near five British men-of-war. They chased a thirty-eight gun ship
but lost her, but, on the 18th off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
captured the British packet _Swallow_, having on board eighty-one boxes
of gold and silver to the value of $200,000. On the 30th they chased the
_Galatea_ and lost her. During the whole of November, they met with few

Nine prizes of little value were taken. They cruised eastward to
Longitude 22 degrees west and southward to 17 degrees north latitude.
They re-entered Boston on the last month of the year, 1812. It is no
fault of Rodgers that he did not meet an armed ship at sea, and win
glory like that gained by Hull, Bainbridge and Decatur. For Perry,
fortune was yet reserving her favor and Providence a noble work.

Leaving Boston, April 30, the _President_ crossed the Atlantic to the
Azores, and thence moved up toward North Cape. In these icy seas,
Rodgers hoped to intercept a fleet of thirty merchant vessels sailing
from Archangel, July 15. Escaping after being chased eighty-four hours
by a British frigate and a seventy-four, Rodgers returned from his
Arctic adventures, and after a five months’ cruise cast anchor at
Newport, September 27. Twelve vessels, with two hundred and seventy-one
prisoners, had been taken; and the ships he disposed of by cartel,
ransom, sinking, or despatch to France or the United States as prizes.
No less than twenty British men-of-war, sailing in couples for safety,
scoured the seas for half a year, searching in vain for the saucy

Three years of service, under his own eye, had so impressed Commodore
Rodgers with his midshipman, that, on the 3d of February, 1813, he wrote
to the Department asking that Perry be promoted. This was granted
February 27, and, at eighteen, Matthew Perry became an acting
lieutenant. “Heroes are made early.”

Four of the Perry brothers served their country in the navy in 1813; two
in the _Lawrence_ on Lake Erie, and two on the _President_ at sea. An
item of news that concerned them all, and brought them to her bedside,
was their mother’s illness. This, fortunately, was not of long duration.
At home, Matthew Perry found his commission as lieutenant, dated July
24. Of the forty-four promotions, made on that date, he ranked number
fourteen. Requesting a change to another ship, he was ordered to the
_United States_, under Commodore Decatur. Chased into the harbor of New
London, by a British squadron, this frigate, with the _Wasp_ and
_Macedonian_, was kept in the Thames until the end of the war. Perry’s
five months’ service on board of her was one of galling inaction. Left
inactive in the affairs of war, the young lieutenant improved his time
in affairs of the heart; and on Christmas eve, 1814, was married to Miss
Jane Slidell, then but seventeen years of age. The Reverend, afterwards
Bishop, Nathaniel Bowen, united the pair according to the ritual of the
Episcopal church, at the house of the bride’s father, a wealthy New York
merchant. Perry’s brothers-in-law, John Slidell, Alexander Slidell
(MacKenzie), and their neighbor and playmate, Charles Wilkes, as well as
himself, were afterwards heard from.

Soon after his marriage, Lieutenant Perry was invited by Commodore
Decatur to join him on the _President_. In this ship, nearly rebuilt,
with a crew of over four hundred picked sailors, most of them tall and
robust native Americans, the “Bayard of the seas” expected to make a
voyage to the East Indies. Unfortunately, seized with a severe fit of
sickness, Perry was obliged to leave the ship, and in eager anticipation
of speedy departure, Decatur appointed another lieutenant in his place.
The bitter pill of disappointment proved, for Perry, good medicine.
Owing to the vigor of the blockade, the _President_ did not get away
until January 15, 1815, and then only to be captured by superior force.
In answer to an application for service, Matthew Perry was ordered to
Warren, R. I., to recruit for the brig _Chippewa_.

Meanwhile, negotiations for ending the war had begun, starting from
offers of mediation by Russia. With the allies occupying Paris, and
Napoleon exiled to Elba, there was little chance of “peace with honor”
for the United States. The war party in England were even inquiring for
some Elba in which to banish Madison. “The British government was free
to settle accounts with the upstart people whose ships had won more
flags from her navy, in two years, than all her European rivals had done
in a century.” One of the first moves was to dispatch Packenham, with
Wellington’s veterans, to lay siege to New Orleans, with the idea of
gaining nine points of the law. From Patterson and Jackson, they
received what they least expected.

Before Perry’s work at Warren fairly began, the British ship _Favorite_,
bearing the olive branch, arrived at New York, February 11, 1815. It was
too late to save the bloody battle of New Orleans, or the capture of the
_Cyane_ and _Levant_. The treaty of Ghent had been signed December 3,
1813; but neither steam nor electricity were then at hand to forefend
ninety days of war.

The navy, from the year 1815, was kept up on a war footing; and, for
three years, the sum of two millions of dollars was appropriated to this
arm of the service. Commodore Porter, eager to improve and expand our
commerce, conceived the project of a voyage of exploration around the
world. The plan embraced an extended visit to the islands of the
Pacific, the north-west coast of America, Japan and China. The
expedition was to consist of several vessels of war. The project of this
first American expeditionary voyage fell stillborn, and was left to
slumber until Matthew Perry and John Rodgers accomplished more than its

The seas now being safe to American commerce, our merchants at once took
advantage of their opportunity. Mr. Slidell offered his son-in-law, then
but twenty years of age, the command of a merchant vessel loaded for
Holland. He applied for furlough. As war with Algiers threatened,
permission was not granted, and Matthew and James Alexander Perry began
service on board the _Chippewa_. This was the finest of three brigs in
the flying squadron, which had been built to ravage British commerce in
the Mediterranean. Serving, inactively, on the brig _Chippewa_, until
December 20, 1815, Perry procured furlough, and in command of a merchant
vessel, owned by his father, made a voyage to Holland. He was engaged in
the commercial marine until 1817, when he re-entered the navy.

The Virginian Horatio, son of the freed slave, who to-day ploughs up the
skull of some Yorick, Confederate or Federal, turns to his paternal
Hamlet, of frosty pow, to ask: “What was dey fightin’ about?” A similar
question asks the British Peterkin and the American lad, of this
generation, concerning a phase of our history early in this century.

Besides being “our second war for national independence,” the struggle
of 1812 was emphatically for “sailors’ rights.” At the beginning of
hostilities there were on record in the State Department, at Washington,
6,527 cases of impressed American seamen. This was, doubtless, but a
small part of the whole number, which probably reached 20,000; or enough
to man our navy five times over. In 1811, 2,548 impressed American
seamen were in British prisons, refusing to serve against their country,
as the British Admirality reported to the House of Commons, February 1,
1815. In January, 1811, according to Lord Castlereagh’s speech of
February 8, 1813, 3,300 men, claiming to be Americans, were serving in
the British navy.[3] The war settled some questions, but left the main
one of the right of search, claimed by Great Britain, still open, and
not to be removed from the field of dispute, until Mr. Seward’s
diplomacy in the _Trent_ affair compelled its relinquishment forever.
Three years struggle with a powerful enemy, had done wonders in
developing the resources of the United States and in consolidating the
Federal union. The American nation, by this war, wholly severed the
leading strings which bound her to the “mother country” and to Europe,
and shook off the colonial spirit for all time.

Among the significant appropriations made by Congress during the war,
was one for $500 to be spent in collecting, transmitting, preserving,
and displaying the flags and standards captured from the enemy.

On the 4th of July, 1818, the flag of the United States of America,
which, during the war of 1812, bore fifteen stripes and fifteen stars in
its cluster, returned to its old form. The number of stripes,
representing the original thirteen states, remained as the standard, not
to be added to or subtracted from. In the blue field the stars could
increase with the growth of the nation. In the American flag are happily
blended the symbols of the old and the new, of history and prophecy, of
conservatism and progress, of the stability of the unchanging past with
the promise and potency of the future.


[3] Roosevelt’s “Naval History of the War of 1812.”

                              CHAPTER VI.

AN act of Congress passed March 3, 1819, favored the schemes of the
American Colonization Society. A man-of-war was ordered to convoy the
first company of black colonists to Africa, in the ship _Elizabeth_, to
display the American flag on the African coast, and to assist in
sweeping the seas of slavers. The vessel chosen was the _Cyane_, an
English-built vessel, named after the nymph who amused Proserpine when
carried off by Pluto. One of the pair captured by Captain Stewart of the
U. S. S. _Constitution_, in his memorable moonlight battle of February
20, 1815, the _Cyane_ mounted thirty-four guns, and carried one hundred
and eighty-five men. Rebuilt for the American navy, her complement was
two hundred sailors and twenty-five marines. Captain Edward Trenchard,
who commanded her, was a veteran of the Tripolitan and second British
war. From the Mahometan pirates, when a mere lad, he had assisted to
capture the great bronze gun that now adorns the interior gateway of the
Washington Navy Yard.

Athirst for enterprise and adventure, Perry applied for sea service and
appointment on the _Cyane_. It was not so much the idea of seeing the
“Dark Continent,” as of seeing “Guinea” which charmed him. “Africa” then
was a less definite conception than to us of this age of Livingstone,
Stanley, and the free Congo State. “Guinea” was more local, while yet
fascinating. From it had come, and after it was named, England’s largest
gold coin, which had given way but a year or two before to the legal
“sovereign,” though sentimentally remaining in use. British ships were
once very active in the Guinea traffic in human flesh, some of them
having been transferred to the German slave-trade to carry the Hessian
mercenaries to America. Curiosities from the land of the speckled
champions of our poultry yards, were in Perry’s youth as popular as are
those from Japan in our day. On the other hand, the dreaded “Guinea
worm,” or miniature fiery serpent, and the deadly miasma, made the coast
so feared, that the phrase “Go to Guinea,” became a popular malediction.
All these lent their fascination to a young officer who loved to
overcome difficulties, and “the danger’s self, to lure alone.” He was
assigned to the _Cyane_ as first lieutenant. As executive officer he was
busy during the whole autumn in getting her ready, and most of the
letters from aboard the _Cyane_, to the Department, are in his
handwriting, though signed by the commanding officer.

For the initial experiment in colonization, the ship _Elizabeth_, of
three hundred tons, was selected. Thirty families, numbering eighty-nine
persons, were to go as passengers and colonists. A farewell meeting,
with religious exercises, was held in New York, and the party was
secretly taken on board January 3. This was done to avoid the tremendous
crowd that would have gathered to see people willing to “go to Guinea.”

The time of year was not favorable for an auspicious start, for no
sooner were the colored people aboard, than the river froze and the
vessel was ice-bound. As fast locked as if in Polar seas, the
_Elizabeth_ remained till February 6, when she was cut out by contract
and floated off. In the heavy weather, convoy and consort lost sight of
each other. Cased in ice, the _Cyane_ pulled her anchor-chains three
days, then spent from the 10th to the 15th in searching for the
_Elizabeth_, which meanwhile had spread sail and was well on toward the
promised land. All this was greatly to the wrath of Captain Trenchard.

The Cape de Verdes came into view March 9, after a squally passage, and
on the 27th, anchor was cast in Sierra Leone roads. The _Elizabeth_
having arrived two days before had gone on to Sherbro.

A cordial reception was given the American war vessel by the British
naval officers and the governor. Memories of the Revolution were
recalled by the Americans. It may be suspected that they cheerfully hung
their colors at half-mast on account of the death of George III. His
reign of sixty years was over.

To assist the colony, a part of the crew of the _Cyane_, most of them
practical mechanics, with tools and four months provisions, under
Lieutenant John S. Townsend, was despatched to Sherbro. Immediate work
was found for the _Cyane_ in helping to repress a mutiny on an American
merchant vessel. This done, a coasting cruise for slavers followed in
which four prizes were made. The floating slave-pens were sent home, and
their officers held for trial. Other sails were seen and chased, and
life on the new station promised to be tolerable. Except when getting
fresh water the ship was almost constantly at sea, and all were well and
in good spirits.

Perry enjoyed richly the wonders both of the sea and the land flowing
with milk of the cocoa-nut. Branches of coffee-berries were brought on
ship, the forerunner of that great crop of Liberian coffee which has
since won world-wide fame. The delicious flavor of the camwood blossoms
permeated the cabin.

Among the natives on shore each tribe seemed to have a designating mark
on the face or breast—cut, burned or dyed—by which the lineage of
individuals was easily recognized. The visits of the kings, or chiefs,
to the ships, were either for trade or beggary. In the former case, the
dusky trader was usually accompanied by the scroff or “gold-taker,” who
carefully counted and appraised the “cut-money” or coins. When cautioned
to tell the truth, or confirm a covenant, their oath was made with the
“salt-fingers” raised to heaven, some of this table mineral being at the
same time mixed with earth and eaten, salt being considered sacred.

The dark and mysterious history of Africa, for centuries, has been that
of blood and war. The battle-field was the “bed of honor,” and
frequently the cannibals went forth to conflict with their kettles in
hand ready to cook their enemies at once when slain. Women at the tribal
assemblies counselled war or peace, and were heard with respect by the
warriors. Almost all laws were enforced by the power of opinion, this
taking the place of statutes.

The climate and the unscientific methods of hygiene, in the crowded
ship, soon began to tell upon the constitutions of the men on the
_Cyane_. Tornados, heavy rain, with intense heat, par-boiled the
unacclimated white seamen, and many fell ill. The amphibious Kroomen
relieved the sailors of much exposure; but the alternations of chill and
heat, with constant moisture, and foul air under the battened hatches,
kept the sick bay full. Worst of all, the dreaded scurvy broke out. They
were then obliged to go north for fresh meat and vegetables. A pleasant
incident on the way was their meeting with the U. S. S. _Hornet_,
twenty-seven days from New York. At Teneriffe, in the Canary Islands,
during July, the _Cyane_, though in quarantine, received many enjoyable
courtesies from the officers of a French seventy-four-gun-ship in the

When quarantine was over, and the _Cyane_ admitted to Pratique,
Lieutenant Perry went gratefully ashore to tender a salute to the
Portuguese governor. In an interview, Perry informed his worship of the
object of the American ship’s visit, and stated that the _Cyane_ would
be happy to tender the customary salute if returned gun for gun. The
governor replied that it would give him great pleasure to return the
salute—but with one gun less; as it was not customary for Portugal to
return an equal number of guns to republican governments, but only to
those of acknowledged sovereigns. This from Portuguese!

Perry replied, in very plain terms, that no salute would be given, as
the government of the United States acknowledged no nation as entitled
to greater respect than itself.

The only greeting of the _Cyane_ as she showed her stern to the governor
and the port, was that of contemptuous silence. By September 20, the
_John Adams_ was off the coast, the three vessels making up the American

The first news received from the colonists was of disaster. On their
arrival at Sherbro they landed with religious exercises, and met some of
Paul Cuffee’s settlers sent out some years before. The civilized negroes
from the _Elizabeth_ were shocked beyond measure at the heathenish
display of cuticle around them. They had hardly expected to find their
aboriginal brethren in so low an estate. They could not for a moment
think of fraternizing with them. Owing to the lateness of the season,
they were unable to build houses to shelter themselves from the rains.
All had taken the African fever, and among the first victims was their
leader, the Rev. Mr. Bacon. From the Rev. Daniel Cokes, the acting agent
of the colonization society, the whole miserable story was learned. The
freed slaves who, even while well fed and housed on ship, had shown
occasional symptoms of disobedience, broke out into utter
insubordination when “the sweets of freedom in Africa” were translated
into prosy work. After Bacon’s death there was total disorder; no
authority was acknowledged, theft became alarmingly common, and the
agent’s life was threatened.

The native blacks, noticing the state of things, took advantage of the
feuds and ignorance of the settlers and refused to help them. Sickness
carried off the doctor and all of the _Cyane’s_ boat crew. Yet the
fever, while fatal to whites, was only dangerous to the negro colonists.
Twenty-three out of the eighty-nine had died, and of these but nineteen
by fever. The rest, demoralized and discouraged, gave way to their worst

The colony which had been partly projected to receive slaves captured by
United States vessels, for the present, at least, proving a failure,
Captain Trenchard requested the governor of Sierra Leone to receive such
slaves as should hereafter be liberated by Americans. The governor
acceded, and the _Cyane_ turned her prow homeward October 4, and after a
fifty-seven days’ experience of constant squalls and calms, until
December 1, arrived at New York on Christmas day. Emerging from tropical
Africa, even the intermediate ocean voyage did not prepare the men for
the severe weather of our latitude, and catarrhs and fevers broke out.
The ship, too, was full of cases of chronic sickness. Between disease
and the elements, the condition of the crew was deplorable.

In this, his first African cruise, Perry, as usual, profited richly by
experience. He had made a systematic study of the climate, coast, and
ship-hygiene. He believed, and expressed his conviction, that for much
of the preventible sickness some one was responsible. Though, thereby,
he lost the good will of certain persons, Lieutenant Perry rendered
unquestionable benefits to later ships on the African station. During
the next year, the U. S. S. _Nautilus_, with two agents of the
government, and two of the colonization societies, sailed with a fresh
lot of colonists for Africa. Thus the slow work of building up the first
and only American colony recognized by the United States went on.

There were some far-seeing spirits on both sides of Mason and Dixon’s
line, who had begun to see that the only real cure for the African
slave-trade, on the west coast of Africa, was its abolition in America.
The right way for the present, however, was to carry the war into Africa
by planting free colonies.

                              CHAPTER VII.

ON the 5th of July 1821, Perry was doubly happy, in his first sole
command of a man-of-war, and in her being bound upon a worthy mission.
The _Shark_ was to convey Dr. Eli Ayres to Africa as agent of the United
States in Liberia. He was especially glad that he could now enforce his
ideas of ship hygiene. His ambition was to make the cruise without one
case of fever or scurvy.

The _Shark_ sped directly through the Canaries. Here, the human falcons
resorted before swooping on their human prey. At Cape de Verde, he found
the villianous slave-trade carried on under the mask of religion.
Thousands of negroes decoyed or kidnapped from Africa, were lodged at
the trading station for one year, and then baptized by the wholesale in
the established Roman faith. They were then shipped to Brazil as
Portuguese “subjects.” It was first aspersion, and then dispersion.

At Sierra Leone, Dr. Ayers was landed. Three out of every four whites in
the colony died with promptness and regularity. The British cruisers
suffered frightfully in the loss of officers, and the _Thistle_, spoken
October 21st, had only the commander and surgeon left of her staff.

Perry performed one act during this cruise which powerfully effected for
good the future of the American negro in Africa, and the destiny of the
future republic of Liberia. The first site chosen for the settlement of
the blacks sent out by the American Colonization Society was Sherbro
Island situated in the wide estuary of the Sherbro river which now
divides Sierra Leone from Liberia. In this low lying malarious district,
white men were sure to die speedily, and the blacks must go through the
fever in order to live. On Perry’s arrival, he found that the missionary
teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Winn, and the Reverend Mr. Andrews were already
in the cemetery from fever. Some of the new colonists were sick and six
of them had died.

Perry saw at once that the foundations of the settlement must be made on
higher ground. He selected, therefore, the promontory of Mont Serrado,
called Cape Mesurado. This place, easily accessible, had no superior on
the coast. It lay at the mouth of the Mesurado river which flowed from a
source three hundred miles in the interior.[4]

Having no authority to make any changes, the matter rested until
December 12, 1832 when Captain Stockton, Doctor Ayres, and seven
immigrants visited the location chosen by Matthew Perry. “That is the
spot that we ought to have,” said Captain Stockton, “that should be the
site of our colony. No finer spot on the coast.” Three days later a
contract to cede the desired land to the United States was signed by six
native “Kings.” Seventeen of the dusky sovereigns and thirty-four
dignitaries enjoying semi-royal honors, had assented, and on the
twenty-fifth of April 1832 the American flag was hoisted over Cape
Mesurado. Shortly afterwards, Monrovia, the future capital, named after
President Monroe, began its existence. To this form of the Monroe
doctrine, European nations have fully acceded. Liberia is the only
colony founded by the United States.

The _Shark_ ran, like a ferret in rat-holes, into all the rivers, nooks
and harbors, but though French, Dutch and Spanish vessels were chased
and overhauled, no American ships were caught. Perry wrote “The severe
laws of Congress had the desired effect of preventing American citizens
from employing their time and capital in this iniquitous traffic.” Yet
this species of commerce was very actively pursued by vessels wearing
the French, Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch flags. The French and
Portuguese were the most persistent man-stealers. So great was the
demand for slaves, that villages only a few miles apart were in constant
war so as to get prisoners to be disposed of to the captains of
slave-vessels. Perry wrote:

“In this predatory warfare the most flagitious acts of cruelty are
committed. The ties of nature are entirely cut asunder for it is not
infrequent that parents dispose of their own children.”

The cargoes which the slavers carried to use in barter for human flesh
consisted of New England rum, Virginia tobacco, with European gunpowder,
paint, muskets, caps, hats, umbrellas and hardware. Most of the wearing
apparel was the unsalable or damaged stock of European shops. The Guinea
coast was the Elysium of old clothes men and makers of slop work. Long
out of fashion at home, these garments sufficed to deck gorgeously the
naked body of a black slave-peddler, while the rum corroded his interior
organs. The _Caroline_, a French ship overhauled by Perry, had made ten
voyages to Africa. The vessel, cargo and outfit cost $8,000, the value
of the cargo of one hundred and fifty-three slaves at $250 each, was
$38,250, a profit of nearly $30,000 for a single voyage. The sixty men,
ten women, and sixty-three children stowed in the hold were each fed
daily with one bottle of water and one pound of rice. The ships found
off Old Calabar and Cape Mount—now seats of active Christian and
civilizing labors—having no one on board who could speak English, were
completely fitted for carrying slaves. Those sailing below the equator,
and under their national flags, could not be molested. No Congress of
nations had yet outlawed slave-trading on all the seas as piracy. The
commander of the British squadron reported: “No Americans are engaged in
the [slave] trade. They would have no inducement to conceal their real
character from the officers of a British cruiser, for these have no
authority to molest them. All slaves are now under foreign flags.”

In this villainous work, the Portuguese from first to last have held
undisputed pre-eminence. Perry, after his three African cruises, was
confirmed in his opinion formed at first, and which all students of
Africa so unanimously hold. Mr. Robert Grant Watson, who has minutely
studied the national disgrace in many parts of the world thus formulates
this judgment.

“There seems indeed something peculiarly ingrained in the Portuguese
race, which makes them take to slave-dealing and slave-hunting, as
naturally as greyhounds take to chasing hares; and this observation
applies not to one section of the race alone, but to Portuguese wherever
they are to be found beyond the reach of European law. No modern race
can be as slave-hunters within measurable distance of the Portuguese.
Their exploits in this respect are written in the annals not only of the
whole coast of Brazil, from Para, Uruguay, and along the Missiones of
Paraguay, not only on the coast of Angola but throughout the interior of
Africa. You may take up the journals of one traveller after another, of
Burton, Livingstone, of Stanley, or of Cameron, and in what ever
respects their accounts and opinions may differ, one point they are one
and all entirely agreed on, namely, as to the pestilent and remorseless
activity of the ubiquitous Portuguese slave-catcher.”

“Having examined the northern part of the coast from the Bessagoes
shoals to Cape Mount,” writes Perry. “I took my departure for West
Indies following the track of Homeward Bound Guinea-men.”

A run across the Atlantic brought the _Shark_ to the West Indies. There
diligent search was begun for Picaroons or pirates. American merchant
vessels were convoyed beyond the coast of Cuba. The run northward
brought the _Shark_ to New York, January 17, 1822. In the violent change
from the equator to our rugged climate, many of the _Shark’s_ crew
suffered from frost-bites.

A short but very active cruise in African waters had been finished.
Despite the long calms, occasional tempests and the deadly land miasma,
not a single man had died on the _Shark_. This unusual exemption from
the disease was imputed by Perry under Providence, to the many
precautions observed by him and to the skilful attentions of Dr. Wiley.

Matthew Perry was among the first to discover the underlying cause of
the sailor’s malady—sea-scurvy. He believed it to be primarily due to
mal-nutrition. He found the soil in which the disease grew was a compost
of bad water, alcoholism, exposure, too exclusively salt diet, lack of
vegetables, of ventilation, and of cleanliness on ship. The canning
epoch inaugurated later by Americans, who, it is said, got their notions
from air-tight fruit jars dug up from Pompeii, had not yet dawned, but
Perry already put faith in succulents and the entire class of
crucifiers, seeing in them the cross of health in his crusade against
the scorbutic taint. Though not yet familiar with the marvelous power of
the onion, and the juice of limes, he endeavored at all times to secure
supplies of sauer-kraut, cabbages, radishes, and fruits rich in acids
and sub-acids. He was emulous of the success of captains Cook and Parry
who had succeeded so well in their voyages. He knew that in war, more
men perished by disease than in battle. He lived to see the day when a
ship was made a more healthy dwelling place than the average house, and
when, through perfected dietic knowledge, and the skill of the preserver
and hermetic sealer, sea-scurvy became so rare that a naval surgeon
might pass a lifetime without meeting a case save in a hospital.


[4] See the Maryland Colonization Journal, vol. 2, p. 328 and the
December number of the Liberia _Herald_ 1845, for Perry’s Journal when
Lieutenant of the _Cyane_.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

JAMES, the Spaniard’s patron saint, has been compelled to lend his name
as “Iago” to innumerable towns, cities and villages. From Mexico to
Patagonia in Spanish America, “Santiago,” “San Diego,” “Iago” and
“Diego” are such frequently recurring vocables that the Yankee sailor
calls natives of these countries “Dago men,” or “Diegos.” It is his
slang name for foreigners of the Latin race. It is a relic of the old
days when he knew them chiefly as pirates.

Perry’s next duty was to lend a hand against the “Diego” ship robbers of
the Gulf, who had become an intolerable nuisance. The unsettled
condition of the Central and South American colonies had set afloat
thousands of starving and ragged patriots. Their prime object was the
destruction of Spanish commerce, but tempted by the rich prizes of other
nations, and speedily developing communistic ideas, they became truly
catholic in their treatment of other peoples’ property, while the names
which these cut-throats gave their craft were borrowed from holy writ
and the calendar of the saints. Under the black flag, they degenerated
into murderous pirates. Their own name was “Brethren of the coast.”

Emboldened by success, they formed organized companies of buccaneers and
extended their depredations over the whole north Atlantic. Our southern
commerce was particularly exposed. The accounts of piracy continually
reaching our cities on the Atlantic coast, were accompanied with details
of wanton cruelties inflicted on American seamen. The pirate craft were
swift sailing schooners of from fifty to ninety tons burthen manned by
crews of from twenty-five to one hundred men who knew every cove,
crevice, nook and sinuous passage in the West India Archipelago.
Watching like hawks for their prey, they would swoop down on the
helpless quarry—British and American merchantmen—and rob, beat, burn
and kill.

The squadron fitted out to exterminate these heroes of our
yellow-covered novels consisted of the frigates, _Macedonian_ and
_Congress_, the sloops _Adams_ and _Peacock_, with five brigs, the steam
galliot _Sea-gull_, and several schooners; among which was Lieutenant
Perry’s twelve-gun vessel the _Shark_. The whole was under the command
of Commodore David Porter, the father of the present illustrious Admiral
of the American navy.

The duty of ferreting out these pests was a laborious one in a trying
climate. The commodore divided the whole West Indian coast into
sections, each of which was thoroughly scoured by the cruisers and
barges. The boat service was continuous, relieved by occasional
hand-to-hand fights. Often the tasks were perplexing. Though belted and
decorated with the universal knife, the quiet farmers in the fields, or
salt makers on the coast, seemed innocent enough. As soon as inquiries
were answered, and the visiting boat’s crew out of sight, they hied to a
secluded cove. On the deck of a swift sailing light-draft barque or even
open boat, these same men would stand transformed into blood-thirsty
pirates, under black flags inscribed with the symbols of skull and
bones, axe and hour glass.

To the dangers of intricate navigation in unsurveyed and rarely visited
channels, for even the Florida Keys were then unknown land, and their
water ways unexplored labyrinths, and the fatigue of constant service at
the oars, was added keen jealousy of the United States, felt by the
Cubans, and shown by the Spanish authorities in many annoying ways.

The acquisition of Cuba had even then been hinted at by Southern
fire-eaters bent on keeping the area of African slavery intact, and even
of extending it in order to balance the increasing area of freedom. This
feeling, then confined to a section of a sectional party, and not yet
shaped, as it afterwards was, into a settled policy and determination,
roused the defiant jealousy of the Spaniards in authority, even though
they might be personally anxious to see piracy exterminated. The Mexican
war, waged in slavery’s behalf in the next generation, showed how
well-grounded this jealousy was.

The smaller craft sent to cope with the pirates of the Spanish Main were
so different in bulk and appearance from the heavy frigates and ships of
the line that they were dubbed, “The Mosquito Fleet.” The swift barges
were named in accordance with this idea, after such tropical vermin as
_Mosquito_, _Midge_, _Sand-fly_, _Gnat_ and _Gallinipper_. The
_Sea-gull_, an altered Brooklyn ferry-boat from the East river, and but
half the size of those now in use, was equipped with masts. Under steam
and sail she did good service.

The _Shark_ got off in the spring, and by May 4, 1822, she was at Vera
Cruz. Perry had an opportunity to see the castle of Juan d’Ulloa and the
Rich City of the Real Cross, which were afterwards to become so familiar
to him.

The pirates were soon in the clutch of men resolutely bent on their
destruction. When, in June, Commodore Biddle obtained permission of the
Captain General of Cuba to land boat’s crews on Spanish soil to pursue
the pirates to the death, the end of the system was not far off. Still
the ports of the Spanish Main were crowded with American ships waiting
for convoy by our men-of-war, their crews fearing the cut-throats as
they would Pawnees.

In June, Perry with the _Shark_, in company with the _Grampus_, captured
a notorious ship sailing under the black flag—the _Bandara D’Sangare_,
and another of lesser fame. Meeting Commodore Biddle in the flag-ship,
at sea, July 24, he put his prisoners, all of whom had Spanish names, on
board the _Congress_. They were sent to Norfolk for trial. The sad news
of the death of Lieutenant William Howard Allen of the _Alligator_, who
had been killed by pirates, was also learned. The friend of Fitz-Greene
Halleck, his memory has been embalmed in verse.

By order of the commodore, Perry turned his prow again toward Africa.
His visit, however, was of short duration, for on the 12th of December
1822, we find him in Norfolk, Virginia, finishing a cruise in which he
had been two hundred and thirty-six days under sail, during which time
he had boarded one hundred and sixty-six vessels, convoyed thirty, given
relief to five in actual distress, and captured five pirates.

Although the pirates no longer called for a whole squadron to police the
Spanish Main, yet our commerce in the Gulf was now in danger from a new
source. In 1822, Mexico entered upon another of her long series of
revolutions. The native Mexican, Iturbide, abandoning the _rôle_ of
pliant military captain of the Spanish despot, assumed that of an
American usurper.

Suddenly exalted, May 18, 1822, from the barrack-room to the throne, he
set the native battalions in motion against the Spanish garrisons then
holding only the castle of San Juan d’Ulloa and a few minor fortresses.
Santa Anna was then governor of Vera Cruz. Hostilities between the
royalists and the citizens having already begun, our commerce was in
danger of embarrassment.

Perry with his old ship and crew left New York for Mexico. Before he
arrived, the Spanish yoke had been totally overthrown and the National
Representative Assembly proclaimed. Iturbide abdicated in March, 1823,
and danger to our commerce was removed. Perry, relieved of further duty
returned to New York, July 9, 1823, and enjoyed a whole summer quietly
with his family.

Perceiving the advantage of a knowledge of Spanish, Perry began to study
the tongue of Cervantes. Though not a born linguist, he mastered the
language so as to be during all his later life conversant with the
standard literature, and fluent in the reading of its modern forms in
speech, script and print. This knowledge was afterward, in the
Mediterranean, in Africa, and in Mexico, of great value to him.

Commodore Porter’s work in suppressing the West Indian free-booters was
so well done, that piracy, on the Atlantic coast, has ever since been
but a memory. Unknown to current history, it has become the theme only
of the cheap novelist and now has, even in fiction, the flavor of

The _Shark_, the first war-ship under Perry’s sole command, mounted
twelve guns, measured one hundred and seventy-seven tons, cost $23,267,
and had a complement of one hundred men. Her term of life was
twenty-five years. She began her honorable record under Lieutenant
Perry, was the first United States vessel of war to pass through the
Straits of Magellan, from east to west, and was lost in the Columbia
river in 1846.

                              CHAPTER IX.

THE line-of-battle ship, which figured so largely in the navies of a
half century or more ago, was a man-of-war carrying seventy-four or more
guns. It was the class of ships in which the British took especial
pride, and the American colonists, imitating the mother country, began
the construction of one, as early as the Revolution. Built at
Portsmouth, this first American “ship-of-the-line” was, when finished,
presented to France. Humpreys, our great naval contractor in 1797
carried out the true national idea, by condensing the line-of-battle
ship into a frigate, and “line ships” proper were not built until after
1820. One of the first of these was the _North Carolina_, commanded by
the veteran John Rodgers.

The first visit of an American line-of-battle ship to Europe, in 1825,
under Commodore Rodgers, was, in its effect, like that of the iron-clad
Monitor _Miantonomah_ under Farragut in 1865. It showed that the United
States led the world in ships and guns. The _North Carolina_ was then
the largest, the most efficient and most formidable vessel that ever
crossed the Atlantic.

Rodgers was justly proud of his flag-ship and fleet, for this was the
golden era of American ship-building, and no finer craft ever floated
than those launched from our shipyards.

The old hulk of the _North Carolina_ now laid up at the Brooklyn Navy
Yard and used as a magazine, receiving-ship, barracks, prison, and
guard-house, gives little idea of the vision of life and beauty which
the “seventy-four” of our fathers was.

The great ship, which then stirred the hearts of the nation moved under
a mighty cloud of canvas, and mounted in three tiers one-hundred and two
guns, which threw a mass of iron outweighing that fired by any vessel
then afloat. Her battery exceeded by three hundred and four pounds that
of the _Lord Nelson_—the heaviest British ship afloat and in
commission. The weight of broadside shot thrown by the one larger craft
before her—that of the Spanish Admiral St. Astraella Trinidad,[5] which
Nelson sunk at Trafalgar,—fell short of that of the _North Carolina_.
Our “wooden walls” were then high, and the stately vessel under her mass
of snowy canvas was a sight that filled a true sailor with profound
emotion. Mackenzie in his “Year in Spain” has fitly described his
feelings as that sight burst upon him.

So perfect were the proportions, that her size was under-valued until
men noticed carefully the great mass moving with the facility of a
schooner. At the magic of the boatswain’s whistle, the anchor was cast
and the great sails were folded up and hidden from view as a bird
folding her wings.

It was highly beneficial to our commerce and American reputation abroad
to send so magnificent a fleet into European waters as that commanded by
Rodgers. In many ports of the Mediterranean Sea, the American flag, then
bearing twenty-four stars, had never been seen. The right man and the
right ships were now to represent us.

Perry joined the _North Carolina_ July 26, 1824. She sailed in April,
and arrived at Malaga, May 19, 1825. During three days she was inspected
by the authorities and crowds of people, who were deeply impressed by
the perfect discipline observed on the finest ship ever seen in those

Gibraltar on June 7th, and Tangier, June 14th, were then visited, and by
the 17th, the whole squadron, among which was the _Cyane_, assembled in
the offing before the historic fortress near the pillars of Hercules,
prior to a visit to the Greek Archipelago.

This too, was an epoch of vast ceremony and display on board ship. War
and discipline of to-day, if less romantic and chivalrous are more
business-like, more effective, but less spectacular. Mackenzie with a
pen equal to that of his friend, N. P. Willis, has left us a graphic
sketch of the receptions and departures of the Commodore. As we read his
fascinating pages:

“The herculean form and martial figure of the veteran,” who as monarch
reigned over “the hallowed region of the quarterdeck,” the “band of
music in Moorish garb,” the “groups of noble looking young officers,”
come again before us.

A “thousand eyes are fixed” on “the master spirit,” hats are raised,
soldiers present arms, the “side boys” detailed at gangways to attend
dignitaries,—eight to an admiral, four to a captain,—are in their
places, and the blare of brazen tubes is heard as the commodore

Perry, as executive officer, held the position which a writer with
experience has declared to be the most onerous, difficult, and thankless
of all. His duties comprised pretty much everything that needed to be
done on deck. Whether in gold lace or epaulettes by day, or in oil-skin
jacket with trumpet at night or in storm, Perry was regent of the ship
and crew. Charles W. Morgan, afterwards commodore, was captain.

The business of the squadron, consisting of the _North Carolina_,
_Constitution_, _Erie_, _Ontario_, and _Cyane_ was to protect American
commerce. The ships were to sail from end to end of the Mediterranean,
touching at Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, which “Barbary” powers were now
very friendly to Americans. Other classic sites were to be visited, and
although the young officers anticipated the voyage with delight, yet the
cruise was not to be a mere summer picnic. American commerce was in
danger at the Moslem end of the Mediterranean, for much the same
political causes previously operating in the West Indies. The cause lay
in the revolt of a tribute nation against its suzerain, or rather in the
assertion of her liberty against despotism. That struggle for Hellenic
Independence, which becomes to us far-away Americans more of an entity,
through the poetry of Byron and Fitz-Greene Halleck, than through
history, had begun. It seems, in history, a dream; in poetry, a fact.
While the Greek patriots won a measure of success, they kept their hands
off from other people’s property and regarded the relation of _mine_ and
_thine_; but when hard pressed by the Turks, patriotism degenerated into
communism. They were apt to forage among our richly-laden vessels. Greek
defeat meant piracy, and at this time the cause of the patriots, though
a noble one, was desperate indeed. Five years of fighting had passed,
yet recognition by European nations was withheld. The first fruits of
the necessity, which knows no law, was plunder.

On the 29th of May, an American merchantman from Boston was robbed by a
Greek privateer, and this act became a precedent for similar outrages.

While at Patras, the chief commercial town of Greece, Perry had the
scripture prophecy of “seven women taking hold of one man” fulfilled
before his eyes. The Biblical number of Turkish widows, whose husbands
had been killed at Corinth, were brought on board the _North Carolina_
and exposed for sale by Greeks, who were anxious to make a bargain. The
officers paid their ransom, and giving them liberty sent them to Smyrna
under charge of Perry.

While there, an event occurred which had a disastrous physical influence
upon Matthew Perry all his life, and which remotely caused his death. A
great fire broke out on shore which threatened to wrap the whole city in
conflagration. The efficient executive of the flag-ship, ordered a large
detail to land in the boats and act as firemen. The men, eager for
excitement on land, worked with alacrity; but among the most zealous and
hard working of all was their lieutenant. In danger and exposure,
alternately heated and drenched, Perry was almost exhausted when he
regained the ship. The result was an attack of rheumatism, from the
recurring assaults of which he was never afterwards entirely free.
Hitherto this species of internal torture had been to him an
abstraction; henceforth, it was personal and concrete. Shut up like a
fire in his bones, its occasional eruptions were the cause of that
seeming irritableness which was foreign to his nature.

Among other visitors at Smyrna, were some Turkish ladies, who, veiled
and guarded by eunuchs, came on board “ships of the new world.” No such
privilege had ever been accorded them before, and these exiles of the
harem, looked with eager curiosity at every-thing and everybody on the
ship, though they spoke not a word. Nothing of themselves was visible
except their eyes, and these—to the old commodore—“not very
distinctly,” though possibly to the young officers they shone as
brightly as meteors. This visit of our squadron had a stimulating effect
on American commerce, though our men-of-war convoyed vessels of various
Christian nations.

The Greek pirates extending the field of their operations, had now begun
their depredations in open boats. Dissensions among the patriots were
already doing as much harm to the sinking cause as Turkish arms.

Captain Nicholson of our navy, visiting Athens and Corinth, found the
Acropolis in the hands of a faction, and the country poor and
uncultivated. Corinth was but a mere name. Its streets were overgrown,
its houses were roofless and empty, and the skeletons of its brave
defenders lay white and unburied. The Greek fleet of one-hundred sail
was unable to do much against the Turkish vessels, numbering fifteen
more and usually heavier. The best successes of the patriots were by the
use of fire-ships.

In spite of the low state of the Hellenic cause, Americans manifested
strict neutrality, and the Greek authorities in the ports entered were
duly saluted, an example which the French admiral and Austrian commodore

The fleet cruised westwardly, arriving at Gibraltar, October 12, where
Perry found awaiting him his appointment to the grade of acting Master

The opening of the year 1827, found the cause of the Greeks sunk to the
lowest ebb of hopelessness. Even the crews of the men-of-war, unable to
get wage or food, put to sea for plunder. Friend and foe, American, as
well as Turk, suffered alike.

While war and misery reigned in the eastern part of the Mediterranean,
commerce with the north African nations was rapidly obliterating the
memories of piracy and reprisal, which had once made Berber scimeter and
Yankee cutlass cross. Peace and friendship were assiduously cultivated,
and our officers were received with marked kindness and attention.

Our three little wars with the Moslems of the Mediterranean, from 1794
to 1797, from 1801 to 1804, and in 1815, seem at this day incredible and
dream-like. In view of the Bey of Tunis, on the assassination of Abraham
Lincoln sending a special envoy to express sympathy, and presenting his
portrait to the State Department, and at the Centennial Exposition
joining with us; and of Algeria being now the play ground of travelers,
one must acknowledge that a mighty change has passed over the spirit of
the Berbers since this century opened.

Sickness broke out on the big ship _North Carolina_, and at one time
four lieutenants and one-hundred and twenty-five men were down with
small-pox and catarrh. The wretchedness of the weather at first allowed
little abatement of the trouble, but under acting Master Commandant
Perry’s vigorous and persistent hygienic measures, including abundant
fumigation, the scourge was checked. His methods were very obnoxious to
some of the officers and crew, but were indispensable to secure a clean
bill of health. The commodore wrote from Malta, February 14th, 1827,
that the condition of the ship’s people had greatly improved.

The balmy spring breezes brought recuperation. The ship, clean and in
splendid condition, was ready to sail homewards. The boatswain’s call,
so welcome and always heard with a thrill of delight—“All hands up
anchor for home,”—was sounded on the 31st of May. The _North Carolina_,
leaving behind her classic waters, moved towards “the free hearts’ hope
and home.”

The old weather-beaten hulk that now lies in the Wallabout is the same
old _North Carolina_. What a change from glory to dry rot! It came to
pass that the American line-of-battle ships, while the most showy, were
also the most unsatisfactory class of ships in our navy. They all ended
their days as store ships or as firewood. “The naval mind of the United
States could not work well in old world harness.”


[5] See description in the novel _Trafalgar_, New York, 1885.

                               CHAPTER X.

THE stormy administration of Andrew Jackson, which began in 1829, and
the vigorous foreign policy which he inaugurated, or which devolved upon
him to follow up, promised activity if not glory for the navy. The
boundary question with England, and the long-standing claims for French
spoliations prior to 1801, also pressed for solution.

The pacific name of at least one of the vessels selected to bear our
flag, and our envoy, John Randolph of Roanoke, into Russian waters,
suggested the olive branch, rather than the arrows, held in the talons
of the American eagle. The _Concord_, which was to be put under Perry’s
command, was named after the capital of the state in which she was
built. She was of seven hundred tons burthen and carried eighteen guns.
She was splendidly equipped, costing $115,325; and was destined, before
shipwreck on the east coast of Africa in 1843, to the average life of
fifteen years, and thirteen of active service.

Perry was offered sea-duty April 1. Accepting at once, he received
orders, April 21, to command the _Concord_. By May 15, he had settled
his accounts at the recruiting station, and was on the _Concord’s_ deck.
He wrote asking the Department for officers. He was especially anxious
to secure a good school-master and chaplain. In those days, before naval
academies on land existed, the school was afloat in the ship itself, and
daily study was the rule on board. Mathematics, French and Spanish were
taught, and Perry took a personal interest in the pupils. In this
respect he was the superior even of his brother Oliver, whose honorable
fame as a naval educator equals that as a victor.

Leaving Norfolk, late in June, a run of forty-three days, including
stops for visits to London and Elsineur, brought the _Concord_ under the
guns of Cronstadt, August 9. Mr. Randolph spent ten days in Russia, and
then made his quarters in London.

The honors of this first visit on an American ship-of-war, in Russian
waters, were not monopolized by the minister. While at Cronstadt, the
Czar Nicholas came on board and inspected the _Concord_, with
unconcealed pleasure. In return, Perry and a few of his officers
received imperial audience at the palace in St. Petersburg, and were
shown the sights of the city—the “window looking out into
Europe”—which Peter the Great built. Being invited to come again, with
only his interpreter and private secretary, Chaplain Jenks, Perry
acceded, and this time the interview was prolonged and informal. The
Autocrat of all the Russias, and this representative officer of the
young republic, talked as friend to friend. At this time, Alexander, who
in 1880 was blown to pieces by the glass dynamite bombs of the
Nihilists, was a boy twelve years old. Nicholas complimented Perry very
highly on his naval knowledge; remarked that the United States was
highly favored in having such an officer, and definitely intimated that
he would like to have Perry in the Russian service. The
chaplain-interpreter gives a pen sketch of the scene. Both Captain Perry
and the Czar were tall and large; both were stern; Captain Perry was
abrupt, so was the Czar. They all stood in the great hall of the palace
(the same which was afterwards dynamited by the Nihilists). The Czar
asked a great many questions about the American navy, and Captain Perry
answered them. Professor Jenks translated for both, using his own
phrases; and, to quote his own description, “sweetening up the
conversation greatly.”

These interviews made a deep impression upon the young chaplain. As he
said: “The Czar had very remarkable eyes, and he had such a very
covetous look when he fixed them on Captain Perry and myself, that I was
very anxious to get out of his kingdom.” The young linguist felt in the
presence of the destroyer of Poland, very much as the “tender-foot”
traveller feels when invited to dine with the border gentleman who has
“killed his man.” The professor politely declined the Czar’s invitation
to become his superintendent of education, as did Perry the proposition
to enter the Russian naval service.

Nicholas I., one of the best of despots, was the grandson of Catharine
II. By this famous Russian queen, had been laid the foundation of that
abiding friendship between Russia and the United States. To this
foundation, Nicholas added a new tier of the superstructure. King George
III. of Great Britain had, in 1775, attempted to hire mercenaries in
Russia to fight against his American subjects. Queen Catharine refused
the proposition with scorn, replying that she had no soldiers to sell.
While this act compelled the gratitude of Americans to Russia, it forced
King George to seek among the shambles of petty princes in Germany.
Another friendly act which touched the heart of our young republic was
the liberal treaty of 1824, the first made with the United States. This
instrument declared the navigation and fisheries of the Pacific free to
the people of both nations. Indirectly, this was the cause of so many
American sailors being wrecked in Japan, and of our national interest in
the empire which Perry opened to the world.

The warm sympathy existing between Europe’s first despotism and the
democratic republic in America, is a subject profoundly mysterious to
the average Englishman. He wonders where Americans, who are antipodal to
Russians in political thought, find points of agreement. In Catharine’s
refusal to help Great Britain in oppressing her colonies, in liberal
diplomacy, in the emancipation of her bondmen, and the abolition of
slavery and serfdom, in the sympathy which covered national wounds, and
in mutual sorrow from assassination and condolence in grief, the
relation is clearly discerned. The cord of friendship has many strands.

These interviews, and the honors shown the captain of the _Concord_, by
the personal presence of the Czar on his ship, did not serve in allaying
the invalid envoy’s jealous temper. The mainmast of the vessel needed
repairs, and she lay at anchor six days—long enough for Randolph to
indite despatches homeward, one of which was a spiteful letter to the
President, blaming Captain Perry. These were brought by Lieutenant
Williamson on Sunday night, and at 4 A. M. sail was made for Copenhagen.
After much heavy weather, and a boisterous passage, Copenhagen was
reached September 6.

We may dismiss in a paragraph this whole matter of Randolph’s connection
with the _Concord_. After his return home he lapsed into his
speech-making habits. He indulged in slanders and falsehoods, asserting
that the condition of the sailors was worse than that of his own slaves,
and the discipline, especially flogging, severer than on the plantation.
Perry and his officers heard of this, and on February 16, 1832, sent an
exact report of the correction administered, proving that Randolph’s
assertions were unfounded. Supported by his own officers, who
voluntarily made flat contradiction of Mr. Randolph’s assertions, Perry
convicted the erring Virginian of downright falsehood. Perry was careful
to set this matter in its proper light, and two sets of his papers are
now in the naval archives. No censure was passed upon him. His conduct
was approved, for Randolph in addition to his disagreeable behavior, had
exceeded his authority. It would be idle to deny, what it is an honor to
Perry to declare, that the discipline on the _Concord_ was very strict.

Flogging for certain offences was the rule of the service, not made by
Perry but a custom fixed long before he was born. As a loyal officer,
Captain Perry had no choice in the matter. Whenever possible, by
persuasion, by the substitution of a reprimand for the cat, he avoided
the, then, universal method of correction. At all the floggings, every
one who could be spared from duty was obliged to be present. The logs of
the _Concord_ and of all the vessels commanded by Perry show that under
his discipline less, and not more, than the average of stripes were
administered. Perry went to the roots of the matter and was more anxious
to apply ounces of prevention than pounds of cure. The cause of the
offences which brought the cat to the sailors’ back was ardent spirits.
He, therefore, used his professional influence to have this ration
abolished to minors, and by his persistence finally succeeded. By the
law of August 29, 1842, the spirit ration was forbidden to all under
twenty-one years old—money being paid instead of grog. As a man, he
personally persuaded the sailors to give up liquor and live by
temperance principles. In this noble work he was remarkably successful,
and the _Concord_ led the squadron in the number of her crew who
voluntarily abandoned the use of grog. Hence, fewer floggings and better

From Copenhagen the run was made to Cowes, Isle of Wight, September 22,
and thence to the Mediterranean. At Port Mahon the _Concord_ joined the
squadron. The autumn and early winter were spent in active cruising, and
in February we find Perry at Syracuse. Ever mindful of an opportunity to
add stores of science, he made a collection of the plants of Sicily and
forwarded it to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. A box of other
specimens was sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Leaving Syracuse, February 27, for Malta, and touching at this island,
Captain Perry sailed, March 13, for Alexandria, having on board the
Reverend and Mrs. Kirkland and Lady Franklin and her servants. Her
husband, Sir John Franklin, afterwards world-renowned as an Arctic
explorer, was at this time taking an active part in the Greek war of
liberation. Perry’s acquaintance with the noble lady deepened into a
friendship that lasted throughout his life. It was, most probably,
through her admiration of the discipline and ability of the American
officers and crews, that she, in after years, appealed to them as well
as to Englishmen to rescue her husband. Nevertheless, as Chaplain Jenks
noticed, the rose had its thorn. “Captain Perry had a trial of his
patience with Lady Franklin, whom he took on board when he went to the
Mediterranean. Lady Franklin was full of her husband; and, of course, at
each meal the whole company had to hear theories and successes and
memories repeated on the one theme. Captain Perry bore it all with great

Arriving at Alexandria, March 26, the _Concord_ remained until April 23.
The officers of the ship were invited to dine with Mehemet, the Viceroy
of Egypt, afterwards the famous exterminator of the Mamelukes and of the
feudal system which they represented and upheld. He had conquered
Soudan, built Khartoum, and founded the Khedival dynasty. The officers
were splendidly entertained by this latest master of the “Old House of
Bondage.” The thirteen swords, presented to the party, were afterwards
sent to Washington and placed in the Department of State. These weapons,
still to be seen in the section devoted to curiosities, are of exquisite
workmanship. The “Mameluke grip” was afterwards adopted on the
regulation navy swords.

The _Concord_, raising anchor, April 3, sailed for Milo, where the
famous statue of Venus had been found a few weeks before, and passed
Candia, going thence to Napoli, the capital of Greece, saluting the
British, French and Russian fleets, and the Greek forts. On his way to
Smyrna, a rich American vessel received convoy. Another was met which
had been robbed the night before by a party of fifty pirates in a boat.

In hopes of catching the thieves, and naturally enjoying a grim joke,
Perry put a number of sailors and marines in hiding on the richly-laden
merchantman, hoping to lure the pirates to another attack. The vessel,
however, got safely to Paros without special incident of any kind. He
then visited a number of the robbers’ haunts and scoured the coasts with
boat parties, but without securing any prizes. The _Concord_ then went
to Athens to bring away the Rev. Mr. Robertson, an American missionary
there, together with the property of the American Episcopal Mission,
which had been broken up by the war.

In accordance with the excellent naval policy of President Jackson, our
flag was shown in every Greek and Turkish port. Wool, opium and drugs
were the staples of export carried in American vessels, and most of
those met with were armed with small cannon and muskets. Arriving at
Port Mahon, the home of our military marine, June 25, 1832, Perry
reported a list of the vessels convoyed. It was found that in the
eighty-two days from Alexandria, the _Concord_ had visited twelve
islands, anchored in ten ports, and that the ship had lain in port only
sixteen days, being at sea sixty-four days. As strict sanitary
regulations had been enforced, the health of the crew was unusually

At the transfer of the few invalids and of those whose terms of service
had expired, the bugler struck up the then new, but now old, strain of
“Home, Sweet Home,” which brought tears to many of the sailors’ eyes.
The sight, so unusual, of a crying sailor, suggested to a visitor on
board that these tears were of sorrow for leaving the _Concord_, than of
joy for returning home. The surrounding cliffs sent back the notes in
prolonged and saddened echoes. The heart-melting Sicilian air, without
whose consecrating melody, the stanzas of John Howard Payne might long
since have sunk into the ooze of oblivion, seemed then, as now, the
immortal soul of a perishable body.

                               CHAPTER XI

IN his next cruise which we are now to describe, Perry was to take a
hand directly in diplomacy, and rehearse for the more brilliant drama of
Japan twenty years later.

It was part of the foreign policy of Jackson’s administration to compel
the payment of the long standing claims for spoliations on American
commerce by the great European belligerents. During the years from 1809
to 1812, the Neapolitan government under Joseph Bonaparte and Murat,
kings of Naples, had confiscated numerous American ships and cargoes.
The claims filed in the State Department at Washington amounted to
$1,734,993.88. They were held by various Boston and Philadelphia
insurance companies and by citizens of Baltimore. The Hon. John Nelson
of Frederic, Md. was appointed Minister to Naples, and ordered to
collect these claims. Even before the outbreak of the war in 1812,
contrary to the general opinion, the amount of direct spoliations upon
American commerce inflicted by France and the nations then under her
influence exceeded that experienced from Great Britain. The demands from
our government, upon France, Naples, Spain and Portugal had been again
and again refused. Jackson, in giving the debtors of the United States
an invitation to pay, backed it by visible arguments of persuasion. He
selected to co-operate with Mr. Nelson and to command the Mediterranean
squadron, Commodore Daniel Patterson who had aided him in the defense of
New Orleans in 1815. This veteran of the Tripolitan campaigns, who in
the second war with Great Britain had defended New Orleans, and aided
Jackson in driving back Packenham, was now 61 years old. He was familiar
with the western Mediterranean from his service as a Midshipman of over
a quarter of a century before. At Port Mahon, August 25th, 1832, he
received the command from Commodore Biddle. The squadron there consisted
of the _Brandywine_, _Concord_ and _Boston_.

This was “the Cholera year” in New York, and _pratique_, or permission
to enter, was refused to the American ships at some of the ports. For
this reason, an early demonstration at Naples was decided upon.
Patterson’s plan was that one American ship should appear at first in
the harbour of Naples, and then another and another in succession, until
the whole squadron of floating fortresses should be present to second
Mr. Nelson’s demands. The entire force at his command was three
fifty-gun frigates and three twenty-gun corvettes. This sufficed,
according to the programme, for a naval drama in six acts. Commodore
Biddle was to proceed first with the _United States_, then the _Boston_
and _John Adams_ with Commodore Patterson were to follow.

This plan for effective negotiation succeeded admirably, though great
energy was needed to carry it out. To take part in it, Perry was obliged
to sacrifice not only personal convenience, but also to make drafts upon
his purse for which his salary of $1200 per annum poorly prepared him.
Returning from convoying our merchant vessels and chasing pirates in the
Levant, he had to endure the annoyance of a quarantine at Port Mahon
during thirty days; and this, notwithstanding all on board the _Concord_
were in good health. Such was the effect of the fear of cholera from New
York. Despite the urgency of the business, and the preciousness of time,
the _Concord_, was moored fast for a month of galling idleness by
Portuguese red tape.

Even upon quarantine—one of the growths and fruits of science—fasten
the parasites of superstition. Besides the annoyance and loss of moral
stamina, which such unusual confinement produces, it may be fairly
questioned whether quarantine as usually enforced does not do, if not as
much as harm as good, a vast amount of injury. Cut off from regular
habits, and immured in unhygienic surroundings, the seeds of disease are
often sown in hardy constitutions.

After thirty days of imprisonment on board, the officers of the
_Concord_ were ready to hail a washerwoman as an angel of light. They
were all looking forward to such an interview with lively expectation,
but such a privilege was to be enjoyed by all but the Captain.

At the last hour, Commodore Biddle fell ill. Unable to proceed, as
ordered by the Department, to Naples, Perry was directed by order of
Commodore Patterson to assume command of the flag-ship _Brandywine_, a
frigate of forty-four guns. This ship, which recalls the name of a
revolutionary battle-field, was named in honor of Lafayette, even as the
_Alliance_ had long before signalized, by her name, the aid and
friendship of France in revolutionary days. She had been launched at
Washington during his late visit to America, after the Marquis had
visited the scenes of the battle in which he had acted as Washington’s

To the trying duty of taking a new ship and forcing her with all speed
night and day to the place needed, Perry was called before he could even
get his clothes washed. Yet within an hour after his release, on a new
quarterdeck, he ordered all sails set for Naples. For several days,
until the goal was in sight, with characteristic vigor and determination
to succeed, he was on deck night and day enduring the fatigue and
anxiety with invincible resolution.

Mr. Nelson’s demands were at first refused by Count Cassaro, the
Secretary of State. Why should the insolent petty government of the
Bourbon prince Ferdinand II. notorious for its infamous misgovernment at
home, pay any attention to an almost unknown republic across the ocean?
No! The Yankee envoy, coming in one ship, was refused. King Bomba

The _Brandywine_ cast anchor, and the baffled envoy waited patiently for
a few days, when another American flag and floating fortress sailed into
the harbor. It was the frigate _United States_. The demands were
reiterated, and again refused.

Four days slipped away, and another stately vessel floating the stars
and stripes appeared in the bay. It was the _Concord_. The Bourbon
government, now thoroughly alarmed, repaired forts, drilled troops and
mounted more cannon on the castle. Still withholding payment, the
Neapolitans began to collect the cash and think of yielding.

Two days later still another war-ship came in. It was the _John Adams_.

When the fifth ship sailed gallantly in, the Neapolitans were almost at
the point of honesty, but three days later Mr. Nelson wrote home his
inability to collect the bill.

Just as the blue waters of the bay mirrored the image of the sixth sail,
king and government yielded.[6]

The demands were fully acceded to, and interest was guaranteed on
instalments. Mr. Nelson frankly acknowledged that the success of his
mission was due to the naval demonstration. Admiral Patterson wrote, “I
have remained here with the squadron as its presence gave weight to the
pending negotiations.” The line of six frigates and corvettes, manned by
resolute men under perfect discipline, and under a veteran’s command,
carried the best artillery in the world. Ranged opposite the lava-paved
streets of the most densely peopled city of Europe, and in front of the
royal castle, they formed an irresistible tableau. Neither the castle
d’Oro, nor the castle St. Elmo, nor the forts could have availed against
the guns of the Yankee fleet.

The entire squadron remained in the Bay of Naples from August 28, to
September 15. As the ships separated, the _Brandywine_ went to
Marseilles, and the _John Adams_ to Havre. The _Concord_ was left behind
to take home the successful envoy. This compelled Perry’s residence in
Naples, at considerable personal expense. The welcome piping of the
boatswain’s orders to lift anchor for the home run was heard October 15.
The ocean crossed, Cape Cod was sighted December 3, and anchor cast at
Portsmouth December 5. Mr. Nelson departed in haste to Washington to
deck the re-elected President’s cap with a new diplomatic feather, which
greatly consoled him amid his nullification annoyances.

Writing on the twenty-first of December, Perry stated that the _Concord_
was dismantled. On the next day he applied for the command of the
recruiting station at New York, as his family now made its home in that

This cruise of thirty months was fruitful of experience of nature, man,
war, diplomacy, and travel. He had visited the dominions of nine
European monarchs besides Greece, had anchored in and communicated with
forty different ports, had been three hundred and forty-five days at
sea, and had sailed twenty-eight thousand miles. No officer had appeared
as prisoner or witness at a court-martial, and on no other vessel had a
larger proportion of men given up liquor. Ship and crew had been worthy
of the name.

During all the cruise, Perry showed himself to be what rear-admiral
Ammen fitly styled him, “one of the principal educators of our navy.” He
directed the studies of the young midshipmen, advised them what books to
read, what historical sites to visit, and what was most worth seeing in
the famous cities. He gave them sound hints on how to live as gentlemen
on small salaries. He infused into many of them his own peculiar horror
of debt. He sought constantly to elevate the ideal of navy men. The
dogma that he insisted upon was: that an officer in the American Navy
should be a man of high culture, abreast of the ideas of the age, and
not a creature of professional routine. He heartily seconded the zeal of
his scholarly chaplain, Professor Jenks, who was the confidential
secretary of Commodore Perry, and so became very intimate with him
during the cruise of several years. He was the interpreter to Captain
Perry, and conducted the interviews with the various crowned heads.

Rear-Admiral Almy says of his commander Matthew Perry at this time that:
“He was a fine looking officer in uniform, somewhat resembling the
portraits of his brother the hero of Lake Erie, but not so handsome, and
had a sterner expression and was generally stern in his manner.”

For the expenses incurred during this cruise in entertaining the Khedive
Mehemet Ali, in performing duties far above his grade, his extra
services on the _Brandywine_, and shore residence in Naples, Perry was
reimbursed to the amount of $1,500, by a special Act of Congress passed
March 3, 1835.


[6] The Navy in Time of Peace, by Rear-Admiral John Almy.—_Washington
Republican_ March 13, 1884.

                              CHAPTER XII.

AN English writer[7] in the Naval College at Greenwich thus compares the
life on shore of British and American officers.

“The officers of the United States navy have one great advantage which
is wanting to our own; when on shore they are not necessarily parted
from the service, but are employed in their several ranks, in the
different dockyards, thus escaping not only the private grievance and
pecuniary difficulties of a very narrow half-pay, but also, what from a
public point of view is much more important, the loss of professional
aptitude, and that skill which comes from increasing practice.”

When on the 7th of January 1833, Captain Perry received orders to report
to Commodore Charles Ridgley at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, his longest
term, ten years, of shore duty began. Being now settled down with his
family, and expecting henceforth to rear his children in New York, he
gave notice April 24, to the Navy Department that his name should go on
record as a citizen of the Empire State. He at once began the study and
mastery of the steam engine, with a view of solving the problem of the
use of steam as a motor for war vessels.

That Perry was “an educator of the Navy,” and that he left his mark in
whatever field of work he occupied was again signally shown. He
organized the Brooklyn Naval Lyceum. This institution which still lives
in honorable usefulness is a monument of his enterprise.

The New York Naval Station in the Wallabout, or Boght of the Walloons,
which to-day lies under the shadow of the great Suspension Bridge, is
easily accessible by horse-cars, elevated railways, and various steam
vehicles on land and water. In those days, it was isolated, and
ferry-boats were inferior and infrequent. Hence officers were compelled
to be longer at the Yard, and had much leisure on their hands. Desirous
of professional improvement for himself and his fellow-officers, Perry
was alert when the golden opportunity arrived. Finding this at hand, he
first took immediate steps to form a library at the Yard. He then set
about the organization of the Lyceum, whose beginnings were humble
enough. About this time, money had been appropriated to construct a new
building for the officers of the commandant and his assistants. It was
originally intended to be only two stories in height. Perry suggested
that the walls be run up another story for extra rooms. He wrote to the
Department. He personally pressed the matter. Permission was granted. A
third floor was added. It was to be used for Naval courts-martial, Naval
Boards, and the Museum, Library, and Reading Room.

The Lyceum organized in 1833, had now a home. It was incorporated in
1835, and allowed to hold $25,000 worth of property. The articles of
union declared the Lyceum formed “In order to promote the diffusion of
useful knowledge, to foster a spirit of harmony and a community of
interests in the service, and to cement the links which unite us as
professional brethren.”

The blazon selected was a naval trophy decorated with dolphins, Neptune,
marine and war emblems, eagle and flag, with the motto, “_Tam Minerva
quam Marte_,” (as well for Minerva, as for Mars.) A free translation of
this would be, “For culture as well as for war.”

Commodore C. G. Ridgley was chosen President, as was befitting his rank.
Perry assumed an humbler office, though he was the moving spirit of
this, the first permanent American naval literary institution. He
presided at its initial meeting. He was made the first curator of the
museum, in 1836 its Vice President; and later, its President. Officers
and citizens employed by, or connected with the navy came forward in
goodly numbers as members. Soon a snug little revenue enabled the Lyceum
to purchase the proper furniture and cases for the specimens which began
to accumulate, as the new enterprise and its needs began to be known.
Publishers and merchants made grants of books, pictures and engravings.
Other accessions to the library were secured by purchase. From the
beginning, and for years afterwards, the Lyceum grew and prospered.
“Although other officers rendered valuable service in the organization,
yet the master spirit was Captain Matthew C. Perry, United States Navy.
From that day to this, the Naval Lyceum has been a fertile source of
professional instruction and improvement.” Among the honorary members
were four captains in the British navy, three of whose names, Parry,
Ross and Franklin, are imperishably associated with the annals of Arctic

Out of the Lyceum grew the Naval Magazine, an excellent bi-monthly, full
of interest to officers. Of this Perry was an active promoter, and to it
he contributed abundantly, though few or none of the articles bear his
signature. Always full of ideas, and able to express them tersely, the
editor could depend on him for copy, and he did. The Naval Magazine was
edited by the Rev. Charles Stewart. The Advisory Committee consisted of
Commodore C. G. Ridgley, Master Commandant M. C. Perry, C. O. Handy,
Esq., Purser W. Swift, Esq., Lieutenant Alexander Slidell Mackenzie,
Professor E. C. Ward, and passed Midshipman B. I. Moller. Its
subscription price was three dollars per annum. Among the contributors
were J. Fenimore Cooper, William C. Redfield, Esq., Chaplain Walter C.
Colton and Dr. Usher Parsons. In looking over the bound volumes of this
magazine—one of the mighty number of the dead in the catacombs of
American periodical literature—we find some articles of sterling value
and perennial interest. It was fully abreast of the science of the age,
and urged persistently the creation of a Naval Academy.

The magazine died, but the Lyceum lived on to do a good work for many
years, notably during our great civil war. It is still flourishing and
is visited by tens of thousands of persons from all parts of our

Perry had already made his reputation as a scientific student. His motto
was “_semper paratus_.” He was ever in readiness for work. The British
Admiralty and the United States government were desirous of fuller
information about the tides and currents of the Atlantic ocean,
especially those off Rhode Island and in the Sound. Chosen for the work,
Perry received orders, June 1st, to spend a lunar month on Gardiner’s
Island. The congenial task afforded a pleasant break in the monotony of
life in the navy yard, and revived memories of the war of 1812. The
careful observations which he made during the month of June, embodied in
a report, were adopted into the United States and British Admiralty
charts. He returned home June 29.

Though Commodore Ridgley was officer-in-chief in the yard, upon Perry
fell most of the active clerical and superintending work. The frigate,
_United States_, was fitting out for service in the Mediterranean, and
one of the young midshipmen ordered to report to her was the gentleman
who afterwards became Rear-Admiral George H. Preble, a gallant soldier,
fighter of Chinese pirates, and author of the _History of the American
Flag_ and of _Steam Navigation_.

He reported to the Navy Yard, May 1, 1836, in trembling anxiety as to
his reception by his superiors. The commandant was absent at the
horse-races on the Long Island course, so young Preble returned to New
York, to his hotel, and again reported May 3.

His first impressions of Master Commandant Perry are shown in the
following doggerel, written in a letter to his sister:

    “Charley again was at the race,
    But I was minded that the place
    Should own me as a Mid.
    And since the Com. was making merry,
    Reported to big-whiskered Perry
    The Captain of the Yard.

    “‘Mat’ looked at me from stem to stern,
    His gaze I thought he ne’er would turn,
    No doubt he thought me green.
    For I had on a citizen’s coat
    Instead of a uniform as I ought,
    When going to report.

    “At last he said that I could go,
    There was no duty I could do,
    Until the next day morning.
    So I whisked o’er and moved my traps,
    And made acquaintance with the chaps
    Who were to live with me.”

Perry at this time wore whiskers, and for some years afterwards
cultivated sides in front of the ear. In later life he shaved his face
clean. The fashion in the navy was to wear only sides, as portraits of
all the heroes of 1812 show. The younger officers were just beginning to
sport moustaches. These modern fashions and “such fripperies” were
denounced by the older men, who clung to their antique prejudices.
Hawthorne, in his American Note Book, August 27, 1837, gives an amusing
instance of this, couched in the language with which he was able to make
the commonest subject fascinating.

That the regulations should prescribe the exact amount of hair to be
worn on the face of both officers and men seems strange, but it is true,
and illustrates the rigidity of naval discipline. Evidently inheriting
the modern British (not the ancient Brittanic) hatred of French and
continental customs, the Americans, in high office, forbade moustaches
as savoring of disloyalty. Wellington had issued an order forbidding
moustaches, except for cavalry. It was not until the year of grace,
1853, that the American naval visage was emancipated from slavery to the
razor. Secretary Dobbin then approved of the cautious regulation: “The
beard to be worn at the pleasure of the individual, but when worn to be
kept short and neatly trimmed.” What a shame it must have seemed to
feminine admirers, and to the possessors of luxuriant beards of
attractive color! Both the hairy and hairless were, perforce, placed in
the same democracy of homeliness. The ancient orders, in the interest of
ships’ barbers, and once made to compensate for the wearing of perukes,
were crowned by the famous proclamation of Secretary Graham, dated May
8, 1852, which at this date furnishes, amusing reading:

    “The hair of all persons belonging to the Navy, when in actual
    service, is to be kept short. No part of the beard is to be worn
    long, and the whiskers shall not descend more than two inches
    below the ear, except at sea, in high latitudes, when this
    regulation may, for the time, be dispensed with by order of the
    commander of a squadron, or of a vessel acting under separate
    orders. _Neither moustaches nor imperials are to be worn by
    officers or men on any pretence whatever._”

Our illustrious Admiral Porter shaved only once or twice in his life.
During the Mexican War he found it difficult to get Commodore Conner to
give him service on account of his full whiskers. The British army wore
their beards and now fashionable moustaches in the trenches of
Sebastopol, when it was difficult, if not impossible to get shaved, and
thus won a hairy victory, the results of which were felt even across the

Another high honor offered to Perry, was the command of the famous U. S.
Exploring Expedition to Antarctic lands and seas. This enterprise was
the evolution of an attempt to obtain from Congress an appropriation to
find “Symmes Hole.” The originator of the “_Theory of Concentric
Spheres_” was John Cleves Symmes, born in 1780, and an officer in the
United States army during the war of 1812, who died in 1829. In lectures
at Union College, Schenectady, and in other places, he expounded his
belief that the earth is hollow and capable of habitation, and that
there is an opening at each of the poles, leading to the various spheres
inside of the greater hollow sphere, the earth itself. He petitioned
Congress to fit out an expedition to test this theory, which had been
set forth in his lectures and in a book published at Cincinnati in 1826.

Despite the ridicule heaped upon Symmes and his theories, scientific men
believed that the Antarctic region should be explored. Congress voted
that a corps of scientific men, in six vessels, should be sent out for
four years in the interests of observation and research. This was one of
the first of those “peace expeditions,” no less renowned than those in
war, of which the American nation and navy may well be proud.

By this time, however, Perry had become interested in the idea of
creating a steam navy. He declined the honor, but took a keen interest
in the expedition. An ardent believer in Polar research, he was heartily
glad to see the boundaries of knowledge extended. He had read carefully
the record of the five years’ voyage of the British sloop-of-war
_Beagle_. In this vessel, Mr. Darwin began those profound speculations
on the origin and maintenance of animal life, which have opened a new
outlook upon the universe and created a fertile era of thought.

The Secretary of the Navy applied to the Naval Lyceum for advice as to
the formation of a scientific corps, for recommendation of names of
members of said corps, for a series of inquiries for research, and
details of the correct equipment of such an expedition. To thus
recognise the dignity and status of the Lyceum was highly gratifying to
its founder and appreciated by the society. A committee consisting of
three officers, C. G. Ridgley, M. C. Perry and C. O. Handy, was
appointed to make the report. This, when printed, filled eleven pages of
the magazine. It was mainly the work of M. C. Perry. The practical
nature of the programme was recognized at once. It was incorporated into
the official instructions for the conduct of the expedition. The command
was most worthily bestowed on Lieutenant Charles Wilkes.

The success of this, the first American exploring expedition of
magnitude is known to all, through the publication entitled _The Wilkes
Exploring Expedition_, as well as by the additions to our herbariums and
gardens of strange plants, and the goodly spoils of science now in the
Smithsonian Institute.


[7] J. K. Laughton, _Encyclopædia Brittanica_, vol. ix., article

                             CHAPTER XIII.

MATTHEW PERRY was now to be called to a new and untried duty. This was
no less than to be pioneer of the steam navy of the United States. When
a boy under Commodore Rodgers, he had often seen the inventor, Fulton,
busy with his schemes. He had heard the badinage of good-natured
doubters and the jeers of the unbelieving, but he had also seen the
_Demologos_, or _Fulton 1st_, moving under steam. This formidable vessel
was to have been armed, in addition to her deck batteries, with
submarine cannon. She was thus the prototype of Ericsson’s _Destroyer_.
Fulton died February 24th, 1815, but the trial trip was made June 1st,
1815, and was successful.

Congress on the 30th of June, 1834, had appropriated five thousand
dollars to test the question of the safety of boilers in vessels. The
next step was to order the building of a “steam battery” at the Brooklyn
Navy Yard in 1836. Perry applied for command of this vessel July 28th.
His orders arrived August 31st, 1837.

The second _Fulton_, the pioneer of our American steam navy, was
designed as a floating battery for the defense of New York harbor. Her
hull was of the best live oak, with heavy bulwarks five feet thick,
beveled on the outside so as to cause an enemy’s shot to glance off. She
had three masts and was 180 feet long. She had four immense chimneys,
which greatly impeded her progress in a head wind. Her boilers were of
copper. Like most of those then in use, these, where they connected with
iron pipes were apt to create a galvanic action which caused leaks.
Thrice was the vessel disabled on this account. The paddle-wheels, with
enormous buckets were 22 feet 10 inches in diameter. Her armament
consisted of eight forty-two pounders, and one twenty-four pounder. Her
total cost was $299,650. She carried in her lockers, coal for two days,
and drew 10 feet 6 inches of water.

Perry took command of the _Fulton_ October 4th, 1837, when the
smoke-pipes were up, and the engines ready for an early trial. His work
was more than to hasten forward the completion of the new steam battery.
He was practically to organize an entirely new branch of naval economy.
There were in the marine war service of the United States absolutely no
precedents to guide him.

Again he had to be “an educator of the navy.” To show how far the work
was left to him, and was his own creation, we may state that no
authority had been given and no steps taken to secure firemen,
assistant-engineers, or coal heavers. The details, duties,
qualifications, wages, and status in the navy of the whole engineer
corps fell upon Perry to settle. He wrote for authority to appoint first
and second class engineers. He proposed that $25 to $30 a month, and one
ration, should be given as pay to firemen, and that they should be good
mechanics familiar with machinery, the use of stops, cocks, gauges, and
the paraphernalia of iron and brass so novel on a man-of-war.

Knowing that failure in the initiative of the experimental steam service
might prejudice the public, and especially the incredulous and sneering
old salts who had no faith in the new fangled ideas, he requested that
midshipmen for the _Fulton_ should be first trained in seamanship prior
to their steamer life. He was also especially particular about the moral
and personal character of the “line” officers who were first to live in
contact with a new and strange kind of “staff.” It is difficult in this
age of war steamers, when a sailing man-of-war or even a paddle-wheel
steamer is a curiosity, to realize the jealousy felt by sailors of the
old school towards the un-naval men of gauges and stop-cocks. They
foresaw only too clearly that steam was to steal away the poetry of the
sea, turn the sailor into a coal-heaver, and the ship into a machine.

Perry demanded in his line officers breadth of view sufficient to grasp
the new order of things. They must see in the men of screws and levers
equality of courage as well as of utility. They must be of the
co-operative cast of mind and disposition. From the very first, he
foresaw that jealousy amounting almost to animosity would spring up
between the line and staff officers, between the deck and the hold, and
he determined to reduce it to a minimum. The new middle term between
courage and cannon was caloric. He would provide precedents to act as
anti-friction buffers so as to secure a maximum of harmony.

“The officers of a steamer should be those of established discretion,
not only that great vigilance will be required of them, but because much
tact and forbearance must necessarily be exercised in their intercourse
with the engineers and firemen who, coming from a class of respectable
mechanics and unused to the restraints and discipline of a vessel of
war, may be made discontented and unhappy by injudicious treatment; and,
as passed midshipmen are supposed to be more staid and discreet I should
prefer most of that class.”

“In this organization of the officers of this first American steamer of
war, I am solicitous of establishing the service on a footing so popular
and respectable, as to be desired by those of the navy who may be
emulous of acquiring information in a new and interesting field of
professional employment, and I am sure that the Department will
co-operate so far as it may be proper in the attainment of the object.”

That was Matthew Perry—ever magnifying his office and profession. He
believed that responsibility helped vastly to make the man. He suggested
that engineers take the oath, and from first to last be held to those
sanctions and to that discipline, which would create among them the
_esprit_ so excellent in the line officers.

Out of many applicants for engineer’s posts on the _Fulton_, Perry, to
November 16th, had selected only one, as he was determined to get the
best. He believed in the outward symbols of honor and authority. “In
order to give them a respectable position, and to encourage pride of
character in their intercourse with citizens, and to make them emulous
to conduct themselves with propriety, I would respectfully suggest that
a uniform be assigned to them.” He proposed the usual suit of plain blue
coat with rolling collar, blue trousers, and plain blue cap. The
distinction between first and second engineers should be visible, only
in the number and arrangement of the buttons; the first assistant to
wear seven, and the second assistant six in front, both having one on
each collar, and slight variation on the skirts. Later on, the
paddle-wheel wrought in gold bullion was added as part of the uniform.
“The olive branch and paddle-wheel on the collars of the engineers
designated their special vocation, and spoke of the peaceful progress of
art and science.”

The sailors, who as a class are too apt to be children of superstition,
were somewhat backward about enlisting on a war-ship with a boiler
inside ready to turn into an enemy if struck by a shot; but at last
after many and unforeseen delays, the _Fulton_ got out into the harbor
early in December. Steam was raised in thirty minutes from cold water.
Many of the leading engineers and practical mechanics were on board.
With ten inches of steam marked on the gauge, and twenty revolutions a
minute, she made ten knots an hour, justifying the hope that she would
increase her speed to twelve or even thirteen knots. The first
assistant-engineers of this pioneer war steamer were Messrs. John
Farron, Nelson Burt, and Hiram Sanford.

The Chief Engineer was Mr. Charles H. Haswell, now the veteran city
surveyor of New York.

Perry wrote December 17, 1837, “I have established neat and economical
uniforms for the different grades.” He also arranged their
accommodations on the vessel, and their routine of life was soon
established. A trial trip to go outside the bay and in the ocean was
arranged for December 28, but the old-fashioned condensing apparatus
worked badly. The machinery of the _Fulton_, though perhaps the best for
the time, was of rude pattern as compared with the superb work turned
out to-day in American foundries. Even this clumsy mechanical equipment
had not been obtained without great anxiety, patience, and delay, and by
taxing all the resources of the New York machine shops.

Of her value as a moving fortress, Perry wrote: “The _Fulton_ will never
answer as a sea-vessel, but the facility of moving from port to port,
places at the service of the Department, a force particularly available
for the immediate action at any point.” With the lively remembrance of
the efficiency of the British blockade of New York and New London in the
war of 1812, he adds, “In less than an hour, after orders are received,
the _Fulton_ can be moving in any direction at the rate of ten miles an
hour, with power of enforcing the instructions of the government.”

On the 15th of January 1838, Captain Perry received orders to carry out
the Act of Congress, and cruise along the coast. Perry wrote pointing
out, (1) that the heavy and clumsy _Fulton_, a veritable floating
fortress being unlike ocean steamers, was not likely to prove seaworthy,
(2) she was adapted only to bays and harbors, (3) she could carry fuel
only for seventy hours consumption; (4), that no deposits of coal were
yet made along the coast; (5), that her wheel guards being only twenty
inches clear, the boat would be extremely wet and dangerous at sea.
Nevertheless he promised to take this floating battery out into the
ocean back to the coaling depot, and thence through the Long Island

Accordingly January 18, the _Fulton_ steamed down to Sandy Hook and
anchoring at night, ran out as the wintry weather permitted during the
day. In a wind the vessel labored hard. She lay so low in the water,
that several of her wheel buckets were lost or injured, and the previous
opinion of naval men was confirmed. Nevertheless, Perry was astonished
at her power, and her facility of management demonstrated a new thing on
board a vessel of war. Having asked for the written opinion of his
officers, several interesting replies were elicited. The Acting Master
C. W. Pickering noted that the _Fulton_ carried six forty-four pounders,
and being a steamer could have choice of position and distance. Two or
three of such vessels could cripple a whole enemy’s squadron or destroy
it. In case of a calm, she could fight a squadron all day, and not
receive a shot. In case of chase, or light winds, she could destroy a
squadron one by one, or tow them separately out of sight as was desired.
The trial in the Sound proved her one of the fastest boats known. From
New London with 9½ inches steam she made twenty-eight miles in one hour
and fifty-seven minutes, or one hundred and eighteen miles in little
less than nine hours.

Her utility on a blockade was manifest, and her advantage in every point
over sailing vessels demonstrated. She would in a fight be equal to any
“seventy-four” and in fact to any number of vessels not propelled by
steam. Her strength and power were unrivalled in the world.

Lieut. Wm. F. Lynch, afterwards the Dead Sea explorer and later the
Confederate Commodore, suggested a better arrangement of her battery.
Taking a hint from Jackson’s cotton-bale breastworks of 1815, he pointed
out how the _Fulton_ might be made cotton-clad and shot-proof. He
carried out his idea in later years, and some of the confederate
steamers in the civil war were so armed and made formidable. It is
interesting to read now what he wrote in 1838. “The machinery can easily
be protected by cotton bales, or other light elastic material between it
and the ship’s side.” The idea of protecting armor to war ships was
first conceived by Americans.

In fact, all the opinions as to the _Fulton’s_ capacity for the offense
or defense were favorable. A glow of enthusiasm pervades the reports of
those on board the maiden trip of this the first American war steamer.
Perry himself saw her defects, and how they could be remedied. Her
machinery and horizontal engines took up too much room. Yet even as she
was, her annual expenses would be less than a first-class vessel of war
under sail with proportionate crew, provisions, and canvass.

By prophetic insight, Perry saw that the revolution in naval education,
tactics and warfare had already dawned. Writing from Montauk Point,
February 6, 1838, he suggested that a training school for naval
engineers should be established by the government, that firemen
apprentices should be enlisted and trained, stating that these had
better be sons of engineers and firemen. The Secretary immediately
approved of his suggestion in a letter dated February 13, 1838. He
directed Commodore Ridgely to place on the _Fulton_ five apprentices to
be exclusively attached to the engineer’s department.[8] What was first
suggested by Perry, is now magnificently realized in the Annapolis Naval
Academy, with its six years course in engineering, graduating yearly a
corps of cadet engineers among the best in the world.

In a further report, written from Gardiner’s Island February 17, 1838,
Perry uttered his faith that sea-going war steamers of 1400 or 1500 tons
could be built to cruise at sea even for twenty days, and yet be
efficient and as safe from disaster as the finest frigates afloat, while
the expense would be considerably less. This was a brave utterance at a
time when the number of believers in the possibility of the financial
success of ocean steam-navigation, or of the practicability of large war
vessels propelled by steam, was very few indeed. Perry’s letter was read
and re-read by the Naval Commissioners.

In May, he took the _Fulton_ to Washington, where President Jackson and
his cabinet enjoyed the sight of a war-ship independent of wind and
tide. It was intimated to Perry that he should be sent to Europe to
study the latest results in steam, ordnance, and lighthouse

The year 1837 was a memorable one for Matthew Perry, marking his
promotion to a Captaincy in the United States Navy. The emblazoned
parchment bearing President Andrew Jackson’s signature is dated February
9, 1837. He ranked number forty-four in the list of the fifty naval
captains allowed by law. By the Act of Congress of March 8, 1835, the
pay of a captain off duty was $2,500, on duty, $3,500, and in command of
a foreign squadron, $4,000.


[8] See Appendix.—The Naval Apprenticeship System.

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                        PERRY DISCOVERS THE RAM.

AN accident which happened to the _Fulton_ belongs to the history of
modern warfare. It revealed to Perry’s alert mind a valuable principle
destined to work a revolution in the tactics of naval battles. Like the
mountaineer of Potosi who when his bush failed as a support, found
something better in the silver beneath, so Perry discovered at the roots
of a chance accident a new element of power in war.

The _Fulton_ was rather a massive floating battery than a sea-steamer.
Once started, her speed for those days was respectable, but to turn her
was no easy matter. To stop her quickly was an impossibility.

On the 28th of August, the _Fulton_, while making her way to Sandy Hook
amid the dense crowd of sloops, schooners, ships and ferry-boats of the
East river, came into partial collision with the _Montevideo_. The brig
lay at anchor, and Lieutenant Lynch in charge of the _Fulton_, wished to
pass her stern, and ahead of her starboard quarter. When nearly up with
the brig, the flood tide running strongly caused her to sheer suddenly
to the full length of her cable and thus brought her directly in line of
the contemplated route. Lynch, to save life, was obliged to destroy
property and strike the brig.

The steamer’s cutter and gig were stove in and her bulwarks, in paint
and nails, somewhat injured. With the brig the case was different.
Though only a glancing stroke, the smitten vessel was all but sunk.

Captain Perry was not on board the _Fulton_, having remained on shore
owing to indisposition. On hearing the story of Lieutenant Lynch, there
was at once revealed to him the addition that steam had made to the
number and variety of implements of destruction. The old trireme’s beak
was to reappear on the modern steam war vessel and create a double
revolution in naval warfare. The boiler, paddle and screw had more than
replaced the war galley’s banks of oars, by furnishing a motive power
that hereafter should not only sink the enemy by ramming, but should
change the naval order of battle. The broadside to broadside lines of
evolution must give way to fighting “prow on.” In a word, he saw the

Perry required written reports of the affair from his lieutenants, and
wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy suggesting the possibilities
of the rostral prow.

To think of the new weapon was to wish to demonstrate its power. He
proposed to try the _Fulton_ again, purposely, upon a hulk, to satisfy
himself as to the sinking power of the steamer. He arranged to do this
by special staying of the boiler pipes and chimneys, so that no damage
from the shock would result. He was also prepared, by exact mathematical
computation of mass, velocity and friction, with careful observations of
wind and tide, to express the results with scientific accuracy.

The report duly was received at Washington and, instead of being acted
upon, was pigeon-holed. Perry was unable, at private expense, to follow
up the idea, but thought much of it at the time, and the subject, though
not officially noticed, remained in his mind.

After the Mexican War, having leisure, he wrote the following letter:—

                                  WASHINGTON, D. C., Nov. 11, 1850.

    _Sir_,—Since the introduction of steamers of war into the
    navies of the world, I have frequently thought that a most
    effectual mode of attack might be brought into operation by
    using a steamer as a striking body, and precipitating her with
    all her power of motion and weight upon some weak point of a
    vessel of the enemy moved only by sails, and, seizing upon a
    moment of calm, or when the sail vessel is motionless or moving
    slowly through the water.

    I had always determined to try this experiment, should
    opportunity afford, and actually made preparations for securing
    the boilers and steam pipes of the _Fulton_ at New York, when I
    thought it probable I might be sent in her to our eastern border
    ports at the time of the expected rupture with Great Britain
    upon the North Eastern Boundary question.

    Experience has shown that a vessel moving rapidly through the
    water, and striking with her stem another motionless, or passing
    in a transverse direction, invariably destroys or seriously
    injures the vessel stricken without material damage to the
    assailant. Imagine for example the steamer _Mississippi_ under
    full steam and moving at the moderate rate of 12 statute miles
    per hour, her weight considered as a projectile being estimated
    as 2,500 tons, the minimum calculation, and multiplying this
    weight by her velocity, say 17½ feet per second, the power and
    weight of momentum would be a little short of 44,000 tons, and
    the effect of collision upon the vessel attacked, whatever may
    be her size, inevitably overwhelming.

    It may be urged that the momentum estimated by the above figures
    may not be as effective as the rule indicates, yet it cannot be
    maintained that there would not be sufficient force for all the
    purposes desired.

    I have looked well into the practicability of this mode of
    attack, and am fully satisfied that if managed with decision and
    coolness, it will unquestionably succeed and without immediate
    injury to the attacking vessel. Much would of course depend on
    the determination and skill of the commander, and the
    self-possession of the engineers at the starting bars, in
    reversing the motion of the engines at the moment of collision;
    but coolness under dangers of accident from the engines or
    boilers, is considered, by well trained engineers, a point of
    honor, and I feel well assured there would be no want of conduct
    or bearing in either those or the other officers of the ship.

    The preparations for guarding the attacking steamer against
    material damage would be to secure the boilers more firmly in
    their beds, to prepare the steam pipes and connections so as to
    prevent the separation of their joints, to render firm the
    smoke-stack by additional guys and braces, to strip off the
    lower masts and to remove the bowsprit. All these arrangements
    could be made in little time and without much inconvenience.

    It would be desirable that the bowsprit should be so fitted as
    to be easily reefed or removed, but in times of emergency, this
    spar should not for a moment be considered as interposing an
    obstacle to the contemplated collision.

    It will be said, and I am free to admit, that much risk would be
    encountered by the steamer from the guns of the vessel assailed,
    say of a line-of-battle ship or frigate, but considering the
    short time she would be under fire, her facilities for advance
    and retreat, of choice of position and of the effect of her own
    heavy guns upon the least defensible point of the enemy’s ship
    on which she would of course advance, the disparity of armaments
    should not be taken into view.

    I claim no credit for the originality of this suggestion, well
    knowing that the ancients in their sea fights dashed their
    sea-galleys with great force one upon the other, nor am I
    ignorant of the plan of a steam prow suggested some years ago by
    Commodore Barron.[9] My proposition is simply the renewal of an
    ancient practice by the application of the power unknown in
    early times, and, as many believe, in the beginning of its

                   With great respect, I have the honor to be,
                                       Your most obedient servant,
                                                        M. C. PERRY.


      Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Twenty years later in the river of her own name, the war steamer
_Mississippi_ became a formidable ram, though before this time in 1859,
the French iron-clad, _La Gloire_ had been launched. It had been said of
the British Admiral, Sir George Sartorius, that “He was one of the first
to form, in 1855, the revolution in naval warfare, by the renewal of the
ancient mode of striking an adversary with the prow.” It will be seen
that Perry anticipated the Europeans and taught the Americans.

Other points in this letter of Perry’s are of interest at this time.
First, last, and always, Perry honored the engineer and believed in his
equal possession, with the line officers, of all the soldierly virtues,
notwithstanding that the man at the lever, out of sight of the enemy,
must needs lack the thrilling excitement of the officers on deck. He
felt that courage in the engine-room had even a finer moral strain than
the more physically exciting passions of the deck.

We may here note that Perry really had part in the naval victories of
our civil war. The method of ramming action, as used by Farragut in his
brilliant victories of wooden steamers over Confederate iron-clads, was
that out-lined by Perry years before.

Perry also made a thorough study, so far as it was then possible, of the
problems of resistance and penetration, of rifled cannon and of
iron-clad armor.

He was for years on the board of officers appointed to report upon the
Stevens floating battery at Hoboken. Until his death, he was familiar
with the whole question, and believed in the early adoption of both
rifles and armor on ships. Prior to the Mexican War he thought the right
course was to develop to the highest stage of efficiency the ram and the
smooth-bore shell-gun. It turned out that in the war for the Union in
1861, most of the naval officers associated with him and who shared his
ideas were on the Confederate side. Hence the Southerners were in a much
better state of advanced naval science than the Northerners. Even the
_Monitor_ was the fruit of a private inventor, and not of a naval
officer. The first appearance of an iron coat on an American war vessel,
and the first ram effectively used in war were upon the Confederate
steamer _Virginia_ (the old _Merrimac_) which was the idea and
application of T. ap. Catesby Jones; while the _Tennessee_ in Mobile Bay
was wholly the creation of Franklin Buchanan. Both of these gentlemen
were life-long friends, and subordinate officers, who were also familiar
with the problem of ramming, and enjoyed Perry’s confidence and ideas.
For the methods of the _Merrimac_ in her devastation of the Federal
fleet at Hampton Roads, the epistle of Perry might seem almost a letter
of instruction.

Had good machinists and founderies existed in the South, in number
proportionate to that of Confederate naval officers, the story of Mobile
Bay and the Mississippi river might have been different. With no lack of
courage or skill in the northern sailors and their leaders, their
greatest ally lay in the poor machinery of the Confederate iron-clads.
These were true testudos in armor, but fortunately for the Union cause
they were tortoises in speed also. Or, to change the metaphor, though
meant to act as swordfish, they behaved as sluggishly as whales. They
fell a prey even to wooden vessels able to obey their helms but moving
rapidly with sinking force.

With the old system of tactics under sail, no ramming was possible, as
the vessel under propulsion would expose herself to a raking fire while
slowly working up to position. Gunpowder rendered obsolete the trireme
ram. Steam, by its gigantic propelling force, had now in turn overcome

The model of the machine-ram, made by Captain Samuel Barron in 1827, and
referred to by Captain Perry is now at Annapolis Naval Academy. So far
as we can gather, Perry had not seen this at the time of his first
writing of the ram in 1839. His valuable paper was duly read, laid aside
and bound up with other “Captain’s Letters” in 1839 and forgotten. When
in 1861, the _Merrimac_, steaming out from Norfolk, by one thrust of her
iron snout turned the grand old wooden frigate, _Cumberland_, into a
sunken hulk, she revealed the powers of the ram to the whole world. The
curtain then fell on the age of wood and ushered in the age of iron.


[9] Commodore James Barron’s model of his “prow-ship” was exhibited in
the rotunda of the capitol in Washington in 1836. As described by him in
the Patent Office reports, it was a mere mass of logs, white pine,
poplar, or gum-tree wood. Perry meant to use a real ship always
available for ramming.

                              CHAPTER XV.

THE water-ways leading to New York are such as to make Manhattan Island
unique in its advantages for commerce. Already the metropolis of the
continent, it is yet to be the commercial centre of the world. Until
1837 these highways of sea, river, and bay were greatly neglected, and
on all except moonlight nights, vessels had great difficulty in
approaching the city. Raritan and Newark bays were so destitute of buoys
and beacons, that pilots charged double rates for navigating ships in
them, rocks littered their channels, and the benighted New Jersey coast
was jeeringly said to be “outside of the United States.” During the
summer of 1837, Captains Kearney, Sloat, and Perry made a study of the
water approaches to New York, the latter concerning himself with the
Jersey side. His report, written at Perth Amboy, December 9, 1837, was
made such good use of in Congress by Senator G. D. Wall, that a bill for
the creation of lighthouses was passed, and Captain Perry was ordered to
Europe for further study.

Embarking on the steamer _Great Western_ on her second round trip, June
27, 1838, Perry crossed the ocean when such a voyage was a novelty. The
passage occupied twelve and a half days, during which a constant study
of the engines and their behavior, and of wages and fuel satisfied him
that steam could be applied to war vessels with safety and economy. This
was in 1838, yet even as late as 1861, there were American naval
officers more afraid of the boilers under their feet, than of the
enemy’s guns; and many old sea-dogs still believed in the general
efficiency of sailing frigates over steamers.

Arriving at Bristol his first business was to visit the lighthouses of
the United Kingdom, after which he returned to London. In the foundries
and shipyards he acquainted himself with engineers and manufacturers. He
found a ferment of ideas. A real revolution in naval science was in
progress. The British government was ambitious to have the largest
steamer force in the world ready for sudden hostilities so as to possess
an over-whelming advantage. So much encouragement was given by the
admiralty, that nearly every mechanic in the kingdom, as it seemed, was
eager to invent, improve or discover new steps to perfection. Especial
attention was given to the problem of the economy of fuel. Vessels
wholly built of iron were beginning to be common. These, as Perry
predicted, were ultimately to have the preference for peaceful purposes,
but their fitness as war vessels was still uncertain. Two were then
building for the Emperor of Russia. The first paddle-wheel steamers,
_Penelope_, _Terrible_, and _Valorous_, were afloat or building. The era
of steam appliances as a substitute for manual labor aboard ships was
being ushered in.

It is now seen that the immediate fruit of this possession, by the
British government, of steam both as a motor and a substitute for manual
labor on shipboard, was the growth of an imperial policy of extensive
colonial dependencies and possessions for which the Victorian era will
ever be conspicuous in history. The British Empire could never have
become the mighty agglomeration which it now is, except through the
agency of steam. The new force was not an olive branch, nor calculated
to keep the battle flags furled; for already, the first of the
twenty-five wars which the Victorian era has thus far seen had begun.

At the time of Perry’s visit, however, Britain’s exclusive domain seemed
threatened by France. The spirit of invention and improvement,
encouraged by Louis Philippe, was abroad in “la belle France.” Already
nine war steamers afloat, with more planned on paper, the beginning of a
respectable sea-force, were within two hours of England. A vigorous
naval policy was in popular favor and the Prince de Joinville, in
command of a corvette, the _Creole_, was beginning to express views
which alarmed the Admiralty. The brilliant successes of the French in
Mexican waters, the capture of the castle of St. Juan d’Ulloa after six
hours bombardment, in which the terrific power of shells had been
demonstrated, encouraged them to believe that their rivalry with England
on the ocean was again possible. The undisputed supremacy of the British
on the seas since Trafalgar, had, except from 1812 to 1815, remained
unbroken because the only large navy left in Europe was British. France,
now recovering from the long impoverishment inflicted upon her by the
wars of Napoleon, was investing her money largely in steam war vessels
of the finest type. Fortunately for her, the revival of her financial
fortunes co-incided with the era of steam, and every franc applied to
naval uses was expended on first-class vessels equal to any on the seas.
On the contrary, many of the British fleet were sailing vessels.
Furthermore, the science of artillery was undergoing a revolution, and
France led the way in ordnance as well as in ships. Such an unexpected
development of energy and wisdom in her rival startled the English naval
mind as it afterward aroused the British public.

The carronades or “smashers” of the sailors, had had their day and their
glory was already passing away. The Paixhans gun, or chambered ordnance
capable of horizontal shell-firing, was now to supersede them. Fully
alive to the needs of the times, the British government had three war
steamers equipped, five were in course of construction, and the keels of
six others were soon to be laid. These were to be of from eight hundred
to twelve hundred tons and to mount heavy shell-guns at each end and in
broadside. Even then, they had but fourteen against the nineteen
steamers of France and hence the feverish desire for more.

Perry’s visit to Europe was exceedingly well-timed to secure the largest
results, for a revolution in optical science and applied methods of
illumination, as well as in ships and guns, was at hand. Science and
invention were to do much for the saving of human life as well as for
its destruction. The balances of Providence were to settle to a new

Crossing the channel, he visited Cherbourg and Brest, there finding the
same courtesy and cordial reply to his questions. In Paris he came in
contact with a number of distinguished scientific men. He was especially
well assisted by the United States Agent, Mr. Eugene A. Vail. The
illustrious Augustin Fresnel who had said in a letter to a friend,
December 14, 1814, that he did not know what the phrase “the
polarization of light meant,” was in 1819 crowned by the French Academy
of Science as the first authority in optics. He had demonstrated to his
countrymen the error of the old theory of the transmission of light by
the emission of material particles. This he had achieved by the study of
polarization. The practical application of his researches to the
apparatus of lighthouses struck a death-blow to the old system of coast

Among other pleasant experiences in the French capital, was a second
visit to King Louis Philippe. Invited by His Majesty to an informal
supper, at which the royal family were present, Captain Perry took his
seat at their table as a guest feeling more honored by this private
confidence than if at a state dinner. At the table sat the King’s wife
and children, tea being poured by the Queen herself. At this time, the
Duc d’Orleans, son of the King, was rejoicing over the recent birth of a
son. His name was Louis Albert Philippe d’Orleans, Comte de Paris. He
afterwards served in the Union armies during our civil war of 1861–65,
and is the accomplished author of the best general history of that
series of events yet published, _Historie de la Guerre Civile en
Amérique_. At this time, November 1838, the infant boy was not quite
three months old, and the talk and thoughts of the royal family were
centered on him.

Leaving Portsmouth December 10, by sailing packet, Perry arrived in New
York, January 14, 1839. After a few days spent at home he went to
Washington to deliver up his rich spoil of contemporaneous science, and
his own elaborate reports, criticisms, and suggestions. His face was
flushed with the irresistible enthusiasm of new ideas. And his thought
was in the direction of the future. The wires of a magnetic telegraph
had been strung across the campus of Princeton college, four years
before this, by Professor Joseph Henry. Out of the discoveries of
Faraday and Henry, brilliant results had sprung, of which application to
the arts of war and peace was already being made. Both as a naval
officer and as a lover of science, Perry rejoiced to see

                “Undreamed-of sciences from year to year
                Upon dim shores of unexplored Night
                Their steady beacons kindle.”

He now bent his energies to bring before Congress the condition and
needs of our lighthouse system. He wrote a vigorous and detailed letter
exposing the abuses and the schemes of the ignorant set of plunderers
who were opposing improvement. He proved that often important
lighthouses were left for days in charge of wholly incompetent persons.
Hence there was waste, robbery, and inefficiency, while a powerful
combination held the system in its coils. “The Lighthouse Ring” was then
as strong as that of “The Indian Ring” of later years. Further, the
battle was one of science and new ideas against ignorance and
ultra-conservative old fogyism. The lenses were struggling against the
reflectors. The latter were the outcome of the emission theory of the
propagation of light. The Lenticular method was based on the undulatory
theory. Ignorance and avarice long held the field, but under the
hammer-like facts and arguments of Perry, and those who thought with
him, both were routed, and the present grand system is the final result.
Our lighthouse establishment is not a creation, it is a growth.

At the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876, the exhibit made
by the government of the United States was under the charge of
Rear-Admiral Thornton A. Jenkins, one of Perry’s pupils and friends. The
triumphs of a half century in the illuminating art were manifest.
Progress had at first crept by slow steps, from rude beacons of wood or
coal fires on headlands, to oil lamps with flat wicks and spherical
reflectors, to paraboloid mirrors and argand burners, to eclipse
revolving or flashing lights. The katoptric system of Teulère, based on
the reflection of light by metallic surfaces was introduced about 1790,
and soon came in vogue among most civilized nations. It was costly and
expensive, since half the rays of light were lost by absorption in the
mirror even when new and perfectly polished; while the loss was far more
when the mirror was old, unclean, or in constant use. Yet despite its
many defects, it was the best of its kind known until Fresnel’s
brilliant discoveries based on the principle of a burning-glass or
convex lens refraction. After a struggle, the dioptric conquered the
katoptric, and lenses rule the coast.

It was to introduce the dioptric system that Perry now earnestly
labored. The influence of his arguments in Congress was powerful, and
from this time the lenticular method prevailed, and the system of
lighthouses on all our coasts was extended. From the first lighthouse
built by the general government in 1791 at Cape Henry, the number had
increased to seven in 1800. In 1838 there were but sixteen. The number
now is not far from 250.

No less an authority than Rear-Admiral Thornton A. Jenkins, who, besides
being the Naval Secretary of the Light-House Board from 1869 to 1871,
framed the organic law under which the present efficient Light-House
Board was established in 1852, says that “Through Perry’s influence the
first real step was taken towards the present good system.” The light on
the Neversink Highlands which the voyager to Europe sees, as the last
sign of native land as it sinks below the horizon is one of the first,
as it was the direct, fruits of Perry’s mission.

In an excellent article on this subject in the American Whig Review,
March 1845, the same which contained Poe’s “Raven,” the writer, after
commending Perry’s work and expatiating on the excellence of the Fresnel
light, pleads for the union of science and experience, and more
administrative method for this branch on the efficacy and perfection of
which depend, not only the wealth with which our ships are freighted,
but the lives of thousands who follow the sea.

When, in 1852, Perry lived to see his efforts crowned with success, and
Congress finally organized the Light-House Board, Jenkins wished Perry
to take the presidency of the Board; but other matters were pressing,
Japan was looming up, and he declined.

                              CHAPTER XVI.

ON his return from Europe, in 1839, Captain Perry purchased a plot of
land near Tarrytown, New York. He built a stone cottage, to which he
gave the appropriate name of “The Moorings.” The farm comprised about
120 acres; and, needing much improvement, he set about utilizing his few
leisure hours with a view to its transformation. Revelling in the
exercise of tireless energy, he set out trees and planted a garden.

To get time for his beloved tasks he rose early in the morning, and long
before breakfast had accomplished yeoman’s toil. If no nobler work
presented itself, this man of steam and ordnance weeded strawberry beds.
In due time this Jason sowing his pecks, not of dragon’s teeth, but of
approved peas and beans, rejoiced in a golden fleece and real horn of
plenty in the darling garden which produced twelve manner of vegetables.

At “Moorings” Perry was surrounded by most pleasant neighbors and a
literary atmosphere which stimulated his own pen to activity during the
winter, when long evenings allured to fireside enjoyments or studious

About this time, Lieutenant Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, impelled by a
request of the dead hero’s son, and irritated at the criticisms of J.
Fenimore Cooper, began his life of Oliver Hazard Perry. In this he was
assisted somewhat by Captain Perry, who corresponded with General
Harrison and other eye-witnesses of the Lake Erie campaign of 1814.
Among Perry’s papers, are several autograph letters in the cramped
handwriting of the hero of Tippecanoe. Although admiring Harrison as a
military man, and highly amused at the popularity and oddities of his
hard cider and log cabin campaign, Perry voted, as was his wont, the
Democratic ticket.

Another neighbor was Washington Irving, the great caricaturist of the
Hollanders in America, who dwelt in the many gabled and weather-vaned
Woolfert’s Roost. This quaint old domicile which Woolfert the Dutchman
built to find _lust in rust_ (pleasure in rest), crowned a hill
over-looking the Tappan Zee, in the south of Tarrytown, while the
“Moorings” was in the northern part towards Sing Sing. Perry maintained
with Irving a warm friendship to the last. He was an ardent admirer of
the genial bachelor author of Sunnyside, and like him was a devoted
reader of Addison. A humbler but highly appreciated neighbor was Captain
Jacob Storm, who owned the sloop _William A. Hart_, on which both Irving
and Perry often sailed up from New York. Storm was a genial and unique
character, famous until his death in 1883, alike for his mother-wit and
devotional spirit.

James Watson Webb, then the Hotspur, and afterwards the Nestor, of the
press was a genial neighbor and life-long friend.

The changes in naval construction required by the necessities of war,
have been many. The history of ship building is literally one of ups and
downs. Three great revolutions, of the oar, the sail, and the boiler,
have compelled the changes. The ancient sea-boats grew into high decked
triremes with many banks of oars, and these again to the low galleys of
the Vikings and Berbers. The sides of these, in turn, were elevated
until cumbersome vessels with lofty prow, many-storied and tower-like
stern, and enormous top-hamper sailed the seas. Again, the ship of the
Tudor era was only, by slow processes, cut down to the trim hulls of
Nelson’s line-of-battle ships.

In the clean lines of the American frigate, the naval men of our century
saw, as they believed, the acme of perfection. They considered that no
revolution in the science of war could seriously affect their shape.
Down to 1862, this was the unshakable creed of the average sailor. Naval
orthodoxy is as tough in its conservatism, as is that of ecclesiastical
or legal strain.

Yet both Redfield and Perry as early as 1835, clearly foresaw that the
old models were doomed; the many-banked ships must be razed, and the
target surface be reduced. Steam and shells had wrought a revolution
that was to bring the upper deck not far from the water, and ultimately
rob the war-ship of sails and prow. The next problem, between resistance
and penetration, was to make the top and bottom of ships much alike, and
to put the greater portion of a war vessel under water. It is scarcely
probable, however, that either of them believed that the reduction of
steam battery should proceed so near the vanishing point, as in the
Monitor, to be described as “a cheese-box on a raft” or “a tomato-can on
a shingle.”

The first idea concerning “steam batteries” as they were called, was
that they were not to have an individuality of their own as battle
ships, but were to be subordinate to the stately old sailing frigates.
They were expected to be tenders to tow the heavy battering ships into
action, or to act as despatch boats and light cruisers. They were
conceived to be the cavalry of the navy; ships mounted, as it were.
Redfield and Perry, on the other hand, laid claim for them to the higher
characteristics of cavalry and artillery united in a single arm of the

The first English steamers were exceedingly cumbrous and unnecessarily
heavy. It was, with their ships, as with their wagons, or axe-handles.
The British, ignorant of the virtues of American hickory, knew not how
to combine lightness with strength. Redfield proposed to apply the
Yankee jack-knife and whittle away all superfluous timber. Denying that
the British type was the fastest or the best, he pled earnestly that our
naval men should discard transatlantic models, and create an American
type. Regretting that our government and naval men held aloof from the
use of steam as a motor in war, he yet demonstrated that even a clumsy
steamer, like the _Nemesis_, had proved herself equal to two
line-of-battle ships. He prophesied the speedy disappearance from the
seas of the old double and trebled-banked vessels then so proudly
floating their pennants. Redfield writing to Perry as a man of liberal
ideas, said “Opinions will be received with that spirit of candor and
kindness which has so uniformly been manifested in your personal
intercourse with your fellow-citizens.” The confidence of this eminent
man of science and practical skill in the naval officer was fully

One thing which occupied Perry’s thoughts for a number of years was the
question of defending our Atlantic harbors from sudden attacks of a
foreign enemy. Steam had altered the old time relations of belligerents.
He saw the modern system of carrying on war was to make it sudden, sharp
and decisive, and then compel the beaten party to pay the expenses. A
few hostile steamers from England could devastate our ports almost
before we knew of a declaration of war. While England was always in
readiness to do this, there was not one American sea-going war steamer
with heavy ordnance ready to meet her swift and heavily armed cruisers,
while river boats would be useless before the heavy shell of the enemy.
He did not share the ideas of security possessed by the average
fresh-water congressman. The spirit of 1812 was not dead, in him, but he
knew that the brilliant naval duels of Hull and Decatur’s time decided
rather the spirit of our sailors than the naval ability of the United

He proposed a method for extemporizing steam batteries by mounting heavy
guns on hulks of dismantled merchant vessels. These were to be moved by
a steamer in the center of the gang, holding by chains, and able to make
ten knots an hour. If one hulk were disabled, it could be easily
separated from the others. Such a battery could be made ready in ten
days and fought without sailors. The engines could be covered with bales
of cotton or hay made fire-proof with soap-stone paint.

With the aid of his friend W. C. Redfield, he collected statistics of
all the privately-owned steamers in the United States with their cost,
dimensions and consumption of fuel, showing their possible power of
conversion for war purposes. Encouraged by Perry, Mr. Redfield treated
the whole question of naval offence and defence in a series of letters
on “_The Means of National Defence._” These were printed in the New York
_Journal of Commerce_ during the summer of 1841, and afterwards
reprinted in the _Journal of the Franklin Institute_ in Philadelphia.
His note-books with illustrations, diagrams and pen-sketches show that
his coming ideal war-ship was like the _Lackawanna_ of our civil war
days which, while but five feet narrower, is sixty-two feet longer than
“Old Ironsides,” the _Constitution_ of 1812. His favorite type was a
long narrow and comparatively low vessel like the _Kearsarge_ which is
twenty-two feet less in breadth than an old “seventy-four.” Like Perry,
he looked forward to the day when one eleven-inch shell gun would be
able to discharge the metal once hurled by a twenty-gun broadside of the
old _President_.

During July 1840, Perry conducted a series of experiments on the
_Fulton_, to determine the effect on the ship’s timbers of the firing of
heavy ordnance across the deck of a vessel. The introduction of pivot
guns on board men-of-war, rendered these experiments of great value. The
bowsprit and bulwarks removed, and the eight-inch Paixhans placed in the
middle part of the forward cross bulwarks, thirty feet of the _Fulton’s_
deck was exposed to concussion. Thirty-four rounds fired at a target on
shore, showed that every discharge produced an upheaval of the deck.
Empty buckets reversed and placed at various distance and positions on
the deck approaching the gun, were upset, kicked into the air,
destroyed, or shaken overboard. The ease with which men could be killed
by the windage of the balls, was demonstrated. A stout cask twelve feet
forward of the gun but out of line of fire was knocked overboard. A
glass phial which was hung three feet above the cannon’s muzzle
withstood the shock, but three feet forward at the same elevation was
shattered. Tarpaulin of two thicknesses fastened over a scuttle was
rent, and pine boards securely nailed withstood only two or three

Perry at once gave the natural explanation that the expansion, pressure,
and sudden contraction of the gases generated by the gunpowder, caused
the air of the hold to rush up to fill the vacuum, and thus pressed upon
the planking of the deck. The heavily built _Fulton_ could resist, where
a weaker vessel would start her planks, just as a fish brought up in a
trawl from deep-sea beds, bursts when coming to the air. He suggested
that any slightly built vessel could be rendered safe, simply by
flooding the decks with three inches of water. This he demonstrated
after many curious and interesting experiments, thus adding to the sum
of knowledge which every naval officer, in the changed conditions of
warfare, ought to obtain.

Perhaps no finer illustration of the value and power of pivot guns was
ever given than upon the _Kearsarge_ when sinking the _Alabama_. Yet of
that very ship, the British newspapers had said, “Her decks cannot
withstand the concussion and recoil of her heavy guns.” They were
evidently unaware of the knowledge obtained by Perry on the _Fulton_,
and applied by American builders of our men-of-war.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

THE French Navy was at this time leading the British in improved
ordnance. A French man-of-war of twenty-six guns was armed entirely with
cannon able to fire “detonating shot.” She was reckoned equal to two old
line-of-battle ships. Her visit to American ports created great interest
among our naval officers, and the Navy Department awoke to the necessity
of improving our ordnance.

On the 4th of May, 1839, Perry received orders which he was glad to
carry out. He was directed to give his attention to experiments with
hollow shot. These were round projectiles, non-explosive, but in that
line of the American idea of low velocity, with smashing power. With
less weight, they were of greater calibre, and required less powder in
firing. They were invented by W. Cochrane, known as the father of
heating by steam, and other useful appliances.

Perry selected a site near Sandy Hook and erected platforms, targets,
sheds, and offices for ammunition and fuses. From this first trial and
scientific study in the United States, of bombs and bomb-guns, down to
the last experiments with dynamite shells, the waste space at Sandy
Hook—the American Sheerness—has been utilized in the interest of
progress in artillery. Perry set up butts at 800, 880, 1,000 and 1,200
yards distance from the guns, and erected one target for firing at from
the ship. He devoted himself to the experiments with the best methods
and instruments of precision, then at command, during the months of June
and July, returning to the navy yard once or twice a week for letters,
provisions and fuses. The experiments in shell practice were
interesting, instructive and sufficiently conclusive. Those with hollow
shot were not so satisfactory.

The faith of Perry in the shell-gun was fixed. Thenceforth he believed
that bombs could be fired with very nearly as much precision and safety
from accident as solid shot. He saw, however, that much practice, even
to the point of familiarity, was needed. His report, at the end of the
season, in which he recommended a continuance of the experiments, gives
us a picture of the state of knowledge in our navy at that time,
concerning shell-shot. Not one of those under his direction had ever
seen a bomb-gun discharged; nor had had his attention specially called
to a shell-gun when in the navy, which had so long suffered from the dry
rot of unmeaning routine. He complains of the lamentable want of
knowledge in this important branch of the naval profession, when already
so many of the French and British ships were armed with shell-guns.
However, the officers trained at Sandy Hook, were now capable of
teaching others in the use of explosive projectiles aboard the ship. Men
and boys had all made progress in expertness. He suggested that the
winter months be employed in teaching boys on the _Fulton_ a knowledge
of pyrotechny, and that fifteen or twenty boys from the _North Carolina_
should be associated with them, and a class of gunners be thus trained.

His plan was approved by the Department. A course of study and drill in
gunnery, pyrotechny and the knowledge of the steam engine, was organized
and carried out during the winter. The graduates of this school
afterwards gave good account of themselves in the Mexican and our Civil
War. We see in this school, the beginning of the present admirable
training of our sailors in the science of explosives.

Perry, meanwhile, kept himself abreast of the latest developments and
discoveries in every branch of the naval art. We find him forwarding to
the War and Navy Departments the most recent European publications on
these subjects. He made himself familiar with the applications of
electricity to daily use. Neither the science nor the art of ordnance
had made great progress in America, since Mr. Samuel Wheeler cast, in
1776, what was probably the first iron three-pounder gun made in the
United States, and which the British captured at Brandywine and took to
the Tower of London. The war of 1812 showed, however, that in handling
their guns, the Yankees were superior in theory and practice to their
British foes.

In 1812, Colonel Bomford, of the United States Ordnance Department,
invented the sea-coast howitzer, or cannon for firing shells at long
range, by direct fire, which he improved in 1814 and called a
“Columbiad.” By this gun a shell was fired at an English vessel, near
New York, in 1815, which exploded with effect. It was this invention
which the French General Paixhans, introduced into Europe in 1824.[10]
The Frenchman was another Amerigo, and Bomford, being another Columbus,
was forgotten, for the name “Paixhans” clung to the _canons obusiers_ or
improved columbiad. The making or the use of bomb-cannons, in America,
was not continued after the war of 1812, and when first employed by
Perry, at Sandy Hook, were novelties to both the lay and professional
men of the navy on this side of the Atlantic. When four shell-guns were,
in 1842, put upon the ship-of-the-line, _Columbus_, according to Captain
Parker, shells were still unfamiliar curiosities. He writes in his
_Recollections_, p. 21:—

“The shells were a great bother to us, as they were kept in the shell
room and no one was allowed even to look at them. It seemed to be a
question with the division officers whether the fuse went in first, or
the sabot, or whether the fuse should be ignited before putting the
shell in the gun or not. However, we used to fire them off, though I
cannot say I ever saw them hit anything.” As the jolly captain elsewhere
says: “It took so long to get ready for the great event (of target
practice) that we seemed to require a resting spell of six months before
we tried it again.” About this time also pivot guns came into general
use on our national vessels, all cannon having previously been so
mounted that they could only fire straight ahead.

The Mexican War was a school of artillery practice and marked a distinct
era of progress. The flying artillery of Ringgold, in the field, and
Perry’s siege guns, in the naval battery at Vera Cruz, were revelations
to Europe of the great advance made by Americans in this branch of the
science of destruction. In the Civil War, on land and water, the stride
of centuries was taken in four years, when Dahlgren introduced that “new
era of gun manufacture which now interests all martial nations.” Since
then, the enormous guns of Woolwich and Krupp have come into existence,
but perfection in heavy ordnance is yet far from attainment. Much has
been done in improving details, but the original principle of gun
architecture is still in vogue. The loss of pressure between breach and
muzzle is not yet remedied. To build a gun in which velocity and
pressure will be even “at the cannon’s mouth” is the problem of our age.
When a ball can leave the muzzle with all the initial pressure behind it
we may look for the golden age of peace: such a piece of ordnance may
well be named “Peace-maker.” This problem in dynamics greatly interested
Perry; but foiled him, as it has thus far foiled many others.

The School of Gun Practice was opened again in the spring of 1840. He
was now experimenting with an eight-inch Paixhans gun, and comparing
with it a forty-two pounder, which had a bore reamed up to an eight-inch
calibre. Not possessing the present delicate methods of measuring the
velocity of shot, such as the Boulanger chronograph, invented in 1875,
and now in use at the United States ordnance grounds at Sandy Hook, he
obtained his measurements by means of hurdles or buoys. After their
positions had been verified by triangulation, these were ranged at
intervals of 440 yards apart along a distance of 3¼ miles. Observers
placed at four intermediate points noted time, wind, barometer, etc. The
extreme range of a Paixhans shot was found to be 4067 yards, or about
2-1/3 miles. In transmitting eight tables, with his report he stated
that “These experiments have furnished singular and important
information.” After a summary of unusual, interesting and valuable work,
the school was closed November 23, 1840, the weather being too severe
for out-door work.

It may be surmised that all articles of the new naval creed in which
Perry so promptly uttered his faith, were very disagreeable to many of
the old school. The belief in the three-decker line-of-battle ship and
sailing wooden frigate approached, in many minds, the sacredness of an
article of religion. The new appliances and discoveries which upset the
old traditions savoured of rank heresy. Those who held to the old
articles, and to wooden walls were perforce obliged, as ecclesiastics
are, when driven to the wall, to strengthen their position by damnatory
clauses. Anathemas, as numerous as those of the Council of Trent, were
hurled at the new reformation from the side which considered that there
was no need for reform. It was in vain that the employment of explosive
shells was denounced as inhuman. History follows logic. If “all is fair
in war,” then inventions first branded as too horrible for use by human
beings, will be finally adopted. The law of military history moves
toward perfection in the killing machine.

Laymen and landsmen, outside the navy, who look upon naval improvement
and innovation as necessities, in order that our soldiers of the sea may
be abreast of other nations in the art of war, consider radical changes
a matter of course: not so the old salts who have hardened into a half
century of routine, until their manner of professional thinking is
simple Chinese. They saw that horizontal shell firing was likely to turn
floating castles into fire-wood. In the good old days ships were rarely
sunk in battle, whether in squadron line or in naval duels. Though
hammered at for hours, and reduced to hulks and charnel houses, they
still floated; but with the new weapon, sinking an enemy was
comparatively easy work. British oak or Indian teak was nothing against
bombs that would tear out the sides. The vastness of the target surface,
on frigate or liner, was now a source of weakness, for shells produced
splinters of a size unknown before. A little ship could condense a
volcano, and carry a sapping and mining train in a bucket. The old
three-deckers must go, and the frigates become lower and narrower with
fewer and heavier guns.

A brave British officer is said to have cried out, “For God’s sake, keep
out the shells.” New means of defence must be provided. The mollusk-like
wooden ships must become crustacean in iron coats. The demonstrated
efficiency of shells and shell-guns, and the increased accuracy of fire
of the Paixhan smooth-bore cannon—cultivated to high pitch even before
the introduction of rifles—had made impossible the old naval duel and

During the whole of this extended series of experiments on the _Fulton_,
and at Sandy Hook, with new apparatus and projectiles, with assistants
often ignorant and unfamiliar with the new engines of war, until
trained, no lives were lost, nor was a man injured by anything that
could be foreseen. The bursting of a gun cannot always be guarded
against, and what befell Perry, in his boyhood, happened again in 1841,
though this time without injury to himself. The forty-four pounder on
the _Fulton_ burst, killing two men. Their funeral October 8, 1841, was,
by the Commodore’s orders, made very impressive. The flags of all ships
on the station were flown at half-mast. All the officers who could be
spared, and two hundred seamen and marines, formed the cortege in ten
boats, the rowers pulling minute strokes. The flotilla moved in solemn
procession round the _Fulton_, the band playing a dirge. Perry, himself,
brought up the rear—a sincere mourner. At the grave, Chaplain Harris
made remarks befitting the sad occasion.

Jackson’s administration being over, and with it much of the corruption
which the spoils system introduced into the government service, it was
now possible to reform even the navy yards. An honor all the more
welcome and enjoyable, because a complete surprise, was Perry’s
appointment to the command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and New York Naval
Station. On the 24th of June, 1840, the Secretary of the Navy wrote to
Perry, stating his dislike of the bad business conduct of the yard, and
the undue use of political influence. With full confidence in Captain
Perry’s character and abilities—stating, also, that Perry had never
sought the office either directly or indirectly—he tendered him the
appointment. The Secretary desired that “no person in the yard be the
better or the worse off on account of his political opinions, and that
no agent of the government should be allowed to electioneer.” The letter
was an earnest plea for civil service reform.

Henceforth, Matthew Perry’s symbol of office was “the broad pennant,”
and his rank that of “commodore.” Yet despite added responsibilities and
honors, he was but a captain in the navy. Until the year 1862, there was
no higher office in the United States Navy than that of captain, and all
of Perry’s later illustrious services under the red, the white, or the
blue broad pennant, in Africa, Mexico and Japan, added nothing to his
pay, permanent rank, or government reward. Not until four years after
his death was the title of commodore significant of grade, or salary,
higher than that of captain.


[10] See P. V. Hagner, U. S. A., _Johnson’s Encyclopædia_, article

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

THE activity of American inventors kept equal pace at this period in the
two directions of artillery and steam appliances. In 1841 the sum of
fifty thousand dollars was appropriated by Congress for experiments in
ordnance, and a possible one million dollars for the “shot-and-shell
proof” iron-clad “Stevens Battery” then building at Hoboken, N. Y.

Perry was frequently called upon to pronounce upon the various methods
of harnessing, improving, and economizing the new motor. We find him in
April, 1842, testing three new appliances for cutting off steam, and, on
May 17, 1842, praying that the _Fulton_ may be kept in commission for
the numerous experiments which he was ordered to make. The Secretary of
the Navy gladly referred the numerous petitioners for governmental
approval to Captain Perry. In November the question is upon a
ventilator; again, it is on the comparative merits of Liverpool,
Pennsylvania, or Cumberland coal; anon, a score or so of minor
inventions claimed to be improvements. Perry sometimes tried the temper
of inventors who lived in the clouds and fed on azure, yet he strove to
give to all, however visionary, a fair chance, for he believed in
progress. He foresaw the necessity of rifled ordnance and armor, and of
steamers of the maximum power for swiftness and battery: perfection in
these, he knew could be obtained only by prolonged study and slow steps
of attainment.

The collaborator of Washington Irving in _Salmagundi_, James K.
Paulding, was at this time Secretary of the Navy. The position offered
to Irving and declined, was given, at Irving’s suggestion to his
partner. He was known more as a literary expert than as a statesman or
man for the naval portfolio, although as far back as 1814, he had been
appointed by President Madison one of a Board of Naval Commissioners. He
was not a warm friend to the new fashions which threatened to overthrow
naval traditions, denude the sea of its romance, and the sailing ships
of their glory. The ferment of ideas and the explosion of innovations
around him were little to his taste. To his mind, the engineers who were
beginning to invade the sacred precincts of the Department seemed little
better than iconoclasts. In the _Literary Life of J. K. Paulding_ are
some amusing references to his horror of the new fire-breathing
monsters; and the entries in his journal show how intensely bored he was
by the new ideas, and the persistency with which the advanced naval
officers held them. He wrote that he “never would consent to see our
grand old ships supplanted by these new and ugly sea-monsters.” He cries
out in his diary, “I am _steamed_ to death.”

For this metaphorical parboiling of “the literary Dutchman in Van
Buren’s cabinet,” Perry was largely responsible. Steam had come to stay,
and with it the engineer, despite the Rip Van Winkles in and out of the
service. Officers call Perry “the father of the steam navy.” An old
engineer says, “He certainly was, if any man may be entitled to be so
called.” Another writes “It was largely through his influence and
representations, that the _Mississippi_ and _Missouri_, then the most
splendid vessels of their class, were built.”

A beginning of two steam war vessels had been practically determined on,
soon after Perry’s return from Europe. He was summoned to Washington in
May 1839 to preside at the Board of Navy Commissioners to consult
concerning machinery for them. The sessions from 9 A. M. to 3.30 P. M.
were held from May 23d to 28th.

The practical wisdom of Captain Perry’s decision in regard to the
engines most suitable for our first steamers—the superb _Missouri_ and
the grand old _Mississippi_—is seen in the fact that when ready for
service, the _Mississippi_ had no superior on the sea for beauty, speed
and durability. Probably out of no vessel in the navy of the United
States, was so much genuinely good work obtained as out of the
_Mississippi_, during her twenty years of constant service in all the
waters. Had she not been burned off Port Hudson in the river whose name
she bore, in 1862, she might have lived a ship’s generation longer. Her
praises are generously sung in the writings of all who lived on board
her. Captain Parker speaks of “The good old steamship _Mississippi_, a
ship that did more hard work in her time than any steamer in the navy
has done since and she was built as far back as 1841.” What the
_Constitution_ was among the old heavy sailing frigates, the
_Mississippi_ was to our steam Navy. On the outside of Commodore Foxhall
Parker’s book on _Naval Tactics Under Steam_ is fitly stamped in gold a
representation of the _Mississippi_.[11]

To speak precisely, she was begun in 1839, and launched in 1841, at
Philadelphia. She was of 1692 tons burthen, and 225 feet long. She
carried two ten-inch, and eight eight-inch guns, and a crew of 525 men.
Her cost was $567,408. The cost of the iron-clad “Steven’s Battery,” as
limited by Congress, was not to exceed that of the twin wooden steamers.
Hence, its construction languished, while the _Mississippi_ and
_Missouri_ were soon built. Perry, from the first, strenuously urged
that the greatest care should be used, the best materials selected, and
the most trustworthy contractors be chosen. “In the first ocean steamers
to be put forth by the government, no cost should be spared to make them
perfect in all respects.” As there was then no lack of harmony and union
among the bureaus, there was no danger of constructing different parts
of the ship on incompatible plans, with the consequent peril of failure
of the whole. The various constructive departments wrought in unison.
These two steam war vessels were built before naval architecture and the
sea alike were robbed of their poetry. The _Missouri_ beside her
machinery, carried 19,000 square feet of canvass, and the _Mississippi_
about as much, so that they looked beautiful to the eye as well as
excelled in power.

On her trip of March 5, starting at eight pounds pressure and rising to
sixteen, the _Missouri_ made twelve and a half statute miles per hour.
Her motion was quiet and graceful, the tremor slight, while at her bow,
above the cutwater, rose a _boa_ of water five feet high. A trial at sea
with her heavy spars was made on the 24th of March. In pointing out her
merits and the defects, Perry emphasized the necessity of having in the
persons, in charge of the equipment of war steamers, a combined
knowledge of engineering and seamanship. In the men who presided over
the machinery, this was noticeably lacking. Most engine-builders and
engineers in 1841 had never been at sea; hence a knowledge of all the
details necessary for safety and efficiency was not common.


During the month of October, the twin vessels were made ready, and on
the 9th of November, proceeded to Washington. On her return, the
_Mississippi_ made the time from the Potomac Navy Yard to the Wallabout
in fifty-one hours.

Commander A. S. Mackenzie having applied December 16th for the second in
command, the Naval Commissioners asked Perry in regard to the number and
arrangements of the crew of the _Missouri_. He recommended that there
should be on each of the large steamers a captain, and a commander; so
that, after some experience, the latter could take command of the medium
or smaller steamers to be hereafter built. From the first Perry urged
that all our naval officers should learn engineering as well as
seamanship, so as not to be at the mercy of their engineers. In the
beginning, from the habits, education, and manners of engineers taken
from land or the merchant service, one must not look for those official
proprieties derivable only from a long course of education and
discipline in the navy. Hence there would be a natural disposition to
exercise more authority than belonged to them, and to be chary of
communicating the little knowledge they possessed. A purely naval
officer in such condition would be like a lieutenant at the mercy of the
boatswain. The captain must not carry sail without reference to the
engines, and so the steam power must not be exerted when mast, spars or
sails would be strained. Harmony between quarter-deck and engine-room
was absolutely necessary.

The British Government encouraged officers to take charge of private
steamers so as to acquire experience, and no man unused to the nature of
machinery could command a British war steamer. In our navy no one should
be appointed to command in sea steamers unless he had a decided
inclination to acquire the experience.

Even while the _Missouri_ was building, Perry wrote a letter concerning
her complement, and after speaking a good word for the coal heavers and
firemen, and praying that their number might be increased, he again
proposed a scheme for the supply of naval apprentices for steamers. He
suggested also that a class of Third Assistant Engineer should be
formed. This would create emulation and an _esprit du corps_ highly
favorable for high professional character and abilities among the
engineers. The grade would be good as a probationary position, besides
reducing to a minimum, jeopardy to the ship and crew.

In a word, Perry foresaw that, if the splendid new steam frigate
_Missouri_ were left to incompetent hands, she would fall a prey by fire
or wreck, to carelessness and ignorance.

“He was proud of these two vessels, and no one had a better right to be
proud of them than he. He imagined them and created them, while others
did the details and claimed most of the credit of their superiority over
men-of-war of that day of other nations;” for down to 1850, our policy
was to build better vessels than were built in any part of the world.
Thus our navy was small but very effective.

“Perry’s two vessels were without question not only successes, but far
beyond the most sanguine hopes and expectations of friendly critics of
the time. It is a remarkable fact that the _Susquehanna_ (and some
others of smaller size) built after the _Mississippi_ and the _Missouri_
had proved themselves successes, were not successes. With these latter,
Commodore Perry had nothing to do, as to plans, designs or

No sketch of the early history of the steam navy of the United States
could be justly made without honorable mention of Captain Robert F.
Stockton. Nor was the paddle-wheel of the _Mississippi_ to remain the
emblem upon the engineer’s shoulder-strap. The propeller screw was soon
to supersede the paddle-wheel as motor of the ship and emblem of the
engineer’s profession. The screw is one of the many discoveries located,
by uncritical readers, in China. The French claim its invention, and
have erected at Boulogne a monument to Frederick Sauvage its reputed
inventor. Ericsson demonstrated its value in 1836, by towing the
_Admiralty_ up the Thames at the rate of ten miles an hour; yet the
British naval officers reported against its possibility of use on ships
of war. Eight years afterward, the man-of-war, _Rattler_, was built as a
propeller, and a successful one it was. Ericsson, after constructing the
engines of the propeller steamer, _Robert F. Stockton_, was invited to
Philadelphia, where he built the first screw steamer of the United
States Navy, and of the world, planned as such. After the name of his
native town, it was called by the Commodore, the _Princeton_.

At the end of ten years of shore service, devoted to the mastery of the
science and art of war as illustrated in the applications of steam,
chambered and rifled ordnance, hollow shot and explosive shells, iron
armor and rams, the building and handling of new types of ships, Perry
was beginning to see clearly, in outline at least, the typical American
wooden man-of-war of the future. Such a ship, we may perhaps declare the
_Kearsarge_ to have been. In her build, motor and battery, she
epitomized all the points of American naval architecture and ordnance,
to which Perry’s faith and works led. Yet these very features were
severely criticized by the English press, in the days before the
British-built _Alabama_ was sunk. These were, in construction, stoutness
of frame, narrowness of beam, heaviness of scantling, all possible
protection of machinery, lightness of draught, and a model calculated
for a maximum of speed; in battery, the heaviest shell-guns mounted as
pivots and firing the largest shells, accuracy of aim combined with
rapidity of fire; in movement, the utmost skill with sail, steam and
rudder, and celerity in obtaining the raking position. In such a ship
and with such guns, were the right executive officer, and commander,
when the first great naval duel fought with steam and shells took place
on Sunday June 19, 1864, at sea, outside of Cherbourg. Historic and
poetic justice to the memory of Matthew Perry was then done with
glorious results, that will ever live in history. When the _Alabama_
sank from the sight of the sun with her wandering stars and the bars of
slavery after her into the ocean’s grave, the guns that sent her down
were directed by James S. Thornton,[12] the efficient executive officer
of the _Kearsarge_, and by his own boast and testimony, the favorite
pupil of Commodore Matthew C. Perry.


[11] The _Mississippi_ made six long cruises, two in the Gulf of Mexico,
one in the Mediterranean, two to Japan, and one in the Gulf and
Mississippi under Farragut. She twice circumnavigated the globe.
Thoroughly repaired, she left Boston, May 23, 1861, for service in the
Civil War. In passing Forts Jackson and Philip, April 24, 1862, and in
the capture of New Orleans which gave the Confederacy its first blow in
the vitals, the _Mississippi_ took foremost part under command of
Captain Melancthon Smith. Her guns sunk two steamers, and her prow sunk
the ram _Manassas_. Passing safely the fire rafts, and the Challmette
batteries, she was the first vessel to display the stars and stripes
before the city. In the attack on Port Hudson, March 14, 1863, this old
side-wheeler formed the rear guard of Farragut’s line. In the dark night
and dense smoke, the pilot lost his way. The _Mississippi_ grounded, and
was for forty minutes under steady fire of the rifled cannon of the
batteries, and was burned to prevent her use by the Confederates.

[12] See his portrait, p. 926, _Century Magazine_, 1885.

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                      THE BROAD PENNANT IN AFRICA.

THE work to which Matthew Perry was assigned during the next three years
grew out of the famous treaty made by Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton.
Of this treaty we, in 1883 and 1884, on account of the transfer of so
much of our financial talent across the Canadian border, heard nearly as
much as our fathers before us in 1842. In addition to the rectification
of the long-disputed boundary question, the eighth and ninth articles
contained provisions for extirpating the African slave-trade. By the
tenth article, the two governments agreed to the mutual extradition of
suspected criminals. Out of the interpretation of this last, grew the
famous “Underground Railway” of slavery days, besides the residence in
Canada of men fleeing from conscription during the civil war, and of
defaulting bank officers in later years. To the crimes making offenders
liable to extradition, in the supplementary treaty made under President
Cleveland’s administration, four others are added, including larceny to
the amount of fifty dollars, and malicious destruction of property
endangering life.

It is very probable that war was averted by the sound diplomacy of the
Webster-Ashburton treaty. The two nations instead of crossing swords
were enabled through creative statesmanship, to join hands for wholesome
moral work, and especially to improve off the face of the ocean, “the
sum of all villainies.” The discovery of America had given a vast
impulse to this ancient and horrible traffic, and about forty millions
of negroes had been seized for the markets of the western continent.
About seventy thousand of these victims were brought to our country
prior to the year 1808, and many thousands have been surreptitiously
introduced since that epoch.

The United States was to send an eighty-gun squadron to Africa to
suppress piracy and the slave-trade. The preparation for this real
service to humanity and the world’s commerce was curiously interpreted
in South America, as a menace to the states of that continent. In their
first thrills of independence, these republics were naturally suspicious
of their nearest strong neighbor.

The work of the American men-of-war in overhauling slavers, involved the
question of the right of search. Notwithstanding that the war of 1812
had been fought to settle the question, it was not yet decided. It
required secession and the so-called Southern Confederacy to arise, with
the aid of Captain Wilkes and Mr. Seward, to force the British
government to disown her ancient claim.

Orders to command the African squadron, and to protect the settlements
of the blacks established by the American Colonization Society, were
received February 20, 1843. The spring was consumed in preparations, and
on the 5th of June, the Commodore hoisted his broad pennant on the
_Saratoga_.[13] In the flag-ship of a squadron, Matthew Perry sped to
southern oceans, a helper in the progress of Africa. Arriving at
Monrovia, in due time, his first duty was to mete out justice to the
natives of Sinoe and Berribee for the murders of American seamen. He
found awaiting him one of the head men of Berribee with authority to
arrange a palaver of all the chiefs with the American commander. To
understand the problem before the Commodore, let us glance at the

The question of war or peace among the natives on or near the coast is a
financial one of monopoly and privilege. The tribes occupying the coast
or sea “beach” have the advantage of all the tribes behind them in the
interior, inasmuch as they hold the monopoly of foreign trade and barter
with passing ships. The coast men sell the coveted foreign goods, rum,
tobacco, powder and notions to the next tribe inland at a handsome
profit. These, in turn, sell to the next tribe within, and these to the
next, and so the filtering process goes on. The prices, to the last
purchaser and consumer, one or two hundred miles from the sea, after
passing through all these middle-men, are enormous. The position then
next the ships was a coveted one, and those in sight of blue water had
to keep it by arms as champions. Only the most warlike tribes get and
hold this place.

To gain this supreme advantage of trade at first hand, the Crack-Os, a
tribe two days distant inland, had fought their way seaward and captured
from the Bassa Cove and Berribee people, about ten miles of coast on
which they had built five towns. Giving free rein to their predatory
propensities, they seized all canoes passing their front, and plundered
or murdered their crews. Growing bolder, they overwhelmed by their
numbers even foreign vessels after enticing these to visit them, and
their crews to land. The captain and crew of the American schooner,
_Mary Carver_, were first tortured and then murdered. For three hours,
Captain Carver suffered unspeakable horrors. He was bound and delivered
to the tender mercies of the savage women and children who amused
themselves by sticking thorns in his flesh. In another instance, Captain
Burke, mate and cook, of the _Edward Barley_, were cruelly murdered. In
consequence of these atrocities, traders avoided this villainous coast,
and commerce came to a stand-still.

The mere destruction of any of the beach towns would be of no avail, if
the black rascals were allowed to rebuild. With their rice and cassava
or yam plantations a few miles back, to which they removed the women,
children, and other valuables, they would laugh at the white man’s
pains. The only lasting check on their villainy would be permanent
exclusion from the beach.

There was enough of another side to the story to remove indiscriminate
vengeance far from the Commodore’s purposes. Our government heard many
complaints against the blacks, while their voice was unheard. The native
towns and fishing boats were frequently fired into, their towns
cannonaded and burnt, and the blacks cruelly maltreated, or sold to
warlike tribes, in pure wantonness by white foreigners. As all white men
were the same to the negroes, they were apt to take the first
opportunity for vengeance that offered itself. In this way, innocent men

An imposing force, more than sufficient for mere punishment, was
determined upon. The Commodore had to move with caution, and both
justice and victory must be sure, as a failure to awe would make matters
worse. His first care was to obtain hostages from the Berribees. In
doing this he was able to prove their guilt. He sent Lieutenant
Stellwagen in the brig _Porpoise_, disguised as a merchantman, to their
coast. Only five or six men, and these in red shirts, showed themselves
on deck. The Berribee boats at once rushed out in a shoal to capture the
harmless looking vessel. As only a sample of the thieving humanity was
needed, the Lieutenant, satisfied with a good joke, refrained from
opening his guns on the canoes. After witnessing the seizure of those
first climbing over the ship’s sides, and the sudden resurrection from
the hatches of his armed crew, the other blacks scattered for the shore.

The squadron, consisting of the _Saratoga_, _Macedonian_, _Decatur_ and
_Porpoise_ sailing from Mesurado on the 22d of November, cast anchor on
the 29th at Sinoe. This settlement, nominally under the care of the
Mississippi Colonization Society had been greatly neglected. The negroes
from the United States were there, but were little looked after.
“Colonization,” in their case meant simply good riddance.

Landing with seventy-five sailors and marines, the procession moved to
the Methodist Church edifice in which the palaver was to be held. Before
the President of Liberia, Mr. Roberts, and the Commodore, with their
respective staffs on the one side, and twenty “kings” or head men on the
other, the murder of Captain Burke’s mate and cook was discussed. It
appeared that the white man was the first aggressor, and the Fishmen and
not the Sinoe people were the culprits. After listening patiently to the
black orators, the Commodore ordered the Fishmen’s town to be burned,
keeping three of them as hostages to be sent to Monrovia. He advised the
settlers to build a stockade and block-house, assess the expense in town
meeting, and endeavor to enforce the methods of self-government and
protection so well established in the United States. Only in this way
could civilization hold its own against the savages of the bush.

The next point of landing was Settra Kroo, in King Freeman’s dominions.
At this place, the force from the boats stepped on shore at 9 A. M.
Before the palaver began, the Commodore heard a piece of news that
caused him to hasten in person to the scene of the incident. Humanity
was the first duty. The pace of the burly Commodore was quickened to a
run as he heard of the imminent danger of an innocent victim. A wealthy
man of one of the Settra villages had been accused of having caused the
death of a neighbor by foul arts of necromancy. To prove innocence in
such a case, the accused was compelled to drink largely of sassy-wood
which made a red liquid. In this case the elect victim was a
hard-featured fellow of about fifty years of age. His wealth had excited
envy, and avarice was doubtless his only crime. His two wives with their
satin-skinned babies, were in agony and tears for the fate of the
husband and father.

The natives, seeing the Americans approach, and suspecting their design
of rescue, seized their victim and paddled him in a canoe across the
lake. Perry, being told of this circumstance, on coming to a group of
men grasped the chief, ordering the officers to seize others and hold
them as hostages for the ordeal man. The territory belonged to the
Maryland Colonization Society, and the rites of savagery were not to be
done in view of an American squadron. This novel order of _habeas
corpus_ was obeyed. After some delay and palaver, the negroes restored
the victim, and, under the emetics and remedies of Dr. McGill, the man
was delivered from the power of sassy and of believers in its virtue.
The squadron had arrived just in time.

Returning from this lively episode with sharp appetites, the Commodore
and party of officers were just about to sit down to dinner, when an
alarm gun, fired from Mount Tulman, startled them. Almost immediately
afterwards a messenger, running in hot haste, announced that the wild
natives from the bush beyond were about to force their way to the
settlement and attack the colonists. They had mistaken the salute to the
Commodore, and thought that hostilities had already begun with King
Freeman. They had come to support the native party and be in at the
division of the spoils.

At once the Commodore accompanied by the Governor and his force marched
through the blazing sun four miles to the scene of hostilities. On the
Mount Tulman, named after a philanthropic Baltimorean, they found a
picketed level space to which the civilized colonists, men, women and
children, had fled for refuge. They were defended by fifteen or sixteen
men then on the watch. The savage natives had been repulsed and some of
them killed.

As there was nothing to do, the party enjoyed, for a few minutes, the
superb scenery. The village beneath, and the white buildings of the
Mount Vaughan Episcopal mission glittered in the sun, and the beach and
ocean view was grand. The descent of the hill with their belated dinner
in view, was an easy and grateful task.

At Cape Palmas, or “Maryland in Africa,” the naval force landed Dec.
9th, for a palaver with twenty-three “kings” and head men. The Commodore
and Governor, at the usual table, were face to face with the sable
orators, whose talking powers were prodigious. His Majesty, King
Freeman, was a prepossessing negro, who, in features, recalled to the
narrator Horatio Bridge,[14] Henry Clay. The interpreter was Yellow
Will, a voluble and amazing creature in scarlet and Mazarin-yellow lace.

The substance of the palaver was the request that King Freeman should,
for the good of the American colonists, remove his capital. The meeting
was adjourned to re-assemble in the royal kraal or city two days later.
On December 11, twelve armed boats were sent ashore from three ships.
The feat of landing in the surf was accomplished after several
ridiculous tumbles and considerable wetting from the spray.

On shore there were about fifty natives in waiting, as an escort to the
palaver house. These braves were armed with various weapons, muskets
guiltless of polish, iron war spears, huge wooden fish-harpoons, and
broad knives.

The royal capital was a palisaded village in the centre of which was the
palaver house. Most of the male warriors were out of sight, evidently in
ambush while the women and piccaninnies were in “the bush.” Some delay
occurred in the silent town, while arrangements were perfected by his
Majesty. By orders of the wary Commodore, marines were posted at the
gates as sentinels, while the military forces of either side were
marched to opposite ends of the town. The parties to the controversy
being seated, Governor Roberts spoke concerning the murder of Captain
Carver. The towns along the beach governed by King Crack-O were
implicated. They shared in the plunder, the cargo of the ship being
worth twelve thousand dollars. The evil results were great, inasmuch as
all tribes on the coast wanted to “catch” foreign vessels.

His Majesty, King Crack-O, was a monstrous fellow of sinister
expression. He wore a gorgeous robe and a short curved sword resembling
the cleaver used by Chicago pork-packers. The blade of this weapon was
six inches wide. He made a rather defiant reply to President Robert’s
charges, denying all participation in the matter. Touching his ears and
tongue symbolically to his sword, he signified his willingness to attend
the great Palaver at Berribee.

At the Commodore’s suggestion, he was invited on board the flag-ship
with the object of impressing him with the force at command of the

During the embarkation, several funny scenes occurred. All the
villagers, men, women and children, came to see the canoes set off, many
of which were repeatedly upset, and the passengers tossed into the water
and soused. There was little dignity, but no end of fun, in getting from
shore to ship.

The next meeting was appointed at Little Berribee, because the great
palaver for the division of the spoil of the _Mary Carver_, had been
held at this place. It was hoped some exact information would be gained.
The line of boats leaving the flag-ship December 13, moved to the shore,
and the march was begun to the village. The palaver house was about
fifty yards from the town gate inside the palisades, and King Ben
Crack-O’s long iron spear, with a blade like a trowel, was, with other
weapons, laid aside before the palaver began; but arrayed in his
gorgeous robes, the strapping warrior, evidently spoiling for a fight,
took his seat, having well “coached” his interpreter.

After the Governor spoke, the native interpreter began. He quickly
impressed the American officers and the Liberian Governor as a
voluminous but unskillful liar, and himself as one of the most guilty of
the thieves. His tergiversations soon became impudent and manifest, and
his lies seemed to fall with a thump. The Governor, had repeatedly
warned him in vain. At last, the Commodore, losing patience, rose up and
hastily stepping toward the villain sternly warned him to lie no more.

Instantly the interpreter, losing courage, bolted out of the house and
started on a run for the woods. Perry quickly noticing that King Crack-O
was meditating treachery, moved towards him. The black king’s courage
was equal to his power of lying and treachery. He seized the burly form
of the Commodore, and attempted to drag him off where stood, on its
butt, his iron spear. It was already notched with twelve
indentations—in token of the number of men killed with it.

His black majesty had caught a Tartar! The burly Commodore was not easy
to handle. Perry hurled him away from the direction of the stacked arms,
and before he had more than got out of the house, a sergeant of the
marines shot the king, while the sergeant’s comrades bayonetted him.

In the struggle, the king had caught his foot in the skirts of his own
robe and he was speedily left naked. Spite of the ball and two bayonet
wounds he fought like a tiger, and the two or three men who attempted to
hold his writhing form needed all their strength to make him a prisoner.
His muscular power was prodigious, but their gigantic prize was finally
secured, bound, and carried to the beach. The interpreter was shot dead
while running, the ball entering his neck.

The palaver, thus broken up, suddenly changed into a melee in which the
marines and blue-jackets began irregular firing on the natives, in spite
of the Commodore’s orders to refrain. The two-hundred or more blacks
scattered to the woods, along the beach and even into the sea, some
escaping by canoes.

As the real culprits had mostly escaped, the Commodore ordered the town
to be fired. Our sailors forced the palisades or crept between the
gates. Meeting in the centre of the town, they gave three cheers and
then applied the torch. In fifteen minutes the whole capital, built of
wattles and mud was on fire, and in little over a half hour a level

The blacks, from the edge of the woods, opened fire on the Americans.
With incredibly bad aim, they shot at the blue-jackets with rusty
muskets loaded with copper slugs made out of the bolts of the _Mary
Carver_. From one pile of camwood, the fire of the rascals was so near,
that Captain Mayo’s face was burned with their powder, so that he
carried the marks to his grave. Little harm was done by the copper
shower. Our men charged into the bush, and presently the ships opened
fire on the woods, and the little war with the heathen ended for the

Among the trophies recovered in the town, was a United States flag,
articles from the _Mary Carver_, and several war canoes. The king’s
spear, made of a central shaft of wood with iron butt and top and the
blade heart-shaped, was kept by the Commodore, and now adorns the
collection of his son-in-law.

Embarkation was then made to the ships, where King Crack-O died next
morning at eight o’clock.

On the 15th, as the boats moved off at 7 P. M., to a point twelve or
fifteen miles below Berribee, they were fired on by the natives when
near the shore. The boat’s crew and three marines dashed ashore, and
charged the enemy. The landing was then made in good order, the line
formed and the march begun to the town. The palisades were at once cut
through, and the houses set on fire. While this was being done, the
blacks in the woods were sounding war-horns, bells and gongs, which the
buzzards, at least, understood, for they soon appeared flying in
expectation of a feast.

A further march up the beach of a mile and a half brought the force to a
line of palisades behind which were thirty or forty natives. The
boat-keepers rowing along the line of march, were enabled to see that
these were armed and ready to fire. Halting at forty yards distance, the
marines and blue-jackets charged on a run, giving the blacks only time
to fire a few shots and then break for cover. This they could easily do,
as the woods reached nearly to the water’s edge. After searching for
articles from the _Mary Carver_, this third town was burned, and then
the men sat down to dinner. Another town three miles further up the
beach was likewise visited and left in ashes. All day long the men were
hard at work and in constant danger from the whistling copper, but the
only bodily members in danger seemed to be their ears, for the blacks
were utterly unable either to aim straight or to fire low. The men
enjoyed the excitement hugely, and only two of them were wounded. The
eight or ten cattle captured and the relics of the _Mary Carver_, were
taken on board.

On the 16th at daylight, the ships raised anchor and proceeded to Great
Berribee. White flags were hoisted in token of amity. The king came on
board the flag-ship, and a “treaty” in which protection to American
seamen was guaranteed was made. Gifts were exchanged, and the five
Berribee prisoners released.

The effect of this powder and ball policy so necessary, and so
judiciously administered, was soon apparent along a thousand miles of
coast. By fleet runners carrying the news, it was known at Cape Palmas
when the squadron arrived there on the 20th. The degree of retribution
inflicted by no means exceeded what the original outrage demanded.
According to the well-understood African law, the whole of the guilty
tribe must suffer when the murderers have not been delivered up. The
example, a peremptory necessity at the moment, was, for a long time,
salutary; the American vessels not only experienced the good effect, but
the event had a powerful influence in the native palavers.

A year or so later, the king and headmen of Berribee, visited Lieutenant
Craven in the _Porpoise_. The people had begun to make farms, and
cultivate the soil. They were very anxious to see Commodore Perry, “to
talk one big palaver, pay plenty bullock, no more fight white man, and
to get permission to build their town again on the beach.” The
Lieutenant reported the effect on all tribes as highly salutary, even as
far as fifteen or twenty miles in the interior. The Missionaries, the
Reverend and Mrs. Payne whose lives had been threatened, and their
schools broken up by the wild blacks, were now enjoying friendly
intercourse with the natives and suffered no more annoyance. He also
received the warm approval of the other missionaries on the coast, both
Roman Catholic as well as Protestant, as well as of Governor Russworm,
of the Maryland Colony. The Reverend James Kelly, of the Catholic
Mission, in a letter, said of Perry, “His services were tendered in a
way decidedly American—without ostentation—yet carrying effect in
every quarter.”

This systematic punishment, after examination, and the certainty that
the stripes were laid on the right back was a new thing to the blacks.
The Berribee affair is remembered to this day. During the forty years
now gone, anything like the _Mary Carver_ affair has never been
repeated. The coast was made safe, and commerce increased.

On the 25th, the Commodore arrived at Monrovia, and on the 28th, sailed
for Porto Praya, and later for Funchal, where he found the inhabitants
bitterly complaining that the American taste for other wines had greatly
injured the trade in Madeira.


[13] Used as a training-ship now, May, 1887.

[14] Journal of an African Cruiser, edited by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

                              CHAPTER XX.

PERRY, in his report written Jan. 21, 1844, on the settlements
established by the Colonization Society expresses the feelings that came
over him as he gazed on Cape Mesurado (Montserrado) after a lapse of
nearly a quarter of a century. When, as first Lieutenant on the _Cyane_,
he first looked upon the site of Monrovia, the beautiful promontory was
covered with dense forests, of which the wild beasts were the only
occupants. On this, his third visit, he found a thriving town full of
happy people. Churches, school-houses, missionary establishments, a
court-house, printing-presses and ware-houses, vessels at anchor in the
harbor, made a scene to delight the eyes. Though there were farms and
clearings, the people, he noticed, preferred trade to agriculture. While
many were poor, many also were rich, and all were comfortable. He
considered that upon the whole the experiment of colonization of the
free blacks of the United States was a success. More settlements, a line
of them on the coast, were however needed to enable the colonist to
assist in suppressing the slave-trade, to encourage the civilized
natives, and to increase commerce.

Monrovia, so named in honor of President James Monroe, at this time
contained five hundred houses with five churches and several schools.
The Sunday-schools were conducted like those in New England.

The flag of Liberia contained stripes and a cross, emblems of the United
States and Christian philanthropy. The flag of the Liberian
Confederation is now a single white star on a square blue field with
stripes. Its twelve thousand square miles of territory contain twenty
thousand colored people from the United States, five thousand “Congos”
or recaptured slaves, and eight hundred thousand aborigines.

At that time, the various settlements under the care of the American
Colonization Society were separate petty colonies or governments and
not, as now, united into one republic of Liberia. Perry was, at first,
puzzled to know his exact relations to the governors of Monrovia and
Cape Palmas, who styled themselves “Agents of the United States.” While
eager to assist them in every way, he yet knew it his duty to refrain
from anything calculated to give them a wrong impression.

There was to be no deviation from the settled policy of the United
States not to hold colonies abroad. The political connection between the
United States and Liberia, the only colonial enterprise ever undertaken
by our country, was but a silken thread. The aim of our government
seemed to be to honor the rising negro republic, to protect American
trade and missionaries, and to overawe the elements of violence among
the savages, so as to give the nascent civilization on the coast a fair
chance of life. In this spirit, Perry performed faithfully his delicate

It was noted by the naval officers that the freedmen from America looked
down upon the natives as savages, and were horrified at their heathenism
and nudity. The unblushing display of epidermis all around them shocked
their feelings. Each African lady was a literal Flora McFlimsey “with
nothing to wear.” In building their houses, the settlers followed rather
the model of domestic architecture below Mason and Dixon’s line than
that above it. The excellent feature of having the kitchen separate from
the dwelling was transported to “Maryland in Africa,” as in “the old
Kentucky home.”

The colored missionaries were having encouraging success. The pastor at
Millsburg, a town named after the Rev. Mr. Mills, one of the first
missionaries from the United States, was a fine, manly looking person.
One of the settlers was an Indian negro, formerly a steward on Commodore
McDonough’s ship and present at the battle of Lake Champlain. He
afterwards removed to Sierra Leone to afford his daughters, who were
dressmakers, better opportunities.

Edina and Bassa Cove were settlements under the patronage of the
Colonization Societies of New York and Pennsylvania. The Maryland colony
was at Cape Palmas, that of Mississippi at Sinoe, while another
settlement was named New Georgia. The freed slaves, remembering the
labors in the cotton fields under the American overseer, could not
easily rid themselves of their old associations with mother earth. Labor
spent in tilling the soil seemed to be personal degradation. To earn
their bread by the sweat of their brow and the toil of their back in the
new land of freedom was, to them, so nearly the same as slavery that
they utterly forsook it, and resorted to small trade with the men of the
beach or deck. In the bush, imitating the Yankees, whom they had been
taught to abhor, they peddled English slave-goods manufactured at
Birmingham for ivory and oil. In dress they followed out the customs of
their masters at home, copying or parodying the latest fashion plates
from New York, Philadelphia or London. In church, many silk dresses
would be both seen and heard among the women.

Serious drawbacks to successful colonization existed. Among the freed
slaves the women were in the proportion to men three and a half to one.
Even the adult males were like children, having been just released from
slavery, with little power of foresight or self reliance. The jealousy
felt by the black rulers toward the white missionaries was great, while
heathenism was bold, defiant and, aggressive.

American black men could be easily acclimated, while the whites were
sure to die if they persisted in a residence. The strain on the
constitution of a white man during one year on the African station
equalled that of five or six years on any other. Most of the British
officers made it a rule of “kill or cure,” and, on first coming out on
the station, slept on shore to decide quickly the question. It was
almost certain death for a white person unacclimated to sleep a night
exposed to the baleful influence of the land miasma. Perry as a
lieutenant, when without instruction, did the best he could to save the
men from exposure. He avoided the sickly localities and took great
precautions. Hence there was no death on the _Shark_ in two years,
though, besides visiting Africa, all the sickly ports in the West
Indies, the Spanish Main and Mexico were entered. Now a Commodore, while
cruising off “the white man’s grave,” Perry made the health of his men
his first consideration. When on the _Fulton_ in New York, he had been
called upon by the Department to express his views at length upon the
best methods of preserving life and health on the Africa station.
Possessing the pen of a ready writer, amid the press of his other
duties, he wrote out an exhaustive and readable report of twelve pages
in clear English and in his best style.

This epitome of naval life is full and minute in directions. The methods
followed in the _Shark_, with improvements suggested by experience, were
now vigorously enforced on all the ships of the squadron. The men were
brought up on deck and well soused, carefully wiped, dried, warmed and,
willy-nilly, swathed in woolens. Stoves were lighted amidships, and the
anthracite glowed in the hold, throwing a dry, anti-mouldy heat which
was most grateful amid the torrid rains and tropical steam baths. Fans,
pumps, and bellows, plied in every corner, drove out the foul air that
lurked like demons in dark places. All infection was quickly banished by
the smudges, villainous in smell but wholesome in effect, that smoked
out all vermin and miasma.

The sailors at first growled fiercely, though some from the outset
laughed at what seemed to them blank and blanked nonsense, but their
maledictions availed with the Commodore no more than a tinker’s.
Gradually they began to like scrub and broom drill, and finally they
enjoyed the game, becoming as hilarious as Dutch housemaids on cleaning
day. Spite of the nightly rains, the ships in their interiors were never
mouldy, but ever fresh, dry, and clean. Health on board was nearly

In his own way, the vigilant Commodore fought and drove off the
scorbutic wolf with broadsides of onions and potatoes, and kept his men
in superb physical condition and his staff unbroken, while British
officers died by the score, and left their bones in the white man’s
grave. After the dinner parties and entertainments on shore, the
American officers left promptly at eight o’clock so as to avoid night

Long immunity from sickness at length began to breed carelessness in
some of the ships, when away from the eye of the Commodore. In one
instance the results were heart-rending. The wild blacks in 1843 made an
attack upon Bissas, a Portuguese settlement on the coast south of the
Gambia river, incurring the loss of much American property. The
Commodore dispatched Lieutenant Freelon in the _Preble_ to help the
garrison and prevent a further attack from the hostile natives.

The _Preble_ went up the river on which the settlement was situated, and
anchored there for thirteen days. Out of her crew of one hundred and
forty-four men, ninety were attacked by fever. The ship, from being
first a floating hospital, became a coffin, from which nineteen bodies
were consigned to the deep. The plague-stricken vessel with her depleted
crew arrived at Porto Praya, and, to the grief of the Commodore, there
was an added cause of regret.

The ship’s commander and the surgeon had quarreled as to the causes of
the outbreak of the pestilence. The lieutenant stoutly maintained that
the outbreak was owing to “the pestilential character of the African
coast, and the Providence of God.” The surgeon, taking a less
pseudo-pious, more prosaic but truer view, laid it to nearer and easily
visible causes. The acrid correspondence between cabin and sick bay was
laid before Perry. He read, with much pain, of the “insults,” “lies,”
and other crimes of tongue or pen mutually shed out of the ink bottles
of the respective literary belligerents. Kellogg, the surgeon, asked the
Commodore for an investigation. As Perry did not think it wise at that
time either to withdraw the officers from survey duty, or to endanger
the convalescents by keeping the _Preble_ near shore, he ordered the
infected vessel out to sea.

One can easily imagine with whose opinions Perry sympathized, as he read
the documents in the case. Perry never even suspected that religion and
science needed any reconciliation, both being to him forms of the same
duty of man. In narrating the actual occurrences at Bissas, the surgeon
showed that most of Perry’s hygienic rules had been systematically
broken. The _Preble_, for thirteen days, was anchored within a quarter
of a mile of the shore, exposed to the exhalations of a bank of mud left
bare by the ebb-tide and exposed to the rays of a vertical sun. At
night, the men were allowed to sleep out on deck with the miasma-laden
breezes from the swamps blowing over them. While painting the ship, the
crew were exposed to the sun’s glare. They were sent day and night to
assist the garrison of Bissas, and, in two cases, returned from sporting
excursions fatigued and wet. The first case of fever began on the 5th,
and the disease was fully developed in fourteen days. The sad results of
the visit of the _Preble_ up the miasmatic river were soon manifest in
scores of dead. Perry’s grief at the loss of so many valuable lives was
as keen as his vexation was great, because it was unnecessary and

In two other instances also the energy and promptness of the Commodore
proved the saving of many lives. One of our ships put into Porto Praya,
with African fever on board and short of water. The water of Porto
Praya, being unfit for sick persons, Perry at once supplied her tanks
from the flag-ship. Then quickly sailing to Porto Grande, he returned
promptly with fresh relief for the stricken men. Another vessel being
short of medicines, the Commodore proceeded with the flag-ship to the
French settlement of Goree, immediately returning with quinine. His
celerity at once checked the death list and multiplied convalescents.

Within the cruising ground prescribed for the African squadron, it was
found that there was not a suitably enclosed burial place for the
officers and sailors who might die. Men-of-war and merchant sailors had
been thrown overboard or buried in different spots here, there, and
everywhere, on beaches just above high water mark, on arid plains and on
barren bluffs. So prevalent was the refusal, by Portuguese, of the rites
of burial to Protestant sailors, that it was their custom to have a
cross tattooed on their arms so that when dead they might get sepulture.

The reason for this sporadic burial of our men must be laid at the doors
of bigotry. In some parts of Christendom, even among enlightened
nations, where political churches are established, there lingers a
heathenish relic of superstitious sectarianism under the garb of the
Christian religion, in what is called “consecrated ground.” By this
pretext of holiness, the sectaries logically carry into the grave the
feuds and hatreds born of the very wickedness from which by their creeds
and ritual they expect to be saved. This feeling is in southern Europe
and the papal colonies, so intensified that it is next to impossible for
a man denying the Roman faith to obtain burial in a cemetery governed by
adherents of the Pope. Even the semi-civilized Portuguese refused to
give interment to American officers in what they denominate “consecrated

This gave Perry an opportunity to establish a burial place for the
American dead of every creed. In the words of the bluff sailor, after
referring to the fact that “Catholics” do not like “Protestants” in
their grounds, he says, “With us the same spirit of intolerance shall
not prevail, and in our United States Cemetery the remains of Jew and
Gentile, Catholic and Protestant will be laid in peace together.”

Accordingly, the cemetery for the dead of the _Preble_ was prepared at
Porto Grande. A plot of land having been purchased, was given in fee by
the authorities. It was duly graded, and a stone wall seven feet high
erected to enclose it, and thus protect it from the wash of rains and
the trespasses of vagrant animals. Timber for headboards was furnished
from the ship, and the amount of two hundred dollars for expenses
incurred was subscribed by the officers and men.

The governor of the island of Santa Iago was ordered by the general
government to give a legal title to a cemetery for “persons not
Catholics.” The burial ground plotted out by the Commodore adjoined the
other village cemetery at the same place called “The Cocoanuts.” The
three new walls enclosing it were respectively one hundred by one
hundred by ninety-four feet. The width of the wall masonry was three
“palms” or twenty-seven inches, and the foundation was to be
three-fourths of a yard deep. In this true God’s acre, more truly
consecrated by the christening of Christian charity than the bigot’s
benison, Perry was glad to permit also the burial of some British
sailors. In a letter of thanks from Commodore W. Jones, of her Britannic
Majesty’s squadron, the latter writes of the cemetery at Porto Grande,
“In which you kindly permitted the interment of such British seamen as
would have had their remains excluded from the (Roman) Catholic
cemeteries at those places.”

“It seems hard that Englishmen should thus be indebted to the charity of
strangers for a little Portuguese earth to cover them. It is a
consolation that, in countries where superstition so far cancels
gratitude and Christian feeling, that the noblest grave of a seaman, and
in my opinion far the most preferable, is always at hand.”

Relieved by Commodore Skinner, Perry arrived in the _Macedonian_, off
Sandy Hook, April 28, 1845.

During his service on this station, Perry exhibited his usual energy and
patriotism in being ever sensitive to the honor of the flag, the navy
and his country. In the exercise of his duty, he was frequently drawn
into situations which evoked sharp controversies with the magistrates
and officials of different nationalities in regard to restrictions in
their ports, certain ceremonies, salutes, and minutiæ of etiquette. With
practiced pen, this American sailor, a loving reader of Addison, showed
himself a master in diplomacy and the art of expression. Uniting to the
bluff ingenuousness of a sailor, something of the polish of a courtier,
he almost invariably gained the advantage, and came off the best man.
His conduct in delicate matters evoked the praise of both the American
and English governments.

The American commanders on the African coast were too much handicapped
by their instructions to be equally successful with the British cruisers
against the slavers. Claiming the right of visitation and search, the
Englishmen boarded all suspicious vessels except the American, and broke
up the slave depots. The American men-of-war, in the actual work of
destroying the slave traffic, formed rather a sentimental squadron,
“chasing shadows in a deadly climate.”

The insatiable demand of Cuba for slaves made man-stealing and selling
profitable, even if the speculators in human flesh lost four cargoes out
of every five. Most of the masters of barracoons were Spaniards, and
some were college-bred men, with harems and splendid mansions. The price
of a slave on the coast was $30, while in Cuba it was $300. Blanco
White, who had a fleet of one hundred vessels, barracoons as large as
Chicago stock-yards, and a trade of eight thousand human carcasses a
year, lost in one year by capture, eight vessels. As he recovered
insurance on all of them, his loss was slight. The business of slave
export, like that of the Nassau blockade-runners during our civil war,
had in it plenty of gain, some lively excitement, but little or no
danger. Decoys were commonly used. While a gun-boat was giving chase to
some old tub of a vessel, with fifty diseased or worn-out slaves on
board, a clipper-ship with several hundred in her hold, with loaded
cannon to sweep the decks in case of mutiny, and with manacles for the
refractory, would dash out of her hiding-place among the mangroves and
scud across the open sea to Cuba or Brazil.

During Perry’s stay on the African coast, the French had a squadron of
eleven vessels, and the British a fleet of thirty, eleven of which were
steamers. The other Powers were willing to save their cash, and allowed
the British to spend their money and do the work. The French capturing
not one prize, turned their attention to seizing territory. Their policy
in Africa, as in Asia, was an attempt to make new nations by means of
priests and soldiers. It began with brandy, progressed with bombardment,
and wound up with military occupation. The beginning of their African
possessions was the seizure of Gaboon, where in 1842, five American
missionaries had begun labor. By limitation of his orders, Perry was
unable to do anything in the case, though notifying the Department of
the facts and the danger.

A French critic writing in 1884, of French “expansion,” “prestige,” and
“civilization,” in their so-called possessions, mostly in the torrid
zone, speaks of this system of “artificial hatching, which was to
produce a swarming brood of little Frenchmen.” “We see,” says he, “the
broken eggs, but find neither omelette nor chicks.”

At present, in 1887, the west coast of Africa, valuable as affording
gateways into the interior, is owned as follows: by England, 1300 miles;
by Portugal, 800 miles; by Liberia, 350 miles; by Germany, 750 miles; by
natives, 900 miles. Missionary stations now occupy many of the old
slave-marts. By faith and knowledge, prayer and quinine, the white man
is making the dark continent light. Ethiopia is lifting up her
gift-laden hands to God.

                              CHAPTER XXI.
                            THE MEXICAN WAR.

THE long agitation, in behalf of the establishment of a Naval Academy,
by leading American naval officers, prominent among whom was Captain
Perry, bore fruit in the year 1845. Mr. George Bancroft, another of the
eminent literary men who have acted as Secretaries of the Navy, convened
a board of officers at Philadelphia, June 24, and directed them to make
suggestions in regard to a naval school. In this board were Commodores
George C. Read, T. ap. Catesby Jones, M. C. Perry, Captains E. A. F.
Lavallette and Isaac Mayo. Full of enthusiasm for the proposed
enterprise, they wrote a report outlining its leading features.
Secretary Bancroft’s energy secured the execution of the plan, and the
United States Naval Academy was begun on the grounds of Fort Severn,
near Annapolis. Many friends warmly urged Perry’s name as principal, but
he was not an applicant for the post. Captain Franklin Buchanan was most
worthily chosen, and the sessions began October 10, 1845. Under
successive superintendents, the Naval Academy has become one of the
first professional schools in the world, having thus far graduated over
twelve hundred naval officers, equipped either for seamanship or

Service afloat, in the Gulf of Mexico, was preparing. His first
application for service, in case of war, was made on the 16th of August.
Meanwhile, he called the attention of Secretary Bancroft to the
defective state of our signals, and forwarded the code of Admiral Rohde,
of the Danish navy, as the basis of a new compilation; and, according to
orders, engaged in the examination of merchant steamers, with a view to
harbor and coast defence, and for use in war. On the 4th of February,
1846, he received information from Mexico which satisfied him that war
was inevitable, and that he would soon be in the land of the cactus, the
eagle, and the serpent. Further, the frigate _Cumberland_, when in the
act of starting for the Mediterranean, was ordered to Vera Cruz.

In answer to repeated offers of service, Perry received orders dated
August 20, 1846, to command the two new steamers, _Vixen_ and
_Spitfire_, which were fitting out at New York. When these were ready,
he was to go out to relieve Captain Fitzhugh of the _Mississippi_. The
younger officers, graduates of the Sandy Hook School of Gunnery, were
eager to serve under their former instructor, especially when they saw
that he, himself, gladly accepted an inferior command in order to serve
his country well. He arrived at Vera Cruz on the 24th of September. He
was subordinate to Commodore Conner, whose date of commission preceded
his own; but practically, though not officially, the Gulf or Home
squadron was divided. Conner had charge of the sail, and Perry of the
steam vessels. Owing to lack of ships of light draught, Conner had been
able to accomplish little. The splendid opportunities of the first year
were lost, and naval expeditions, even when attempted, proved failures.
The most notorious of these was the second unsuccessful demonstration at
Alvarado, October 16, which shook the faith of the strongest believers
in the abilities and resolution of Commodore Conner.[15] Because of the
grounding of the schooner _McLane_, on the bar, the enterprise was given
up for the day. On the morrow, when all was ready for a second attempt,
and the men eager for the fray—their last will and testament having
been left numerously with the chaplain—the flag-ship’s signals were
read with amazement and wrath: “Return to the anchorage off Vera Cruz.”
Whether the pilots feared a “norther,” or Conner doubted the military
qualities of his seamen on land, or believed his craft unsuited to the
task, is not certainly known.

The main squadron lay off Sacrificios Island, safely out of range of the
forts. Many glasses were pointed anxiously night and day toward the
flag-ship for signals, which were not made. There were some French
vessels in the harbor. With characteristic diligence, the officers,
impatient to see hostilities begin, yet athirst for archæological
honors, began excavations for Aztec ruins, and found a number of relics.
The Americans chafed. Even the sight of the snow-capped mountains in the
distance, once burning and still beautiful, and the Southern Cross at
night, palled on the eye. The sailors wearied of polishing their small
arms and furbishing their weapons, and longed to use them. The big guns
were made lustrous with the fragrant sea-pitch, or “black amber,” from
off the sea-bottom, until their coats shone like Japanese lacquer. This
substance had a perfume like guava jelly, but the sailors longed rather
to sniff the air of battle. Like Job’s war-horse, they had thus far been
able to do so only from afar. Out of the north came news of successes
continually, while the sailors still scraped and scrubbed.[16]

The senior commodore acted generously to Perry, who, being allowed to do
something on his own account, and happy enough to do it, planned the
capture of Tabasco. It was in Tabasco that Cortez fought his first
battle on Mexican soil. This town, on the river of the same name, had
about five hundred inhabitants garrisoned by state troops. These were
commanded by General Bravo, who had sent several challenges inviting
attack. The Mexicans reckoned that the natural sandbar at the river’s
mouth was a better defence than guns or forts, and the grounding of the
_McLane_ at Alvarado, doubtless lulled them into this delusion. The
object of the expedition was to capture the fleet of small craft moored
in fancied security in the river. This consisted of two steamers, a
brig, a sloop, five schooners and numerous boats and lighters—just what
was needed for the uses of our squadron, then so deficient in light
draft vessels.

The attacking force consisted of the _Mississippi_, the _Vixen_,
_Bonita_, _Reefer_, _Nonita_, _McLane_ and _Forward_, with an extra
force of two hundred marines from the _Raritan_ and _Cumberland_.
Leaving Anton Lizardo, October 16, they arrived at Frontera on the 23d.
Without losing a moment of time, Perry made a dash across the bar almost
before the Mexicans knew of his arrival, and captured the town. Two
river steamers, which plied between the city and port, Tabasco and
Frontera, were lying at the wharf under the guns of the battery. One had
steam up and the supper-table spread. After these had been captured by
cutting out parties, the captors enjoyed the hot supper.

The next two days, the 24th and 25th, were consumed in accomplishing the
seventy-two miles of river navigation, in the face of a heavy, strong
current. The _Petrita_ and _Vixen_ did most of the towing. Reaching the
famous “Devil’s Turn,” at 2 P. M., and finding a battery in view, Perry
ordered a landing party ashore, which speedily entered the deserted fort
and spiked the four twenty-four pound cannon found there. The city was
reached at 3 P. M. Anchoring the vessels in line ahead, at a distance of
one hundred and fifty yards, so as to command the principal streets,
Perry summoned the city to surrender, threatening to open fire in case
of refusal. The governor declining with defiance, returned answer, “Fire
as soon as you please.”

To give a mild taste of what bombardment might mean, Perry ordered
Commander Sands to let the _Vixen’s_ guns be trained on the flag-staff
of the fort. So accurate was the fire, that, of the three shots, one cut
the pole and the flag fell. This was taken by the fleet as the sign of
surrender. A Mexican officer soon after came off, begging that the
hospitals might be spared. Perry at once granted the prayer. By this
time, it was nearly five o’clock and possibly time to take the fort. As
Perry believed in using the men while their war-blood was hot, he
ordered Captain Forrest, a brave but deliberate man, to land his two
hundred marines and take the fort, the main body of the military having
left the town. While the men were forming, impatiently awaiting the
order to advance, they had to stand under an irregular fire of musketry
from the chapparal. Seeing that it was late, and the risk too great for
the prize, Perry, ordering the men on board again, saved his marines for
the morrow.

At daylight of the 26th, some Mexicans, who had sneaked as near the
flotilla as possible, opened a sharp fire on our men. The cannon were at
once trained and kept busy in brushing away these “ground-spiders,” as
the Japanese would call such ambuscaders. “Pomegranate shot,” to use a
term from the same language, for shrapnel, were freely used.

The display of a white flag from the city shore stopped the firing, and
the Commodore received a petition from the foreign consuls and
inhabitants that the town should be spared. He granted the petition,
adding that his only desire was to fight soldiers and not

Out of pure feelings of humanity, Perry spared the city though there was
much to irritate him. The Mexican regulars and armed peasants were still
in or near the city, posted in military works or strong buildings of
brick or stone, and reached only by the artillery of the flotilla. Yet
the governor, while allowing war on our vessels, would not permit the
people to leave the municipal limits; and so the women and children,
crouched in the cellars, while the sneaking soldiers kept up their
fusillade. Probably most of those who had been killed or wounded were
peaceable inhabitants.

The Commodore now made preparations to return, and ordered the prizes to
be got together. While this was going on, even though the white flag was
conspicuously waving above the town, a party of eighty Mexicans attacked
Lieutenant W. A. Parker and his party of eighteen men. Seeing this,
Perry sent forward Lieutenant C. W. Morris, son of Commodore C. G.
Morris, with orders and re-inforcement.

The young officer passed the gauntlet of the heavy fire which now opened
along the banks. A musket ball struck him in the neck inflicting a
mortal wound, but he stood up in the boat and cheered his men most
gallantly as they bent to their oars, until he fell back in the arms of
midshipman Cheever who was with him. The loss of this accomplished young
officer and the treachery of the Mexicans made forbearance no longer a
virtue. Perry at once ordered the guns of the fleet to open on the city
and sweep the streets as a punishment to treachery. He spared as far as
possible the houses of the consuls and those of peaceful citizens.

The _Vixen_, _Bonita_, _Nonita_ and _Forward_ kept up the cannonade for
half an hour, by which some of the houses were demolished.

Having no force to hold the place, no field artillery, and a limited
supply of muskets and equipments, Perry, after reducing the town, and
neighborhood to silence, ordered the flotilla and prizes to move down
the river. Having the current with them, they reached Frontera at
midnight. One of the prizes, the _Alvarado_, having grounded on a shoal
at the Devil’s Turn, was blown up and left. Lieutenant Walsh and his
command had kept all quiet at Frontera. The _McLane_, with her usual
luck, having struck on the bar, could not get up to take part in front
of the city.

The Tabasco affair, notwithstanding that the city was not occupied,
infused new spirit into the navy and was the stimulus to fresh exploits.
The name of Perry again became the rallying cry. The moral influence on
the whole squadron of the capture of Tabasco was good, and all were
inspirited for fresh enterprises. Even if no other effect had been
produced, the expedition broke the monotony of blockade duty and made
life more endurable. Still the men thirsted for more glory, and yearned
to satisfy the home press and people who were so eager for a “big
butcher’s bill.”

The squadron returned to Anton Lizardo, where, on the 1st, Lieutenant
Morris died on board the _Cumberland_. With the honors of war he was
buried on Salmadina Island, where already a cemetery had begun. The
prize _Petrita_ distinguished herself by capturing an American vessel
violating the blockade at Alvarado.

One of the steamers captured at Tabasco was formerly a fast river boat
plying between Richmond and Norfolk, well named the _Champion_. Under
Lieutenant Lockwood, she became a most valuable dispatch boat and of
great use to the squadron.

The town of Tampico, 210 miles north of Vera Cruz, offered so tempting
an opportunity of easy capture that Commodore Conner resolved to make
the attempt.

The city was five miles from the mouth of the river Panuco, and had
already sent a crack battalion to Santa Anna’s army. This perfidious
leader was using all his craft to raise an army, hoping to recruit
largely from American deserters. He supposed that all of General
Taylor’s Irish Roman Catholic soldiers would desert, because seventy or
eighty of them had done so. A battalion had been formed, and named Santa

In this, the Mexican was keenly mistaken, the Irishmen holding loyally
to their colors, and giving not the first, nor the last, illustration of
their valor under the American flag. They here foreshadowed their later
career during the civil war which produced a new character—the
Irish-American soldier.

As Conner had been formally and repeatedly urged by General Bravo to
visit and attack Tabasco, so also was he invited to come to Tampico.
This time, however, it was by a lady, the wife of the American consul.
She sent him the invitation stating that the city would yield without
resistance. This proved to be true, as Santa Anna’s policy was to weaken
the American forces by their necessity of a garrison to hold the place
if taken, while the Tampico troops could be employed against General
Taylor. In accordance with his orders, the place was evacuated by the
military, who took along with them their stores and artillery. Prudence
prevailing over valor, the Mexicans fell back to San Luis Potosi.

The squadron with the two Commodores, Conner and Perry arrived on
Saturday, the 14th of November off the dangerous bar, the play-ground of
numerous sharks. The eight vessels were easily got into the river
Panuco. While this was going on, and the forward vessels were ascending
the river, the stars and stripes were seen to rise over the city. This
pretty act was that of the wife of the American consul who bravely
remained after her husband had been banished.

A force of one-hundred and fifty marines and sailors was landed to
occupy the town. This was done silently, and not a hostile shot was
fired. Thus the second really successful operation of our navy in the
Gulf was achieved by a woman’s help. Captain Tatnall was sent up the
river eight miles, and captured the town of Panuco.

Tampico was seen to be a place of military importance, and troops were
necessary to hold it, yet there was not then, an American soldier in
this part of Mexico. All were in the north with General Taylor. So
important did Conner feel this to be that, within a half hour after
entering the town, he dispatched Perry to Matamoros for troops. The ever
ready Commodore in his ever ready steamer, _Mississippi_, left at once
for the north. At the mouth of the Brazos on the Texan coast, Perry
informed General Patterson of the fall of Tampico, and notified him that
a re-inforcement would be needed from the troops at Point Isabel. He
then proceeded, of his own accord and most judiciously, as Conner wrote,
to New Orleans, anchoring the _Mississippi_ off the southwest pass of
the river from which the steamer took her name, and in which, sixteen
years later, she was to end her life.

Perry resolved to go up to New Orleans to stir up the authorities to
greater energy and dispatch. He succeeded in obtaining fifty soldiers,
some provisions, and from the governor of Louisiana, a fully equipped
field train of six six-pounders and two howitzers, with two hundred
rounds of shot and shell to each gun. This battery belonged to the
State. He also received a large supply of entrenching tools and

All these were secured in one day, and, arriving back at Tampico after a
week’s absence, November 21, he delighted and surprised the naval
officers by what was considered, for the times, a great feat of
transportation. Other steamers and military, arrived November 30, so
that Tampico soon had a garrison of eight hundred men. Conner remained
until December 13, organizing a government for the city, while Perry
returned at once to Anton Lizardo.

Though life on shipboard was made more tolerable by these little
excitements, it was dull enough. Fresh food supplies were low. The
coming event of scurvy was beginning to cast shadows before in symptoms
that betokened a near visitation. Perry, with his rooted anti-scorbutic
principles, selected as the next point of attack a place that could
supply the necessary luxuries of fresh beef and vegetables. Such a place
was Laguna del Carmen, near Yucatan, at the extreme southeast of Mexico.
It was in a healthy and well watered country rich in forests of logwood.
Receiving permission of Commodore Conner, he made his preparations.

The ever trusty _Mississippi_, towing the _Vixen_ and two schooners the
_Bonita_ and _Petrel_, moved out from the anchorage, like a hen with a
brood of chickens, December 17, arriving off the bar on the 20th. Perry
dashed in at once, and the place was easily taken.

Under a liberal policy, Laguna flourished and commerce increased. The
American officers, worthy representatives of our institutions, were very
popular not only with the dark-eyed senoritas, but also with the solid
male citizens and men of business. Social life throve, and balls were
frequent. The fleet was well and cheaply supplied with wholesome food.
The Lagunas were delighted with an object lesson in American
civilization, and during eighteen months so prosperous was their city,
that, even after the treaty of peace, the people petitioned Commodore
Perry not to withdraw his forces until Mexico was fully able to protect

General Taylor’s battles were bloody, but not decisive. His campaigns
had little or no influence upon Paredes, and the government at the
capital, because fought in the sparsely populated northern provinces.
The war thus far had been magnificent, but not scientific. The country
at large, scarcely knew of the existence of a victorious enemy on the
soil. At the distance of five hundred miles from the capital, there was
no pressure upon the leaders or people. The political nerves of Mexico,
like China, were not as sensitive then, as in our days, when wires and
batteries give the dullest nation a new nervous system.

Perry made a study of the whole field of war. He saw that the vitals of
the country were vulnerable at Vera Cruz, that the city and castle once
occupied, the navy, by sealing the ports, could enable the army to reach
the capital where alone peace could be dictated.

The administration at last understood the situation and ordered a change
of base. Recalling General Scott, who had been set aside on account of a
difference of opinion with the War Department, and the ultra-economical
administration, preparations were made for the advance, by sea and land,
to the city of Mexico, where peace was to be dictated. The full and
minute data which had been forwarded by Commodore Conner enabled the
general to map out fully his brilliant campaign.

While Scott was perfecting details in the United States, the early
winter in the Gulf passed away in steady blockade duty. The
_Mississippi_ which was the constant admiration of the squadron for her
size, power, sea-worthiness, and incessant activity, now needing serious
repairs and overhauling, was ordered back to the United States. Perry,
in command of her, leaving Vera Cruz early in January, made the run
safely to Norfolk, Va., and went up to Washington to hasten operations.

An examination was duly made by the board of survey. Their report
declared that it would require six weeks to get the _Mississippi_ ready
for service.

This, to Perry, was disheartening news. It cast a fearful damper upon
his spirits, but, as usual, he never knew when he was beaten. To remain
away from the seat of war when affairs were ready to culminate at Vera
Cruz, by the army and navy acting in generous rivalry, was not to be
thought of. In this strait, he turned to his old and tried friend,
Charles Haswell, his first engineer, and had him sent for and brought to

His confidence was well founded. Haswell declared that, by working night
and day, the ship could be made ready in two weeks. So thorough was his
knowledge and ability, and so akin to Perry’s was his energy, that in a
fortnight the Commodore’s broad pennant was apeak, and the cornet, the
American equivalent for “Blue Peter,” was flying on the mizzen truck. It
was the signal for all officers to be aboard and admitted of no delay.

Mr. Haswell adds, in a note to the writer, “When I took leave of the
Commodore on the morning of sailing, he thanked me in a manner
indicative of a generous heart.”

We may safely add that, by his energies, and abilities in getting the
_Mississippi_ ready at this time, Mr. Haswell saved the government many
thousands of dollars and contributed largely to the triumphs of a quick
war which brought early peace.

While in Washington, Perry was in frequent consultation with the
authorities, furnishing valuable information and suggestions. While the
_Mississippi_ was refitting, Perry was ordered to take the general
oversight of the light draft vessels fitting out at New York and Boston
for service in the gulf. This order read,—“You can communicate to heads
of Bureaux, to hasten them and give to their commanders any necessary
order.” The squadron in preparation consisted of the _Scourge_,
Lieutenant C. G. Hunter; _Scorpion_, Commander, A. Bigelow; _Vesuvius_,
Commander G. A. Magruder; _Hecla_, Lieutenant A. B. Fairfax; _Electra_,
Lieutenant T. A. Hunt; _Aetna_, Commander W. S. Walker; _Stromboli_,
Commander J. G. Van Brunt; _Decatur_, Commander R. S. Pinckney.

On the 25th of February, 1847, Perry received the following order, “You
will proceed to the United States Steam Ship _Mississippi_, to the Gulf
of Mexico, and, on your arrival, you will report to Commodore Conner,
who will be instructed to transfer to you the command of the United
States naval forces upon that station.”

In a letter dated March the 27th, 1847, the Secretary wrote, “The naval
forces under your command . . . form the largest squadron it is
believed, which has ever been assembled under the American flag . . .
steamers, bomb ketches and sailing vessels of different classes.” Much
was expected of this fleet, and much was to be accomplished.

Yet despite Perry’s command and mighty responsibilities—equal to those
of an admiral—he was but a captain with a pennant. So economical was
our mighty government.

In the matter of the war with Mexico—the war of a slave-holding against
a free republic—Matthew Perry acted as a servant of the government. He
was a naval officer whose business it was to carry out the orders of his
superiors. With the moral question of invading Mexico, he had nothing to
do. The responsibility lay upon the government of the United States, and
especially upon the President, his cabinet and supporters.[17] Perry did
not like the idea of invasion, and believed that redress could be
obtained with little bloodshed, and hostilities be made the means of
education to a sister republic. He therefore submitted to the
government, a detailed plan for prosecuting the war:

1st. To occupy and colonize California, and annex it to the territory of
the United States.

2nd. To withdraw all United States troops from the interior of Mexico

3rd. To establish a military cordon along its northern frontiers.

4th. To occupy by naval detachments and military garrisons, all its
principal ports in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

5th. To establish these ports temporarily, and during the continuance of
the war, as American ports of entry with a tariff of specific duties.

6th. To throw these ports open for the admission under any friendly flag
of all articles, foreign or domestic not contraband of war.

7th. To encourage the admission and sale of American manufactured goods
and the staples of the country, “particularly that of tobacco, which is
a present monopoly of Mexico, and yields to the government a large

We should thus get a revenue to pay for the expenses of the war.

The advantages of Perry’s plan, stated in his own words, were that,
“Instead of our waging a war of invasion, it would become one of
occupation and necessary expediency, and consequently a contest more
congenial to the institutions and professions of the American people.”

“The cost of the war would be reduced three-fourths, the results would
be positive, and there would be an immense saving of human life.
Commerce and kindness would remove false ideas of Mexicans concerning
North American people, ideas so actively fomented by the Mexican clergy.
As an argument in favor of humanity, the Mexican people would be led to
pursue agriculture and mining, so that it would be hard to rouse
sufficient military spirit in them to dislodge forces holding their
ports.” The “baleful influence of the clergy would be lessened,” and the
despotic power of the military be almost annihilated, so that the people
would sue for peace. In short, this plan, if carried out, would be a
great educational measure.

The _Mississippi_ in those days was among ordinary war vessels, what the
racers of the Atlantic to-day are among common steamers,—“an ocean
greyhound.” Fleetly the gallant vessel moved south, passing exultingly
the Bahamas, where many of our transports were waiting for a change of
wind. Many of these were “ocean tramps”—hulks of such age and
rottenness, that a norther would surely strand them. The _Mississippi_
stopping at Havana, March 15, 1847, was after two days then pointed for
Vera Cruz, arriving on the evening of the 20th.


[15] See Parker’s Recollections of a Naval Officer, with reply of P. S.
P. Conner, _Army and Navy Journal_, February 2, and April 19, 1884, and
_Magazine of American History_, July, 1885.

[16] Chaplain Fitch W. Taylor, _The Broad Pennant_.

[17] See, for perhaps the best brief statement of the causes leading to
the Mexican war and the part played by Polk, the article “Wars;” by
Prof. Alexander Johnston, Lalor’s _Encyclopaedia_. Vol. III, p. 1091.

                             CHAPTER XXII.

THE precise methods and almost immutable laws of military science
required that the American invasion of Mexico in 1847 should be at the
exact spot on which Cortez landed two centuries before, and where the
French disembarked in 1830, and in 1865. This was at the only port on
the Gulf coast of Mexico, in which large vessels could anchor. Ships
entered by the North channel or fastened to rings in the castle walls.
Our war vessels lay a little south of the Vera Cruz founded by the
Spanish buccaneer.

With but a few skirmishes and little loss, the line of circumvallation
was completed by the 18th, and named Camp Washington. Ground was broken
for intrenchments, and platforms were built for the mortars which were
placed in sunken trenches out of sight from the city. Waiting for a
pause in the raving norther, and then seizing opportunity by the
foremost hair of the forelock, the sailors landed ten mortars and four
twenty-four pounder guns. By the 22d, seven of the mortars were in
position on their platforms. Most of these latter were of the small
bronze pattern called coehorns, after their inventor the Dutch engineer,
Baron Mennon de Coehorn. These pieces could be handled by two men. A few
mortars were of the ten-inch pattern.

This was a pitiful array of ordnance to batter down a walled city, and a
nearly impregnable castle. With these in activity, both city and castle,
if well provisioned, could hold out for months. Shells falling
perpendicularly would destroy women and children, but do little harm to
soldiers. The forty other mortars and the heavy guns were somewhere at
sea on the transports and as yet unheard of, while every day the shadow
of the dreaded _vomito_ stalked nearer. Vera Cruz must be taken before
“King Death in his Yellow Robe” arrived. The Mexicans for the nonce,
prayed for his coming.

The _vomito_, or yellow fever, is a gastro-nervous disorder which
prostrates the nervous system, often killing its victims in five or six
hours, though its usual course is from two to six days. Men are more
susceptible to it than women. It was the Mexican’s hope, for Vera Cruz
was its nursery, and the month of March its time of beginning.
Northerners taken in the hot season might recover. In the cold season,
an attack meant sure death. The disease is carried and propagated by
mosquitoes and flies, and no system of inoculation was then known. An
outbreak among our unacclimated men would mean an epidemic.

Scott, despite his well known excessive vanity, was a humane man and a
scientific soldier. His ambition was to win success and glory at a
minimum of loss of life, not only in his own army but among the enemy.
His aim was to make a sensation by methods the reverse of Gen. Taylor’s,
whose popularity had won him the soldier’s title of “Rough and Ready,”
while Buena Vista had built the political platform on which he was to
mount to the presidency. “Taylor the Louisianian’s” battles were
sanguinary, but indecisive. He had driven in the Mexican left wing.
Scott hoped to pierce the centre, to shed little blood and to make every
shot tell. The people at home knew nothing of war as a science. They
expected blood and “a big butcher’s bill,” and the newspapers at least
would be disappointed unless gore was abundant. His soldiers and
especially those who had been under Taylor and whose chief idea of
fighting was a rush and a scuffle, failed at first to appreciate him,
and dubbed this splendid soldier “Fuss and Feathers.”

Scott determined at once to show, as the key to his campaign, a city
captured with trivial loss. Yet all his plans seemed about to be dashed,
because his siege train had failed to come. The pitiful array of
coehorns and ten-inch mortars, with four light twenty-four pounder guns
and two Columbiads, would but splash Vera Cruz with the gore of
non-combatants, while still the enemy’s flag was flaunted in defiance,
and precious time was being lost. The general’s vanity—an immense part
of him—was sorely wounded. “The accumulated science of the ages applied
to the military art,” which he hoped to illustrate “on the plains of
Vera Cruz,” was as yet of no avail. Further, as a military man, he was
unwilling to open his batteries with a feeble fire which might even
encourage the enemy to a prolonged resistance. Conner is said to have
offered to lend him navy guns, but he declined.

Perry arrived at Vera Cruz in the _Mississippi_, March 20, 1847, after a
passage of thirteen days from Norfolk. He was back just in time. Steam
had enabled him to be on hand to accomplish one of the greatest triumphs
of his life. His orders required him to attack the sea fort fronting
Vera Cruz, “if the army had gone into the interior.” The United States
fleet had lain before it for a whole year without aggression. He found
our army landed and Vera Cruz invested on every side. The Mexicans were
actively firing, but as yet there was no response from our side. That
night it blew a gale from the North. The vessels hidden in spray, and
the camps in sand, waited till daylight.

Early next morning, March 21, Perry was informed that the steamer
_Hunter_ together with her prize a French barque, the _Jeune Nelly_,
which had been caught March 20th running the blockade out of Vera Cruz,
and an American schooner, were all ashore on the northeast breakers of
Green Island. Their crews, to the number of sixty souls, were in
imminent danger of perishing. Among them was a mother and her infant
child. Perry was quick to respond to the promptings of humanity. In such
a gale, not a sailing vessel dared leave her moorings. The _Mississippi_
had parted her cables, owing to the violence of the wind. A British war
steamer lay much nearer the scene of disaster, without apparently
thinking of the possibility of moving in such a gale; but Perry knew his
noble ship and what to do with her. He dashed out in the teeth of the
tempest and forced her through the terrific waves. In admiration of the
act, Lieutenant Walke made a graphic picture of the rolling
_Mississippi_, which now hangs in the hall of the Brooklyn Lyceum.
Reaching Green Island, Perry cast anchor. Captain Mayo and four officers
volunteered to go to the rescue of the wrecked people. In spite of the
great peril, they saved the entire party. The scene was one of thrilling
interest when the young mother embraced husband and child in safety on
the deck of the noble steamer. Had not the _Mississippi_ and Perry been
at hand, the whole party must have perished.

It was on his return from this errand of humanity that Commodore Matthew
Perry was given and assumed the command of the American fleet—the first
of such magnitude, and the greatest yet assembled under the American
flag. The time was 8 A. M. March 21st. As Captain Parker recollects: “On
the twenty-first of March shortly after the hoisting of the colors, we
were electrified by the signal from the flag-ship ‘Commodore Perry
commands the squadron.’” At once, Perry called with Conner upon General
Scott concerning the navy’s part in the siege.

The order of relief to Commodore Conner dated Washington March 3, 1847,
was worded: “The uncertain duration of the war with Mexico has induced
the President to direct me no longer to suspend the rule which limits
the term of command in our squadrons in its application to your command
of the Home Squadron.”


Scott had opened fire March 18th, but seeing his inability to breach the
walls, he was obliged to apply for help from the navy. When the new and
the old naval commanders visited him in his tent on the morning of the
21st, the General requested of Perry the loan of six of the heavy
shell-guns of the navy for use by the army in battery. Perry’s reply was
instant, hearty, characteristic, naval: “Certainly, General, but I must
fight them.”

Scott said his soldiers would take charge of the guns, if the Commodore
would land them on the beach. To this Perry said “no!” That “wherever
the guns went, their officers and men must go with them.” Scott
objected, declined the conditions, and renewed the bombardment with his
small guns and mortars; but finding that he was only wasting time, he
finally consented and asked Perry to send the guns with their naval
crews. The marines were already in the trenches doing duty as part of
the 3d U. S. artillery. Hitherto the sailors had acted as the laborers
for the army, now they were to take part in the honors of the siege.
This was on account of Perry’s demand.

How the successor of Conner announced to his sailors the glory awaiting
them is told in the words of Rear-Admiral John H. Upshur. “I shall never
forget the thrill which pervaded the squadron, when, on the day, within
the very hour of his succeeding to the command, he announced from his
barge, as he pulled under the sterns of all the vessels of the fleet, in
succession, that we were to land guns and crews to participate in the
investment of the city of Vera Cruz. Cheer after cheer was sent up in
evidence of the enthusiasm this promise of a release from a life of
inaction we had been leading under Perry’s predecessor inspired in every
breast. In a moment everything was stir and bustle, and in an incredibly
short space of time, each vessel had landed her big gun, with double
crews of officers and men. . . Perry announced that those who did not
behave themselves should not be allowed another chance to fight the
enemy—which proved a guarantee of good conduct in all. . . . Under the
energetic chief who succeeded to the command of a squadron dying of
supineness, until his magic word revived it, the navy of the United
States sustained its old prestige.”

Not only were men and officers on the ships thrilled at the sight of
Perry’s pennant, but joy was carried to many hearts on shore. A writer
in the _New York Star_, of August 7th, 1852, who was on board the
flag-ship during two days of the siege details the incidents here

At the investment of the city there were still left in it a few American
women with their children mostly of the working class, their husbands
having been driven from the city by the authorities. Governor Landero
was not the man to make war on women and children, and they remained in
peace until the bombardment commenced. Then they thronged to the house
of Mr. Gifford the British consul for protection, and he transferred
them to the sloop-of-war _Daring_, Captain George Marsden, who found
them what place he could on his decks, already crowded with British
subjects flying from the doomed city.

We had then seventy vessels, chartered transports and vessels of war in
front of the city, but from negligence on the part of General Scott and
Commodore Conner no provision was made to succor and relieve our
homeless citizens, though “I,” says the correspondent, “who write this
from what I saw, caused application to be made to both to have them
taken from the deck of the _Daring_ (where they were in the way and only
kept for charity) to some of our unoccupied transport cabins. Commodore
Conner flatly refused, as Captain Forrest of the navy knows, for he
heard it, to have anything to do with them, and General Scott had no
time. Just about then, Commodore Perry came down, to the Gulf. At noon
his pennon of command floated from the _Mississippi_, and before the sun
went down, he had gathered into a place of safety every person, whether
common working people or not, who had the right to claim the protection
of the American flag.”

The same writer adds: “The other time I saw him, he had just been told
that Mr. Beach of the _New York Sun_ and his daughter were in great
danger in the city of Mexico, as Mr. Beach was accused of being a secret
agent of the United States. The informant at the same time volunteered
the information that the _Sun_ ‘went against the Navy and Commodore
Perry.’ ‘The Navy must show him that he is mistaken in his bad opinion
of it,’ said the bluff Commodore, ‘and the question is not who likes me
but how to get an American citizen, and above all an unprotected female
out of the hands of the Mexicans.’ The son of Gomez Farias, the then
President of Mexico, and one or two other Mexican gentlemen had come on
board the _Mississippi_ from the British steamer, to solicit the kind
offices of Commodore Perry for permits to pass the American lines. The
Commodore seized the occasion to make exchange of honor, and courtesy
with young Farias. He stated the case of a father and daughter being
detained in dangerous uncertainty in the city of Mexico, and obtained
the pledges of the Mexicans to promote their safe deliverance. It was
effected before they arrived in Mexico, but the quick and generous
action of Perry was none the less to be esteemed.”

We may thus summarize the events of a day ever memorable to Matthew

March 20th. Arrival from the United States in the _Mississippi_.

March 21. (_a_) Daylight—Rescue of the _Hunter_. (_b_) 8 A. M. Receives
command of squadron. (_c_) Call with Conner on Gen. Scott. (_d_)
Proposal for naval battery. (_e_) Perry returns to the fleet and assumes
command. (_f_) Under stern of each vessel, announces naval battery.
(_g_) Arranges for American women and children from Vera Cruz. (_h_)
Preparations for landing the heavy navy guns.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

PERRY’S first order being that the navy should give the army the most
efficient coöperation, by transferring part of its heavy battery from
deck to land, the six guns of the size and pattern most desired by Scott
were selected. With a view to distribute honors impartially among the
ships, and to cheer the men, a double crew of sailors and officers was
assigned to each gun; one of the crews being the regular complement for
the gun. As everyone wanted to accompany the guns, lots were drawn among
the junior officers for the honor. The crews having been picked, the
landing of the ordnance began on the 22d. The pieces chosen were two
thirty-twos from the _Potomac_, one of the same calibre from the
_Raritan_, and one sixty-eight chambered Paixhans or Columbiad from the
_Mississippi_, the _Albany_, and the _St. Mary’s_. The three thirty-twos
weighed sixty-one, and the three sixty-eights, sixty-eight
hundred-weight each.

These were landed in the surf-boats, and by hundreds of sailors and
soldiers were hauled up on the beach. The transportation on heavy trucks
was done by night, as it was necessary to conceal from the Mexicans the
existence of such a formidable battery until it was ready to open. The
site chosen was three miles off. The road, as invisible for the most
part as an underground railway, was of sand, in which the two
trucks—all that were available—sunk sometimes to the axles, and the
men to the knees, so that the toilsome work resembled plowing.

The naval battery, which, in the circumvallation was “Number Four,” was
constructed entirely of the material at hand, very plentiful and sewn up
in bags. It had two traverses six or more feet thick, the purpose of
which was to resist a flanking, or in naval parlance a “raking” fire,
which might have swept the inner space clean. The guns were mounted in
their own ship’s carriages on platforms, being run out with side tackle
and hand-spikes, and their recoil checked with sandbags. The ridge on
which the battery was planted was opposite the fort of Santa Barbara,
parallel with the city walls and fifteen feet above their level. It was
directly in front of General Patterson’s command. In the trenches
beyond, lay his brigade of volunteers ready to support the work in case
of a sortie and storming by the Mexicans. The balls were stacked within
the sandy walls, but the magazine was stationed some distance behind.
The cartridges were served by the powder boys as on shipboard, a small
trench being dug for their protection while not in transit.

Here then was “the accumulated science of ages” on the plains of Vera
Cruz applied to the naval art, and directed against the doomed city,
erected by one of the greatest engineers of the age, Robert E. Lee, with
ordnance served by the ablest naval artillerists of the world, the
pupils of the leading officer of the American navy, Matthew C. Perry.
Most of them had been trained under his eye at the Sandy Hook School of
Gun Practice. They were now to turn their knowledge into account. Not a
single random shot was fired.

The exact range of each of the familiar guns was known, and the precise
distance to the nearest and more distant forts. The points to be aimed
at had been mathematically determined by triangulation before a piece
was fired. Shortly before 10 A. M. on the 24th of March, while the last
gun mounted was being sponged and cleared of sand, the cannon of Santa
Barbara opened with a fire so well aimed that it was clear that the
battery was discovered. A few daring volunteers sprang out of the
embrasures to clear away the brush and unmask the work. The chapparal
was well chopped away to give free range to the officers who sighted the
pieces, the aim being for the walls below the flag-pole. The direct and
cross fire of seven forts soon converged on the sandbags, and the castle
sent ten- and thirteen-inch shells flying over and around. When one of
these fell inside, all dropped down to the ground. For the first five
minutes the air seemed to be full of missiles, but our men after a
little practice at houses and flag-staffs soon settled down to their
work to do their best with navy guns. One lucky shot by Lieutenant
Baldwin severed the flag-staff of Santa Barbara; at which, all hands
mounted the parapet and gave three cheers. In order to allow free sweep
to the big guns, the embrasures had been made large, thus offering a
tempting target to the enemy.

The Mexicans were good heavy artillerists, but their shot was lighter
than ours. Some of them were killed by their own balls which had been
picked out of the sandbags by the Americans and fired back. Their
strongest and best served battery was that fronting on the one worked by
our sailors. The navy was here pitted against the navy, for the
commander on the city side was Lieutenant of Marines D. Sebastian
Holzinger, a German and an officer of several year’s service in the
Mexican navy. He was as brave as he was capable; and when his flag-staff
had been cut away, he and a young assistant leaped into the space
outside, seized the flag and in sight of the Americans, nailed it to the
staff again. A ball from the naval battery at the same moment striking
the parapet, Holzinger and his companion were nearly buried in rubbish.

Within the city the Mexican soldiers, who had before found shelter in
their bomb-proof places of retreat from the mortar bombs falling
vertically into the streets, did not relish and could not hold out
against missiles sent directly through the walls into their barracks and
places of refuge. The Paixhans shells hit exactly among soldiers, and
not into churches among women. It is said that when the Mexican
engineers in the city picked up the solid thirty-two pounder shot and
one of the unexploded eight-inch shells, they decided at once that the
city must fall.

In spite of the hammering which the sand battery received, no material
injury to its walls was done, and what there was was easily repaired at
night. Captains Lee and Williams were willing to show faith in their own
work, and remained in the redoubt during the fire. At 2.30 P. M. the
ammunition was exhausted, and the heated ordnance was allowed to cool.
The last gun fired was a double-shotted one of the _Potomac_. Captain
Aulick wishing to send a despatch to Commodore Perry, Midshipman
Fauntleroy volunteered to take it, and though the Mexicans were playing
with all their artillery, he arrived safely on the beach and Perry
received tidings of progress.

The embrasures were filled up with sandbags, and the garrison sat under
the parapet, awaiting the relief party which approached about 4 o’clock.
The Mexicans, who had been driven away from their guns, now finding the
Americans silent, opened with redoubled vigor which made the approaching
reinforcements watch the air keenly for the black spots which were round

The result of the first day’s use of the navy guns was, that fifty feet
of the city walls built of coquina or shell-rock, the curtains of the
redoubt to right and left, were cut away. A great breach was made, about
thirty-six feet wide, sufficient for a storming party to enter; while
the thicker masonry of the forts was drilled like a colander. These
breaches were partly filled at night by sandbags.

The relief party led by Captain Mayo reached the battery at sunset, and
after a good supper, fell to sound sleep, during which time, the
engineers repaired the parapet. It was a beautiful starlight night. The
time for the chirping of the tropical insects had come, and they were
awakening vigorously to their summer concerts. All night long the
mortars, like geyser springs of fire, kept up their rhythmic flow of
iron and flame. The great star-map of the heavens seemed scratched over
with parabolas of red fire, the streaks of which were watched with
delight by the soldiers, and with tremor by the beleagured people in the

At daylight the boatswain’s silver whistle called the men to rise, and
the day’s work soon after breakfast began in earnest. The sailors manned
their guns, firing so steadily that between seven and eight o’clock it
was necessary to let the iron tubes cool. At 7 A. M. another army
battery, of four twenty-fours and two eight-inch Paixhans being
finished, joined in the roar. Their fire was rapid, but the dense growth
of chapparal hid their objective points from view making good aim
impossible, so that the damage done was not strikingly evident.

The castle garrison had now gained the exact range of the naval battery,
and thirteen-inch shell from the castle began to fall all around and
close to the sandbags throwing up loose showers of soil. One dropped
within the battery but upon exploding, hurt no one. The round shot from
the city forts were continually grazing the parapets, and it was while
Midshipman T. D. Shubrick was levelling his gun and pointing it at a
tower in one of the forts, that a round shot entered the embrasure
instantly killing him. During the two days, four sailors were killed,
mostly by solid shot in the head or chest; while five officers and five
men were wounded, mostly by chapparal splinters of yucca, or cactus
thorns and spurs, and fragments of sandbags.

Meanwhile, on deck, the Commodore co-operated in the “awful activity” of
the American batteries. At daylight, Perry, seeing that the castle was
paying particular attention to the naval battery, ordered Tatnall in the
_Spitfire_ to approach and open upon it, in order to divert the fire
from the land forces. Tatnall asked the Commodore at what point he
should engage. Perry replied, “Where you can do the most execution,
sir.” The brave Tatnall took Perry at his word. With the _Spitfire_ and
the _Vixen_, commanded by Joshua R. Sands, each having two gun-boats in
tow, he steamed up to within eighty yards distance, and began a furious
cannonade upon the fortress holding his position for a half hour. The
fight resembled a certain one, pictured on a Netherlands historical
medal, of a swarm of bees trying to sting a tortoise to death despite
his armor. Here was a division of “mosquito boats” blazing away at the
stone castle within a distance which had enabled the Mexicans to blow
them out of the water had they handled their guns aright. The affair
became not only exciting but ludicrous, when Tatnall and Sands took
still closer quarters within the Punto de Hornos, where the little
vessels were at first almost hidden from view in the clouds of spray
raised by the rain of balls that vexed only the water. Tatnall’s idea
seemed to be to give the surgeons plenty to do. Perry, however, did not
believe in that sort of warfare. When he saw that the castle guns which
had been trained away from the land to the ships were rapidly improving
their range, he recalled the audacious fighters.

Tatnall at first was not inclined to see the signals. The Commodore then
sent a boat’s crew with preemptory orders to return. Amid the cheers of
the men who brought them, Tatnall obeyed, though raging and storming
with chagrin. Most of the men on board his ships were wet, but none had
been hurt. To retreat without bloody decks was not to his taste.

General Scott, a thorough American, had long rid himself of the old
British tradition, that in all wars there must be “a big butcher’s
bill.” This idea was not much modified until after the Crimean war,
which was mostly butchery, and little science,—magnificent, but not
war. The Soudan campaign of 1884 threatened a revival of it. We have
seen how this idea dominated on the British side, in the wished-for
“yard arm engagements” of the navy in 1812, and how, in place of it, the
Americans bent their energies to skill in seamanship and gunnery; or, in
other words, to victory by science and skill.

Perry and Scott were alike in their ideas and tastes, they regarded war
more as the application of military science to secure national ends with
rapidity and economy, than as a scrimmage in which results were measured
by the length of the lists of killed and wounded. Tatnall, a veteran of
the old school, however, seemed still to adhere to the old British
ideal, and was keenly disappointed to find so few hurt on the American

From daybreak to one P. M., over six hundred Paixhans shells and solid
shot were fired into the city by the naval battery. Fort St. Iago, which
had concentrated its fire on the army batteries, now opened on the naval
redoubt, the guns of which were at once trained in the direction of the
new foe. A few applications of the science of artillery proved the
unerring accuracy of Perry’s pupils, and St. Iago was silenced.

Captain Mayo and his officers through their glasses saw the Mexicans
evacuate the fort. Chagrined at having no foemen worthy of their fire,
he ordered both officers and sailors to mount the parapet and give three
cheers. “If the enemy intends to fire another shot, our cheers will draw
it,” said the gallant little Captain; but echo and then silence were the
only answers. The naval guns having opened the breach so desired by
General Scott and silenced all opposition, had now nothing further to
do, were again left to cool. The naval battery had fired in all thirteen
hundred rounds.

At 2 P. M., Captain Mayo turned over the command to Lieutenant Bissell
and mounted his horse, the only one on the ground, to give Commodore
Perry the earliest information of the enemy’s being silenced. As he rode
through the camp, General Scott was walking in front of his tent.
Captain Mayo rode up to him and said “General, they are done, they will
never fire another shot.”

The General, in great agitation, asked “Who? Your battery, the naval

Mayo answered, “No, General, the enemy is silenced. They will not fire
another shot.” He then related what had occurred.

General Scott in his joy almost pulled Captain Mayo off his horse,
saying (to use his own expression) “Commodore, I thank you and our
brothers of the navy in the name of the army for this day’s work.”[18]

The General then went on and complimented in most extravagant terms the
rapid and heavy fire of the naval battery upon the enemy; saying, when
he was informed that Captain Mayo had sent to Perry for an additional
supply of ammunition, that the post of honor and of danger had been
assigned by him to the navy. The General’s remarks then became more
personal. He said “I had my eye upon you, Captain Mayo, as
Midshipman,[19] as a Lieutenant, as a Captain, now let me thank you
personally as _Commodore_ Mayo for this day’s work.”

The loss of the second day in the navy was one officer, Shubrick, and
one sailor killed and three wounded. Lieutenant Shubrick’s monument
stands in the Annapolis Naval Academy’s grounds.

On Captain Mayo’s notification to Perry of the results of the cannonade
by navy guns, preparations for assault were continued. It had been
agreed by General Scott and Commodore Perry that the storming party
should consist of three columns, one of sailors and marines, one of the
regulars, and one of volunteers. Perry had resolved to head his column
in person, and had already ordered ladders made. The part assigned to
the navy was to carry the sea front. Perry had also planned the
storming, by boat parties, of the water battery of the castle so that
its guns might be spiked. For this a dark night was necessary, and the
waning of the moon had to be awaited. Perry was unable to get into the
position which the French had occupied in 1839, because they had
treacherously moved there in time of peace; as Courbet, in 1882, got
into the Min river at Foo Chow, China. For the attack on the city,
ladders were already finished. Having no other material at hand, the
studding-sail booms of the _Mississippi_ had been sawed up, and the navy
was ready. The volunteers were to enter through the breach made by the
navy guns.

The relief party from the ships under Captain, now Rear-Admiral Breese,
took their places in the naval battery on the afternoon of the 25th,
ready for another day’s work if necessary. But this was not to be. The
Mexican governor ordered a parley to be sounded from the city walls at
evening. The signal was not understood by our forces, and the mortars
kept belching their fire all night long. The next morning, the 26th, a
white flag was displayed; and at 8 A. M., all the batteries ceased their
fire, and quietness reigned along our lines.

A conference for capitulation was held at the lime kilns at Point
Hornos. The commissioners from the army were General W. T. Worth, and
Colonel Totten of the engineers,—Scott’s comrades-in-arms at Fort
George in 1813—and General Pillow, who commanded a brigade of
volunteers, from Tennessee. By this time, another frightful norther had
burst upon land and sea. Communication with the ships could not be held,
and so Perry could not be invited to sit with the commissioners, for
which General Scott handsomely apologized. The navy, however, was
represented by the senior captain, J. H. Aulick; while Commander
Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, a fluent scholar in Spanish, officiated as
interpreter. These officers acted in the convention entirely independent
of the authority of the General, as naval officers. The Mexican
commandant’s propositions were rejected, and unconditional surrender was
dictated and accepted.

In the great norther of the 26th of March, twenty-six transports went
ashore, and cargoes to the amount of half a million of dollars were
lost. On the night of the frightful storm there was bright moonlight,
and the vessels driving shoreward to their doom or dashing on the rocks
were seen from the city.

Unexpectedly to General Scott, Landero, the successor of Morales who was
commandant both of the city and castle, made unconditional surrender
both at once. Scott had expected to take the city first, and then with
the navy to reduce the castle, it being unknown to him that Morales held
command at both places. It may safely be affirmed that the moral effect
caused by the tremendous execution of the naval battery caused this
unexpected surrender of the castle. Nevertheless the credit of the fall
of Vera Cruz belongs equally to three men, Conner, Scott and Perry.

For his advance into the interior, General Scott needed animals for
transportation, and with Perry the capture of Alvarado was planned.
Horses were abundant at this place, and good water was plentiful. On two
previous occasions, under Conner, attempts to capture this town had
proved miserable failures, so that Perry and his men were exceedingly
anxious to succeed in securing it themselves. It was hoped too, that an
imposing demonstration by sea and land would, since Vera Cruz had
fallen, intimidate and conciliate the people and prevent them joining
Santa Anna. As usual, Perry distributed the honors impartially among the
crews of many vessels. Quitman’s cavalry and infantry and a section of
Steptoe’s artillery went by land. A party of the sailors bridged the
rivers for the soldiers.

On the day of the fall of Vera Cruz, Lieutenant Charles G. Hunter of the
_Scourge_ had arrived. He was ordered to blockade Alvarado, and report
to Captain Breese of the _Albany_. Hunter seeing signs of retreat,
without waiting for orders moved his vessel in. He found the guns
dismounted, and leaving two or three men in the deserted place, went up
the river to Tlacahalpa, firing right and left at whatever seemed an
enemy. As not an ounce of Mexican powder was burned in opposition the
whole act seemed one of theatrical bravado. He left no word to his
superior officers, only directing a midshipman to write to General
Quitman. The cavalry on arriving found the town had surrendered.

Perry ordered the arrest of Hunter, preferred charges against him, and
after court martial he was dismissed from the squadron. The people at
home feasted and toasted him, and “Alvarado Hunter” was the hero of the
hour, while Perry was made the target of the newspapers. Hunter’s
subsequent career is the best commentary upon the act of Commodore
Perry, and a full justification of it.[20] Between gallantry, and
bravado coupled with a selfish breach of discipline, Perry made a clear
distinction and acted upon his convictions.

Of the sixty guns found at Alvarado thirty-five were shipped as trophies
and twenty-five were destroyed.

Midshipman Robert C. Rodgers had been captured by the Mexicans near the
wall of Vera Cruz and was imprisoned in the castle of Perote as a spy.
Though Scott wanted to be the sole channel of communication with the
Mexican government, Perry claimed equal power in all that relates to the
navy. He sent Lieutenant Raphael Semmes (afterwards of Confederate and
_Alabama_ fame) with the army for the purpose. Scott refused to allow
him to communicate, but permitted him to remain one of the general’s
aids. Semmes was thus enabled to see the battles of the campaign, the
story of which he has told in his interesting book.

One of Perry’s favorite young officers at this time was Lieutenant James
S. Thornton afterwards the efficient executive officer on the
_Kearsarge_ in her conflict with the _Alabama_.


[18] Letter of Captain Mayo to Commodore M. C. Perry, November 4th,

[19] Isaac Mayo was on the _Hornet_, in her capture of the _Penguin_ in
the war of 1812.

[20] Captain W. H. Parker’s “Recollections of a Naval Officer,” p. 105.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

COMMODORE MATTHEW C. PERRY was one of the first American naval officers
to overcome the prejudice of seamen against infantry drill, and to form
a corps of sailor-soldiers. Under his predecessor, the navy had lost
more than one opportunity of gaining distinction because [they were]
unable to compete with infantry, or to face cavalry in the open field.
Perry formed the first United States naval brigade, though Stockton in
California employed a few of his sailors as marines in garrison. The men
of Perry’s brigade numbering twenty-five hundred, with ten pieces of
artillery, were thoroughly drilled first in the manual of arms and then
in company and battalion formations under his own eye. His first
employment of part of this body was at Tuspan. Twenty-two days after the
fall of Vera Cruz, and on the day of the battle of Cerro Gordo, the bar
at the river’s mouth was crossed by the light ships, the fort stormed,
and Tuspan “taken at a gallop!” Obliged to give up his marines to
General Franklin Pierce, Perry drilled his sailors all the more, so that
little leisure was allowed them.

The capture of Tabasco involved the problem of fighting against
infantry, posted behind breastworks, with sailors. This was somewhat
novel work for our navy. Hitherto all our naval traditions were of
squadron fights in line, ship-to-ship duels, or boat expeditions. In the
present case the flotilla was to ascend a narrow and torturous river to
the distance of nearly seventy miles through an enemy’s country densely
covered with vegetation that afforded a continuous cover for riflemen,
and then to attack heavy shore batteries.

From various points on the coast, the ships and steamers assembled like
magic, and on Monday morning, June 14, 1847, the squadron came to anchor
off the mouth of the Tabasco river. The detachments from eleven vessels,
numbering 1084 seamen and marines in forty boats, were under the
Commodore’s immediate direction and command. He had prepared the plan of
attack with great care. Every contingency was foreseen and provided
against, and the minutest details were subject to his thoughtful

At that point of the river called the Devil’s Bend, danger was
apprehended. Here the dense chapparal feathered down to the river’s edge
affording a splendid opportunity for ambush. The alert Commodore was
standing on the upper waist deck of the _Scorpion_ under the awnings
entirely exposed, on the look-out for the enemy. Suddenly, as the
flag-ship reached the elbow, from the left side of the river the guns of
at least a hundred men blazed forth in a volley, followed by a dropping
fire. In an instant the awnings were riddled and all the upper works of
wood and iron scratched, dented, and splintered, by the spatter of lead
and copper. Strange to say, not a single man on the _Scorpion_ was
touched by the volley though a sailor on the _Vesuvius_ was hit later.

As the smoke curled up from the chapparal, Perry pointed with his glass
to the guns still flashing, and gave, or rather roared out, the order
“Fire.” The guns of the _Scorpion_, _Washington_ and the surf-boats,
with a rattling fusillade of small arms, soon mowed great swaths in the
jungle. From the masthead of the _Stromboli_, a number of cavalry were
seen beyond the jungle. A ten-inch shell, from the eight-ton gun of the
_Vesuvius_, exploding among them, seemed to the enemy to be an attack in
the rear, cutting off their retreat, and they scattered wildly. Very few
of the Mexicans took time to reload or fire a second shot.

It was now past six o’clock and it was determined to anchor for the
night. The whole squadron assembled in the Devil’s Turn, and anchored in
sight of the Seven Palm Trees below which the obstructions had been
sunk. Due precautions were taken against a night attack, as the dense
chapparal was only twenty yards distant. A barricade of hammocks was
therefore thrown up on the bulwarks for protection, and the sailors, as
soldiers are, in rhetoric, said to do, “slept on their arms.” But one
volley was received from the shore during the night, the air only
receiving injury.

The enemy had placed obstructions at the bar to prevent the further
ascent of our forces. The Commodore, early in the morning, dispatched
two boats with survey officers to reconnoitre and sound a channel. These
drew the fire of a breastwork, La Comena, on the shore, which severely
wounded Lieutenant William May.

The boats having been unable to find a channel, Perry gave orders to
land. With grape, bombs, and musketry, the fleet cleared the ground, and
then Perry gave the order, “Prepare to land,” and led the way in his
barge with his broad pennant flying. All eyes watched his movements as
he pulled up the river. When opposite the Palms, he steered for the
shore, and with his loud, clear voice heard fore and aft, called out,
“Three cheers, and land!” The cheers were given with enthusiasm, and
then every oar bent. His boat was the first to strike the beach, and the
Commodore was the first man to land. With Captain Mayo and his aids, he
dashed up the nearly perpendicular bank, and unfurled his broad pennant
in the sight of the whole line of boats. Instantly three deafening
cheers again rang out from the throats of a thousand men who panted to
be near it and share its fortunes. It was a sight so unusual, for a
naval Commander-in-chief, to take the field under such circumstances at
the head of his command, that the enthusiasm of our tars was unbounded
and irrepressible. They bent to their oars with a will and pulled for
the shore.

The artillery and infantry were quickly landed on the narrow flats at
the base of the high banks. Reaching these, the infantry were formed in
line within ten minutes. Then came the tug-work of drawing seven field
pieces up a bank four rods high, and slanting only twenty-five feet from
a perpendicular. With plenty of rope and muscle the work was
accomplished. Three more pieces were landed later from the bomb ketches
and added as a reserve. Most of the landing was done in five, and all
within ten minutes. In half an hour after the Commodore first set foot
on land, the column was in motion as follows:—

The pioneers far in advance under Lieutenant Maynard, the marines under
Captain Edson, the artillery under Captain Alexander Slidell Mackenzie,
and the detachments of seamen under the various captains to whose ships
they severally belonged. Captain Mayo acted as adjutant general, the
Commodore giving his personal attention to every movement of the whole.
In this, as in all things, Perry was a master of details.

The march upon Tabasco now began, the burly Commodore being at the
front. Through a skirt of jungle, then for a mile through a clear plain,
and again in the woods, they soon came in sight of Acachapan where an
advancing company of a hundred musket-men opened fire on our column. At
this chosen place, the Mexican general had intended to give battle,
having here the main body of his army with two field pieces and a body
of cavalry. At the first fire of the Mexican musketry, our field pieces
were got into position, and a few round shots, well served, put the
lessening numbers of the enemy to flight. The terrible execution so
quickly done showed the Mexicans that the Americans had landed not as a
mob of sailors but a body of drilled infantry with artillery. A change
came over the spirit of the orator, Bruno, and he fell back in his
intrenchments. The road wound near the water and the march was

Meanwhile the ships left in the river were not idle. The flotilla, led
by the _Spitfire_ under Lieutenant, now Admiral Porter, had passed the
obstructions, and according to Perry’s orders, were gallantly ascending
near the fort and town. The three hearty cheers which were exchanged
between ships and shore when the two parties caught sight of each other,
greatly intimidated the _veteranos_ in the fort. Behind the deserted
breastworks of Acachapan, our men found the usual signs of sudden and
speedy exit. Clothes, bedding and cooking utensils were visible. The
bill of fare for the breakfast all ready, but untasted, consisted of
boiled beef, tortillas, squash and corn in several styles.

Without delaying here, the advance column passed on and rested under
several enormous scyba trees near a lagoon of water. Officers and men
had earned rest, for the work of hauling field pieces in tropical
weather along narrow, swampy and tortuous roads, and over rude corduroy
bridges hastily constructed by the pioneers, was toilsome in the
extreme. In some cases the wheels of a gun carriage would sink to their
hubs requiring a whole company to drag them out. Some of the best
officers and most athletic seamen fainted from heat and excessive
fatigue, but reviving with rest and refreshment, resumed their labors
with zeal that inspired the whole line. This march overland of a naval
force with artillery along an almost roadless country seemed to
demoralize both the veterans and militia in fort and trenches.

The _Spitfire_ and _Scorpion_ passed up the river unmolested until
within range of Fort Iturbide, a shot from which cut the paddle-wheel of
the _Spitfire_. Without being disabled, the steamer moved on and got in
the rear of the fortification, pouring in so rapid and accurate a fire,
that the garrison soon lost all spirit and showed signs of flinching.
Seeing this, Lieutenant, now Admiral, Porter landed with sixty-eight men
and under an irregular fire charged and captured it, the Mexicans flying
in all directions. The town was then taken possession of by a force
detailed from the two steamers, under Captain S. S. Lee, Lieutenant
Porter remaining in command of the _Spitfire_.

When the Commodore at 2 o’clock P. M. arrived at the ditch and
breastworks, a quarter of a mile from the fort, and in sight of the
town, he found the deserted place well furnished with cooked dinners and
cast off but good clothing. The advance now waited until the straggling
line closed up, so that the whole force might enter the city in company.
Soon after reaching the fort which mounted two six, three twenty-eight,
and one twenty-four pounder guns with numerous pyramids of shot and
stands of grape, they found the men from the ships in possession, and
the stars and stripes floated above, and each detachment of the column,
as it entered, cheered with enthusiasm.

The Commodore and his aids were escorted by the marines and the force
marched, company front, to the plaza. They moved almost at a run up the
steep street, the band playing Yankee Doodle. Bruno’s prophecy was
fulfilled, but without Bruno. A few of the citizens and foreign
merchants and consuls whose flags were flying welcomed the Commodore.
The rain was now falling heavily and, as the public buildings were
closed, and no one seemed to have the keys, the doors were forced.
Quarters were duly assigned to the Commodore, staff and marines. The
artillery was parked in the arcades of the plaza, so as to command all
the approaches to the city, and the men rested. Even the Commodore had
walked the entire distance, only one animal, an old mule, having been
captured on the way and reserved for the hospital party.

Six days were spent at Tabasco. From the first hour of arriving, the
Commodore made ample provision for good order, health, economy, revenue,
and the honor of the American name. The scenes on the open square during
the American occupation, the tattoo, reveille, evening and morning gun,
the hourly cry of “all’s well,” the shrill whistle of the boatswain, and
the occasional summons of all hands to quarters, showed that, with
perfect discipline, the naval batallion of the Home Squadron was
perfectly at home in Tabasco, and that the sailors could act like good
soldiers on land as well as keep discipline aboard ship.

The large guns and war relics were put on board the flotilla, but the
other military stores were destroyed. Captain A. Bigelow was left in
command of the city with four hundred and twenty men. Perry’s orders
against pillage were very stringent. He meant to show that the war was
not against peaceful non-belligerents, but against the Mexican official
class. Perry highly commended Captain Edson and his body of marines for
their share of the work at Tabasco. His approbation of these men, who
for nine months had served under his immediate eye, was warm and
sincere. They afterwards did good service before the gates and in the
city of Mexico. Perry wrote of the marines, “I repeat what I have often
said, that this distinguished and veteran corps is one of the most
effective and valuable arms of the service.”

The capture of Tabasco, whose commercial importance was second to that
of Vera Cruz, was the last of the notable naval operations of the war.
So far as the navy was concerned, the campaign was over, unless the
sailors should turn soldiers altogether, for every one of the Gulf ports
was in American hands. Since the fall of Vera Cruz, the navy had
captured six cities with their fortresses and ninety-three cannon. This
work was all done on shore, off the proper element of a naval force. In
addition to these operations, the Commodore demanded and received from
Yucatan her neutrality, carried into effect at the ports the regulation
of the United States Treasury Department for raising revenue from the
Mexicans, and found leisure to erect a spacious and comfortable hospital
on the island of Salmadina equipped with all the comforts obtainable.
This preparation for the disease certain to come among unacclimated men
was most opportune.

About this time Perry sent home to the United States in the _Raritan_,
in care of Captain Forest, the guns captured at various places. Three of
the six at Tabasco were assigned to the Annapolis Naval Academy to be
used for drill purposes. This was also in compliment to the first
graduates of the institution, several of whom were serving in the
Mexican campaign, as well as its first principal Captain Franklin

                              CHAPTER XXV.

AFTER his exploits at Tuspan, Tabasco and Yucatan, Perry, having
captured every port and landing place along the whole eastern coast of
Mexico, and established a strict blockade, thereby maintaining intact
the base of supplies for the army in the interior, turned his attention
to new foes. Bands of guerrillas, the fragments of the armies which
Scott had destroyed, were not the only things to be feared. Mosquitoes
and winged vermin of many species, malarial, yellow and other
fevers—two great hosts—were to be fought night and day without

It is said that in northern Corea, “the men hunt the tigers during six
months in the year, and the tigers hunt the men during the other six
months.” In Mexico, along the coast, the northers rage during one half
of the year, while the yellow fever reigns through the other half,
maintaining the balance of power and an equilibrium of misery.

Fire broke out on the _Mississippi_, owing to spontaneous combustion of
impure coal put on board at Norfolk, in a wet condition. It was
extinguished only by pumping water into the coal-bunkers. Through this
necessity, the flag-ship, which had thus far defied the powers of air,
sun and moisture, became a foothold of pestilence. Yellow fever broke
out, and, towards the end of July, the _Mississippi_ had to be sent to

Perry shifted his flag to the _Germantown_, (a fine old frigate fated to
be burned at Norfolk in 1861), Capt. Buchanan, and sailed July 16, to
inquire after the health of the men on blockade and garrison duty in the
ports, while the two hundred or more patients of the _Mississippi_
quickly convalesced in Florida.

Northers and vomito, though depended on by the Mexicans to fight in
their courses against the Yankees, did not work together in the same
time. The northers thus far had kept back the yellow fever, but now
while Scott’s army moved in the salubrious highlands of the interior,
the unacclimated sailors remaining on the pestilential coast were called
to fight disease, insects, and banditti, at once. They must hold ports
with pitifully small garrisons, enforcing financial regulations, and
grappling with villainous consuls who desecrated their national flags by
smuggling from Havana, and by harboring the goods of the enemy. Many
so-called “consuls” in Mexican ports were never so accredited, and could
not appreciate the liberal policy of the United States towards neutrals.

While the plague was impending, there was a woeful lack of medical
officers; one surgeon on seven ships at anchor, and two assistant
surgeons in the hospital, composing the medical staff. The patients at
Salmadina did well, but the fever broke out among the merchant vessels
at Vera Cruz and the foreign men-of-war at Sacrificios.

By the middle of August, the sickly season was well advanced, and with
so many of the large ships sent home for the health of the men, Perry’s
force was small enough, while yet the guerrillas were as lively and
seemingly as numerous and ubiquitous as mosquitoes. Fortunately for the
American cause, some of the most noted of the guerrilla chiefs fell out
among themselves and came to blows.

Perry wrote to Washington earnestly requesting that marines be sent out
to act as flankers to parties of seamen landed to cut off guerrilla
parties. In the night attacks which were frequent, the men and officers
had to stand to their guns for long hours in drenching dews and heavy

The conditions of life on the low malarious Mexican coast are at any
time trying to the thick-skinned whites, and unacclimated men from the
north; but, in war time, the dangers were vastly increased. The marines
left at the ports when on duty had to endure the piercing rays of the
sun at mid-day and the heavy dews at midnight, and to beat off the
guerrillas who skirmished in darkness. Added to this, were the
investigations or excavations which mosquitoes, sandflies, centipedes,
scorpions and tarantulas, were continually making into the human flesh
with every sort of digging, fighting, chewing, sucking, and stinging
instruments with which the inscrutable wisdom of the Almighty has
endowed them. Added to these foes without, was that peculiar form of
_delirium tremens_ prevailing along the rivers and brought on by
tropical heat with which some of the Americans were afflicted. The
victims, prompted by an irresistible desire to throw themselves into the
water, were often drowned. Hitherto only known in Dryden’s poetry
American officers now bore witness to its violence.

On the ships, the miasma arising from decaying kelp washed upon the
barren reefs and decomposed by the sun’s rays created the atmospheric
conditions well suited for the spread of vomito. A sour nauseating
effluvia blew over the ships all night, and easily operated upon the
spleen or liver of those who, from exposure, fatigue or intemperate
habits, were most predisposed.

The Commodore convened a board of medical officers on board the
_Mississippi_ prior to her departure to inquire into the causes of the
disorder. In their opinion, it was atmospheric,—a theory justified by
the fact that patients convalesced as soon as the ships moved out to
sea. The theory of inoculation by flies, mosquitoes and other insects
was not then demonstrated as now, though for other reasons netting was a
boon and protection to the hospital patients.

One of the first cases, if not the very first case, of yellow fever
attacking a ship’s crew in the American navy was that on board the
_General Greene_, commanded by M. C. Perry’s father in 1799. Coming
north from the West Indies to get rid of the disease, it broke out again
at Newport. So virulent was the contagion, that even bathers in the
water near the ship, were attacked by it. The memories of his childhood,
which had long lain in his memory as a dream, became painfully vivid to
the Commodore as he visited the yellow fever hospital, and saw so many
gallant officers and brave men succumb to the scourge. “King Death sat
in his yellow robe.” Soon even the robust form of the Commodore
succumbed to the severe labors exposure and responsibilities laid upon
him, though fortunately he escaped the yellow fever. Four officers died
in one week; but Perry, after a season of sickness, recovered, and, on
the approach of autumn was up again and active.

The expression of thanks to the navy for its services was only to an
extent that may be called niggardly. Perry had sometimes to apply the
art of exegesis to find the desired passage containing praise. After the
brilliant Tuspan affair, he discovered a fragment of a paragraph, in a
dispatch alluding to other matters, which was evidently intended to mean
thanks. Instead of reading it on the quarter-deck, he mentioned it
informally to his officers, lest the men should be discouraged by such
faint praise. In response to the compliments of the city authorities of
New York and Washington, Perry made due acknowledgment.

The truth seems to be that Matthew Perry was not personally in favor
with the authorities at Washington. He had won his position and honors
by sheer merit, and had compelled praise which else had been withheld.
In this matter, he was not alone, for even Scott gained his brilliant
victories without the personal sympathies or good wishes of the

It was as much as the Commodore of the great fleet could do to get
sufficient clerical aid to assist him in his vast correspondence and
other pen-work, so great was the fear at Washington, that the public
funds would be squandered.

Perry persistently demanded more light draft steamers drawing not over
seven and a half feet and armed with but one heavy gun, for river work.
Mexico is a country without one navigable river, and only the most
buoyant vessels could cross the bars. He pled his needs so earnestly
that the Secretary of the Navy, John T. Mason, took him to task. It is
probable that the very brilliancy of the victories of both our army and
navy in Mexico, blinded, not only the general public, but the
administration to the arduous nature of the service, and to the
greatness of the difficulties overcome. The campaign of the army was
spoken of as a “picnic,” and that of the navy as a “yachting excursion.”
Certain it is that the administration seemed more anxious to make
political capital out of the war, than either to appreciate the labors
of its servants or the injustice done to the Mexicans.

In all his dispatches, Perry was unstinting in his praise of the army,
to whose success he so greatly contributed. From intercepted letters, he
learned that the presence of his active naval force had kept large
numbers of the Mexican regulars near the coast, and away from the path
of Scott’s army. He had seriously felt the loss of his marines, a whole
regiment of whom, under Colonel Watson, had been taken away from him to
go into the interior. Nevertheless, he remitted no activity, but, by
constantly threatening various points, the coast was kept in alarm so
that Mexican garrisons had to remain at every landing place along the
water line. He thus contributed powerfully to the final triumph of our
arms. On the 30th of September, he heard with gratification of the
entry, thirteen days before, of Scott’s army into the city of Mexico.
During November and December, the Commodore made several cruises up and
down the coast, firmly maintaining the blockade, until the treaty of
peace was signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848. In Yucatan,
Perry did much to hasten the end of the war of race and caste, which was
then raging between the whites and the Indian _peones_ and rancheros.

Santa Anna who had concealed himself in Pueblo, hoping to escape by way
of Vera Cruz, opened negotiations with Perry, who replied, that he would
receive him with the courtesy due to his rank, provided he would
surrender himself unconditionally as a prisoner of war. It turned out in
the end, that, without let or hindrance by either Mexicans or Americans,
Santa Anna the unscrupulous and avaricious, left his native land, April
5, 1848, on a Spanish brig bound to Jamaica. Gallantly but vainly he had
tried to resist “the North American invasion.” After seventy-eight years
of amazing vicissitudes, the last years of his life being spent on
Staten Island, N. Y., chiefly in cock-fighting and card-playing, he died
June 20, 1876, at Vera Cruz. He was the incarnation of fickle and
ignorant Mexico.

The re-embarkation of the troops homeward began in May. The city, the
fortress, and the custom-house of Vera Cruz, were restored to the
Mexican government, June 11, 1848. Four days later, the Commodore
leaving the _Germantown_, _Saratoga_ and a few smaller vessels in the
gulf, sent the other men-of-war northward to be repaired or sold. The
frigate _Cumberland_, bearing the broad pennant, entered New York bay
July 23, 1848.

In the war between two republics, the American soldier was an educated
freeman, far superior in physique and mental power to his foeman. The
Mexicans were docile and brave, easily taking death while in the ranks,
but unable to stand against the rush and sustained valor of the American
troops; while their leaders were out-generaled by the superior science
of officers who had been graduated from West Point. In the civil war,
thirteen years later, nearly all the leaders, and all the great soldiers
on both sides, whose reputations withstood the strain of four years’
campaigning, were regularly educated army officers who had graduated
from the school of service in Mexico. It was the preliminary training in
this foreign war, that made our armies of ’61, more than mobs, and gave
to so many of the campaigns the order of science. The Mexican war was
probably the first in which the newspapers made and unmade the
reputation of commanders, and the war correspondent first emerged as a
distinct figure in modern history. Some of the famous sayings, the
texture of which may be either historically plain, or rhetorically
embroidered, are still current in American speech. Nor will such
phrases, as “Rough and Ready,” “Fuss and Feathers,” “A little more
grape, Captain Bragg,” “Wait, Charlie, till I draw their fire,”
“Certainly General, but I must fight them,” “Where the guns go, the men
go with them,” soon be forgotten.

As to the rights of the quarrel with Mexico, most of the officers of the
army and navy were indifferent; as perhaps soldiers have a right to be,
seeing the responsibility rests with their superiors, the civil rulers.
Matthew Perry, as a soldier, felt that the war was waged unjustly by a
stronger upon a weaker nation, and endeavored, while doing his duty in
obedience to orders, to curtail the horrors of invasion. He was ever
vigilant to suppress robbery, rapine, cold-blooded cruelty, and all that
lay outside of honorable war. In the letters written to his biographer,
by fellow-officers, are many instances of “Old Matt’s” shrewdness in
preventing and severity in punishing wanton pillage, and the infliction
of needless pain on man or beast.

Whatever may have been the sentiments of the past, despite also the
provocation of the Mexico of Santa Anna’s time, the verdict of history
as given by Herbert Bancroft, will now find echo all over our common
country. “The United States was in the wrong, all the world knows it;
all honest American citizens acknowledge it.”

President Polk and his party, in compelling the war with Mexico, meant
one thing. The Almighty intended something different. Politicians and
slave-holders brought on a war to extend the area of human servitude.
Providence meant it to be a war for freedom, and the expansion of a
people best fitted to replenish and subdue the new land. At the right
moment, the time-locks on the hidden treasuries of gold drew back their
bolts, and a free people entered to change a wilderness to empire. There
is now no slavery in either the new or the old parts of the United

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

FROM his home at the “Moorings” by the Hudson, Perry gave his attention
to the curiosities and trophies brought home from Mexico. Ever jealous
for the honor of the navy, he noted with pain a letter written by
General Scott to Captain H. Brewerton, superintendent of the Military
Academy at West Point, which was published in the newspapers October
16th, 1848. General Scott had presented sections of several Mexican
flag-staffs captured in the campaign that commenced at Vera Cruz and
terminated in the capital of Mexico. Three of them were thus

1. “Part of the flag-staff of the castle of San Juan d’Ulloa taken by
the American army March 29th, 1847.”

2. “Part of the flag-staff of Fort San Iago, Vera Cruz, taken by the
American army March 29th, 1847.”

3. “Part of the flag-staff of Fort Conception, Vera Cruz, taken by the
American army March 29th, 1847.”

The four other staves from Cerro Gordo, Perote, Chapultepec, and the
National Palace of Mexico, were in truth “taken by the American army”
without the aid of the navy.

Perry believing that the statements in the paragraphs numbered 1, 2, and
3, were not strictly true, protested in a letter dated Oct. 19th, 1848,
to the editors of the _Courier and Inquirer_. He maintained that the
city and castle of Vera Cruz “surrendered not to the army alone, but to
the combined land and naval forces of the United States.” Appealing to
the facts of history concerning the bombardment of the city by the
squadron, the service of the marines in the trenches, and of the ship’s
guns and men in the naval battery, he continued:—

“Negotiations for the capitulation of the city and castle were conducted
on the part of the squadron by Captain John H. Aulick, assisted by the
late Commander Mackenzie as interpreter, both delegated by me, and as
commander-in-chief at the time, of the United States naval forces
serving in the Gulf of Mexico acting in co-operation with, but entirely
independent of the authority of General Scott, I approved of and signed
jointly with him the treaty of capitulation.”

“It seems to be a paramount duty on my part to correct an error which,
if left unnoticed, would be the source of great and lasting injury to
the navy; and it may reasonably be expected that General Scott will
cause the inscriptions referred to to be so altered as to make them
correspond more closely with history.” In proof of his assertions, Perry
quoted an extract from General Scott’s Orders referring to the services
of the navy in blockade, in disembarkation, in the attack on the city,
and in the battery No. 5.

Like a true soldier, Scott made speedy correction on the brasses, and on
the 24th of October wrote to Captain Brewerton, “Please cause the plates
of those three objects to be unscrewed, efface the inscriptions and
renew the same with the words _and Navy_ inserted immediately after the
word ‘Army.’” He added, “No part of the army is inclined to do the
sister branch of our public defence the slightest injustice, and that I
ought to be free from the imputation, my despatches written at Vera Cruz
abundantly show.”

As commentary on the last line above, it may be stated that in his
autobiography, in writing of Vera Cruz, Scott never mentions Commodore
Perry, the navy, or the naval battery. Biographies of Scott, and makers
of popular histories, basing their paragraphs on “Campaign Lives” of the
presidential candidates, give fulsome praise to Scott, and due credit to
the army; none, or next to none, to Perry and the navy.

The enlarged experience gained by our naval men during the war was now
put to good use, and two great reforms, the abolition of flogging and
the grog ration, were earnestly discussed. The captains were called upon
for their written opinions. These, bound up in a volume now in the navy
archives at Washington, furnish most interesting reading. They are part
of the history of the progress of opinion as well as of morals in the
United States. The proposition to do away with the “cat” and the “tot”
found earnest and uncompromising opponents in officers of the old
school; while, on the other hand, the credit of reforms now well
established has been claimed by the friends of more than one eminent
officer. Let us look at Matthew Perry’s record.

As early as 1824, Perry had studied the temperance question from a naval
point of view. He was, it is believed, the first officer in our navy to
propose the partial abolition of liquor, which was at that time served
to boys as well as to men. This reform, he suggested in a letter to the
Department, dated January 25th, 1824. His endeavor to stop the grog
ration from minors was a stroke in behalf of sound moral principles and
a plea for order. With a high opinion of the marines, and their
well-handled bayonets—before which, the most stubborn sailor’s mutiny
breaks,—Perry yet wished to take away one of the fomenting causes of
evil on shipboard. When a midshipman, Perry was heartily opposed to
strong drink for boys, and especially to the indiscriminate grog system
licensed by government on ships of war. In his diary kept on board the
_President_, the lad notes, with sarcastic comment, the frequent calls
for whiskey from certain vessels of the squadron, especially the
_Argus_, the crew of which had a reputation for a thirst of a kind not
satisfied with water.

Perry’s letter dated New York, February 4th, 1850, fills eleven pages,
and shows his usual habit of looking at a subject on all sides. To have
answered the question as to grog, without consulting the sailors
themselves, would have smacked too much of the doctrinaire for him. He
was personally heartily in favor of abolishing grog, but with that love
for the comfort of his men which so endeared “Old Matt” to the common
sailor, he proposed for the first-rate seamen, the optional use of light
wines. His attitude was that of temperance, rather than prohibition.

Flogging had been introduced into the American navy in 1799, when “the
cat-of-nine tails” was made the legal instrument of punishment, “no
other cat being allowed.” Not more than twelve lashes were allowed on
the bare back. Even a court martial could not order over a hundred
lashes. As to its total abolition, Perry felt that his own opinion
should be formed by a consensus of the most respectable sailors.
Personally he was in favor of immediately modifying, but not at once
abolishing the penalty. This was to him “the most painful of all the
duties of an officer.” He would rather make it more formal, leaving the
question of its administration not in the hands of the captain, but of
an inferior court on ship of three officers, the finding of the court to
be subject to the captain’s revision. Perry believed, as the result of
long experience, that the old sailors and the good ones were opposed to
total abolition of flogging, since the punishment operated as a
protection to them against desperate characters. To satisfy himself of
public opinion, he went on board the _North Carolina_ and asked Captain
J. R. Sands to call to him eight of the oldest active sailors. The men
came in promptly to the cabin, not knowing who called them or why. All
were native Americans, and all were opposed to the abolition of
flogging. Nevertheless, Perry was glad when this relic of barbarism was
abolished from the decks of the American ships of war. On him fell the
brunt of the decision. He first enforced discipline, chiefly by moral
suasion, on a fleet in which was no flogging. The grog ration was not
abolished until 1862.

Until the great civil war, only two fleets—that is, collections of war
vessels numbering at least twelve—had assembled under the American
flag. These were in the waters of Mexico and Japan. Both were commanded
by Matthew C. Perry.

Nearly forty years have now passed since the Mexican war, and a survey
of the facts and subsequent history is of genuine interest. The United
States employed, in the invasion of a sister republic, about one hundred
thousand armed men. Of these, 26,690 were regular troops, 56,926
volunteers, while over 15,000 were in the navy, or in the department of
commissariat and transportation. Probably as many as eighty thousand
soldiers were actually in Mexico. Of this host, 120 officers and 1,400
men fell in battle or died of wounds, and 100 officers and 10,800 men
perished by disease. These figures by General Viele are from the army
rolls. Another writer gives the total, in round numbers, of American
war-employées lost in battle at 5,000, and by sickness 15,000. About
1,000 men of the army of occupation died each month of garrison-fever in
the city of Mexico, and many more were ruined in health and character.
In all, the loss of manhood by glory and malaria was fully 25,000 men.
The war cost the United States, directly, a sum estimated between
$130,000,000 and $166,500,000. Including the pensions, recently voted,
this amount will be greatly increased.

Turning from the debit to the credit account, the United States gained
in Texas, and the ceded territory, nearly one million square miles of
land, increasing her area one-third, and adding five thousand miles of
sea-coast, with three great harbors. Except for one of those
world-influencing episodes, which are usually called “accidents,” but
which make epochs and history, this large territory would long have
waited for inhabitants. The vast desert was made to bud with promise,
and blossom as the rose, by the discovery of some shining grains of
metal, yellow and heavy, in a mill race. California with her golden
hands rose up, a new figure in history, to beckon westward the returned
veteran, the youth of the overcrowded East, the young blood and sinew of
Europe. The era of the “prairie schooner” to traverse the plains, the
steamer to ply to the Isthmus, the fast-sailing American clipper ships
to double the Cape, was ushered in. Zadoc Pratt’s dream of a
trans-continental railway, laid on the Indian trails, soon found a solid
basis in easy possibility. In the eight months ending March 1850, nine
millions of gold from California entered the United States. The volume
of wealth from California and Texas in thirty-two years, has equalled
the debt incurred during the great civil war to preserve the American
union; enabling the government to say to Louis Napoleon, “Get out of
Mexico, and take imperialism from the American continent.”

Yet even California, and the boundless possibilities of the Pacific
slope could not suffice for the restless energy of the American. The
merchant seeking new outlets of trade, the whaler careering in all seas
for spoil, the missionary moved with desire to enter new fields of
humanity, the explorer burning to unlock hidden treasures of mystery,
looked westward over earth’s broadest ocean. China had opened a few
wicket gates. Two hermit kingdoms still kept their doors barred. Corea
was no lure. It had no place in literature, no fame to the traveller, no
repute of wealth to incite. Its name suggested no more than a sea-shell.
There was another nation. Of her, travellers, merchants, and martyrs had
told; about her, libraries had been written; religion, learning, wealth,
curious and mighty institutions, a literature and a civilization, gold
and coal and trade were there. Kingly suitors and the men of many
nations had pleaded for entrance and waited vainly at her jealously
barred and guarded doors. The only answer during monotonous centuries
had been haughty denial or contemptuous silence. Japan was the sleeping
princess in the eastern seas. Thornrose castle still tempted all daring
spirits. Who should be the one to sail westward, with valor and with
force, held but unused, wake with peaceful kiss the maiden to life and a
beauty to be admired of all the world?

                             CHAPTER XXVII.

WE propose here to summarize the various attempts by Americans to
re-open Japan to intercourse with other nations. For two centuries,
after Iyéyasŭ and his successors passed their decree of seclusion, Japan
remained the new Paradise Lost to Europeans. Perry made it Paradise

In _The Japan Expedition_, the editor of Perry’s work has given, on page
62, in a tabulated list, the various attempts made by civilized nations
to open commerce with Japan from 1543 down to 1852. In this, the
Portuguese, Dutch, English, Russians, American, and French have taken
part. This table, however, is incomplete, as we shall show.

The American flag was probably first carried around the world in 1784,
by Major Robert Shaw, formerly an officer in the revolutionary army of
the United States First Artillery. It was, therefore, seen in the
eastern seas as early as 1784, and at Nagasaki as early as 1797. In
1803, Mr. Waardenaar, the Dutch superintendent at Déshima, not having
heard that the peace of the Amiens, negotiated by Lord Cornwallis and
signed March 27, 1802, had been broken, boarded a European vessel coming
into port, and recognized an American, Captain Stewart, who during the
war had made voyages for the Dutch East India Company. Captain Stewart
explained that he had come with a cargo of wholly American goods, of
which he was proprietor. The following dialogue ensued:—

_Q._ “Who is the King of America.”

_A._ “President Jefferson.”

_Q._ “Why do you come to Japan?”

_A._ “To demand liberty of commerce for me and my people.”

Waardenaar suspected that the real chief of the expedition was not
Stewart, but “the doctor” on board, and that it was a British ship.
Hence, on Waardenaar’s report to the governor of Nagasaki, the latter
forbade Stewart the coasts of Japan, allowing, him, however, water and

The facts underlying this apparent attempt of the enterprising Yankee to
open trade with the United States so early in the history of the country
seemed to be these. Captain Stewart, an American in the service of the
Dutch East India Company, having made his first voyage from Batavia to
Nagasaki in 1797, was sent again the following year, 1798. An earthquake
and tidal wave coming on, his ship dragged her anchors and the cargo,
consisting chiefly of camphor, was thrown overboard. The vessel would
have become a total wreck but for the ingenuity of a native. He “used
helps undergirding the ship,” floating her. Then taking her in tow of a
big junk, he drew her into a safe quarter. For this, the Japanese was
made a two-sworded samurai. Stewart was sent back to Batavia. Thence he
fled to Bengal, where he most probably persuaded the English merchants
to send him in a ship to Japan with a cargo, to open trade for them
under the name of Americans.

A few days after Stewart had left, Captain Torry, the accredited agent
of the Calcutta Company, came to Nagasaki, to open trade if possible.
Torry had sent Stewart before him, the Japanese not daring, he thought,
to refuse Englishmen after allowing Americans to trade. Torry was,
however, sent away as being in league with Stewart, and left after
obtaining a supply of water.

In 1807, as Hildreth in his _Japan_, states, the American ship,
_Eclipse_, of Boston, chartered at Canton, by the Russian American
Company for Kamschatka and the north-west coast of America, entered the
harbor of Nagasaki under Russian colors, but could obtain no trade and
only provisions and water. The Dutch flag being driven from the ocean,
the annual ships from Batavia to Nagasaki in 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802,
1803, and at least one of the pair in 1806, 1807 and 1809, were American
bottoms and under the American flag, so that the Japanese became
familiar with the _seventeen_-starred flag of the United States of

The brilliant and successful foreign policy of President Andrew Jackson
in Europe, has been already noted. Even Asia felt his influence. Mr.
Edmund Roberts[21], a sea captain of Portsmouth, N. H., was named by
President Jackson, his “agent” for the purpose of “examining in the
Indian ocean the means of extending the commerce of the United States by
commercial arrangements with the Powers whose dominions border on those
seas.” He was ordered, January 27, 1832, to embark on the United States
Sloop-of-war, _Peacock_, in which he was rated as captain’s clerk. On
the 23rd of July, he was ordered “to be very careful in obtaining
information respecting Japan, the means of opening a communication with
it, and the value of its trade with the Dutch and Chinese.” Arriving at
Canton, he might receive further instructions. He had with him blanks.
On the 28th of October, 1832, Edward Livingstone, the United States
Secretary of State, instructed him that the United States had it in
contemplation to institute a separate mission to Japan. If, however, a
favorable opportunity presented, he might fill up a letter and present
it to the “Emperor” for the purpose of opening trade. Roberts was
successful in inaugurating diplomatic and commercial relations with
Muscat and Siam, but, on account of his premature death, nothing came of
his mission to Japan. He died June 12, 1836, at Macao, where his tomb
duly inscribed, is in the Protestant cemetery.

Commodore Kennedy in the _Peacock_, with the schooner _Enterprise_,
visited the Bonin Islands in August 1837, an account of which was
written by Doctor Ruschenberger,[22] the fleet surgeon.

The sight of the flowery flag of “Bé-koku” or the United States, became
more and more familiar to the Japanese coasting and ship population, as
the riches of the whaling waters became better known in America. The
American whalers were so numerous in the Japan seas by the year 1850,
that eighty-six of the “black ships” were counted as passing Matsumaé in
twelve months. Perry found that no fewer than ten thousand of our people
were engaged in this business. Furthermore, the Japanese waifs blown out
to sea were drifted into the Black Current and to the Kurile and
Aleutian islands, to Russian and British America, to Oregon and
California, and even to Hawaii.

The necessity of visiting Japan on errands of mercy to return these
waifs became a frequent one. Reciprocally, the Japanese sent the
shipwrecked Americans by the Dutch vessels to Batavia whence they
reached the United States. This was the cause of the “_Morrison’s_”
visit to the bay of Yedo and to Kagoshima in 1837. This ship, fitly
named after the first Protestant English missionary to China, whose
grave lies near Roberts in the terraced cemetery at Macao, was
despatched by an American mercantile firm. Included among the
thirty-eight persons on board were seven Japanese waifs, Rev. Charles
Gutzlaff, Dr. S. Wells Williams, Peter Parker, Mr. King, the owner, and
Mrs. King. They sailed July 3d. The vessel reached Uraga, bay of Yedo,
July 22d, and Kagoshima in Satsuma August 20, but was fired on and
driven away. The name of “Morrison Bluff” on the map of Japan is an
honor to American Christianity, as it is a shame to Old Japan.

The proposition to open commercial relations with the two secluded
nations now came definitely before Congress. On February 15th 1845,
General Zadoc Pratt, chairman of the select committee on statistics
introduced the following resolution in Congress to treat for the opening
of Japan and Corea. “Whereas it is important to the general interests of
the United States that steady and persevering efforts should be made for
the extension of American commerce, connected as that commerce is with
the agriculture and manufactures of our country; be it therefore
_resolved_, that in furtherance of this object, it is hereby recommended
that immediate measures be taken for effecting commercial arrangements
with the Empire of Japan and the Kingdom of Corea,[23] for the following
among other reasons.” Then follows a memorandum concerning the proposed

Captain Mercator Cooper, in the whale ship _Manhattan_, of Sag Harbor,
returned twenty-two shipwrecked Japanese early in April 1845, from the
island of St. Peters to Uraga in the bay of Yedo, where he lay at anchor
four days obtaining books and charts. When the Japanese embassy of 1861
reached New York, one of the first questions asked by them was, “Where
is Captain Cooper?”

Our government authorized Commodore Biddle, then in command of the East
Indian squadron, to visit Japan in the hope of securing a convention. He
left Chusan July 7th, and, on the 20th of July 1846, with the ship of
the line, _Columbus_, 90 guns, and the sloop of war, _Vincennes_, he
anchored off Uraga. Application for trade was made in due form, but the
answer given July 28th by the Shō-gun’s deputy who came on board with a
suite of eight persons, was a positive refusal. Commodore Biddle being
instructed “not to do anything to excite a hostile feeling or distrust
of the United States,” sailed away July 29, in obedience to orders.

At this very time, eight American sailors, or seven, as the Japanese
account states, wrecked on the whale ship, _Lawrence_, June 6th, were
imprisoned in Yezo; but the fact was not then known in Yedo. After
seventeen months confinement, they were sent to Nagasaki and thence in
October 1847, to Batavia. From one of these sailors, a Japanese samurai,
or two-sworded retainer of a damiō, named Moriyama Yénosŭké, (Mr.
Grove-mountain) learned to speak and read English with tolerable
fluency. He acted as chief medium of communication between the Japanese
and their next American visitor, Glynn; and afterwards served as
interpreter in the treaty negotiations at Yokohama in 1854. At this time
the Dutch trade with Japan barely paid the expenses of the factory at
Déshima. The Dutch East India Company some years before had voluntarily
turned over the monopoly to the Dutch government. Trade was now upon a
purely sentimental basis, being kept up solely for the honor of the
Dutch flag. The next step, which logically followed, was a letter from
the King of Holland to the Shō-gun recommending that Japan open her
ports to the trade of the world. Meanwhile, the Mikado commanded that
the coasts should be strictly guarded “so as to prevent dishonor to the
Divine Country.”

In September, 1848, fifteen foreign seamen, eight of them Americans,
wrecked from the _Ladoga_, were sent in a junk from Matsumaé to
Nagasaki. The Netherlands consul at Canton made notification January 27,
1849, to Captain Geisinger, a gallant officer on the _Wasp_ in 1814, in
command of the _Peacock_ during Mr. Roberts’s first embassy, and now in
command of the East India squadron, who sent Commander Glynn in the
_Preble_, the brig once in Perry’s African squadron, and carrying
fourteen guns, to their rescue. Stopping at Napa, Riu Kiu, on his way to
Nagasaki, he learned from the Rev. Dr. J. Bettelheim the missionary
there, of the rumors concerning “the Japanese victory over the American
big ships.” The snowball of rumor in rolling to the provinces had become
an avalanche of exaggeration, and Glynn at once determined to pursue “a
stalwart policy.” On reaching Nagasaki, he dashed through the cordon of
boats, and anchored within cannon shot of the city. He submitted to the
usual red tape proceedings and evasive diplomacy for two days, and then
threatened to open fire on the city unless the sailors were forthcoming.
That the Japanese had already learned to respect American naval gunnery,
having heard of it at Vera Cruz, the following conversation will show.
The Japanese, through the Dutch, had been kept minutely informed as to
the Mexican war and, in their first interview with Commander Glynn,

“You have had a war with Mexico?”


“You whipped her?”


“You have taken a part of her territory?”


“And you have discovered large quantities of gold in it?”

The imprisoned seamen were promptly delivered on the deck of the
_Preble_. They stated that, when in Matsumaé, they had learned from the
guards of their prison of every battle we had with the Mexicans and of
every victory we had gained. The prestige of the American navy won at
Vera Cruz and on the two coasts had doubtless a good influence upon the
Japanese, making Glynn’s mission easier than it otherwise might have
been. In his report, Commander Glynn suggested that the time for opening
Japan was favorable and recommended the sending of a force to do it.

Commerce with China, the settlement of California, the growth of the
American whale-fishery in the eastern seas, the expansion of steam
traffic, with the corollary necessities of coal and ports for shelter,
and the frequency of shipwrecks, were all compelling factors in the
opening of Japan—which event could not long be delayed.

The shadows of the coming event were already descried in Japan. Numerous
records of the landing or shipwreck of American and other seamen are
found in the native chronicles of this period. The Dutch dropped broad
hints of embassies or expeditions soon to come. In September, 1847, the
rank of the governor of Uraga, the entrance-port to the Bay of Yedo, was
raised. In October, the daimiōs or barons were ordered to maintain the
coast defences, and encourage warlike studies and exercises. In
November, the boy named Shichiro Marō, destined to be the last Tai-kun
(“Tycoon”) and head of Japanese feudalism, came into public notice as
heir of one of the princely families of the Succession. In December, a
census of the number of newly cast cannon able to throw balls of one
pound weight and over was ordered to be taken. The chronicler of the
year 1848 notes that nineteen foreign vessels passed through the straits
of Tsushima in April, and closes his notice of remarkable events by
saying: “During this year, foreign ships visited our northern seas in
such numbers as had not been seen in recent times!”


[21] Embassy to the Eastern Courts, New York, 1837.

[22] A Voyage Round the World, Philadelphia, 1838.

[23] Corea, the Hermit Nation, p. 390.

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

THOUGH as a student and a man of culture, Perry was familiar with the
drift of events in China, and was interested in Japan, yet it was not
until the year 1850, that his thoughts were turned seriously to the
unopened country in the eastern seas. The receipt of news about the
_Preble_ affair crystallized his thoughts into a definitely formed
purpose. He began to look at the problem, of winning Japan into the
comity of nations, with a practical eye, from a naval and personal

Highly approving of Commander Glynn’s course, he believed that kindness
and firmness, backed by a force in the Bay of Yedo sufficient to impress
the authorities would, by tact, patience and care, result in a bloodless
victory. He now gathered together literary material bearing on the
subject and pondered upon the question how to translate Ali Baba’s
watch-word into Japanese. There seemed, however, little likelihood that
the government would be willing to send thither an imposing squadron. He
did not therefore seek the command of the East India squadron, and the
initial proposition to do the work with which his name is connected,
came to him and not from him.

Commander James Glynn, on his return, early in 1851, went to Washington
earnestly wishing to be sent on a diplomatic mission to Japan with a
fresh naval force. To this gallant and able young officer, belongs a
considerable share of the credit of working the President and Secretary
of State up to the point of action. The expedition, as it came to be
organized, however, grew to the proportions of a fleet, and Glynn found
himself excluded by his rank, the command of the expedition being very
properly claimed by an officer of higher rank in the army. The applicant
for the honor of commander of the Japan expedition, then in embryo, was
Commodore J. H. Aulick, who had been in the navy since 1809, and was
master’s mate of the _Enterprise_ in her combat with the _Boxer_, in the
war of 1812.

Dismissing from his mind, or at least postponing until a more propitious
time his eastward possibilities, Perry, March 21, 1851, applied for the
command of the Mediterranean squadron to succeed Commodore Morgan if the
way was clear. During the summer and autumn, he was several times in
Washington, and frequently in consultation with the Naval Committee. He
was led to believe his desire would be granted and made personal and
domestic arrangements accordingly. Yet the appointment hung fire for
reasons that Perry did not then understand.

General Taylor, having been hustled into the Presidency, promptly
succumbed to the unaccustomed turmoil of politics. He yielded to an
enemy more dire and persistent than Santa Anna,—the office seeker, and
found his grave. The urbane Millard Fillmore took his place, with Daniel
Webster as Secretary of State. The suggestions of Commander Glynn for
the opening of Japan had pleased both the President and Secretary, and
pretty soon, one of those multiplying pretexts and opportunities for
going near the “Capital of the Tycoon” occurred. It was the picking up
at sea of another lot of waifs by Captain Jennings, of the barque
_Auckland_ who took them to San Francisco. On the 9th of May, 1857,
Commodore Aulick proposed to the Secretary of State a plan for the
opening of Japan, and on the same day, Mr. Webster addressed an official
note to Hon. William Graham, Secretary of the Navy, in which these words

“Commodore Aulick has suggested to me, and I cheerfully concur in the
opinion, that this incident may afford a favorable opportunity for
opening commercial relations with the empire of Japan; or, at least, of
placing our intercourse with that Island upon a more easy footing.”

The nail already inserted in the wood by Glynn was thus driven further
in by Aulick’s proposition and Mr. Webster’s hearty indorsement. The
next day a letter to the “Emperor” was prepared and, on the 30th of May,
Commodore Aulick received his commission to negotiate and sign a treaty
with Japan. He was to be accompanied by “an imposing naval force.” At
least, so Mr. Webster’s letter suggested. Unfortunately, for Commodore
Aulick, he left before the nail was driven in a sure place. He departed
for the East with slight preparation, foresight, or mastery of details,
and long before the “imposing” naval force was gathered, or even begun.
Even had Aulick remained in command, he would probably never have
received any large accession to his force. Had he attempted the work of
negotiation with but two or three vessels, he would most probably have
failed. The preparation and sailing of the fleet to follow him was
delayed. Promises were never kept, and he was recalled. Why was this?
Commodore Aulick, on his return, demanded a court martial in order that
he himself might know the reasons, but his wishes were not heeded.
History has heretofore been silent on the point.

There are some who think that Perry is at fault here; that he grasped at
honors prepared for others, reaping where he had not sowed.

The reason for the recall of Commodore Aulick and the appointment of
Perry in his place were neither made public at the time, nor have they
thus far been understood by the public, or even by acquaintances of
Perry who ignorantly misjudge him. A number of persons, some of them
naval officers, have even supposed that Perry was responsible for the
bad treatment of Commodore Aulick, and that he sacrificed a
fellow-officer to gratify his own ambition. The writer was long under
the impression that Perry’s own urgency in seeking the position secured
for himself the appointment, and that the government favored Perry at
the expense of his comrade. With the view of sounding the truth at the
bottom of the well, the writer made search in both Aulick’s and
Secretary Graham’s official and confidential letters.

The unexpected result was the thorough vindication of Perry from the
shadow of suspicion. The facts reveal that harsh treatment may sometimes
hastily and needlessly be accorded to a gallant officer, and illustrate
the dangers besetting our commanders, when non-naval people with a
weakness for tittle-tattle live on board a man-of-war. The arrows of
gossip and slander, whether on sea or land, are sufficiently poisonous.
They nearly took the life, and ruined the reputation of Commodore
Aulick; but of their shooting, Perry was as innocent as an unborn child.
The simple facts in the case are that Commodore Aulick was recalled from
China long before Perry had any idea of assuming the Japan mission, and
that his relations with his old comrade in Mexico were always of the
pleasantest nature. We must look from the captains to their superior.

On the 1st of May 1851, Commodore Aulick received orders to proceed in
the new steamer frigate _Susquehanna_ to Rio [de] Janeiro, taking out
the Brazilian minister Macedo as the guest of the United States. He
sailed from Norfolk June 8th, and by way of Madeira, arrived at his
destination July 22. The _Susquehanna_ was a steam frigate of noble
spaciousness built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1847. Her launch
amid a glory of sunshine, bunting, happy faces, and the symbolic
breaking of a bottle of water from the river of her own name, the writer
remembers as one of the bright events of his childhood. She carried
sixteen guns, and was of two thousand four hundred and fifty tons
burthen, but though of excellent model her machinery was constantly
getting out of order. From Rio [de] Janeiro Aulick proceeded around the
Cape of Good Hope on diplomatic business with the Sultan of Zanzibar.
This having been finished, Aulick sailed to China and on arriving at
Hong Kong, began to organize a squadron and make his personal
preparations for a visit to Japan. He secured as his interpreter, D.
Bethune McCartee, Esq., M. D. an accomplished American missionary at
Ningpo. He also investigated, as per orders, with the aid of the
missionaries of the Reformed [Dutch] Church in America at Amoy, Rev.
Messrs. Doty and Talmage, (brother of T. De Witt Talmage of Brooklyn)
the coolie traffic. The _Saratoga_ was sent after the mutineers of the
_Robert Bowne_, and visited the Riu Kiu islands. While engaged in
cruising between Macao and Manilla, though smitten down with disease,
the old hero was astounded at receiving a curt order from the Secretary
of the Navy dated November 18th, 1851. It directed him to hand over his
command to Captain Franklin Buchanan, but not to leave the China seas
until his successor should arrive. At the same time, he was informed
that grave imputations had been cast upon his conduct. Prompt and full
explanation of these was called for. The charges were, that he had
violated express orders in taking a person (his son) on board a national
vessel as passenger without authority, and that he had given out at Rio
[de] Janeiro that the Chevalier de Macedo was being carried at his
(Aulick’s) private expense.

Meanwhile, the Anglo-Chinese newspapers got hold of the patent fact, and
the ready inference was drawn that Commodore Aulick had been recalled
for mis-conduct. This annoyed the old veteran to exasperation. Worn out
by forty-four years in his country’s service, with both disgrace and an
early but lingering death staring him in the face, with the prospect of
being obliged to go home in a merchant vessel and without medical
attendance, he dictated (being unable to hold a pen) a letter dated
February 7, 1853 protesting against this harsh treatment caused by
“ex-parte statements of certain diplomats in Rio [de] Janeiro, whose
names, up to this time, have never been officially made known to me.”
For months in precarious health, Aulick waited for his unnamed relief,
and at last, heard that it was his as yet old friend Perry. By the
advice of his physician, Dr. Peter Parker and surgeon S. S. Du Barry, he
started homeward at the first favorable opportunity, by the English mail
steamer, passing the _Mississippi_ on her way out.

In London, Commodore Aulick called upon and was the guest of Chevalier
de Macedo, who learned with surprise of the trouble into which he had
fallen with his government. A long letter now in the navy archives, from
the Brazilian, thoroughly exonerated Aulick. Arriving in New York June
1st, 1863, and reporting to Secretary Dobbin, Commodore Aulick requested
that, if his letter of explanation of February 17, 1853, were not deemed
satisfactory, a court of inquiry, or court martial, be ordered for his
trial. After careful examination, the secretary wrote, August 2, 1853,
clearing Aulick of all blame, accompanying his letter with waiting
orders. In the letter of the gratified officer in response dated August
4, 1853, we have the last word in this painful episode in naval history,
in which the brave veteran was nearly sacrificed by the stray gossip of
a civilian apparently more eager to curry Brazilian favor than to do
eternal or even American justice.

One can easily see why, in addition to the rooted instinct of a
lifetime, Perry, in the light of Aulick’s misfortune, declined to allow
miscellaneous correspondence with the newspapers, and sternly refused to
admit on the Japan expedition a single person not under naval

The chronological order of facts as revealed by the study of the
documents is this: On the 17th of November 1851, Secretary Graham
dictated the order of recall to Commodore Aulick. On the next day, he
wrote the following:—

                                 NAVY DEPARTMENT, November 18, 1851.


    Sir,—Proceed to Washington immediately, for the purpose of
    conferring with the Secretary of the Navy.

                                                   WILL. A. GRAHAM.

Unusual press of business and the writing of his report for the
impending session of Congress caused the receipt by Perry on his arrival
in Washington, of a note, dated November 26, the substance of which was
that the Secretary was so busy that he could not consider the business
for which Perry was called from home, until after Congress had met. He
need not, therefore, wait in Washington but was at liberty to go home
and wait instructions. This was the first thorn of the rose on the way
to the Thornrose castle, in the Pacific.

Somewhat vexed, as Perry must have been, at being forced on a seeming
fool’s errand, he possessed his soul in patience, and, at home expressed
his mind on paper as follows:—

                           NORTH TARRYTOWN, N. Y., December 3, 1851.

    Sir,—Seeing that you were so much occupied during my stay at
    Washington, I was careful not to intrude upon your time and
    consequently had little opportunity of conversing with you upon
    the business which caused me to be ordered to that city—it has,
    therefore, occurred to me, whether it would not be desirable
    that I should write down the accompanying notes, in further
    explanation of the views entertained by me, with reference to
    the subject under consideration.

    So far as respects my own wishes, I confess that it will, to me,
    be a serious disappointment, and cause of personal inconvenience
    not to go to the Mediterranean, as I was led to believe from
    various reliable sources that it had been the intention of the
    Department to assign me to the command, and had made
    arrangements accordingly; but I hold that an officer is bound to
    go where his services are most required, yet I trust I may be
    pardoned for expressing a strong disinclination to go out as the
    mere relief or successor to Commodore Aulick without being
    charged with some more important service, and with a force
    competent to _a possible_ successful issue the expectations of
    the government.

    Advance in rank and command is the greatest incentive to a
    officer, and, having already been intrusted with two squadrons,
    one of them the largest one put afloat since the creation of the
    navy, I could only look to the Mediterranean for advance in that
    respect, as that station, in time of peace, has always been
    looked upon as the most desirable. Hence it may not be
    surprising that I consider the relief of Commodore Aulick who is
    much my junior and served under me in my second squadron, a
    retrograde movement in that great and deeply fostered aim of an
    officer of proper ambition, to push forward; unless indeed, as I
    have before remarked, the sphere of action of the East India
    squadron and its force be so much enlarged as to hold out a
    well-grounded hope of its conferring distinction upon its

    Doubtless there are others my juniors as competent, if not more
    so, who would gladly accept the command as it now is and, if it
    is not intended to augment it in view of carrying out the
    important object with respect to Japan, I may confidently hope
    that in accordance with your kind promise on the occasion of my
    interview with you at your house, on the evening of the day of
    my arrival in Washington, I shall still be assigned to the
    command of the Mediterranean squadron.

    In thus expressing myself freely to you I feel assured from a
    knowledge of your high tone of character, that you will fully
    appreciate the motives which have influenced me in desiring to
    embark only in that service in the prosecution of which I could
    anticipate a chance of success, or even escape from
    mortification, disappointment, and failure.

                       With great respect I have the honor to be,
                                       Your most obedient servant,
                                                       M. C. PERRY.


     Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

The secretary’s clerk wrote January 14, 1852, “Commodore Perry will
proceed to Washington and report to the Secretary of the Navy without
delay.” The head of the Department added in autograph, “Report in person
at the Department.” This time the trip to the Capital was made with
something definite in view.

On the 6th of March, he received orders from the Department detaching
him from the superintendence of United States Mail Steamers and
transferring the command to Commodore Reany. He had, since January 9,
1849, been in active connection with steamship owners, manufacturers and
inventors, and been engaged in testing the newest inventions and
improvements in steam navigation. The transfer was duly made on the 8th,
and on the 23d, we find Perry again in Washington holding long
conversation with the Secretary of the Navy, Hon. W. A. Graham, on the
outfit and personnel of the proposed Japan expedition. On the 24th, he
received formal orders to command the East India squadron.

One of the first officers detailed to assist the Commodore was Lieut.
Silas Bent who had been with Glynn on the _Preble_ at Nagasaki. He was
ordered to report on board the _Mississippi_. Perry’s “Fidus Achates,”
Captain Henry A. Adams, and his special friends, Captains Franklin
Buchanan, Sidney Smith Lee, were invited and gladly accepted. His
exceeding care in the selection of the personnel[24] of the expedition
is shown in a letter from the “Moorings” dated February 2, 1852, to
Captain Franklin Buchanan. He expected them to embark by the first of
April, and sent his ships ahead laden with coal for the war steamers to
the Cape of Good Hope, and Mauritius. He congratulates his old friend on
a new arrival in his household, “You certainly bid fair to have a great
many grandchildren in the course of time. I already have eight.”

“In selecting your officers, pray be careful in choosing them of a
subordinate and gentlemanlike character. We shall be obliged to govern
in some measure, as McKeever says, by _moral_ suasion. McIntosh, I see
by the papers, has changed with Commander Pearson and leaves the
_Congress_, and is now on his way home in the _Falmouth_. We shall now
learn how the philanthropic principle of moral suasion answers.”

The reference is to the state of things consequent upon the abolition of
flogging. Perry was to gather and lead to peaceful victory, the first
American fleet governed without the lash.


[24] See complete list, vol. II. of his official Report.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

THE charts used in the Japan expedition came mostly from Holland, and
cost our government thirty thousand dollars. Perry does not seem to have
been aware that Captain Mercator Cooper of Sag Harbor, Long Island, had
brought home fairly good Japanese charts of the Bay of Yedo, more
accurate probably than any which he was able to purchase. Captain
Beechey of the B. M. S. _Blossom_, had surveyed carefully the seas
around Riu Kiu. The large coast-line map of Japan, in four sheets, made
on modern scientific principles by a wealthy Japanese who had expended
his fortune and suffered imprisonment for his work, which was published
posthumously, was not then accessible.

Intelligent Japanese have been eager to know, and more than one has
asked the writer: “How did Perry get his knowledge of our country and
people?” We answer that he made diligent study of books and men. He had
asked for permission to purchase all necessary books at a reasonable
price. Von Siebold’s colossal work was a mine of information from which
European book-makers were beginning to quarry, as they had long done
from Engelbert Kaempfer, but the importer’s price of Von Siebold’s
_Archiv_ was $503. The interest excited in England by the expedition
caused the publication in London of a cheap reprint of Kaempfer.

By setting in motion the machinery of the librarians and book-collectors
in New York and London, Perry was able to secure a library on the
subject. He speedily and thoroughly mastered their contents.

So far from Japan being a _terra incognita_ in literature, it had been
even then more written about than Turkey. Few far Eastern Asiatic
nations have reason to be proud of so voluminous and polyglot a European
library concerning themselves as the Japanese. On the subject about
which information was as defective as it was most needed, was the
political situation of modern Japan and the true relation of the
“Tycoon” to the Mikado.

Earnestly desirous of impressing the Japanese with American resources
and inventions, the Commodore on March 27th, 1851, had notified the
Department of his intention to obtain specimens of every sort of
mechanical products, arms and machinery, with statistical and other
volumes illustrating the advance of the useful arts. In addition to
this, he notified manufacturers of his wish to obtain samples of every
description. Armed with letters from his friends, the Appletons of New
York, he visited Albany, Boston, New Bedford and Providence to obtain
what he desired, and to inquire into personal details and statistics of
the American whalers engaged in Japanese and Chinese waters. An
unexpectedly great interest was arising from all quarters concerning
Japan and the expedition thither. All with whom he had interviews were
enthusiastic and liberal in aiding him. At New Bedford he learned that
American capital to the amount of seventeen millions was invested in the
whaling industry in the seas of Japan and China. Thousands of our
sailors manned the ships thus employed.

This was before the days of petroleum and the electric light. It
explained also why American shipwrecked sailors were so often found in
Japan. There were reciprocal additions to the populations on both sides
of the Pacific. While the Kuro Shiwo, or Black Current, was sweeping
Japanese junks out to sea and lining the west coast of North America
with wrecks and waifs, the rocky shores of the Sunrise Kingdom were
liberally strewn with castaways, to whom the American flag was the sign
of home.

The cause of this remarkable development of American enterprise in
distant seas lay in the liberal policy of Russia toward our people. Our
first treaty of 1824 declared the navigation and fisheries of the
Pacific free to both nations. The second convention of 1838, signed by
James Buchanan and Count Nesselrode, guaranteed to citizens of the
United States freedom to enter all ports, places and rivers on the
Alaskan coast under Russian protection. Already the northern Pacific was
virtually an American possession.

There was great eagerness on the part of scientific men and learned
societies to be represented in the proposed expedition. Much pressure
was brought to bear upon the Commodore to organize a corps of experts in
the sciences, or to allow favored individual civilians to enter the
fleet. Perry firmly declined all such offers.

He proposed to duplicate none of his predecessor’s blunders, nor to
imperil his personal reputation or the success of a costly expedition by
the presence of landsmen of any sort on board. He sent his son to China
at his own private expense. The expedition was saved the previous
tribulations of Aulick, or the later afflictions of De Long in the

As illustrating the variety of subordinate matters to be looked into, he
was instructed to inquire concerning the product of sulphur, and about
weights and measures. The Norris Brothers of Philadelphia furnished the
little locomotive and rails to be laid down in Japan. These, with a
thousand other details were carefully studied by the Commodore.

Indeed it may be truly said that Perry’s thorough grasp of details
before he left the United States made him already master of the
situation. He knew just what to do, and how to do it. The Japanese did
not. He appreciated the advantage of having sailor, engineer,
diplomatist and captain in one man, and that man himself. Not so with
Rodgers in Corea, in 1871.

If Perry, after his appointment as special envoy of the United States to
Japan, had trusted entirely to his official superiors, he would probably
never have obtained his fleet or won a treaty. Four months after
receiving his appointment, the Whig convention met in Baltimore, June
the 16th. When it adjourned, on June 22nd, the ticket nominated was
“Scott and Graham.” Thenceforth, Secretary Graham took little or no
practical interest in Japan or Perry. The Commodore’s first and hardest
task was to conquer lethargy at home. One instance of his foresight is
seen in his care for a sure supply of coal, without which side-wheel
steamers, almost the only ones then in the navy, were worse than
useless. He directed Messrs. Howland and Aspinwall to send out two coal
ships, one to the Cape of Good Hope and the other to Mauritius. These
floating depots were afterwards of the greatest service to the advance
and following steamers, _Mississippi_, _Powhatan_ and _Alleghany_.

A lively episode in international politics occurred in July, 1852, which
Perry was called upon to settle. New England was convulsed over the
seizure of American fishing vessels by British cruisers. Congress being
still in session, the opposition were not slow to denounce the

Mr. Fillmore invited Mr. John P. Kennedy of “Swallow Barn” literary fame
to succeed Mr. Graham as Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Kennedy took his
seat in the cabinet July 24th. The excitement over the fishery question
was then at fever heat. Mutterings of war were already heard in the
newspapers. Employment for the Mexican veterans seemed promising.

The cabinet decided that the new secretary should give the law, and that
Perry should execute it. Mr. Kennedy, who wisely saw Perry first,
proceeded to draft the letter. On the night of July 28th his studies
resulted in a brilliant state paper, which occupies seven folio pages in
the Book of Confidential Letters, and he then retired to rest. Naturally
his maiden effort in diplomacy tried his nerves. His broken sleep was
disturbed with dreams of codfish and the shades of Lord Aberdeen till

Once more summoning to his aid his old sea-racer the _Mississippi_,
Captain McCluney, Perry left New York July 31st, 1852, stopping at
Eastport, Maine, to get fresh information. There was much irritation
felt by British residents at the alleged depredations of American
fishermen, who, instead of buying their ice, bait, fuel and other
supplies, were sometimes tempted to make raids on the shores of the
islands. One excited person wrote to the admiral of the fleet:

“For God’s sake send a man-of-war here, for the Americans are masters of
the place—one hundred sail are now lying in the harbor. They have
stolen my fire-wood and burnt it on the beach.” They had also set fire
to the woods and committed other spoliations. Collisions with the
British cruisers were imminent, and acts easily leading to war were
feared by the cabinet.

Perry proceeded to Halifax. He traversed the coast of Cape Breton
Island, around Magdalen, and along the north shore of Prince Edward’s
Island, visiting the resorts of the Yankee fishermen, and passing large
fleets of our vessels. He found by experience, and was satisfied, that
there had been repeated infractions of treaty, for which seven seizures
had been made by British cruisers then in command of Admiral Seymour.
The question, at this issue, concerning the rights of Americans fishing
in Canadian waters, was one of geographical science rather than of
diplomacy. It rested upon the answer given to this, “What are bays?” The
last convention between the two countries had been made in 1818, when
the United States renounced her right to fish within three miles of any
of the coasts, bays and harbors of Canada. Only after a number of
American vessels had been seized and prosecuted in the court at Halifax,
was this treaty made. Including those captured for violating the
convention of 1818, the number was sixty in all. The British said to
Perry that the Americans had no right to take fish within three marine
miles of the shore of a British province, or within three miles of a
line drawn from headland to headland across bays. Canadians in American
bottoms were especially expert in evading this law.

Perry found the American fishermen were intelligent and understood the
treaty, but he thought that the Canadian government was too severe upon
them. About 2500 vessels and 27,500 men from our ports took part in the
hazardous occupation, “thus furnishing,” said the Commodore, “a nursery
for seamen, of inestimable advantage to the maritime interests of the
nation.” Added to the force employed in whaling in the North Atlantic,
there were thirty thousand men, mostly native Americans, whose business
was with salt-water fish and mammals. At one point he saw a fleet of
five hundred sail of mackerel fishers.

This diplomatic voyage revealed both the dangers and pathos of the
sailor-fisherman’s life. No class of men engaged in any industry are
subjected to such sufferings, privations and perils. Their own name for
the fishing grounds is “The Graveyard.”

The commercial and naval success of this country is largely the result
of the enterprise and seamanship shown in the whaling fisheries. These
nurseries of the American navy had enabled the United States in two wars
to achieve on the seas so many triumphs over Great Britain. By the same
agencies, Perry hoped to see his country become the greatest commercial
rival of Great Britain. This could be done by looking to the quality of
the common sailor, and maintaining the standard of 1812. For such
reasons, if for no others, the fisheries should be encouraged.

Perry came to adjust amicably the respective rights of both British and
American seamen. He warned his countrymen against encroaching upon the
limits prescribed by the convention of 1818, but at the same time he
would protect American vessels from visitation or interference at points
left in doubt. His mission had a happy consummation. The wholesome
effect of the _Mississippi’s_ visit paved the way for the reciprocity
treaty between Canada and the United States, negotiated at Washington
soon after by Sir Ambrose Shea, and signed June 5th, 1854. The entrance
of Mr. Kennedy in the cabinet was thus made both successful and
brilliant by Commodore Perry. The “hiatus secretary” bridged the gulf of
war with the firm arch of peace. The reciprocity treaty lasted twelve
years, when the irrepressible root of bitterness again sprouted. Despite
diplomacy, correspondence, treaties, and Joint High Commissions, still,
at this writing, in 1887, it vexes the peace of two nations. The axe is
not yet laid at the root of the trouble.

John P. Kennedy, another of the able literary men who have filled the
chair of secretary of the navy, was an ardent advocate of exploration
and peaceful diplomacy. He was heartily in favor of the Japan
expedition. Perry trusted in him so fully that, at last, tired of
innumerable delays, having made profound study of the problem and
elaborated details of preparation, he determined on his return from
Newfoundland, September 15th, to sail in a few weeks in the
_Mississippi_, relying upon the Secretary’s word that other vessels
would be hurried forward with despatch.

Repairing to Washington, the Commodore had long and earnest interviews
with the Secretaries of the State and Navy. Things were now beginning to
assume an air of readiness, yet his instructions, from the State
department, had not yet been prepared. Mr. Webster at this time was only
nominally holding office in the vain hope of recovery to health after a
fall from his horse. Perry, seeing his condition, and fearing further
delays, asked of Mr. Webster, through General James Watson Webb,
permission to write his own instructions.

We must tell the story in General Webb’s own words as found in _The New
York Courier and Inquirer_, and as we heard them reiterated by him in a
personal interview shortly before his death:—

“In the last of those interviews when we were desired by Perry to urge
certain matters which he thought should be embraced in his instructions,
Mr. Webster, with that wisdom and foresight and knowledge, for which he
was so eminently the superior of ordinary men, remarked as follows:

‘The success of this expedition depends solely upon whether it is in the
hands of the right man. It originated with him, and he of all others
knows best how it is to be successfully carried into effect. And if this
be so, he is the proper person to draft his instructions. Let him go to
work, therefore, and prepare instructions for himself, let them be very
brief, and if they do not contain some very exceptionable matter, he may
rest assured they will not be changed. It is so important that if the
expedition sail it should be successful, and to ensure success its
commander should not be trammeled with superfluous or minute
instructions.’ We reported accordingly, and thereupon Commodore Perry,
as we can vouch, for we were present, prepared the original draft of his
instructions under which he sailed for Japan.”

Mr. Webster’s successor and intimate personal friend, Edward Everett,
simply carried out the wishes of his predecessor and made no alteration
in the instructions to Perry. He, however, indited a new letter to the
“Emperor,” which is only an expansion of the Websterian original.
Everett’s “effort” differed from Daniel Webster’s letter, very much as
the orator’s elaboration on a certain battle-field differed from
Lincoln’s simple speech. At Gettysburg the one had the lamp, the other
had immortality in it.

The Japan document was superbly engrossed and enclosed in a gold box
which cost one thousand dollars.

The _Princeton_, a new screw sloop-of-war had been promised to him many
months before, but the autumn was well advanced before her hull, empty
of machinery and towed to New York, was visible. Captain Sydney Smith
Lee was to command her. In the _Mississippi_, Perry towed her to
Baltimore. Then began another of those exasperating stages of suspense
and delay to which naval men are called, and to endure which seems to be
the special cross of the profession. Waiting until November, as eagerly
as a blockader waits for an expected prize from port, he wrote to his
old comrade, Joshua R. Sands:—

    “I am desirous of having you again under my command, and always
    have been, but until now no good opportunity has occurred
    consistently with promises I had made to Buchanan, Lee, and

    “The _Macedonian_ and _Alleghany_ will soon have commanders
    appointed to them. For myself I would prefer the _Alleghany_, as
    from her being a steamer she will have a better chance for
    distinction, and I want a dasher like yourself in her.

    “Rather than have inconvenient delay on account of men, I would
    prefer that you take an over-proportion of young American
    landsmen who would in a very short time become more effective
    men in a steamer than middle-aged seamen of questionable

Commander Sands was eventually unable to go with Perry to Japan; but
afterwards, in his eighty-ninth year the Rear-Admiral, then the oldest
living officer of the navy, in a long letter to the writer gleefully
calls attention to Perry’s trust in young American landsmen. The
_Princeton_ was finally extricated, and with the _Mississippi_ moved
down the Chesapeake. Before leaving Annapolis, a grand farewell
reception was held on the flag-ship’s spacious deck. The President, Mr.
Fillmore, Secretary Kennedy, and a brilliant throng of people bade the
Commodore and officers farewell.

The _Mississippi_ and the _Princeton_ then steamed down the bay
together, when the discovery was made of the entire unfitness of the
screw steamer to make the voyage. Her machinery failed utterly, and at
Norfolk, the _Powhatan_, which had just arrived from the West Indies,
was substituted in her place. The precedent of building only the best
steamers, on the best models, and of the best materials, set by Perry in
the _Mississippi_ and _Missouri_, had not been followed, and
disappointment was the result. The _Princeton_ never did get to sea. She
was a miserable failure in every respect, and was finally sent to
Philadelphia to end her days as a receiving-ship.

On the evening before the day the Commodore left to go on board his ship
then lying at Hampton Roads, a banquet was tendered him by a club of
gentlemen who then occupied a house on G street, west of the War
Department, now much modernized and used as the office of the Signal

There were present at this banquet, as invited guests, Commodore M. C.
Perry, Lieutenant John Contee, and a few other officers of the
Commodore’s staff, Edward Everett, Hon. John P. Kennedy—“Horseshoe
Robinson,” the “hiatus Secretary” of the navy—Col. W. W. Seaton, the
Hon. Alexander H. H. Stuart, Mr. Badger, senator from North Carolina,
John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, Jefferson Davis, the Honorables Beverly
Tucker, Phillip T. Ellicot, Theodore Kane, Johnson, Addison, and Horace
Capron afterwards general of cavalry, and Commissioner of Agriculture at
Washington, and in the service of the Mikado’s government from 1871 to
1874, making in all a party of about twenty-four. The dinner was served
by Wormley, the famous colored caterer.

General Capron says in a letter dated September 13th, 1883:

    “I can only state the impressions made upon my mind by that
    gathering, and the clear and well-defined plans of the
    Commodore’s proposed operations which were brought out in
    response to the various queries. It was apparent that all
    present were well convinced that the Commodore fully
    comprehended the difficulties and the delicate character of the
    work before him. . . . I am bound to say that to my mind it is
    clear that no power but that of the Almighty Disposer of all
    things could have guided our rulers in the selection of a man
    for this most important work.”

Perry’s written instructions were to fulfil the unexecuted orders given
to Commodore Aulick, to assist as far as possible the American minister
in China in prosecuting the claims of Americans upon the government of
Pekin, to explore the coasts, make pictures and obtain all possible
hydrographic and other information concerning the countries to be
visited. No letters were to be written from the ships of the squadron to
the newspapers, and all journals kept by officers or men were to be the
property of the navy Department. The Secretary, in his final letter,

    “In prosecuting the objects of your mission to Japan you are
    invested with large discretionary powers, and you are authorized
    to employ dispatch vessels, interpreters, Kroomen, or natives,
    and all other means which you may deem necessary to enable you
    to bring about the desired results.

    “Tendering you my best wishes for a successful cruise, and a
    safe return to your country and friends for yourself, officers
    and companies of your ships,

                                                  “I am, etc.,
                                                 “JOHN P. KENNEDY.”

From its origin, the nature of the mission was “essentially executive,”
and therefore pacific, as the President had no power to declare war. Yet
the show of force was relied on as more likely, than anything else, to
weigh with the Japanese. Perry believed in the policy of Commodore
Patterson at Naples in 1832, where the pockets of recalcitrant debtors
were influenced through sight and the imagination.

The British felt a keen and jealous interest in the expedition. _The
Times_, which usually reflects the average Briton’s opinion as
faithfully as a burnished mirror the charms of a Japanese damsel,
said:—“It was to be doubted whether the Emperor of Japan would receive
Commodore Perry with most indignation or most contempt.” Japanese
treachery was feared, and while one editorial oracle most seriously
declared that “the Americans must not leave their wooden walls,” Punch
insisted that “Perry must open the Japanese ports, even if he has to
open his own.” Sydney Smith had said, “I am for bombarding all the
exclusive Asiatics, who shut up the earth and will not let me walk
civilly through it, doing no harm and paying for all I want.” The ideal
of a wooer of the Japanese Thornrose, according to another, was that no
blustering bully or roaring Commodore would succeed. “Our embassador
should be one who, with the winning manner of a Jesuit, unites the
simplicity of soul and straightforwardness of a Stoic.”

Providence timed the sailing of the American Expedition and the advent
of the ruler of New Japan so that they should occur well nigh
simultaneously. The first circumnavigation of the globe by a steam war
vessel of the United States began when Matthew Perry left Norfolk,
November 24th, 1852 three weeks after the birth in Kiōto of Mutsŭhito,
the 123d, and now reigning Mikado of “Everlasting Great Japan.”

Perry had remained long enough to learn the result of the national
election, and the choice of his old friend Franklin Pierce to the
Presidency. Tired of delay, he sailed with the _Mississippi_ alone. At
Funchal the Commodore made official calls in the fashionable conveyance
of the place, a sled drawn by oxen, and laid in supplies of beef and
coal. The incidents on the way out, and of the stops made at Madeira,
St. Helena, Cape Town, Mauritius, Ceylon and Singapore, have been
described by himself, in his official narrative, and by his critic J. W.
Spalding,[25] a clerk on the flag-ship. Anchor was cast off Hong Kong on
the 6th of April, where the _Plymouth_, _Saratoga_, and _Supply_, were
met. The next day was devoted to the burning of powder in salutes, and
to the exchange of courtesies. Shanghai was reached May 4th. Here,
Bayard Taylor, the “landscape painter in words,” joined the expedition
as master’s mate. The Commodore’s flag was transferred to the
_Susquehanna_ on the 17th.


The low, level and monotonous and uninteresting shores of China were
left behind on the 23d, and on the 26th, the bold, variegated and rocky
outlines of Riu Kiu rose into view. An impressive reception, with full
military and musical honors, was given on the third, to the regent and
his staff on the _Susquehanna_. The climax of all was the interview in
the cabin. In lone dignity, the Commodore gave the Japanese the first
taste of the mystery-play in which they had thus far so excelled, and in
which they were now to be outdone. Perry could equal in pomp and dignity
either Mikado or Shō-gun when he chose. He notified the grand old
gentleman that, during the following week, he would pay a visit to the
palace at Shuri. Despite all objections and excuses, the Commodore
persisted, as his whole diplomatic policy was to be firm, take no steps
backward, and stick to the truth in everything. His open frankness
helped by its first blows to shatter down that system of lying,
deception, and espionage, under which the national character had decayed
during the rule of the Tokugawas.

On the 9th of June, with the _Susquehanna_ having the _Saratoga_ in tow,
the Commodore set out northwards for a visit to the Ogasawara or Bonin
islands, first explored by the Japanese in 1675, and variously visited
and named by European navigators. Captain Reuben Coffin of Nantucket, in
the ship _Transit_, from Bristol, owned by Fisher, Kidd and Fisher,
landed on the southern or “mother” island September 12th, in 1824,
fixing also its position and giving it his name. British and Russian
captains followed his example, and also nailed inscribed sheets of
copper sheathing to trees in token of claims made. “Under the auspices
of the Union Jack” a motley colony of twenty persons of five
nationalities settled Peel island, one of the group, in 1830. Perry
found eight whites, cultivating nearly one hundred acres of land, who
sold fresh supplies to whalers. The head of the community was Nathanael
Savory of Massachusetts. Perry left cattle, sheep, and goods, seeds and
supplies and an American flag. He arrived at Napa again June 23d, and
the 2d of July, 1853, the expedition left for the Bay of Yedo. Many and
unforeseen delays had hindered the Commodore, and now that he was at the
doors of the empire, how different was fulfilment from promise! Over and
over again “an imposing squadron” of twelve vessels had been promised
him, and now he had but two steamers and two sloops. Uncertain when the
other vessels might appear, he determined to begin with the force in
hand. The _Supply_ left behind, and the _Caprice_ sent back to Shanghai,
he had but the _Mississippi_, _Susquehanna_, _Plymouth_ and _Saratoga_.

The promontory of Idzu loomed into view on the hazy morning of the 7th,
and Rock island—now crowned by a lighthouse, and connected by telephone
with the shore and with Yokohama, but then bare—was passed. Cape Sagami
was reached at noon, and at 3 o’clock the ships had begun to get within
range of the forts that crowned or ridged the headlands of the
promontory. The weather cleared and the cone of Fuji, in a blaze of
glory, rose peerless to the skies.

Cautiously the ships rounded the cape, when from one of the forts there
rose in the air a rocket-signal. “Japanese day fire-works” are now
common enough at Coney Island. Made of gunpowder and wolf dung, they are
fired out of upright bamboo-bound howitzers made of stout tree trunks.
The “shell” exploded high in air forming a cloud of floating dust. The
black picture stained the sky for several minutes. It was a signal to
the army lying in the ravines, and a notice, repeated at intervals, to
the court at Yedo. The expected Perry had “sailed into the Sea of Sagami
and into Japanese history.”

In the afternoon, the first steamers ever seen in Japanese waters,
dropped anchor off Uraga. As previously ordered, by diagram of the
Commodore, the ships formed a line broadside to the shore. The ports
were opened, and the loaded guns run out. Every precaution was taken to
guard against surprise from boats, by fire-junks, or whatever native
ingenuity should devise against the big “black ships.”

The first signal made from the flag-ship was this, “Have no
communication with the shore, have none from the shore.” The night
passed quietly and without alarms. Only the boom of the temple bells,
the glare of the camp-fires, and the dancing of lantern lights told of
life on the near land. This is the view from the American decks. Let us
now picture the scene from the shore, as native eyes saw it.


[25] The Japan Expedition, New York, 1855

                              CHAPTER XXX.

AMONG the many names of their beautiful country, the Japanese loved none
more than that of “Land of Great Peace,”—a breath of grateful repose
after centuries of war. The genius of Iyéyasŭ had, in the seventeenth
century, won rest, and nearly a quarter of a millennium of quiet
followed. The fields trampled down by the hoof of the war-horse and the
sandal of the warrior had been re-planted, the sluices and terraces
repaired, and seed time and harvest passed in unintermitting succession.
The merchant bought and sold, laid up tall piles of gold kobans, and
thanked Daikokŭ and Amida for the blessings of wealth and peace. The
shop keeper held a balance of two hundred _rios_ against the day of
devouring fire or wasting sickness, or as a remainder for his children
after the expenses of his funeral. The artisan toiled in sunny content,
and at daily prayer, thanked the gods that he was able to rear his
family in peace. Art and literature flourished. The samurai, having no
more use for his sword, yet ever believing it to be “his soul,” wore it
as a memento of the past and guard for the future. He lounged in the
tea-houses disporting with the pretty girls; or if of studious tastes,
he fed his mind, and fired his heart with the glories of Old Japan. As
for the daimiōs, they filled up the measure of their existence,
alternately at Yedo, and in their own dominions, with sensual luxury,
idle amusement, or empty pomp. All, all was profound peace. The arrows
rusted in the arsenals, or hung glittering in vain display, made into
screens or designs on the walls. The spears stood useless on their butts
in the vestibules, or hung in racks over the doors hooded in black
cloth. The match-locks were bundled away as curious relics of war long
distant, and for ever passed away. The rusty cannon lay unmounted in the
castle yards, where the snakes and the rats made nests and led forth
their troops of young for generations.

Upon this scene of calm—the calm of despotism—broke the vision of “the
black ships at Uraga.” At this village, long noted for its _Midzu-amé_
or rice-honey, the Japanese were to have their first taste of modern
civilization. Its name, given nine, perhaps eleven centuries before, was
auspicious, though they knew it not. The Chinese characters, sounded
Ura-ga, mean “Coast Congratulation.” At first a name of foreboding, it
was to become a word of good cheer!

“The fire-vessels of the western barbarians are coming to defile the
Holy Country,” said priest and soldier to each other on the afternoon of
the third day of the sixth month of Kayéi, in the reign of the Emperor
Koméi. The boatman at his sculls and the junk sailor at the tiller gazed
in wonder at the painted ships of the western world. The farmer,
standing knee deep in the ooze of the rice fields, paused to gaze,
wondering whether the barbarians had harnessed volcanoes. With wind
blowing in their teeth and sails furled, the monsters curled the white
foam at their front, while their black throats vomited sparks and smoke.
To the gazers at a distance, as they looked from their village on the
hill tops, the whole scene seemed a mirage created, according to their
childhood’s belief, by the breath of clams. The Land of Great Peace lay
in sunny splendor. The glorious cone of Fuji capped with fleecy clouds
of white, never looked more lovely. Even the great American admiral must
surely admire the peerless mountain.[26] The soldiers in the fort on the
headlands, obeying orders, would forbear to fire lest the fierce
barbarians should begin war at once. The rocket signal would alarm great
Yedo. The governor at Uraga would order the foreigners to Nagasaki.
Would they obey? The bluff whence the _Morrison_ had been fired upon
years before, once rounded, would the barbarians proceed further up the
bay? Suspense was short. The great splashing of the wheels ceased. As
the imposing line lay within an arrow’s range, off the shore, the
rattling of the anchor-chains was heard even on land. The flukes gripped
bottom at the hour of the cock (5 P. M.)

The yakunin or public business men of Uraga had other work to do that
day than to smoke, drink tea, lounge on their mats, or to collect the
customs from junks bound to Yedo. As soon as the ships were sighted, the
buniō, his interpreter, and satellites, donned their ceremonial dress of
hempen cloth and their lacquered hats emblazoned with the Tokugawa
trefoil, thrust their two swords in their belts, their feet in their
sandals, and hied to the water’s edge. Their official barge propelled by
twelve scullsmen shot out to the nearest vessel. By their orders a
cordon of boats provisioned for a stay on the water was drawn around the
fleet; but the crews, to their surprise could not fasten their lines to
the ships nor climb up on board. The “hairy barbarians,” as was not the
case with previous visitors, impolitely pitched off their ropes, and
with cocked muskets and fixed bayonets really threatened to use the ugly
tools if intruders mounted by the chains. A great many _naru hodo_ (the
equivalent of “Well I never!” “Is it possible?” “Indeed!”) were
ejaculated in consequence.

Mr. Nakashima Saburosŭké (or, in English, Mr. Middle Island, Darling No.
3) vice-governor, and an officer of the seventh or eighth rank, was
amazed to find that even he, a yakunin and dressed in _kami-shimo_
uniform, his boat flying the governor’s pennant, and his bearers holding
spears and the Tokugawa trefoil flag, could not get on board. The
_i-jin_ (outlanders) did not even let down their gangway ladder, when
motioned to do so. This was cause for another official _naru hodo_. The
barbarians wished to confer with the governor himself. Only when told
that the law forbade that functionary from boarding foreign ships, did
they allow Mr. Nakashima and his interpreter Hori Tatsunosūké (Mr. Conch
Dragon-darling,) to board. Even then, he was not allowed to see the
grand high yakunin of the fleet, the Commodore, who was showing himself
master of Japanese tactics.

Perry was playing Mikado. The cabin was the abode of His High Mighty
Mysteriousness. He was for the time being Kin-réi, Lord of the Forbidden
Interior. He was Tennō, (son of the skies) and Tycoon (generalissimo)
rolled into one. His Lieutenant Contee acted as Nai-Dai-Jin, or Great
Man of the Inner Palace. A tensō, or middle man, secretary or clerk,
carried messages to and fro from the cabin, but the child of the gods
with the topknot and two swords knew it not. Since the hermits of Japan
were not familiar [with] the rank of Commodore, but only of Admiral,
this title came at once and henceforth into use. The old proverb
concerning the prophet and his honors abroad found new illustration in
all the negotiations, and Perry enjoyed more fame at the ends of the
earth than at home.

Mr. Nakashima Saburosŭké was told the objects for which the invisible
Admiral came. He had been sent by the President of the United States on
a friendly mission. He had a letter addressed to “the emperor.” He
wished an officer of proper rank to be chosen to receive a copy, and
appoint a day for the momentous act of accepting with all the pomp and
ceremony and circumstance, so august a document from so mighty a ruler,
of so great a power. The Admiral would _not_ go to Nagasaki. With
imperturbable gravity of countenance, but with many mental _naru hodo_,
the dazed native listened. The letter must be received where he then

Further, while the intentions of the admiral were perfectly friendly, he
would allow of no indignity. If the guard-boats were not _immediately_
removed, they would be dispersed by force. Anxious above all things to
preserve peace with the _i-jin_ or barbarians, the functionary of Uraga
rose immediately, and ordered the punts, sampans and guard-boats away.

This, the first and master move of the mysterious and inaccessible
Commodore in the game of diplomacy, practiced with the Riu Kiu regent
was repeated in Yedo Bay. The foiled yakunin, clothed with only a shred
of authority, could promise nothing, and went ashore. There is scarcely
a doubt that he ate less rice and fish that evening. Perhaps he left his
bowl of _miso_ (bean-sauce) untasted, his _shiru_ (fish soup) unsipped.
The probabilities approach certainty that he smoked a double quota of
pipes of tobacco. A “hairy” barbarian had snubbed a yakunin. Naruhodo!

Darkness fell upon the rice fields and thatched dwellings. The blue
waters were spotted with millions of white jelly-fishes looking as
though as many plates of white porcelain were floating submerged in a
medium of their own density. Within the temples on shore, anxious
congregations gathered to supplicate the gods to raise tempests of wind
such as centuries ago swept away the Mongol armada and invaders. The
“divine breath” had wrought wonders before, why not now also?

Indoors, dusty images and holy pictures were cleansed, the household
shrines renovated, fresh oil supplied to the lamps, numerous candles
provided, and prayers uttered such as father and mother had long since
ceased to offer. The gods were punishing the people for neglect of their
altars and for their wickedness, by sending the “ugly barbarians” to
destroy their “holy country.” Rockets were shot up from the forts, and
alarm fires blazed on the headlands. These were repeated on the hills,
and told with almost telegraphic rapidity the story of danger far
inland. The boom of the temple bells, and the sharp strokes on those of
the fire-lookouts, kept up the ominous sounds and spread the news.

For several years past unusual portents had been seen in the heavens,
but that night a spectacle of singular majesty and awful interest
appeared. At midnight the whole sky was overspread with a luminous blue
and reddish tint, as though a flaming white dragon were shedding floods
of violet sulphurous light on land and sea. Lasting nearly four hours,
it suffused the whole atmosphere, and cast its spectral glare upon the
foreign ships, making hull, rigging and masts as frightfully bright as
the Taira ghosts on the sea of Nagatō. Men now living remember that
awful night with awe, and not a few in their anxiety sat watching
through the hours of darkness until, though the day was breaking, the
landscape faded from view in the gathering mist.

The morning dawned. The barbarians had remained tranquil during the
night. The unhappy yakunin probably forgot the lie[27] he had told the
day before, for at 7 o’clock by the foreigners’ time, the governor
himself, Kayama Yézayémon, with his satellites arrived off the
flag-ship. Its name, the _Susquehanna_, struck their fancy pleasantly,
because the sound resembled those of “bamboo” (suzuki) and “flower”
(hana). The grand dignitary of Uraga in all the glory of embroidery,
gilt brocade, swords, and lacquered helmet with padded chin straps,
ascended the gangway as if climbing to the galleries of a wrestling
show. Alas, that the barbarians, who did not even hold their breath,
should be so little impressed by this living museum of decorative art.
There was not one of them that fell upon his hands and knees. Not one
Jack Tar swabbed the deck with his forehead. Some secretly snickered at
the bare brown legs partly exposed between the petticoat and the blue
socks. This buniō in whose very name are reflected the faded glories of
the old imperial palace guard in medieval Kiōto, was accustomed to ride
in splendid apparel on a steed emblazoned with crests, trappings and
tassels, its mane in pompons, and its tail encased, like an umbrella, in
a silk bag. His attendant outwalkers moved between rows of prone palms
and faces, and of upturned top-knots and shining pates. Now, he felt ill
at ease in simple sandals on the deck of a mighty ship. The “hairy
foreigners” were taller than he, notwithstanding his lacquered helmet.
In spite of silk trousers, and rank one notch higher than the official
of yesterday, he was unable to hold personal intercourse with the Lord
of the Forbidden Interior. The American Tycoon could not be seen. The
buniō met only the San Dai Jin, Captains Buchanan and Adams, and
Lieutenant Contee. A long discussion resulted in the unalterable
declaration that the Admiral would NOT _go to Nagasaki_. He would _not_
wait _four_ days for an answer from Yedo, but only _three_. The survey
boats _would_ survey the waters of the bay.

“His Excellency” (!) the buniō was shown the varnish and key hole of the
magnificent caskets containing the letters from the great ruler of the
United States. Eve did not eye the forbidden fruit of the tree of
knowledge of good and evil with more consuming curiosity, than did that
son of an inquisitive race ogle the glittering mysterious box. It was
not for him to know the contents. He was moved to offer food and water.
With torturing politeness, the “hairy faces” declined. They had enough
of everything. The ugly barbarians even demanded that the same term of
respect should be applied to their President as that given to the great
and mighty figure-head at Yedo. This came near being a genuine comedy of
Much Ado about Nothing, since one of the Tycoon’s titles expressed, in
English print was “O.”

In spite of the rising gorge and other choking sensations, the
republican president was dubbed Dairi. The buniō of Uraga was told that
further discussion was unnecessary, until an answer was received. No
number of silent volleys of “_naru hodo_” (indeed) “_tai-hen_” (hey yo)
or “_dekinai_” (cannot) could possibly soothe the internal storm in the
breast of the snubbed buniō. He gathered himself up, and with bows
profound enough to make a right angle of legs and body, and much sucking
in of the breath _ad profundis_, said his “_sayonara_” (farewell) and
went ashore.

The third day dawned, again to usher in fresh anomaly. The Americans
would transact no business on this day! Why? It was the Sabbath, for
rest and worship, honored by the “Admiral” from childhood in public as
well as private life. “Dōntaku” (Sunday,) the interpreter told the
buniō. With the aid of glasses from the bluffs on shore, they saw the
_Mississippi’s_ capstan wreathed with a flag, a big book laid thereon,
and smaller books handed round. One, in a gown, lowered his head; all
listening did likewise. Then all sang, the band lending its instrumental
aid to swell the volume of sound. The strains floated shoreward and were
heard. The music was “Old Hundred.” The hymn was “Before Jehovah’s awful
throne, Ye nations bow with sacred joy.” The open book on the capstan
was the Bible. In the afternoon, a visiting party of minor dignitaries
was denied admittance to the decks of the vessels; nor was this a mere
freak of Perry’s, but according to a habit and principle.

This was the American rest-day, and Almighty God was here worshiped in
sight of His most glorious works. The Commodore was but carrying out a
habit formed at his mother’s knee, and never slighted at home or abroad.
To read daily the Bible, receiving it as the word of God, and to honor
Him by prayer and praise was the chief part of the “provision sufficient
to sustain the mind” so often recommended by him to officers and men.
“This was the only notable demonstration which he made before landing.”

“Remarkable was this Sabbath morning salutation, in which an American
fleet, with such music as those hillsides never re-echoed before,
chanted the glories of Jehovah before the gates of a heathen nation. It
was a strange summons to the Japanese.” Its echoes are now heard in a
thousand glens and in the cities of the Mikado’s empire. The waters of
Yedo Bay have since become a baptismal flood. Where cannon was cast to
resist Perry now stands the Imperial Female Normal College. On the
treaty grounds rises the spire of a Christian church.

Meanwhile, the erection of earth-works along the strand and on the
bluffs progressed. The farm laborers, the fishermen, palanquin-bearers,
pack-horse leaders, women and children were impressed into the work.
With hoe and spade, and baskets of rope matting slung from a pole borne
on the shoulders of two men, or each with divided load depending
scale-wise from one shoulder, receiving an iron cash at each passing of
the paymaster, they toiled day and night. Rude parapets of earth knit
together with grass were made and pierced with embrasures. These were
twice too wide for unwieldly, long, and ponderously heavy brass cannon
able to throw a three or six pound ball. The troops were clad in mail of
silk, iron and paper, a kind of war corset, for which rifle balls have
little respect. Their weapons were match-locks and spears. Their
evolutions were those of Taikō’s time, both on drill and parade.
Curtained camps sprung up, around which stretched impressive walls of
cotton cloth etched by the dyer’s mordant with colossal crests. These
were not to represent “sham forts, of striped canvas,” and thus to
frighten the invaders, as the latter supposed; but, according to
immemorial custom, to denote military business, and to display either
the insignia of the great Shō-gun or the particular clan to which a
certain garrison or detachment belonged. The political system headed by
the Tycoon, had to the Japanese mind nothing amusing in its name of
Bakafu or Curtain Government, though to the foreigner, suggestive of
Mrs. Caudle. It had, however, a certain hostile savor. It was a mild
protest against the camp over-awing the throne. It implied criticism of
the Shō-gun, and reverence to the Mikado.

The names and titles which now desolated the air and suffered phonetic
wreck in collision with the vocal organs to which they were so strange,
furnish not only an interesting linguistic study, but were a mirror of
native history. The uncouth forms which they took upon the lips of the
latest visiting foreigners are hardly worse in the scholar’s eyes, than
the deviations which the Japanese themselves made from the Aino
aboriginal or imported Chinese forms. In its vocabulary the Japanese is
a very mixed language, and the majority of its so called elegant terms
of speech is but mispronounced Chinese. To the Americans, the name of
one of the interpreters seemed “compounded of two sneezes and a cough,”
though when analyzed into its component elements, it reflects the
changes in Japanese history as surely as fossils in the rocks reveal the
characteristics of bygone geological ages. In the old days of the
Mikado’s supremacy, in fact as well as in law, when he led his troops in
war, instead of being exiled in a palace; that is, before the thirteenth
century, both military and civil titles had a meaning. Names had a
reality behind them, and were symbols of a fact. A man with _kami_
(lord) after his name was an actual governor of a province; one with
_mon_ terminating his patronymic was a member of the imperial guard, a
soldier or sentinel at the _Sayé mon_ (left gate) or _Uyé mon_ (right
gate) of the palace; a _Hei_ was a real soldier with a sword or arrow,
spear or armor. A _suké_ or a _jō a marō_ or a _himé_, a _kamon_ or a
_tono_ was a real deputy or superior, a prince or princess, a palace
functionary or a palace occupant of imperial blood. All this was changed
when, in the twelfth century, the authority was divided into civil and
military, and two capitals and centers of government, typified by the
Throne and the Camp, sprang up. The Mikado kept his seat, the prestige
of antiquity and divinity, and the fountain of authority at Kiōto, while
the Shō-gun or usurping general held the purse and the sword at
Kamakura. Gradually the Shō-gun (army-commander, general) usurped more
and more power, claiming it as necessary, and invariably obtaining new
leases of power until little was left to the Mikado but the shadow of
authority. The title of Tai-kun (“Tycoon”) meaning Great Prince, and the
equivalent of a former title of the Mikado was assumed. Next the
military rulers at Kamakura, from the twelfth to the sixteenth century
and in Yedo from the seventeenth century, controlled the appointments of
their nominees to office, and even compelled the Emperor to make certain
of them hereditary in elect families. The multitude of imperial titles,
once carrying with their conferment actual duties and incomes, and
theoretically functional in Kiōto became, as reality decayed, in the
higher grades empty honorifics of the Tycoon’s minions, and in the lower
were degraded to ordinary personal names of the agricultural gentry or
even common people. What was once an actual official title sunk to be a
mere final syllable in a name.

The writer, when a resident in the Mikado’s empire, was accustomed to
address persons with most lofty, grandiloquent, and high flown names,
titles and decorative patronymics, in which the glories of decayed
imperialism and medieval history were reflected. His cook was an
Imperial Guardsman of the Left, his stable boy was a Regent of the
University, while not a few servants, mechanics, field hands and manure
carriers, were Lords of the Chamber, Promoters of Learning,
Superintendents of the Palace Gardens, or various high functionaries
with salary and office. Just as the decayed mythology and far off
history of the classic nations furnished names for the slaves in
Carolina cotton fields, in the days when Lempriêre was consulted for the
christening of newly born negro babies, so, the names borne by thousands
of Japanese to-day afford to the foreign analyst of words and to the
native scholar both amusement and reflection. To the Americans on
Perry’s fleet they furnished endless jest as phonetic and linguistic


[26] A Japanese poet puts this stanza in the mouth of Perry; “Little did
I dream that I should here, after crossing the salty path, gaze upon the
snow-capped Fuji of this land.”

[27] “M—— Y—— is at Shimoda, and has not forgotten the art of
lying.” Townsend Harris to Perry, October 27, 1857.

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

OPENING upon the beautiful bay (_yé_), like a door (_do_), the great
city in the Kuantō, or Broad East of Japan, was well-named Bay-door, or
Yedo. Founded as a military stronghold tributary to the Shō-gun at
Kamakura in the fourteenth century, by Ota Dō Kuan, it was made in 1603
the seat of the government by Iyéyasŭ. This man, mighty both in war and
in peace, and probably Japan’s greatest statesman, made the little
village a mighty city, and founded the line of Shō-guns of the Tokugawa
family, which ruled in the person of fifteen Tycoons until 1868. To the
twelfth of the line Iyéyoshi, President Fillmore’s letter was to be
delivered, and with the thirteenth, Iyésada, the American treaty made.
The Americans dubbed each “Emperor”!

Yedo’s chief history and glory are associated with the fortunes of the
Tokugawas. It had reached the zenith of its greatness when Perry’s ships
entered the bay. Its palaces, castles, temples, and towers were then in
splendor never attained before or beheld in Japan since. It was the
centre of wealth, learning, art and gay life. Its population numbered
one million two hundred thousand souls, of whom were five hundred
thousand of the military class.

Upon this mass of humanity the effect of the news of “black ships” at
their very doors was startling. All Yedo was soon in a frightful state
of commotion. With alarmed faces the people thronged to the shrines to
pray, or hastily packed their valuables, to bury or send off to the
houses of distant friends. In the southern suburbs thousands of houses
were emptied of their contents and of the sick and aged. Many who could,
left their homes to go and dwell with relatives in the country. Couriers
on horseback had first brought details of the news by land. Junks and
scull-boats from Uraga arrived hourly at Shinagawa, and foot-runners
bearing dispatches panted in the government offices. They gave full
descriptions of what had been said and done, the number, shape and size
of the vessels, and in addition to verbal and written statements, showed
drawings of the black ships and of the small boats manned by the
sailors. It was no clam’s-breath mirage this time. The rumor so often
pooh-poohed had turned to reality.[28]

The samurai went to their _kura_ (fire proof storehouses) and unpacked
their armor to repair and furbish, and to see if they could breathe, as
they certainly could perspire in it, and brandish a sword with both
hands, when fully laced up. They scoured the rust off their spears,
whetted and feathered their arrows, and restrapped their quivers upon
which the moths had long feasted. The women rehemmed or ironed out flags
and pennants. Intense activity prevailed on the drill grounds and
matchlock ranges. New earth-banks for targets were erected. Vast
quantities of powder were burned in practice. It was the harvest time of
the priests, the armorers, the sword-makers, and the manufacturers of
oiled paper coats, leggings, hats and sandals, so much needed in that
rainy climate during camp-life. The drug business boomed with activity,
for the hastily gathered and unseasoned soldiers lying under arms in
camp suffered from all sorts of maladies arising from exposure.

Hokŭsai, whose merciless caricatures of carpet soldiers once made all
Japan laugh, and who had died four years before with the snows of nearly
ninety years upon his head, was not there to see the fun. His pupils,
however, put the humor of the situation on paper; and caricatures,
lampoons and jokes directed against these sons of luxury in camp were
numerous, and after the departure of the ships they found ready sale.

One enterprising merchant and ship owner in Yedo had, months before
Perry arrived, made a fortune by speculating in oiled paper, buying up
all he could lay his hands upon, making water-proof garments and selling
at high prices. Indiscreetly exulting over his doings, he gave a feast
to his many friends whom his sudden wealth had made. The two proverbs
“_In vino veritas_,” and “Wine in, wit out,” kissed each other. Over his
merry cups he declared that “the vessels of the barbarians” had been
“the treasure-ships of the seven gods of happiness” to him. The
authorities got wind of the boast, and clapped the unlucky wight in
prison. He was charged with secretly trading with foreign countries. His
riches took wings and flew into the pockets of the yakunin and the
informer. While the American ships were at Napa he was beheaded. His
fate sobered other adventurous spirits, but did not injure business.

The book-sellers and picture-shop keepers, who had sent artists down to
Uraga, also coined _kobans_ by selling “brocade pictures” or broadsides
bedizened with illustrations in color, of the floating monsters and the
tall man of strange garb, speech, tonsure, hirsute fashion, and shape of
eyes. Fans, gaily colored and depicting by text and drawing the wonders
that now thrilled the nation, were sent into the interior and sold by
thousands. The governor was compelled to issue proclamations to calm the
public alarm.

Meanwhile, in the castle, the daimiōs were acquainted with the nature of
the despatches and the object of the American envoy. Discussion was
invited, but there was nothing to be said. Innumerable pipes were
smoked. Long hours were spent on the mats in sedentary recumbence on
knees and heels. Uncounted cups of tea were swilled. Incredible
indignation, impotent wrath and contempt were poured upon the ugly
barbarians, but still an answer to the unanswered question, “what was to
be done?” could not be deferred. This was the problem.

They must first lie to the foreigners and make them believe that the
Shō-gun was a Tai-kun and had imperial power. This done, they would then
have the chronic task of articulating lie after lie to conceal from
prying eyes the truth that the Yedo government was a counterfeit and
subordinate. The Shō-gun was no emperor at all, and what would they do
if the hairy devils should take a notion to go to Kiōto? They could not
resist the big ships and men, and yet they knew not what demands the
greedy aliens would make. They had no splendid war vessels as in Taikō’s
time, when the keels of Japan ploughed every sea in Asia and carried
visitors to Mexico, to India, to the Phillipines. No more, as in
centuries ago, were their sailors the Northmen of the sea, able to make
even the coasts of China and Corea desolate, and able to hurl back the
Mongol armada of Kubhlai Khan. Then should the Americans land, and, by
dwelling in it, defile the Holy Country, the strain upon the government
to keep the foreigners within bounds and to hold in the Yedo cage the
turbulent daimiōs would be too great. Already many of the vassals of
Tokugawa were in incipient rebellion. If Japan were opened, they would
have a pretext for revolt, and would obey only the imperial court in
Kiōto. The very existence of the Tokugawa family would then be
jeoparded. If they made a treaty, the “mikado-reverencers” would defy
the compact, since they knew that the Tycoon was only a daimiō of low
rank with no right to sign. In vain had the official censors purged the
writings of historical scholars. Political truth was leaking out fast,
and men’s eyes were being opened. In vain were the prisons taxed to hold
in the whisperers, the thinkers, the map-makers, the men who believed
the country had fallen behind, and that only the Mikado restored to
ancient authority could effect improvement.

Finally, two daimiōs were appointed to receive the letter. Orders were
given to the clans and coast daimiōs to guard the most important
strategic positions fronting the bay of Yedo, lest the foreigners should
proceed to acts of violence. Several thousands of troops were despatched
in junks to the earth forts along the bay of Yedo.

Meanwhile Perry, the Lord of the Forbidden Interior, had allowed no
Japanese to gaze upon his face. The buniō had held several consultations
with the Admiral’s subordinates, had been shown the ship and
appointments, and had tasted the strangers’ diet. The barbarian pudding
was delicious. The liquors were superb. One glass of sugared brandy made
the whole western world kin. The icy armor of reserve was shuffled off.
The august functionary became jolly. “Naruhodo” and “tai-hen” dropped
from his lips like minted coins from a die. So happy and joyful was he,
that he forgot, while his veins were warm, that he had not gained a
single point, while the invisible Admiral had won all.

A conference was arranged to be held at Kurihama (long-league strand), a
hamlet between Morrison Bluff and Uraga for July 13th. The minutest
details of etiquette were settled. The knowing subordinates, inspired by
His Inaccessibility in the cabin, solemnly weighed every feather-shred
of punctilio as in the balances of the universe. In humiliation and
abasement, Mr. Yézayémon regretted that upholstered arm-chairs and wines
and brandies could not be furnished their guests on the morrow. It was
no matter. The “Admiral” would sit like the dignitaries from Yedo; but,
as it ill befitted his Mysterious Augustness to be pulled very far in a
small boat, he would proceed in the steamers to a point opposite the
house of deliberation within range of his Paixhans. He would land with a
proper retinue of officers and soldiers. Possibly a Golownin mishap
might occur, and the Admiral wished to do nothing disagreeable. Even if
the government was perfectly sincere in intentions, the swiftness of
Japanese assassins was proverbial, and the _rō-nin_ (wave-man) was

The day before, sawyers had been busy, boards and posts hauled, and all
night long the carpenters sent down from Yedo plied chisel and mallet,
hooked adze and saw. Mat sewers and binders, satin curtain hangers, and
official canvas-spreaders were busy as bees. Finally the last
parallelogram of straw was laid, the last screen arranged, the last silk
curtain hung. The retainers of Toda, Idzu no kami, the hatamoto, with
all his ancestral insignia of crests, scarlet pennants, spears, banners,
lanterns, umbrellas, and feudalistic trumpery were present. The
followers of Ito were there too, in lesser numbers. For hundreds of
yards stretched canvas imprinted with the Tokugawa blazon, a trefoil of
Asarum leaves. On the beach stood the armed soldiers of several clans,
while the still waters glittering in the beams of the unclouded sun were
gay with boats and fluttering pennants.

In the matter of shine and dazzle the Japanese were actually outdone by
the Americans.

The barbarian officers had curious looking golden adornments on their
shoulders, and pieces of metal called “buttons” on the front of their
coats. What passed the comprehension of the spectators, was that the
same curious ornaments were found at the back of their coats below the
hips. Why did they wear buttons behind? Instead of grand and imposing
_hakama_ (petticoat trousers) and flowing sleeves, they had on tight
blue garments. As the sailors rowed in utterly different style from the
natives, sitting back to the shore as they pulled, they presented a
strange spectacle. They made almost deafening and hideous noises with
brass tubes and drums, with which they seemed pleased. The native
scullers could have beaten the foreign rowers had the trial been one of
skill. The Uraga yakunin and Captain Buchanan led the van of boats. When
half way to the shore, thirteen red tongues flamed out like dragons, and
thirteen clouds of smoke like the breath of the mountain gods, leaped
out of the throats of the barbarian guns.

Then, and then only, the High, Grand, and Mighty, Invisible and
Mysterious, Chief Barbarian, representative of the august potentate in
America, who had thus far augustly kept himself behind the curtain in
secrecy, revealed himself and stepped into his barge. The whole line
then moved to the beach. A few minutes later there were a thousand
scowls and curses, and clinching of fingers on sword-hilts, and vows of
revenge, as the soil of the holy country was defiled by the first
barbarian, Buchanan, who sprang ashore on the jetty hastily made of
straw rice bags filled with sand.

Many a countryman in the crowds of spectators on the hills around, as he
saw the three hundred sailors, mariners, bandsmen and officers, went
home to tell his fellow-villagers of foreigners ten feet in stature, as
hairy in face as dogs, with polls on their crown as red as the shōjo (or
scarlet-headed demons), and of ships as big as mountains, having guns
that made heaven and earth crash together when they were fired. The
numbers as reported in the distant provinces ran into myriads.

There was no one that gazed more upon Commodore Perry than Kazama
Yézayémon. He, the snubbed buniō, had waited through the minutes of the
hours of five days to see the mighty personage. With vast officiousness
he now led the way to the pavilion. Two gigantic tars carried the
American flag, and two boys the mysterious red box whose outside Kazama
had seen. Of majestic mien and portly form, tall, proud and stately, but
not hairy faced, “big as a wrestler, dignified as a kugé,” (court noble)
the august Commodore, already victor, advanced forward. On either side
as his guard, stalked a colossal _kurumbō_ (black man) armed to the
teeth. This sable pair, guarding the burly Commodore, like the Ni O (two
kings) of a temple portal, constituted one of the greatest curiosities
of the pageant. Many in the gazing crowds had never seen a white man;
but probably not one had ever looked upon a human being whose whole skin
was as black as the eyes of Fudō. Only in the theatre, when they had
seen the candle-holders with faces smeared with lamp black, had they
ever beheld aught like what now smote their eyes.

The procession entered the pavilion with due pomp. The Japanese
officials were all dressed in kami-shimo (high and low) or ceremonial
winged dress of gold brocade. Toda, Idzu no kami, and Ito, Iwami no
kami, the two commissioners, sat on camp-stools. When all was ready, the
two boys advanced and delivered their charge to the blacks. These,
opening in succession the scarlet cloth envelope and the gold-hinged
rosewood boxes, with true African grace, displayed the letter written on
vellum bound in blue velvet, and the gold tasseled seals suspended with
silk thread. In perfect silence, they laid the documents on the
lacquered box brought from Yedo. It was like Guanzan handling the sacred

“The First Counsellor of the Empire,” as the Americans called Toda,
acknowledged in perfect silence receipt of the documents. The
interpreter who had been authorized by the “Emperor”—according to the
foreigners’ ideas—handed the receipt to the Commodore, who sat during
the ceremony. What little was spoken was in Dutch, chiefly between Perry
and the interpreters. The whole affair was like a “Quaker” meeting of
the traditional sort. The official reply read:—

“The letter of the President of the United States of North America and
copy are hereby received and delivered to the Emperor. Many times it has
been communicated that business relating to foreign countries cannot be
transacted here in Uraga, but in Nagasaki. Now it has been observed that
the Admiral in his quality of embassador of the President would be
insulted by it; the justice of this has been acknowledged, consequently
the above mentioned letter is hereby received in opposition to the
Japanese law. Because this place is not designed to treat of anything
from foreigners, so neither can conference nor entertainment take place.
The letter being received, you will leave here.”

The Commodore then gave notice that he would return “in the approaching
spring, probably in April or May.” This concluded the ceremonies of
reception, which lasted half an hour. With all due care and pomp the
Americans returned to their decks. That part of the Bay of Yedo fronting
Kurihama was named “Reception Bay,” as a certain headland was dubbed by
Perry himself Rubicon Point.

The “black ships” remained in the bay eight days. Their boats were
busily employed in surveying the waters. Perry kept his men on ship’s
food, holding them all in leash, allowing no insults to the people,
receiving no gifts. In no instance was any Japanese molested or injured.
The Americans burned no houses, stole no valuables, outraged no women.
None was drunk. Not a single native was kicked, beaten, insulted or
robbed. One party landed, and actually showed a politeness that impelled
the people to set out refreshments of water, tea and peaches. These
“hairy” Americans were so kind and polite that they smoked friendly
pipes, showed the people their trinkets and watches, and even patiently
explained, in strange and unintelligible language, but with pantomimic
gesture, the uses of many things which drew forth volleys of _naru hodo!
kiréi! rippani! médzurashi! so désŭ, né!_ and many a characteristic
grimace, shrug and mutual nod from the light-hearted and impressible

All this was strange and unlooked-for. This was not the way the Russians
in Saghalin, nor the British sailors at Nagasaki, had acted. The people
began to think that probably the foreigners were not devils, but men
after all. Eyes were opened on both sides.

More than one American made up his mind that the Japanese were not so
treacherous, murderous, or inhospitable as they had heard. The natives
began to believe that if the “hairy faces” were devils, they were of an
uncommonly fine species, in short as jolly as _tengus_ or spirits of the
sky. Strangely enough, the “hairy” foreigners were clean shaven.

One authentic anecdote related by the Japanese is worth mentioning. At
the banquet given by the governor of Uraga, Perry tasted the _saké_
served so plentifully at all entertainments, and asked what the cost or
price of the beverage might be. On being told, finding it exceedingly
cheap, the Commodore with a very serious face remarked to his host that
he feared it was highly injurious to the people to have so ridiculously
cheap an intoxicant produced in the country. All present were deeply
impressed with the Commodore’s remark.

Despite the fact that the decoction of fermented rice, called _saké_,
which contains alcohol enough to easily intoxicate, and fusel oil
sufficient to quickly madden, was not _relatively_ as cheap as Perry
supposed, yet Japan’s curse for centuries has been cheap liquor.

Another anecdote, less trustworthy, is preserved in a native book. The
time suits Shimoda, but other considerations point to Uraga or Yokohama.
The subjective element, probably predominates over historical fact. Some
enemy of Buddhism or its priests, some wit fond of sharp barbs, from a
Shintō quiver, probably, manufactured the story, which runs as

“When Perry came to Shimoda, he took a ramble through the town, and
happened to enter a monastery yard. It was in summer, and two bonzes
were taking a nap. Of course they were shaved as to their heads, and
their bodies were more than half uncovered. At first glance, Perry
thought that these shaven-pated and nude _savages_ were in an unseemly
act. ‘This is a savage land’, he said; and until he saw and talked with
the better representatives of Japan, he was of a mind to treat the
Japanese as he would the lowest African tribes.”

Without a yard of canvas spread, the four ships moved rapidly out of the
Bay on the morning of March 17th. The promontory of Uraga was black with
spectators who watched that stately procession whose motor was the child
born of wedded fire and water.

Japan now gave herself up to reflection.


[28] Ota Dō Kuan the founder of Yedo (Gate of the Bay) in the fifteenth
century, wrote in the summer-house of his castle a poem, said to have
been extant in 1854, and to have been pointed out as fulfilled by Perry:

             “To my gate ships will come from the far East,
                     Ten thousand miles.”
                                  —Dixon’s _Japan_, p. 218.

                             CHAPTER XXXII.

THE _Mississippi_ touching at Napa, found there the _Supply_, and met
the _Vandalia_ on the way to Hong Kong, where the Commodore arrived on
the 7th of August. The _Powhatan_ returned from a futile visit to Riu
Kiu on the 25th. To protect American lives and property against the
imminent dangers of the Tai-ping rebellion, the _Supply_ was sent to
Canton and the _Mississippi_ anchored off Whampoa. The remainder of the
squadron was ordered to Cum-sing-moon, between Macao and Hong Kong,
where the machinery which sadly needed repair was refitted.

Having thus disposed of his force, the Commodore, in order to arrange
the accumulated results of his voyage to Japan, took a house at Macao
for his own accommodation and that of the artists and surveying party. A
hospital, which was also established in the town, under the care of the
fleet surgeon, was soon full of fever patients; and an annex, in the
form of a cemetery, was found necessary. The Japan expedition left
American graves at Macao, Napa, Uraga, Yokohama, Shimoda, and Hakodaté.
Among the officers lost, was Lieutenant John Matthews drowned at the
Bonin islands. His name was given by Perry to a bay near Napa, which he
surveyed. His monument in Vale Cemetery at Schenectady, N. Y. was
erected by his fellow-officers of the Asiatic Squadron.

The Commodore himself, worn-out by heavy and multifarious duties, was
finally prostrated by an attack of illness. Nevertheless the work of the
expedition suffered no remission. The making of charts, and the
completion of nearly two-hundred sketches and drawings, and the
arrangement and testing of the scientific apparatus which was to be
proved before the Japanese, were perfected. The daguerreotype,
talbotype, and magnetic telegraphic apparatus were especially kept in
working order. The Japanese from the first, as it proved, were mightily
impressed by these “spirit pictures,” into which as they believed, went
emitted particles of their actual souls.

The lengthened stay of the Commodore at Macao enabled him to see the
places of interest and to study life in this old city, once so
prosperous; whence had sailed, three centuries before, in the Portuguese
galleons explorers, traffickers and missionaries to Japan. The opulent
American merchants of Canton made Macao their place of summer sojourn,
so that elegant society was not lacking. With the French commodore,
Montravel, whose fleet lay at anchor in the roadstead, and with
Portuguese whom he had met in Africa, his intercourse was especially
pleasant. It had been the intention of the Commodore to wait until
spring before sailing north, but the suspicious movements of the French
and Russians, spoken of below, induced him to alter his plans.

Towards the end of November, the French naval commander suddenly left
port under sealed orders. About the same time the Russian Admiral
Pontiatine in the _Pallas_ and with three other vessels lay at Shanghai,
having returned from Nagasaki. Suspecting that either or both the
Russians and French contemplated a visit to Yedo Bay, Perry became very
anxious for the arrival of the _Lexington_, which had more presents for
the Japanese on board. Rather than allow others to get advantage and
reap where he had sown, before he himself had thrust in the sickle,
Perry resolved to risk the exposure and inconvenience of a mid-winter
cruise to Japan, despite the stories told of fogs and storms on the
Japanese coast. The dangers of a winter sea-journey between the two
countries are portrayed, even in very ancient Chinese poetry.

The object of the American mission had been reported at Kiōto, where it
created a profound impression and intense excitement. The first thing
done, and that within four days after Perry left, was to despatch a
messenger to the Shintō priests at the shrines of Isé to offer up
prayers for the peace of the Empire, and for the divine breath to sweep
away “the barbarians.” One week later, the Shō-gun Iyéyoshi died. He was
buried in Shiba in Yedo in a superb mausoleum among his ancestors, but
not until the 7th of September.

At Yedo, the question of acceeding to the demand of the barbarians was
hotly debated. The daimiōs “nearly lost their hearts in consultation
that lasted day and night.” The Prince of Mito wanted to fight them.
“The officials knew it would be madness to resist an enemy with myriads
of men-of-war who could capture all their junks and blockade their
coasts.” The Shō-gun’s minister was Abé, Isé no Kami, the daimiō of
Bizen, who had married the adopted daughter of Echizen. He it was who
inspired the arguments of the government. He believed that as Japan was
behind the world in mechanical arts, it would be better to have
intercourse with foreigners, learn their drill and tactics, and thus
fight them with their own weapons. If the Japanese pleased, they might
then shut up their country or even go abroad to conquer other nations.
Others doubted the ability or willingness of many of the disaffected
class to fight for Tokugawa.

The native historians tell us that “the Shō-gun Iyéyoshi, who had been
ill since the beginning of the summer, was rendered very anxious about
this sudden and pressing affair of the outer barbarians;” and, soon
after sickened and died. He was the father of twenty-five children, all
but four of whom had died in infancy. One of his daughters had married.
His death at this alarming crisis plunged his retainers in the deepest
grief. Iyésada, his seventh child, succeeded him as the thirteenth
Shō-gun of the Tokugawa line.

Of this fact, Perry had received official notice from the Japanese
through the Dutch authorities. As the communication hinted that delay
was necessary on account of official mourning, Perry, instead of
cock-billing his yards, thought it a ruse, and delayed not a moment.

Accordingly, on the 14th of January 1854, in the _Susquehanna_, with the
_Powhatan_ and _Mississippi_ towing the stores ships _Lexington_ and
_Southampton_, the Commodore left for Riu Kiu; the _Macedonian_ and
_Supply_ having gone on a few days before to join the _Vandalia_. The
_Plymouth_ and _Saratoga_ were to come later. The steamers arrived at
Napa, January 20th, and the Commodore thus paid his fourth visit to Riu

The slow sailers were to be sent ahead to Yedo Bay, with one week’s
start. Captain Abbot in the _Macedonian_, in company with the
_Vandalia_, _Lexington_, and _Southampton_ set out northward on the 1st
of February. The Commodore followed on the 7th with the three steamers,
meeting the _Saratoga_ just outside. The _Supply_ with coal and live
stock from Shanghai, was to join the squadron in Yedo Bay. The promise
of an “imposing squadron of twelve vessels,” seemed about to be

In Yedo, the new Shō-gun Iyésada and his advisers had felt that
something must be done both in peaceful and warlike preparations. The
ex-daimiō of Mito, released from confinement, was appointed commissioner
of maritime defences. A series of forts was built on the shallow part of
the bay in front of Yedo, off Shinagawa its southern suburb. Thousands
of laborers were paid _isshiu_ (6¼ cts.) per day, and the coins minted
for that purpose are still called _dai-ba_ (fort, or fort money) by the
people around Shinagawa. They were creditably built of earth, and faced
with stone; but having no casements, would have illy defended the wooden
city from bombardment by Perry’s columbiads. A great number of cannon
were cast, and military preparations continued unceasingly. The expenses
were met by a levy on the people of Yedo and vicinity, and on the rich
merchants of Ozaka.

The old edict of Iyéyasŭ concerning naval architecture was rescinded,
and permission was given to the daimiōs, to build large ships of war.
Their distinguishing flag was a red ball representing the sun on a white
ground. This was the origin of the present flag of Japan. The law of
1609 had commanded vessels of over five hundred koku (2,500 bushels, or
30,000 cubic feet capacity) to be burned, and none but small coasting
junks built. Orders were given to the Dutch to build a man-of-war, and
to import books on modern military science. A native who had learned
artillery from the Dutchmen at Nagasaki, was now released from the
prison, and was made musketry instructor. His method soon became
fashionable and he thus became the introducer of the European system of
warfare into Japan. Drilling, cannon-casting and fort-building were now
the rage.

Yet in all this fuss and preparation, wise men saw only the fulfilment
on a national scale of their own old proverb. “On seeing the enemy, to
begin to whet arrows.” Belated war-preparations, when the enemy was at
their gates, seemed futile. On the 1st day of the 11th month (December
2d) a notification was issued, that “owing to want of military
efficiency, the Americans would, on their return, be dealt with
peaceably.” The salary of the governor of Uraga was raised. Very
significantly, at the end of the year, the old practice of Fumi-yé, or
trampling on the cross and Christian emblems, so long practiced at
Nagasaki, was abolished. Perry’s way was now clear, though he knew it

There was a native scholar in Yedo, a typical progressive Japanese of
this period, a student, through the medium of the Dutch language, of
European literature. Hearing of the order for a man-of-war and books
from Holland, he petitioned the government rather to send Japanese to
Europe to study the most important arts, and to assist in building and
working the ship. They would thus learn the art of navigation on the
voyage, and see the foreign countries. The authorities did not favor his
proposition. Yoshida Shoin, one of his former pupils, heard of his old
master’s plan, and resolved himself to make a sea-voyage.

When Admiral Pontiatine with the Russian ships put in at Nagasaki in
September “to discuss the question of the northern boundary of the two
nations in Saghalin,” Yoshida bade his master good-bye, merely saying
that he was going on a visit to Nagasaki, but secretly intending to go

Sakuma, who divined his plan, gave him money for his expenses; and,
according to the custom of polite farewells, composed a stanza of
Chinese poetry in which he wished him a safe and pleasant journey. On
his arrival at Nagasaki, the ship had gone. He then returned to Yedo,
and Sakuma secretly told him how to set about getting passage on the
American vessels. We shall hear of Yoshida again. He and Sakuma were
typical men in a small, but soon to be triumphant, majority.

As the time for Perry’s return was near at hand, the Bakafu chose
Hayashi, the chief Professor of the Chinese language and literature in
the Dai Gakkō (Great School, or University) to treat with Perry. As the
American interpreters were Chinese scholars, the documents, besides
those in the Dutch and English language for the benefit of Americans,
would be in the Chinese character for the benefit of the Japanese.
Hayashi was a man profoundly versed in Chinese learning, a pedant, and a
stickler for exact terms. He was also a most devotedly loyal retainer of
the house of Tokugawa. His rank was that of a Hatamoto (flag-bearer),
and his title Dai Gaku no Kami, or Regent of the University, (not
“Prince” of Dai Gaku.) He was of benevolent countenance, and courtly
manners, dignified presence. He had lived the life of a scholar,
expounding the classics of Confucius and Mencius, and was highly
respected at court for his vast learning. In brief, he was a typical
product, and one of the best specimens of Yedo culture in the later days
of the Tokugawas. The Hayashi family was noted for the many scholars in
Chinese literature that adorned the country and the name. He was
carefully instructed by his superior officers as how he should deal with
Perry. He made his preparations so as to leave the academic groves of
Séido for the treaty-house at Uraga; for there, it was decreed in Yedo
that the treaty was to be made.

Fortunately for the Japanese, they had a first-rate interpreter of
English, though Perry knew it not. His name was Nakahama Manjiro. With
his two companions, he had been picked up at sea in 1841, by an American
captain, J. H. Whitfield, and brought by way of Honolulu to the United
States, where he obtained a good school education. Returning to Hawaii
in 1850, he resolved with his two companions to return to Japan.
Furnished with a duly attested certificate of his American citizenship
by the United States consul, Elisha Allen, afterwards minister to
Washington, he built a whale-boat named _The Adventurer_, sailed to Riu
Kiu in the _Sarah Boyd_, Captain Whitmore, and in January, 1851, landed.
The three men proved their nationality to the natives of Riu Kiu not by
their language, which they had forgotten, but by their deft manipulation
of chopsticks, the use of which a Japanese baby learns before he can

After six months in Riu Kiu and thirty months in Nagasaki, the waifs
reached their homes. On being brought to Yedo with his boat, Manjiro was
made a samurai or wearer of two swords. As an official translator, he
wrestled with Bowditch and logarithms, even to the partial bleaching of
his hair. After several years of severe work, twenty manuscript copies
of his book were made. His boat, now come to honor, was used as a model
for others. The original was placed in a fire-proof storehouse as an
honorable relic.

On Saturday, the 11th of February, 1854 three days after the Russians
had left Nagasaki, and on the ninth day of the Japanese New Year, the
watchers on the hills of Idzu descried the American squadron
approaching. The _Macedonian_ had grounded on the rocks a few miles from
Kamakura, the medieval capital of the Minamoto Shō-guns, and near the
spot over which Nitta Yoshisada, three hundred and twenty years before,
had led his victorious hosts to overthrow the Hōjō usurpers. The
powerful _Mississippi_, which had extricated and saved from utter loss
during the Mexican war, the fine old frigate _Germantown_ from a similar
peril, easily drew off the _Macedonian_ on Sunday, the 12th. On Monday,
the 13th, amid all the lavish splendors of nature, for which the scenery
of Adzuma, as poets call eastern Japan, is noted, the stately line of
ships, the sailers towed by the steamers, moved up the bay,

                “With all their spars uplifted,
                Like crosses of some peaceful crusade.”

The superb panorama that unfolded before the eyes from the decks charmed
all eyes. Significant and portentous seemed the position of the lights
of heaven on that eventful day. To the west of the peerless mountain
Fuji, “the moon was setting sharply defining one side with its chill
cold rays.”[29] In the orient, the sun arising in cloudless radiance
burnished with brilliant glory the lordly cone as it swelled to the sky.
Did the natives recall their poet’s comparison and contrast of “the old
sage, grown sad and slow,” and “the youth” who “new systems, laws and
fashions frames?” The moon typified Old Japan ready to pass away, the
the sun heralded the New Japan that was to be. Matthew Perry was set for
the rising and fall of many in the then hermit land.

Passing Uraga and Perry Island, the seven vessels dropped anchor at the
“American anchorage,” not far from Yokosŭka, and off the place, called
in Japanese, Koshiba-ōki, (the little grass-plot looking out on the
far-off sea). Unconsciously, the officers paced their decks beneath the
shadows of the twin tombs of Will Adams[30] and his Japanese wife. From
these very headlands, over which the English exile, who may have seen
Shakespeare, took his evening walks two centuries before, he had perhaps
seen in prophetic vision a sight like that below. Happy coincidence,
that Perry’s right-hand man, bore the same name, Adams!

The Commodore, still mysterious, invisible and inapproachable, had again
out-flanked the wily orientals with their own weapons and turned their
heavy guns against themselves. The mystery-play was kept up in a style
that exceeded that of either Kiōto or Yedo. The naval generalissimo
remained in the Forbidden Interior of his cabin as if behind bamboo

Kurokawa Kahéi and his two interpreters were received with excruciating
politeness by Captain Adams, assisted by Messrs. Portman, Williams and
the Commodore’s son. In the delegation of official men were _ométsŭkes_
(censors, spies, or checks). They were well named “eye-appliers” (to
holes usually made noiselessly, with moistened finger-tips, in the paper
screens of the houses). These suggested that the negotiations should be
carried on at Kamakura or Uraga. The programme, foreshadowed by answers
to their questions, was an American advance on that of the previous
year. The “Admiral” would do no such thing. It must be near the present
safe anchorage. All the visits, conferences, discussions, presents,
bonbons, oranges and confectionery, offers of eggs, fish and vegetables
were impotent to alter the fiat of the Invisible Power in the cabin.

For the benefit of the United States and the civilized world, the survey
boats were out daily making a map of the bottom of the bay. No boats’
crews were allowed to land. No native was in any way injured in person
or property. The visitors received on deck refreshments, champagne,
sugared brandy, port, and politeness in profusion. Of information
concerning the invisible “Admiral’s” policy, save as His Invisibility
allowed it, they received not a word.

Several days passed, the broad pennant was transferred to the
_Powhatan_, and the Japanese were given till the 21st to make up their
mind. Captain Adams was sent to Uraga to inspect the proposed place of
anchorage and the new building specially erected for treaty making.
There an incident occurred which afforded more fun to the Japanese than
to the Americans. On the 22nd of February, while the guns of the
_Vandalia_ were thundering a salute in honor of Washington, Captain
Adams with fourteen officers and attendants entered the hall of
reception. Here were gathered a formidable array of dignitaries,
retainers and no less than fifty soldiers. A suspicion of treachery
dawned on the Americans. Was this to be a Golownin affair?

Perhaps Izawa, the daimiō in charge, was fond of a joke. He was, in
fact, in favor of foreign intercourse, but more noted for high living
and gay sport than for dignity of word and mien, withal a lively and
popular fellow. After preliminaries, Captain Adams handed him the
Commodore’s note. Preparatory to getting out his goggle-spectacles, he
folded his fan with a tremendous snap. Instantly the American officers,
alarmed and exchanging glances of concern, clapped hands to their
revolvers.[31] All the more amused, Izawa most deliberately and with
scarcely repressed inward merriment, adjusted his goggles, and read the
document, finding it in good form. After decoctions of rice and tea,
with sponge-cake and oranges (_saké_, _cha_, _Castile_, _mikan_) had
been served, the officers returned to their ships at the 8th hour,
Japanese time, the Hour of the Ape, or about 3 P. M. Captain Adams
decided that the building proposed for treaty negotiations was “for
simple talk large enough, but not for the display of presents.” Kurihama
was then suggested. “No, the Admiral would rather go to Yedo,” “No, no!
better go to Kanagawa, but do please, _please_ go back to Uraga.” This
was the simple substance of much conversation carried on in Japanese,
Dutch and English, with not a little consumption of paper, India ink and
Chinese characters. The one word of Perry and Adams was “Yedo.” The
tongues of the interpreters, or in Japanese “word-passers,” grew weary,
yet no backward step was taken.

Meanwhile on the 24th, Perry moved his six ships forward up the bay ten
miles, anchoring beyond Kanagawa. From the masthead the huge
temple-gables, castle-towers, fire-lookouts and pagodas of Yedo could be
easily seen, and the bells of Shiba and Asakŭsa heard. More exactly, the
anchorage was off Dai-shi-ga-wara, a lovely meadow (_wara_) named in
honor of Japan’s greatest medieval scholar, His Most Exalted Reverence,
Kōbō, the inventor of the Japanese alphabets, learned in Chinese and
Sanskrit, and the Philo of the Land of the Gods. He it was who absorbed
Shintō, the primitive religion, into the gorgeous cult of India, and
made Buddhism triumphant in all Japan. Another happy omen for Perry!

The _Vandalia’s_ boats now brought Hayashi’s letter to Perry, and
Yezaémon the interpreter came nominally to plead again for Uraga, but in
reality to accede to the American’s decision. A fleet messenger, riding
hard on relays of horses, had brought the word to Hayashi—“If the
American ships come to Yedo, it will be a national disgrace. Stop them,
and make the treaty at Kanagawa.”[32] As Perry writes, “Finding the
Commodore immovable in his purpose, the pretended ultimatum of the
Japanese commissioners was suddenly abandoned, and a place directly
opposite, at Yokohama, was suggested as the place of treaty.”

The official buildings and enclosure finished March 9th, were erected on
the ground now covered by the British consulate, the Custom House, the
American Union Church and two streets of the modern city. They were
guarded on the left, right and rear by the retainers of Ogasawara, a
high officer in the Tycoon’s palace, and Sanada, lord of Shinano; and on
the water side by Matsudaira, lord of Sagami, who had hundreds of boats
and their crews under his command. Against possible fanatics and
assassins who might attack, or the too progressive spirits who would
communicate with the Americans, the precautions were not wholly in vain.
The writer has heard Japanese officers, now in high rank but
enlightened, declare that they had devoted themselves by vows to the
gods to kill Perry, the arch-defiler of the Holy Country. Only the
strong hand of government held them back.

Further than this, the Japanese did not know how the Americans would
act. Either from malice intent or provoked by unruly natives, they might
begin war. Every one of Sanada’s and Ogasawara’s retainers were
sworn[33] to ask no quarter, but fight till the last man was slain.


[29] Spalding’s “The Japan Expedition,” p. 213.

[30] The Mikado’s Empire, p. 262.

[31] Record of Conference with the American Barbarians. Japanese
Official Manuscript.

[32] Record of Conference. Jap. MS.

[33] Japanese Record.


                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE morning of March 8th, 1854, dawned clear and beautiful. The bay was
alive with gorgeous state barges, swift punts, and junks with tasseled
prows. On land, in the foreground were a few hundred feudal retainers in
gay costumes, while on the bluffs beyond stood dense masses of
spectators. These were kept back with rope-barriers, and by petty
officials of prodigious self-importance. The sunbeams glittered on the
bare heads and freshly-pomatumed top-knots of country folk, and was
reflected dazzlingly from lacquered hats and burnished weapons. In the
variegated paraphernalia of feudalism,—then of such vast importance,
but now as cast off trumpery transmigrating through the parlors and
museums to dusty nirvana in the garrets of christendom,—could be
distinguished the insignia of the commissioners and feudal lords, whose
troops darkened the hill tops as spectators. The striped oval figure of
Hayashi; the five disks surrounding a smaller central dot like
satellites about Jupiter, belonging to Ito; the feminine millinery,
three curved women’s hats, of Isawa; the revolving disks suggesting a
wind-mill, of Tsudzuki; the three Euclid-recalling cubes of Udono; the
ring-enclosed goggle-spectacles of Takénouchi; appeared and reappeared
on banner, umbrella, hat, coat, and cover of dignitaries and retainers.
Many and various were the explanations offered by the Americans as to
the cabalistic meaning of these crests of Japanese heraldry. One in
particular, which looked like three commas in perpetual revolution, but
prevented from flying off into a nebular hypothesis by a tire, attracted
special attention.

Only the stern discipline to which they were accustomed, and the
suspicion of possible need for powder and ball, in case of treachery,
kept grim the faces of marines and sailors. The whole tableau seemed to
the officers a well-sustained joke from the pages of Gulliver’s Travels.
To Jack Tar, it looked as if a pack of euchre-cards had come to enlarged
life. The gay-costumed figures and bronze visages moved before him like
the flesh-and-blood originals of the kings, jacks, and knaves on his
favorite pasteboards. Can we doubt but that more than one Japanese now
saw himself in a new light?

With five hundred men landed in twenty-seven boats, each one, including
musicians, thoroughly well-armed, the marines forming a hollow square,
the three bands discoursing music, the Paixhans on the _Macedonian_,
and the howitzers in the boats, making fire, flame, thunder, and
echoes; with all possible fuss, parade, shine and glitter, the
sailor-diplomatist made disembarkation at noon, in his white gig from
the _Powhatan_. With due deliberation and stately march, he entered the
treaty-house, where negotiations began. The Commodore knew as he
confesses, “the importance and moral influence of such show upon so
ceremonious and artificial a people as the Japanese.” Without being at
all anxious to imitate or copy them, he yet impressed them amazingly.
How he came to know so much about etiquette and propriety, without
having lived in Kiōto, or studied Confucius or Ogasawara (the
Chesterfield of Japan) strained their wits to discover. Perhaps they
noticed that while “the emperor,” that is the chief daimiō of Yedo, and
the Mikado’s lieutenant styled “Tycoon,” (as _Koku-O_, king of a
country) received a salute of twenty-one guns, and his hatamoto Hayashi,
officer of the sixth rank seventeen guns, the first salute was from the
heavy ordnance on the _Macedonian_, while the others were from
boat-howitzers. The _Powhatan_ hoisted at the masthead the striped
pennant, which the Americans innocently supposed was the national

The tedious business of diplomacy began by interchange of notes and
answers. Then Hayashi remarked that attention would be given to the
supply of wood, coal, and water for needy ships, and to the care of
shipwrecked sailors, but that no proposition for trade could be allowed.
To this Perry made no reply, but spoke up suddenly upon the question of
burial. A marine on the _Mississippi_ named Williams, had died two days
previously, and it was proposed to bury him on Matsu-shima (Pine Isle)
or Webster’s Island. After private conferences by the Japanese in
another room, exchange of much sentiment on both sides, and an
exposition of Japanese law and custom by Hayashi—during which Perry
intimated his readiness to stay in the bay a year or two if
necessary—permission was granted to bury in one of the temple-grounds
at Yokohama. Thus began with Christian ceremonies, under the very shadow
of the edicts promulgated centuries before, denouncing “the Christian
criminal God,” with offer of gold to informers against the “outlawed
sect,” that God’s acre now so beautiful. Its slope was to fatten with
many a victim by the assassin’s sword before Japan should become a Land
of Great Peace either to the alien or the Christian.

The native scribe adds in a note to his _Record_, “This subject was
brought up suddenly, as if the American wished to find out how quickly
we were in the habit of deciding questions. Hence the commissioners made
their decision promptly. Thereupon Perry seemed to be very glad and
almost to shed tears.” In response to the Commodore’s assertion that to
esteem human life as very precious was the first principle of the United
States government, while the contrary was the case with that of Japan,
Hayashi answered, warmly defending his countrymen and superiors against
intentional cruelty, but denouncing the lawless character of many of the
foreign sailors. Like all Japanese of his school and age, he wound up
with a panegyric of the pre-eminence of Japan above all nations in
virtue and humanity, and the glory and goodness of the great Tokugawa
family which had given peace to the land during two centuries or more.

“The frog in the well knows not the great ocean,” say his countrymen of

In the further negotiations, the Japanese official account of which
agrees with the details given in Perry’s own narrative, the Commodore
made wholesome use of the fears of the islanders. The reputation of
American ships, ordnance, and armies had preceded him. The invaders of
Mexico were believed fully when the wealth, power, and rapidity of
movement possessed by the United States were dilated upon. Perry
threatened to make use of “the resources of civilization,” if the plain
demands of humanity were ignored. It is more than probable that cold
statistics would not have justified his glowing vision of fifty or a
hundred war steamers, full of soldiers, coming from California to make
war on Japan, in case her government refused to help shipwrecked
Americans. Yet, of his patience, persistency, and resolve neither to
provoke nor to take an insult, there can be no question. Perry, in
person, impressed the Japanese commissioners as much as by the fleet
itself. They noted, as the _Record_ declares, that Captains Adams,
Abbot, and Buchanan, as shown by their uniform and epaulettes, were of
the same rank, “so that if Perry were killed, either of the others could
command,” and continue the matter in hand.

The _Record_ also reflects the character of Perry as a man of kindly
consideration. His friendly regard for and sympathy with a people of
high and sensitive spirit, which had been weakened by centuries of
enforced isolation, is also witnessed to. In one sense the Japanese
feel, to this day, proud to have been put under pressure by so true a
soldier, and so genuine a friend.

Between ship and shore, during the blustery March weather, the Commodore
made many trips in his barge, accompanied by chosen officers. One day,
with Pay-director J. G. Harris, who relates the incident, Perry and his
companions entered the treaty-house. Their boat-cloaks, which they had
worn to protect the “bright-work” of epaulettes, buttons and belts from
the salt spray, were still over their shoulders. One of the first
questions asked the Japanese commissioners was, whether they had
favorably considered the proposition of the day before, that certain
ports should be opened.

Hayashi replied that they had pondered the matter, and had concluded
that Shimoda and Hakodaté should be opened; provided that Americans
would not travel into the interior further than they could go and return
the same day; and provided, further, _that no American women should be
brought to Japan_.

When the translation of Hayashi’s reply was announced, the Commodore
straightened up, threw back his boat-cloak, and excitedly exclaimed:
“Great Heavens, if I were to permit any such stipulation as that in the
treaty, when I got home _the women would pull out all the hair out of my

The Japanese fairly trembled at the Commodore’s apparent excitement,
supposing they had grossly offended him. When, however, explanation was
made by the interpreters, they all laughed right heartily, and the
business continued.

The Ninth Article, or the “favored nation” clause was introduced at the
suggestion of Dr. S. Wells Williams.[34]

Unknown to any of the Americans, Nakahama Manjiro, who had received a
good common school education in the United States, sat in an adjoining
room, unseen but active, as the American interpreter for the Japanese.
All the documents in English and Chinese were submitted to him for
correction and approval.[35] He was afterwards made curator of the
scientific and mechanical apparatus brought by Perry and presented by
the United States government, and in 1860, he navigated the first
Japanese steamer, commanded by Katsŭ Awa, to Hawaii and California.
Katsŭ Awa was one of the captains commanding the troops detailed to
watch carefully “the American barbarians, lest they should proceed to
acts of violence.”

While the negotiations were progressing, the other ships arrived, making
ten in all. Presents and bouquets were exchanged, and guests and hosts
amused each other. American palates were tickled with _castira_
(Castile) or sponge-cake, rice beer, candied walnuts, Suruga tea,
pickled plums, sugared fruits, sea-weed jelly, luscious crabs and
prawns, dried persimmons, boiled eggs, fish soups, broiled _tai_, _koi_
and _karei_ fresh from the nets of the Yokohama fisherman. They essayed
or avoided the impossible dishes of cuttle and sliced raw fish. All was
served in the baby-house china and lacquered ware of the country. Some
of the officers were vividly reminded of their infantile days.

The Japanese were regaled with viands that were master-pieces of
American cookery. To the intense amusement of the “children of the
gods,” the lords of the kitchen were kurumbō (blacks), a color and a
creature such they had seen only in their own theatres when
candle-holders with lamp-blacked faces illuminated the facial
performances of actors. Save the dignified professor, Hayashi, they
became over-flowingly merry over champagne and the national mixed drinks
of the Great Republic. They learned the mysteries of mint-juleps and
brandy-smashes. They lost their center of gravity over puddings and
potations, and then laughed themselves sober at the sailors’ exhibition
of negro minstrelsy. They were shown the discipline and drill of the
ships, and the evolution of the marines. They were delighted with
presents which revealed the secrets of the foreigners’ power. Rifles and
gunpowder, the electric telegraph, the steam locomotive and train,
life-boats, stoves, clocks, sewing-machines, agricultural implements and
machinery, standard scales, weights, measures, maps and charts, the
works of Audubon and other American authors were presented, most
improperly labeled or engraved “To the Emperor of Japan.” The Mikado,
Japan’s only emperor, never saw them, though the writer did in the
storerooms of the exiled Tycoon at Shidzŭoka in 1872. The American may
proudly note how very large a share his countrymen have had in
inventions and in applications of the great natural forces that have
revolutionized modern society. That one mile of telegraph wire has now
become thousands; and that tiny railway, with toy locomotive and one car
able to hold only a child, was the germ of the railway system in the
Mikado’s empire. Historic truth compels us to add that among the
presents there were one hundred barrels of whiskey, a good supply of
cherry cordial, and champagne. Thus did the new civilization with its
good and evil confront the old. New Japan was to be born in the age of
steam, electricity, the photograph, the newspaper and the
printing-press; yet in the train of the culture of the West was to
follow its curses and enemies. With the sons of God came Satan also.

In return, the Japanese presented the delicate specialties of the
artisans of their country, in bronze, lacquer, porcelain, bamboo, ivory,
silk and paper; with coins, match-locks and swords, which now rest in
the Smithsonian Institute. For the squadron, one hundred kokŭ (five
hundred bushels) of rice and three hundred chickens were provided. They
entertained their guests with wrestling matches between the prize bipeds
whose diet includes the entire fauna of Japan. Strangely enough, they
did not play _dakiu_ or polo, their national game on horseback, in which
so many of their riders excel. All the presents were duly wrapped in
paper, with a symbolic folded paper and dried fish skin.

During the two months and more of the presence of the ships in the bay,
the Japanese cruisers and spy-boats kept watch and ward in cordon,
though at a distance from the Americans. This was to prevent political
enemies and too eager students from getting aboard in order to leave
Japan. Again and again did Yoshida Shoin and his companion attempt to
break the blockade, but in vain. The pair then set off overland to

When the telegraph poles and rails for the locomotive had been made
ready, the news of the exhibition about to be given fired the _samurai_
of Yedo with consuming curiosity to see. All sorts of pretexts were made
to obtain permission to be on the spot. Egawa, a noted flag-supporter
whose _yashiki_ or feudal palace lay near Shiba in Yedo, insisted on
coming to Yokohama on the pretext of guarding the treaty building. He
was ordered back, and it was hinted that Sanada’s men at arms could
perform worthily the coveted duty. If the Americans made war and
proceeded to Yedo, Egawa’s picked men could die more nobly “under the
Shō-gun’s knee.” As the Japanese narrator learned afterwards, Egawa’s
real purpose was to learn telegraphy and the secrets of steam
engineering. It is not at all improbable that among his band of
well-dressed gentlemen were expert mechanics as well as students who had
from the Dutch at Nagasaki obtained their first knowledge of western

The treaty was signed March 31st, 1854. Its provisions are thus given by
a Japanese author[36]:—


“The Bakafu promised to accord kind treatment to shipwrecked sailors,
permission to obtain wood, water, coal, provisions and other stores
needed by ships at sea, with leave also to anchor in the ports of
Shimoda in Idzu and Hakodaté in Matsumaé.” Trade or residence was not
yet secured. “The hermit” was as yet unwilling to enter “the
market-place.” The gains by treaty did not seem great, but Perry knew
then, as we know more fully now, that the thin end of a great wedge had
been inserted in the right place. He had made a beginning which was half
the end, as we shall see farther on.

The sleeping princess had received her first kiss, and the gates of
Thornrose castle would soon fly open. They were now ajar. More than one
native of this “Princess Country” recalled the hiding of the Sun-goddess
in the cave, and how with music and dance, feast and frolic, and show of
cunning inventions exciting her curiosity, she was lured to peep out, so
that the strong-handed god could open the door fully and all faces
become light with joy.[37]

Moving his steamers up the bay to within sight of Yedo, the Commodore
left on the 18th of April for Shimoda, having sent the sailing ships
ahead for survey. For nine weeks he had held in leash his two thousand
or more ship’s people, and had impressed the Japanese with the decency
and dignity of the American sailor’s behavior. Grand as was the triumph
he accomplished in diplomacy, his victory in discipline seems equally
praiseworthy and remarkable.

At Shimoda (now noted chiefly for the quarries which furnish stone for
the modern government buildings in Tōkiō) the squadron remained until
the end of the first week in May. One day late in April as Dr. S. Wells
Williams and clerk J. W. Spalding were botanizing on land, Yoshida Shoin
and his devoted companion, Ichiji Koda met them, and pressed into the
clerk’s bosom a letter.[38] On the appearance of Japanese officers, they
disappeared. Somewhat after midnight of the 25th the watch-officer on
the _Mississippi_ heard the cry of “American, American!” With their
delicate and blistered hands they implored in the language of gesture to
be taken on board, that their boats be cast adrift, and they be secreted
aboard. Their clothing was stuffed full of writing-paper and materials,
on which they expected to note down what they saw in foreign countries.
They were sent to the flag ship, and Perry, as he felt in honor and in
conscience bound, despite his own sympathies and desires and their
piteous appeals, sent them ashore. Further than this, he was unable to
get at the real motive of the suppliants. “It might have been a
stratagem to test American honor, and some believed it so to be,” yet
Perry wrote in addition, with the prophecy of hope, “In this disposition
of the people in Japan, what a field of speculation, and it may be
added, what a prospect full of hope opens for the future of that
interesting country.”

The prisoners sent to Chôshiu, were kept incarcerated within the limits
of their own clan for five years. Sakuma was punished as an accomplice,
because his stanza of poetry was discovered in Yoshida’s baggage. Active
in those events leading to the revolution of 1868, Yoshida (who altered
the name to Toraijiro) suffered decapitation and political martyrdom in
Yedo January 31st, 1859. He died thinking it

            “Better to be a crystal, though shattered,
              Than lie as a tile unbroken on the housetop.”

His indomitable spirit possessed others, and his pupils rose to high
office and power in the wave of revolution that floated the boy-mikado
to supreme power and placed the national capitol in Yedo in 1868.

The Commodore arrived at Hakodaté May 17 and remained in the waters of
Yezo until June 28th, 1854. He little knew then that the beautiful
harbor would fourteen years later be made famous by a naval battle
between the Shō-gun’s force of Dutch and American-built wooden war
steamers, and the Mikado’s iron-clad ram Adzuma Kan (Stonewall).

Sailing for Riu Kiu, he entered Napa harbor, July 1st. On the 12th, the
regent presented him with a large bronze bell of fine workmanship, cast
in 1168 A. D., by two Japanese artizans, and inscribed with flowery
sentences. One, which declared that “the barbarians would never invade
the land,” had a striking significance, though its composer had proved a
false prophet. It now hangs, tongueless but useful, in the grounds of
the Annapolis Naval Academy. As from China and Formosa, so from Japan at
Shimoda and in Riu Kiu, blocks of native stone duly engraved were
accepted as contributions to the obelisk on the banks of the Potomac, in
perpetuation of the memory of Washington. On the 17th, the other vessels
of the squadron having been despatched on various missions, the
Commodore in the _Mississippi_ left Napa for Hong Kong.

The glory of Commodore Perry’s success is not that he “invented,” or
“first thought of” or was the “sole author, originator, and father of
the Japan expedition.” Such language is nonsense, for the thought was in
many minds, both of naval men and civilians, from Roberts to Glynn and
Aulick; but it was Perry’s persistency that first conquered for himself
a fleet, his thorough-going method of procedure in every detail, and his
powerful personality and invincible tenacity in dealing with the
Japanese, that won a quick and permanent success without a drop of
blood. A thorough man of war he was from his youth up; yet he proved
himself a nobler hero, in that he restrained himself and his lieutenants
from the use of force, while yet not giving place for a moment to the
frivolities of Japanese yakunin of the Tokugawa period.


[34] Autograph letter to the writer. February 8th, 1883.

[35] _The Friend_, Honolulu. October, 1884—“An unpublished chapter in
the History of Japan.” Rev. S. C. Damon’s interview with Manjiro in
Tokio, summer of 1884.

[36] Kinsé Shiriaku, p. 3.

[37] Japanese Fairy World, p. 300.

[38] Perry’s Narrative, pp. 484-489. Spalding’s Japan Expedition, pp.
276-286. R. L. Stevenson’s Familiar Studies of Men and Books.

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.
                              LAST LABORS.

FOR over two years, since leaving his native country, Perry had been
under a constant burden of responsibility incurred in anxiety to achieve
the grand object of his mission. His close attention to details, the
unexpected annoyances in a sub-tropical climate, and the long strain
upon his nerves had begun to wear upon a robust frame. He now looked
eagerly for his successor, and to the rest of home. To his joy he found
at Hong Kong orders permitting him to return either in the
_Mississippi_, or in the British mail steamer by way of India. He chose
the latter.

The store-ships, _Supply_ and _Lexington_, were ordered homeward by way
of the Cape of Good Hope and the _Susquehanna_ and _Mississippi_ for New
York by way of Shimoda, Honolulu and Rio [de] Janeiro. The _Mississippi_
was to tow the _Southampton_, which contained coal for the two steamers.
The Commodore awaited only the arrival of the _Macedonian_ from Manilla,
whither she had gone to return the waifs picked up at sea, to turn over
his command to Captain Abbot.

Before permitting Perry to leave for home, the American commercial
residents in China gave the Commodore an expression of their estimate of
his character as a man, and their appreciation of his services as a
diplomatist to their country. This took the form of a banquet, with an
address of unusual merit by Gideon Nye, and the presentation of an
elaborate candelabrum made by Chinese jewelers in crystal and sycee
silver. In return, Perry presented to Mr. Nye a cane made of gun
carriages from San Juan d’Ulloa. Owing to war and the local troubles,
the work of art did not reach New York until December 1858.[39]

On the morning of September 11th, at Hong Kong, the _Mississippi_ and
_Macedonian_ fired parting salutes. The yards and rigging were manned by
the sailors who gave three hearty cheers, and the British mail steamer,
_Hindostan_, moved off bearing the diplomatist and his flag-lieutenant

From England Perry crossed to the continent, and at Hague, spent several
delightful days at the house of his son-in-law, the American Minister,
the Hon. August Belmont. With Mrs. Belmont, the Commodore’s daughter
Caroline, were then visiting Mrs. Perry and Miss Perry, the Commodore’s
wife and youngest daughter. Thence returning to Liverpool on Christmas
day, he paid a visit to the American consul at Liverpool, one Nathaniel
Hawthorne, who has thus recorded his impression of his visitor:—[40]

    “Commodore P—— called to see me this morning—a brisk,
    gentlemanly, off-hand, but not rough, unaffected and sensible
    man, looking not so elderly as he might, on account of a very
    well made wig.

    “He is now on a return from a cruise to the East Indian seas and
    goes home by the _Baltic_ with a prospect of being very well
    received on account of his treaty with Japan. I seldom meet with
    a man who puts himself more immediately on conversable terms
    than the Commodore. He soon introduced his particular business
    with me,—it being to inquire whether I could recommend some
    suitable person to prepare his notes and materials for the
    publication of an account of his voyage. He was good enough to
    say that he had fixed upon me, in his own mind, for this office;
    but that my public duties would, of course, prevent me from
    engaging in it. I spoke of —— ——, and one or two others but
    he seemed to have some acquaintance with the literature of the
    day, and did not grasp very cordially at any name that I could
    think of; nor indeed could I recommend any one with full
    confidence. It would be a very desirable task for a young
    literary man, or for that matter for an old one; for the world
    can scarcely have in reserve a less hackneyed theme than Japan.”

The master of English style, the literary American Puritan, so
thoroughly at home in spirit-land and in analysis of conscience, was not
expert in judging visible things. His mistake in describing the material
on Perry’s scalp was amusing though natural. Not a few persons supposed
that the Commodore wore a wig, yet the only head-ornament made use of by
him was that given him by the Almighty, and still duplicated in his
children. His handsome and luxuriant hair grew well forward on his

Perry, though exultant of his success, was uncertain of his political
reception. There were dangers in a change of administration. The Japan
expedition was a Whig measure, while the party now in power was
Democratic. The English newspapers seemed to entertain a high opinion of
the Commodore’s ability, and very flattering were some of their accounts
of the expedition and the editorials concerning its leader. Not able to
understand our Republican institutions, one of them wondered, with a
“blush of shame,” “Why the government does nothing for Perry or Scott.”
Others may wonder too.

Had a Whig administration been in power, it is doubtful whether Perry
would have received any reward further than the thanks of the Navy
Department, the honor of the publication of his journal, and a few
copies of his own book. Looking back now at Pierce’s barren
administration, the one bright spot in it seems to be the opening of
Japan to diplomatic intercourse. It was a time of intense political
excitement. The Kansas troubles, the World’s Fair in New York, and the
beginning of surveys for the Union Pacific Railroad helped to turn
attention from foreign matters. Nevertheless, the Senate at the opening
of its session December 6th, called for the correspondence relating to
the Japan Expedition. President Pierce delayed action until after an
interview with Perry, and on January 30th, 1855, transmitted the report.
The Commodore had arrived home on the 12th, eighteen days before, after
an absence of two years and two months. The official documents were
published in an octavo volume of 195 pages.

The _Mississippi_ left Hong Kong the next morning after the Commodore’s
departure, a few hours after that of the United States brig, _Porpoise_
(which was never heard of again), on the 21st of September, entered
Shimoda harbor finding there the _Susquehanna_ and _Southampton_. The
_Susquehanna_ left on the 24th, and the _Mississippi_ on the 1st of
October, the latter completing her journey around the globe on the 23d
of April, 1855. On the next day, the Commodore repairing to the Brooklyn
Navy Yard, formally hauled down his flag, and thus consummated the final
act in the story of the United States Expedition to Japan. He now set
himself to work in a hired room in Washington to tell that story in
manuscript. Aided by Lieutenants Maury and Bent, secretaries, artists,
printers, and a Japanese lad as attendant, it took shape in the
sumptuous publication of three richly illustrated folio volumes.

Though receiving no marked token of respect from the government, yet
other honors social and substantial, were not wanting. By the city of
New York he was presented with a set of silver plate. The merchants of
Boston had a medal struck in his honor. The original was presented to
him in gold[41] the subscribers receiving copies in silver and bronze.
From the city of Newport, his native place, he was tendered a reception
by the municipal authorities.

Little Rhode Island, so justly proud of her many eminent sons, was not
unmindful that the Perrys were of her own soil. She accordingly summoned
Matthew Calbraith Perry to receive at the hands of her chief magistrate,
and in presence of her legislature, a token of her regard in the form of
a solid silver salver weighing three hundred and nineteen ounces,
suitably chased and inscribed. The resolutions of the legislature
ordering the token were passed February 25th 1855.

An open air ceremony or presentation was decided upon and took place at
5 o’clock in the afternoon of June 15th upon the balcony in front of the
old State House, the legislators occupying the room within. In response
to the governor’s address Perry, deeply moved, spoke as follows:—

    “It was in my earliest boyhood, before the introduction of
    steamboats or railroads, that I often watched upon the shore for
    the first glimpse of the gaily decorated packet-sloop, that in
    those days usually brought the governor from Providence to this
    town, and witnessed with childlike delight, in sight of this
    very edifice, the pomp, parade and festivities of ‘Election
    Day.’ Since then I have traversed almost every part of the globe
    in the prosecution of the duties of a profession of which I am
    justly proud, and now, after a lapse of nearly half a century,
    when declining in life, to be called by the representatives of
    my native state back to these hallowed precincts, here to
    receive from the lips of its Chief Magistrate the commendation
    of my fellow-citizens, is an honor I little expected when as a
    boy midshipman, forty-six years ago, I first embarked upon an
    element, then and always the most congenial to my aspirations
    for honorable emprise.”


Cherishing a keen remembrance and love of his boyhood’s home, he
resolved to visit it, and also the ancestral farm and cemetery at South
Kingston. In a call made upon one of his earliest friends he stated that
his object was to purchase the Perry homestead, which he said would
never have gone out of the family if he had not been at sea. He wished
to erect a monument to his grandfather, Freeman Perry.

While thus on his native heather, the burly Commodore would visit also
Tower Hill where his father once lived, and his youngest sister, Mrs.
Jane Butler of South Carolina, was born. When offered a guide he said he
thought he knew the way better than his guide. Every foot, indeed, was
familiar ground. Miss Oprah Rose, in writing, March 15th 1883, of this
visit, says further: “I had never seen the Commodore before, but had
seen his younger brother and sister. His hair, I noticed, was handsome
and grew well on his forehead. His eyes indicated thought, and, as he
turned them rather slowly, seemed to take in or comprehend what he saw;
in manner he was easy and natural. As he walked away, I saw that he
expressed character in the manner he carried his shoulders. It was a
military air. He looked as if he expected to do his duty even if he made

Resuming his literary tasks during the months of June and July, between
artists and engravers, he collected the illustrative matter for the text
of his first volume. This, with the first part of the manuscript
amounting to one hundred and fifty-nine pages, he sent to the printer on
the 7th of August. He then hied away to Saratoga to forget the novel
cares of authorship in drinking at the famed health-fountains and
inhaling the air of the Kayaderosseras hills. He found much change and
some improvement. The hostelry of the old Revolutionary soldier, Jacobus
Barhyte, where all the famous people gathered to enjoy the host’s famous
fish dinners, and in whose groves Poe elaborated his poem of _The
Raven_, was gone, along with the well stocked preserves; but in grander
hotels and on ampler porches, the gay throng chatted and enjoyed life.
The Commodore after a ten day’s stay returned to New York, April 27.

When his first volume was out, Perry enjoyed the author’s genuine
delight of sending autograph presentation copies of his book to personal
friends and those most interested in the Japan enterprise. Among several
autographs letters of acknowledgement, is one from Irving in which he

    “You have gained for yourself a lasting name and have won it
    without shedding a drop of blood, or inflicting misery on a
    human being. What naval commander ever won laurels at such a

This first volume was afterward republished for popular use by D.
Appleton & Co., and a smaller book based upon it was compiled by Dr.
Robert S. Tomes under the title of “The Americans in Japan.”

The preparation of the second volume required great care. Here the
delicate work of specialists was called in. Fortunately Perry was
sufficiently familiar, by personal acquaintance with scientific experts,
to easily find the right men for the right work. On September 9th 1856,
Perry sent to the printers a goodly portion of the manuscript of the
second volume, and was pleased to find volume third—the work of
Chaplain Jones—also in press. It now looked as if the whole work would
be ready for delivery at the next session of Congress. Ever
conscientious in the expenditure of government money, Perry relieved his
aids of further service and continued the work alone. He read every line
of script before going to the printer, and corrected all the proof
sheets. We find him writing December 28th 1856, to Townsend Harris, our
consul-general to Japan then living at Shimoda, who was slowly but
surely driving in the wedge inserted by the sailor-diplomatist.

When in sight of the consummation of his literary enterprise, February
2d 1857, Perry wrote, “I have been drawn into much expense not to be put
into a public bill,” . . . “The greater portion of the labor has been
performed by myself and those employed under my direction.” He sought
help outside of the navy only when it was impossible to do otherwise.
The completed work was therefore a true product of the navy. Dr. Francis
L. Hawkes wrote the preface, added a few footnotes and here and there a
sentence, and Dr. Robert Tomes prepared the introduction, but the
narrative was of Perry’s own writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne or some other
master of letters might have made a better product as literature, but
for history it is well that Perry told his own story.

A set of six superbly drawn and colored pictures of the most striking
scenes of the Japan Expedition was prepared for the government archives
and for sending abroad for foreign rulers and cabinets. They were drawn
by the eye-witnesses Brown and Heine,[42] and were executed in
lithograph by Brown and Lewis of Albany. Three hundred copies of the set
were printed, and the plates then destroyed. Each set was in a

Eighteen thousand copies of the Japan Expedition were published, at a
total cost of $360,000. Fifteen thousand copies were given to members of
Congress, two thousand to the Navy Department chiefly for distribution
among the officers, and one thousand to the Commodore of the Expedition.
Of this thousand, Perry gave five hundred copies to Dr. Hawkes.

This was the reward of a grateful republic!

During the Commodore’s absence in Japan, his family had lived at No. 260
Fourth avenue, New York City. He now took steps to secure a permanent
home and so purchased the house at No. 38 West 32d street. The forty
years growth of the metropolis was vividly brought before his mind when
on first looking out of the window of his new home, the old in
Bloomingdale, from which he took his bride, was in sight. His new home
stood on what was part of the lawn of the old Slidell homestead.

He became interested in the work of the American Geographical Society,
and attended its meetings. He prepared two papers, “Future Commercial
relations with Japan and Lew Chew,” (Riu Kiu), and “The Expediency of
Extending Further Encouragement to American Commerce in the East,” which
were printed in the society’s journal, and excited much interest. On the
6th of March 1856, at a crowded meeting in the chapel of the New York
University, at which Perry was present, Rev. Francis L. Hawkes read his
paper, afterwards published in pamphlet form, on “The Enlargement of
Geographical Science, a consequence to the opening of new avenues to
commercial enterprise.” The president of Columbia college, Charles King,
in moving a vote of thanks, spoke in high praise of the merits and
polished literary style of the essay. The prospects of trade, of coal,
of mail-steamers to China, the new avenues open to American commercial
enterprise, and the work of Christian missions heartily believed in by
Perry, were discussed by him with clearness, strength and beauty.


James Buchanan was inaugurated President, and Lewis Cass became
Secretary of State, March 4th 1857. General James Watson Webb was eager
to have the mission to China filled by his friend Commodore Perry. He
was long held back by Perry’s modesty and refusal to give assent to his
friend’s warm importunity. After permission had been given, General Webb
hastened to Washington, but was one day too late. Less than twenty-four
hours before, the Hon. Wm. B. Reed had received the appointment as envoy
to Peking. Perry’s fame as a diplomatist was to be inseparably linked to
Japan only.

General Webb, in speaking to the writer in 1878 in New York, said that
the regret of General Cass in not having known of Perry’s willingness to
go, and that it was too late, seemed very sincere. Perry had allowed his
friends to make the proposition, inasmuch as great events were about to
take place in China and he was eager to advance American interests in
the East. Further, he expected if he were appointed, to have the
personal services of Dr. S. Wells Williams his old interpreter and
friend whose character, knowledge and abilities, we know, constituted
the real power behind the American Legation in China from 1858 to 1876.

On the 28th of December 1857, Perry reported that his work on the book
would end with the year, and his office in Washington be closed. On the
30th, he was detached from special duty to await orders. It was
intimated to him at the Department that he was to have command of the
squadron in the Mediterranean—the American naval officers’ paradise,
when away from home. To this duty Perry looked forward with delight.
Thornton A. Jenkins was to be his chief of staff. He spent the pleasant
winter in New York enjoying social life.[43] Early in January, 1858, he
made a report on the cause of the loss of the _Central America_, with
suggestions for changes in the laws which should secure greater safety
of life and property on the ocean. These studies, which have since borne
good fruit, were with other matter published in a pamphlet of seven
pages, January 15th, 1858. His last official services were performed as
a member of the Naval Retiring Board.

The time was now drawing near when this man of tireless activity, who
was ever solicitous about the life and safety of others, was to part
with his own life. The inroads upon a superb constitution, made by
constant work on arduous and trying service, at many stations, in two
wars, in three or four diplomatic missions, and in protracted study so
soon after return from Japan, were becoming more and more manifest. In
the raw weather of February 1858, the Commodore caught a severe cold
which from the first gave indications of being serious. The old torment
of rheumatism developed itself, and yet not until the hour of his death
was he believed to be in mortal danger. It became manifest, however,
that the disease, contracted thirty-five years before, in his energy and
anxiety to save life and property, had undermined his constitution.
Symptoms of rheumatic gout appeared. One token of organic change was a
strong indisposition to ascend elevations of any sort. For four weeks he
felt more or less out of health. A change of physicians did not better
his case. On the 4th of March at midnight, the disease, leaving the
region of the stomach, began to assault the citadel, and at 2 A. M. at
his home in Thirty-second street, New York City, he died of rheumatism
of the heart.

His nephew, by marriage to the daughter of Commodore Oliver H. Perry,
the Rev. Dr. Francis Vinton, who was with him in his sickness says, “His
last wish expressed to me was to be buried by his father and mother and
brother in the old burial ground, to mingle his dust with his native
soil. He even choose his grave there.”

At his death, Matthew Calbraith Perry was third on the list of captains,
having served at sea twenty-five years and three months, and on other
duties nineteen years. Since entering the navy in 1808, he had been
unemployed less than five years, and had completed a term of service
within one year of a half century.

As a member of numerous civic and scientific associations, as well as
President of the Montezuma Society, the loss of Matthew Perry was that
of a citizen of broad tastes, sympathies, labors and influences. The
great city offered profuse tokens of regard and manifestations of
sorrow. The flags of the shipping in the harbor, and on the public
buildings and hotels, were flying at half-mast during three days. It was
arranged that on Saturday, in the grave-yard of St. Mark’s church at
Second avenue and Tenth street, the hero should be buried with
appropriate honors.

The military pageant which preceded the hearse consisted of five hundred
men of the Seventh Regiment, two hundred officers of the First Division
of the New York State Militia, followed by a body of United States
Marines. The pall-bearers included the Governor of the State, General
Winfield Scott, Commodores Sloat, Breese, McCluney and Bigelow, and
seven others, eminent and honored in the various fields of achievement;
but the most touching sight was the simplest. The sailors who had served
under Commodore Perry in the Japan Expedition and the Mexican war, had
volunteered on this occasion to do honor to their old commander. They
were the most interesting among the mourners. Although engaged in
various pursuits, in different places, they all managed to appear in the
regular working uniform of the United States Navy. This they had
procured at their own expense. They paraded under the command of Alonzo
Guturoz and Philip Downey. All bore evidence of having seen hard
service. They attracted much attention as they paraded through the
streets, and the simple music of their fifes and drums seemed more
appropriate and more impressive, than even that of the regimental band.

The route lay through Fifth Avenue, Fourteenth street, and Second Avenue
to Saint Mark’s Church.

The sensation produced throughout the community by the loss of so
illustrious a naval commander was shown in the faces of the crowd.
Despite the cold weather, the people lined the streets to see and listen
and feel. The tolling of the church bells, and the boom of the minute
guns rolling up from the ships and yard of the naval station, added
solemnity to the scene.

Within the church, the burial service was conducted by the Rev. Drs.
Hawks, Vinton, Higbee, and Montgomery. The anthem “Lord let me know my
end,” the hymn “I would not live alway,” and the interlude “I heard a
voice from Heaven,” were sung, moving all hearts by their sweetness and

The service over, the coffin was carried out and deposited in the grave
in the church-yard adjoining, and lowered into its last resting place.
The committal service and prayer over, the marines fired the three
volleys of musketry. The weather-beaten tars of the Japan Expedition
took a last look at the wooden enclosure which contained all that was
mortal of their beloved Commander, and all turned to depart. “The sight
of those honest hardy marines, who had collected from all quarters, and
at great personal inconvenience, to pay this last tribute of respect and
affection to one whom they had once loved to obey, was interesting and
suggestive. One almost expected to witness a repetition of the scene
that occurred at the funeral of Lord Nelson, and to see the stars and
stripes that floated above the grave torn into shreds and kept as
momentoes of the man and the occasion; but their affection though deep
and strong did not run into the poetical, and the flag remained whole
and untouched.”

In the church of St. Nazaro in Florence, may be read upon the tomb of a
soldier the words:

          “Johannes Divultius, who never rested, rests—Hush!”

That is Perry’s real epitaph.

The unresting one now rests in the Isle of Peace. The two brothers,
Perry of the Lakes, and Perry of Japan, sleep in God, near the beloved
mother on whose bosom they first learned the worth of life, whose memory
they worshipped throughout their careers, and beside whose relics they
wished to lie.

On a hill in the beautiful Island cemetery at Newport, which overlooks
aboriginal Aquidneck, the City and Isle of Peace, the writer found on a
visit, October 30th, the family burying-ground. In the soft October
sunlight, the sight compelled contrast to the ancestral God’s acre in
South Kingston, among whose lichened stones of unwrought granite the
Commodore proposed erecting a fitting monument to his fathers. Within
the evergreen hedge, in the grassy circle ringed with granite and iron
lay, on the north side, the tomb of the Commodore’s grand-daughter, a
lovely maiden upon whose grave fresh flowers are laid yearly by the
loving parent’s hands.

The tomb of M. C. Perry is of marble, on a granite base, with six
garlands of oak leaves chiselled on it and bearing the modest

    “Erected by his widow to the memory of Matthew Calbraith Perry,
    Commodore in the United States Navy, Born April 19th, 1794. Died
    March the 4th, 1858.”

On the south side beneath and across, lies the son of the Commodore who
bore his father’s name:

    “In memory of Matthew Calbraith Perry, Captain in the U. S.
    Navy. Died November 10th, 1848.”

Another stone commemorates his son Oliver, who was with his father in
China and Japan, and for some time, United States consul at Hong Kong:

    “In memory of Oliver Hazard Perry, son of Matthew C. and Jane
    Perry. Died May 17th, 1870, aged 45.”

The Commodore’s widow, Jane Slidell Perry survived her husband
twenty-one years; and died in Newport, R. I., at the home of her
youngest daughter, Mrs. Tiffany, on Saturday, June 14, 1879, at the age
of 82.


[39] See letter of James Purdon Esq., _New York Times_, January 6th,

[40] English Note Books, Vol. I., Dec. 25, 1854.

[41] See page 221.

[42] Putnam’s Magazine, August 1856, pp. 217, 218.

[43] See “A Dinner at the Mayor’s,” Harper’s Magazine, October 1860.

                             CHAPTER XXXV.
                        MATTHEW PERRY AS A MAN.

THE active life of Matthew Perry spanned the greater part of our
national history “before the war.” He lived to see the United States
grow from four to thirty-two millions of people, and the stars in her
flag from fifteen to thirty-one. He sailed in many seas, visited all the
nations of Christendom, saw most of the races of the earth, and all
flags except that of the stars and bars. He saw the rise and fall of
many types of naval architecture. He was familiar with the problems of
armor and ordnance, resistance and penetration, and had studied those
questions in the science of war, which are not yet settled. He had made
himself conversant with the arts auxiliary to his profession, and was
one of the foremost naval men of his generation. His personal importance
was far beyond his rank. He died fully abreast of his age, and looked
far beyond it. Had he lived until the opening of “the war,” he would
have been fully prepared, by alertness of mind, for the needs of the
hour, and would doubtless have held high rank. He was called to rest
from his labors before feeling the benumbing effects of old age. As it
was, his influence was clearly traceable in the navy, and younger
officers carried out his ideas into practice, when opportunity came. Had
the United States, at the opening of the rebellion possessed a
respectable modern navy, such as Perry labored for, the great southern
ports could have been at once sealed; and that foreign aid, without
which the Confederacy could not have lived six months, would have been
made null. Indeed, with a first-class navy, the slave-holder’s
conspiracy could never have been hatched. As it was, the navy kept off
foreign intervention.

Despite the long and brilliant succession of services rendered his
country, Matthew Perry never received either rank or reward beyond those
of an ordinary captain.

The rank of admiral was provided for in the Act of Congress of November
15th, 1776, and the title of admiral was conceded to Paul Jones in the
correspondence of the State Department. Yet although the original law,
creating the American navy, allowed the rank of captains in three grades
of commodore, vice-admiral and admiral, there was no legal title higher
than captain in the United States navy until 1862; until Farragut
hoisted his flag at the main peak of the _Hartford_ August 13th, 1862,
as senior rear-admiral; becoming, July 25th, 1866, admiral. In
compliment to his services Charles Stewart was commissioned senior
flag-officer, and at the time of Perry’s death, Stewart was senior to
himself. Yet if the title of admiral, prior to Farragut, belongs to any
American officer by virtue of largeness of fleets commanded, by
responsibility of position, or by results achieved, surely we may speak
as the Japanese did of “Admiral Perry.”

With most of his subordinate officers, Perry’s relations were of the
pleasantest nature compatible with his own high sense of duty and
discipline. If he erred, it was usually in the right direction.
Professor Henry Coppée, who was a young officer in the Mexican war,
writes, from memory, in 1882:—

    “He (Perry) was a blunt, yet dignified man, heavy and not
    graceful, something of a martinet; a duty man all over, held
    somewhat in awe by the junior officers, and having little to do
    with them; seriously courteous to others. The ship seemed to
    have a sense of importance because he was on board.”

The same gentleman relates that once, upon going on board the flag-ship,
the midshipmen, with the intent of playing a practical joke, told him to
go to Commodore Perry and talk with him. They expected to see the
landsman gruffly repelled. The tables were turned, when the would-be
jokers saw “the old man” kindly welcome the young officer and engage in
genial conversation with him. “I remember,” adds Dr. Coppée, “years
afterwards when I heard of what he accomplished in Japan, saying to
myself, ‘Well, he is just the man of whom I should have expected it

He had both the qualities necessary for war and for peaceful victory.
Though his conquests in war and in peace, in science and in diplomacy,
were great, the victory over himself was first, greatest and most
lasting. He always kept his word and spoke the truth.

“The Commodore was not a genial man socially. His strong characteristics
were self-reliance, earnestness of purpose and untiring industry, which
gave such impetus to his schemes as to attract and carry with them the
support of others long after they had passed out of his own hands. It
was the magnetic power of these qualities in the character of the man
that enlisted the services of others in behalf of his purposes, and not
any special amenities of manner or sympathies of temperament, that drew
them lovingly toward him. And yet, under this austere exterior, which
seemed intent only upon the performance of cold duty, as duty, he had a
kind and gentle nature that in domestic life was an ornament to him.
Never afraid of responsibility in matters of official duty, he was ever
on the alert to seek employment when others hesitated. He was bluff,
positive and stern on duty, and a terror to the ignorant and lazy, but
the faithful ones who performed their duties with intelligence and zeal
held him in the highest estimation, for they knew his kindness and
consideration of them.”[44]

He was not inclined to allow nonsense and cruel practical jokes among
the midshipmen, and could easily see when a verdant newcomer was being
imposed upon, or an old officer’s personal feelings hurt by thoughtless
youth. The father of a certain captain in the Mexican war, whose record
was highly honorable, was reputed to have handled the razor for a
livelihood. The young officers knowing or hearing of this, delighted
occasionally to slip fragments of combs, old razors, etc., under his
cabin door. Perry, angry at this, treated him with marked consideration.

He was far from being entirely deficient in humor, and often enjoyed fun
at the right time. At home, amid his children and friends, he enjoyed
making his children laugh. Being a fair player on the flute, he was an
adept in those lively tunes which kept the children in gleeful mood.
Even on the quarter-deck and in the cabin, he was merry enough _after_
his object had been attained. The usual tenor of his life was that of
expectancy and alertness to attain a purpose. Hence, the tense set of
his mind only occasionally relaxed to allow mirth. Captain Odell says,
“He was not a very jolly or joking man, but pleasant and agreeable in
his manners, and respected by all who had intercourse with him.” The
moral element of character, which is usually associated with habitual
seriousness in men who aspire to be founders, educators or leaders, was
very marked in Matthew Perry.

The impressions of a young person or subordinate officer, will, of
course, differ from those formed in later life, and from other points of
view. We give a few of both kinds:—

    “His many excellent qualities of heart and head were encased in
    a rough exterior. ‘I remember,’ says a daughter of Captain
    Adams, ‘when I was a little girl at Sharon Springs, being
    impressed by a singular directness of purpose in the man. I used
    to like to watch him go into the crowded drawing-room. He would
    stand at the door, survey the tangled scene, find his objective
    point, and march straight to it over and through the confusion
    of ladies, children and furniture, never stopping till he
    reached there. He was a man of great personal bravery, as were
    all the Perrys, of undoubted courage and gallantry, bluff in his
    manners, but most hearty and warm in feelings, and with that
    genuine kindness which impresses at the moment and leaves its
    mark on the memory. Children instinctively liked the big and
    bluff hero. As a friend he was most true and constant, and his
    friendship was always to be relied on.’”

    “Such was the vein and character of the man, that the impression
    he made on my mind and affections was such as to make me
    desirous of following him to the cannon’s mouth, or wherever the
    fortunes of peace or war should appoint our steps.”[45]

    “He was an intense navy man, always had the honor of the navy at
    heart, and lost no opportunity to impress this feeling upon the
    officers of his command.”[46]

    “I have no unfavorable recollections of Commodore Perry. On the
    contrary, I think he was one of the greatest of our naval
    commanders. He had brains, courage, industry and rare powers of
    judging character, and I believe he would not have spared his
    own son had he been a delinquent. He seemed to have no favorites
    but those who did their duty.”[47]

    “I consider that Commodore Matthew C. Perry was one of the
    finest officers we ever had in our navy—far superior to his
    brother Oliver. He had not much ideality about him, but he had a
    solid matter-of-fact way of doing things which pleased me
    mightily. He was one of the last links connecting the old navy
    with the new.”[48]

He seemed never idle for one moment of his life. When abroad, off duty
he was remembering those at home. He brought back birds, monkeys, pets
and curiosities for the children. He collected shells in great
quantities, and was especially careful to get rare and characteristic
specimens. With these, on his return home, he would enrich the museums
at Newport, Brooklyn, New York and other places.

As he never knew when to stop work, there were, of course, some under
his command who did not like him or his ways.

In the matter of _pecuniary responsibility_, Perry was excessively
sensitive, with a hatred of debt bordering on the morbid. This feeling
was partly because of his high ideal of what a naval officer ought to
be, and partly because he feared to do injustice to the humblest
creditor. He believed a naval officer, as a servant of the United States
Government, ought to be as chivalrous, as honest, as just and lovely in
character to a bootblack or a washerwoman as to a jewelled lady or a
titled nobleman. His manly independence began when a boy, and never
degenerated as he approached old age, despite the annoyances from the
law-suits brought upon him by his devotion to duty regardless of
personal consequences. He refused to accept the suggestion of assistance
from any individual, believing it was the Government’s business to
shield him.

In reply to an allusion, by a friend, when harassed by the lawsuit, to
the pecuniary assistance he might expect from a relative by marriage, he
replied, “I would dig a hole in the earth and bury myself in it, before
I would seek such assistance.”

He had a great horror of debt, of officers contracting debts without
considering their inability to pay them. He often lectured and warned
young officers about this important matter.

Under date of Nov. 16th, 1841, we find a long letter from him to Captain
Gregory of the _North Carolina_ concerning midshipmen’s debts. He blames
not so much “the boys” as Mr. D. (the purser), who indulged them, for “a
practice utterly at variance with official rectitude and propriety, and
alike ruinous to the prospects of the young officer.” He insists that
the middies must be kept to their duties and studies, and their
propensity to visit shore and engage in unsuitable expenses be

In ordinary social life, and in council, Perry appeared at some
disadvantage. He often hesitated for the proper word, and could not
express himself with more than the average readiness of men who are not
trained conversers or public speakers. With the pen, however, he wrought
his purpose with ease and power. His voluminous correspondence in the
navy archives and in the cabinets of friends, show Matthew Perry a
master of English style. A faulty sentence, a slip in grammar, a
misspelling, is exceedingly rare in his manuscript. From boyhood he
studied Addison and other masters of English prose. In his younger days
especially, he exercised himself in reproducing with the pen what he had
read in print. He thus early gained a perspicuous, flowing style, to
which every page of his book on the Japan Expedition bears witness. Like
Cæsar, he wrote his commentaries in the third person. Perry himself is
the author of that classic in American exploration and diplomacy. Others
furnished preface, introduction, index, and notes, but Matthew Perry
wrote the narrative.[49]

He rarely wrote his name in full, his autograph in early life being
Matthew C. Perry; and later, almost invariably, M. C. Perry. In this he
affected the style neither of the fathers of the navy nor of the
republic, who abbreviated the first name and added a colon.

It was the belief of Matthew Perry that the Bible contained the will of
God to man, and furnished a manual of human duty. It was his fixed habit
to peruse this word of God daily. On every long cruise he began the
reading of the whole Bible in course.

Rear-Admiral Almy says: One pleasant Sunday afternoon in the month of
April, 1845, and on the way home by way of the West Indies, I was
officer of the deck of the frigate _Macedonian_, sailing along quietly
in a smooth sea in the tropics, nearing the land and a port. The
Commodore came upon deck, and towards me where I was standing, and
remarked: “I have just finished the Bible. I have read it through from
Genesis to Revelation. I make it a point to read it through every
cruise. It is certainly a remarkable book, a most wonderful book.” As he
uttered these words, the look-out aloft cried “Land O!” which diverted
his attention, perhaps, or he would have continued with further remarks.

“Perry,” writes another rear-admiral, “was a man of most exemplary
habits, though not perhaps a communicant of any church, and upright, and
full of pride of country and profession, with no patience or
consideration for officers who felt otherwise.”

Keenly enjoying the elements of worship in divine service, he was also a
student of the Book of Common Prayer. His own private copy of this
manual of devotion was well marked, showing his personal appreciation of
its literary and spiritual merits. Often, in the absence of a chaplain,
he read service himself. Of the burial service, he says it is “the
English language in its noblest form.”

He enjoyed good preaching, but never liked the sermon to be too long.
“The unskilled speaker,” says the Japanese proverb, “is long-winded.”
The parson was encouraged not to tire his hearers, or to cultivate the
gift of continuance to the wearing of the auditor’s flesh. In flagrant
cases, the Commodore usually made it a point to clear his usually
healthy throat so audibly that the hint was taken by the chaplain. In
his endeavor to be fair to both speaker and hearers, Perry had little
patience with either Jack Tar or Shoulder Straps who shirked the duty of
punctuality, or shocked propriety by making exit precede benediction.
When leave was taken, during sermon, with noise or confusion, the
unlucky wight usually heard of it afterwards. While at the Brooklyn Navy
Yard, Perry had the old chapel refurnished, secured a volunteer choir,
and a piano, and so gave his personal encouragement, that the room was
on most occasions taxed beyond its capacity with willing worshippers.
When in 1842, the ships fitted out at the yard were supplied with bibles
at the cost of the government, Perry wrote of his gratification: “The
mere cost of these books, fifty cents each, is nothing to the moral
effect which such an order will have in advancing the character of the

Perry manifested a reverence for the Lord’s Day which was sincere and
profound. He habitually kept Sunday as a day of rest and worship, for
himself and his men. Only under the dire pressure of necessity, would he
allow labor or battle to take place on that day. In the presence of
Africans, Mexicans and Japanese, of equals, or of races reckoned
inferior to our own, Perry was never ashamed or afraid to exemplify his
creed in this matter, or to deviate from the settled customs of his New
England ancestry. Japan to-day now owns and honors the day kept sacred
by the American commodore and squadron on their entrance in Yedo Bay.

With chaplains, the clerical members of the naval households, Perry’s
relations were those of sympathy, cordiality and appreciation. About the
opening of the century, chaplains were ranked as officers, and divine
service was made part of the routine of ship life on Sundays. The
average moral and intellectual grade of the men who drew pay, and were
rated as “chaplains” in the United States Navy, was not very high until
1825, when a new epoch began under the Honorable Samuel L. Southard.
This worthy Secretary of the Navy established the rule that none but
accredited ministers of the gospel, in cordial relations with some
ecclesiastical body, should be appointed naval chaplains. From this time
onward, with rare exceptions, those holding sacred office on board
American men-of-war have adorned and dignified their calling. Until the
time of Perry’s death, there had been about eighty chaplains
commissioned. With such men as Charles E. Stewart, Walter Colton, George
Jones, Edmund C. Bittenger, Fitch W. Taylor, Orville Dewey, and Mason
Noble,—whose literary fruits and fragrant memories still remain—Perry
always entertained the highest respect, and often manifested personal
regard. For those, however, in whom the clerical predominated over the
human, and mercenary greed over unselfish love of duty, or who made
pretensions to sacerdotal authority over intellectual freedom, or whose
characters fell below their professions, the feelings of the bluff
sailor were those of undisguised contempt.

We note the attitude of Perry toward the great enterprise founded on the
commission given by Jesus Christ to His apostles to make disciples of
all nations. Naval men, as a rule, do not heartily sympathize with
Christian missionaries. The causes of this alienation or indifference
are not far to seek, nor do they reflect much credit upon the naval
profession. Apart from moral considerations, the man of the deck, bred
in routine and precedent is not apt to take a wide view on any subject
that lies beyond his moral horizon. Nor does his association with the
men of his own race at the ports, in club or hong, tend to enlarge his
view. Nor, on the other hand, does the naval man always meet the shining
types of missionary character. Despite these facts, there are in the
navy of the United States many noble spirits, gentlemen of culture and
private morals, who are hearty friends of the American missionary.
Helpful and sympathetic with all who adorn a noble and unselfish
calling, they judge with charity those less brilliant in record or
winsome in person. Perry’s attitude was ever that of kindly sympathy
with the true missionary. With the very few who degraded their calling,
or to those who expected any honor beyond that which their private
character commanded, he was cool or even contemptuous. He had met and
personally honored many men and women who, in Africa, Greece, the
Turkish Empire, and China, make the American name so fragrant abroad. In
the ripeness of his experience, he took genuine pleasure in penning
these words: “Though a sailor from boyhood, yet I may be permitted to
feel some interest in the work of enlightening heathenism, and imparting
a knowledge of that revealed truth of God, which I fully believe
advances man’s progress here, and gives him his only safe ground of hope
for hereafter.[50] To Christianize a strange people, the first important
step should be to gain their confidence and respect by means practically
honest, and in every way consistent with the precepts of our holy
religion.” Of the Japanese people, he wrote: “Despite prejudice, their
past history and wrongs, they will in time listen with patience and
respectful attention to the teachings of our missionaries,” for they
are, as he considered, “in most respects, a refined and rational

How grandly Perry’s prophecy has been fulfilled, all may see in
Christian Japan of the year 1887.


[44] Silas Bent, U. S. N.

[45] Rear-Admiral Joshua R. Sands, U. S. N.

[46] Rear-Admiral John Almy, U. S. N.

[47] Engineer John Follansbee.

[48] D. D. Porter, Admiral U. S. Navy.

[49] Rev. Dr. Vinton’s Oration at Perry Statue, Newport, Oct. 2nd, 1868.
Letters of Dr. Robert Tomes and John Hone, New York Times, October 1868.

[50] Paper read before the American Geographical Society, March 6th,

                             CHAPTER XXXVI.
                           WORKS THAT FOLLOW.

THE momentum of Perry’s long and active life left a force which, a
generation after his death, is yet unspent. He rests from his labors,
but his works do follow him. His thoughts have been wrought towards
completion by others.

The opening of Japan to foreign commerce and residence, and ultimately
to full international intercourse, occupied his brain until the day of
his death. His interest did not flag for a moment. What we see in New
Japan to-day is more the result of the influence of Matthew Perry and
the presence of Townsend Harris, than of the fear of British armaments
in China. English writers have copied, even as late as 1883,[51] the
statement of Captain Sherard Osborn[52] and the _London Times_,[53] that
“as soon as the Tientsin Treaty was arranged, the American commodore
[Tatnall] rushed off to Japan to take advantage of the consternation
certain to be created by the first news of recent events in the Peiho.
It was smartly imagined.” We propose to give a plain story of the facts.

Townsend Harris the United States Consul at Ningpo, China, was appointed
July 31st, 1855, by President Pierce, Consul-General to Japan. No more
fortunate selection could have been made. By experience and travel,
thoroughly acquainted with human nature and especially the oriental and
semi-civilized phases of it, Mr. Harris possessed the “dauntless
courage, patience, courtesy, gentleness, firmness and incorruptible
honesty” needed to deal with just such _yakunin_ or men of political
business, as the corrupt and decaying dynasty of Yedo usurpers naturally
produced. Further, he had a kindly feeling towards the Japanese people.
Best of all, he was armed with the warnings, advice and suggestions of
Perry, whom he had earnestly consulted.

Ordered, September 8th, 1855, by President Pierce to follow up Captain
Edmund Robert’s work and make a treaty with Siam, Mr. Harris after
concluding his business, boarded the _San Jacinto_ at Pulo Pinang, and
arrived in Shimoda harbor, August 22d, 1856. The propeller steamer was
brought to safe anchorage by a native pilot who bore a commission
printed on “The Japan Expedition Press,” and signed by Commodore Perry.
The stars and stripes were hoisted to the peak of the flag-staff raised
by the _San Jacinto’s_ carpenters on the afternoon of September 3d. Then
in his quiet quarters at Kakisaki, or Oyster Point, Mr. Harris,
following out Perry’s plan of diplomatic campaign, won alone and
unaided, after fourteen months of perseverance, a magnificent victory.
Lest these statements seem inaccurate we reprint Mr. Harris’ letter in

                                   U. S. CONSULATE GENERAL, SIMODA,
                                                 _October 27, 1857_.

    MY DEAR COMMODORE PERRY,—Your kind favor of December 28th 1856,
    did not come to hand until the 20th inst., as I was fourteen
    months at this place without receiving any letters or
    information from the United States. The U. S. sloop of war
    _Portsmouth_ touched here on the 8th of last month, but she did
    not bring me any letters; her stay here was very short, just
    enough to enable me to finish my official letter; had time
    permitted I would have written to you by her.

    I am much obliged to you for your good advice; it was both sound
    and well-timed advice, and I have found every one of your
    opinions, as to the course the Japanese would pursue with me,
    prove true to the letter.

    Early last March I made a convention with the Japanese which,
    among other provisions, secured the right of permanent residence
    to Americans at Simoda and Hakodadi, admits a Consul at
    Hakodadi, opens Nagasaki, settled the currency question, and the
    dollar now passes for 4670 cash instead of 1600, and lastly
    admits the enterritoriality of all Americans in Japan. It was a
    subject of deep regret to me that I was not able to send this
    convention to the State Department until quite six months after
    it had been agreed on.

    In October 1856, I wrote to the Council of State at Yedo that I
    was the bearer of a friendly letter from the President of the
    United States addressed to the Emperor of Japan, and that I had
    some important matter to communicate which greatly concerned the
    honor and welfare of Japan. I desire the Council to give orders
    for my proper reception on the road from this to Yedo, and to
    inform me when those arrangements were completed. For full ten
    months the Japanese used every possible expedient to get me to
    deliver the letter at Simoda, and to make my communications to
    the Governors of this place. I steadily refused to do either,
    and at last they have yielded and I shall start for Yedo some
    time next month. I am to have an audience of the Emperor, and at
    that time I am to deliver the letter.

    I am satisfied that no commercial treaty can be made by
    negotiations carried on any where but at Yedo, unless the
    negotiator is backed up by a powerful fleet.

    I hope when at Yedo to convince the government that it is
    impossible for them to continue their present system of
    non-intercourse, and that it will be for their honor and
    interest to yield to argument rather than force.

    I do not expect to accomplish all that I desire on this
    occasion, but it will be a great step in the way of direct
    negotiations with the Council of the State, and the beginning of
    a train of enlightenment of the Japanese that will sooner or
    later lead them to desire to open the country freely to
    intercourse with foreign nations.

    I have just obtained a copy of your “Expedition to Japan and the
    China Seas,” and have read it with intense interest. I hope it
    is no vanity in me to say that no one _at present_ can so well
    appreciate and do justice to your work as I can.

    You seem at once and almost intuitively to have adopted the best
    of all courses with the Japanese. I am sure no other course
    would have resulted so well. I have seen quite a number of
    Japanese who saw you when you were at Simoda and they all made
    eager inquiries after you. M—— Y—— is at Simoda, and has not
    forgotten the art of lying.

    Please present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Perry and to
    the other members of your family, and believe

                                         Yours most sincerely,
                                                   TOWNSEND HARRIS.

As Perry predicted, the Japanese yielded to Mr. Harris who, a few days
after he had sent the letter given above, went to Yedo, and had audience
of the Shō-gun Iyésada. He afterwards saw the ministers of state, and
presented his demands. These were: Unrestricted trade between Japanese
and American merchants in all things except bullion and grain, the
closing of Shimoda and the opening of Kanagawa and Ozaka, the residence
in Yedo of an American minister, the sending of an embassy to America,
and a treaty to be ratified in detail by the government of Japan.

Professor Hayashi was first sent to Kiōto, to obtain the Mikado’s
consent. As he had negotiated the first treaty it was thought that with
his experience, scholarly ability and eminent character, he would be
certain to win success, if anyone could. Despite his presence and
entreaties, the imperial signature and pen-seal were not given; and
Hotta, a daimiō, was then despatched on the same mission. The delay
caused by the opposition of the conservative element at the imperial
capital was so prolonged, that Mr. Harris threatened if an answer was
not soon forthcoming, to go to Kiōto himself and arrange matters.

The American envoy was getting his eyes opened. He began to see that the
throne and emperor were in Kiōto, the camp and lieutenant at Yedo. The
“Tycoon”—despite all the pomp and fuss and circumlocution and lying
sham—was an underling. Only the Mikado was supreme. Quietly living in
Yedo, Mr. Harris bided his time. Hotta returned from his fruitless
mission to Kiōto late in April 1858; but meanwhile Ii, a man of vigor
and courage, though perhaps somewhat unscrupulous, was made Tairō or
regent, and virtual ruler in Yedo. With him Mr. Harris renewed his
advances, and before leaving Yedo, in April 1858, secured a treaty
granting in substance all the American’s demands. This instrument was to
be signed and executed September 1st, 1858. Ii hoped by that time to
obtain the imperial consent. A sub-treaty, secret, but signed by the
premier Ii and Mr. Harris, binding them to the execution of the main
treaty on the day of its date, was also made, and copies were held by
both parties.[54] This diplomacy was accomplished by Mr. Harris, when he
had been for many months without news from the outside world, and knew
nothing of the British campaign in China.

Meanwhile Flag-Officer Josiah Tatnall, under order of the United States
Navy Department, was on his way to Japan, to bring letters and
dispatches to the American Consul-general, was ignorant of Mr. Harris’
visit to Yedo, or his new projects for treaty-making. On the _Powhatan_
he left Shanghai July 5th, joining the _Mississippi_ at Nagasaki five
days later. Here the death of Commodore Perry was announced, the
Japanese receiving the news with expressions of sincere regret. The
Treaty at Tientsin had been signed June 26, but Tatnall, innocent of the
notions of later manufacture, so diligently ascribed to him of rushing
“off to Japan to take advantage of the consternation certain to be
created by the first news of recent events in the Peiho,” . . . was so
far oblivious of any further intentions on the part of Mr. Harris of
making another treaty with Japan, that he lingered in the lovely harbor
until the 21st of July. In the _Powhatan_ he cast anchor in Shimoda
harbor, on the 25th, the _Mississippi_ having arrived two days before.
On the 27th, taking Mr. Harris on board the _Powhatan_, Tatnall steamed
up to Kanagawa, visiting also Yokohama, where Perry’s old treaty-house
was still standing. Meeting Ii on the 29th, negotiations were re-opened.
In Commodore Tatnall’s presence, the main treaty was dated July 29th
(instead of September 1st) and to this the premier Ii affixed his
signature, and pen-seal. By this treaty Yokohama was to be opened to
foreign trade and residence July 1st of the following year, 1859, and an
embassy was to be sent to visit the United States. The Commodore and
Consul-general returned to Shimoda August 1st. Mr. Harris then took a
voyage of recreation to China.

On the 30th of June 1859, the consulate of the United States was removed
from Shimoda to Kanagawa, where the American flag was raised at the
consulate July 1st. The Legation of the United States was established in
Yedo July 7, 1859. Amid dense crowds of people, and a party of
twenty-three[55] Americans, Mr. Harris was escorted to his quarters in a

The regent Ii carried on affairs in Yedo with a high hand, not only
signing treaties without the Mikado’s assent, but by imprisoning,
exiling, and ordering to decapitation at the blood-pit, his political
opposers. Among those who committed _hara-kiri_ or suffered death, were
Yoshida Shoin, and Hashimoto Sanai. The daimiōs of Mito, Owari, and
Echizen,[56] were ordered to resign in favor of their sons and go into
private life. “All classes now held their breath and looked on in silent
affright.” On the 13th of February 1860, the embassy, consisting of
seventy-one persons left Yokohama in the _Powhatan_ to the United
States, arriving in Washington May 14, 1860. The English copy of the
Perry treaty had been burned in Yedo in 1858, and one of their objects
was to obtain a fresh transcript. The writer’s first sight and
impression of the Japanese was obtained, when these cultivated and
dignified strangers visited Philadelphia, where they received the
startling news of the assassination in Yedo, March 23d, of their chief
Ii, by Mito _rō-nins_.

The signing of treaties without the Mikado’s consent was an act of
political suicide on the part of the Yedo government. Not only did “the
swaggering prime minister” Ii, become at once the victim of assassin’s
swords, but all over the country fanatical patriots, cutting the cord of
loyalty to feudal lords, became “wave-men” or _rō-nin_. They raised the
cry, “Honor the Mikado, and expel the barbarian.” Then began that series
of acts of violence—the murder of foreigners and the burning of
legations, which foreigners then found so hard to understand, but which
is now seen to be a logical sequence of preceding events. These amateur
assassins and incendiaries were but zealous patriots who hoped to deal a
death-blow at the Yedo usurpation by embroiling it in war with
foreigners. More than one officer prominent in the Meiji era has
boasted[57] of his part in the plots and alarms which preceded the fall
of the dual system and the reinstatement of the Mikado’s supremacy. To
this the writer can bear witness.

Meanwhile the ministers of the Bakafu were “like men who have lost their
lanterns on a dark night.” Their lives were worth less than a brass
_tem-pō_. Amid the tottering framework of government, they yet strove
manfully to keep their treaty engagements. “No men on earth could have
acted more honorably.”[58] All the foreign ministers struck their flags,
and retired to Yokohama, except Mr. Harris. He, despite the
assassination, January 14, 1861, of Mr. Heusken his interpreter,
maintained his ground in solitude. English and French battalions were
landed at Yokohama, and kept camp there for over twelve years. On the
21st of January, 1862, another embassy was despatched to Europe and the
United States. Their purpose was to obtain postponement of treaty
provisions in regard to the opening of more ports. In New York, they
paid their respects to the widow of Commodore Perry, meeting also his
children and grandchildren.

Plots and counterplots in Kiōto and Yedo, action and reaction in and
between the camp and the throne went on, until, on the 3rd of January,
1868, two days after the opening of Hiogo and Ozaka to trade, the
coalition of daimiōs hostile to the Bakafu or Tycoon’s, government,
obtained possession of the Mikado’s palace and person. The imperial
brocade banner of chastisement was then unfurled, and the “Tycoon” and
all who followed him stamped as _chō-téki_ traitors—the most awful name
in Japanese history. One of the first acts of the new government,
signalizing the new era of Meiji, was to affix the imperial seal to the
treaties, and grant audience to the foreign envoys. In the civil war,
lasting nearly two years, the skill of the southern clansmen, backed by
American rifles and the iron-clad ram, _Stonewall_, secured victory.
Yedo was made the _Kiō_ or national capital, with the prefix of Tō
(east), and thenceforward, the camp and the throne were united in Tōkiō,
the Mikado’s dwelling place.

All power in the empire having been consolidated in the Mikado’s person
in Tōkiō, one of the first results was the assertion of his rule over
its outlying portions, especially Yezo, Ogasawara and Riu Kiu islands,
the resources of Yezo and the Kuriles included in the term Hokkaido or
Northern sea-circuit were developed by colonists, and by a commission
aided by Americans eminent in science and skill. Sappōro is the capital
city, and Hakodaté the chief port. The thirty-seven islands of Riu Kiu,
with their one hundred and sixty thousand inhabitants are organized as
the Okinawa Ken, one of the prefects of the empire. The deserted
palace-enclosure of Shuri, to which in 1853, Perry marched, with his
brass bands marines and field-pieces, to return the visit of the regent,
is now occupied by battalion of the Mikado’s infantry. The dwellings of
the king and his little court now lie in mildew and ruin,[59] while the
former ruler is a smartly decorated marquis of the empire. Despite
China’s claim[60] to Riu Kiu, Japan has never relaxed her grasp on this
her ancient domain.[61] Variously styled “the Southern Islands,” “Long
Rope” (Okinawa), “Sleeping Dragon,” “Pendant Tassels,” the “Country
which observes Propriety,” or the “Eternal Land” of Japanese mythology,
and probably some day to be a renowned winter health-resort, Riu Kiu,
whether destined to be the bone of contention and cause of war between
the rival great nations claiming it, or to sleep in perpetual afternoon,
has ceased to be a political entity. No one will probably ever follow
Perry in making a treaty with the once tiny “Kingdom.”

The Ogasawara (Bonin) islands were formally occupied by the civil and
military officers of the Mikado in 1875, and the people of various
nationalities dwell peaceably under the sun-flag. An American
lady-missionary and a passenger in the steamer _San Pablo_, Mrs. Anna
Viele of Albany, spent from January 14th to 31st, 1855, at the Bonin
Islands. She found of Savory’s large family three sons and three
daughters living. The old flag of stars and stripes given to Savory by
Commodore Perry is still in possession of his widow, and is held in
great reverence by his children and grandchildren, all of whom profess
allegiance to the United States. The boys, as soon as of age, go to
Yokohama and are registered in the American consulate. One of the sons
bears the name of Matthew Savory, so named by the Commodore himself when
there. A grandson having been born a few days before the arrival of the
_San Pablo_, Mrs. Viele was invited to name him. She did so, and Grover
Cleveland Savory received as a gift a photograph of the President of the
United States. Trees planted by the hand of the Commodore still bear
luscious fruit. Though the cattle were long ago “lifted” by passing
whalers, the goats are amazingly abundant.[62] The island of Hachijō
(Fatsizio,) to which, between the years 1597 and 1886, sixteen hundred
and six persons, many of them court ladies, nobles, and gentlemen from
Kiōto and Yedo, were banished, is also under beneficent rule. The new
penal code of Japan, based on the ideas of christendom, has substituted
correctional labor,[63]—even with the effect of flooding America and
Europe with cheap and gaudy trumpery made by convicts under prison
contracts,—and Hachijō ceases to stand, in revised maps and charts, as
the “place of exile for the grandees of Japan.”

Ancient traditions, vigorously revived in 1874 claimed that Corea was in
the same relation to Japan as Yedo or Riu Kiu; or, if not an integral
portion of Dai Nihon, Corea was a tributary vassal. A party claiming to
represent the “unconquerable spirit of Old Japan,” (Yamatō damashii,) to
reverence the Mikado, and to cherish the sword as the living soul of the
samurai, demanded in 1875, the invasion of Corea. The question divided
the cabinet after the return of the chief members of it from their tour
around the world in 1875, and resulted in a rebellion crushed only after
the expenditure of much blood and treasure. It was finally determined
not to invade but to “open” Corea, even as Japan had been opened to
diplomacy and commerce by the United States. Only twelve years after
Perry’s second visit to the bay of Yedo, and in the same month, a
Japanese squadron of five vessels and eight hundred men under General
Kuroda appeared in the Han river, about as far below the Corean capital
as Uraga is from Tōkiō. In the details of procedure, and movement of
ships, boats and men, the imitation of Perry’s policy was close and
transparent.[64] Patience, skill and tact, won a “brain-victory,” and a
treaty of friendship, trade, and commerce, was signed February 27th,
1876. The penultimate hermit nation had led the last member of the
family into the world’s market-place. In this also, Perry’s work
followed him.

Two years after this event, a company of Japanese merchants in Yokohama,
assembled together of their own accord; and, in their own way celebrated
with speech, song and toast, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the arrival
of Commodore Perry and the apparation of the “Black ships” at Uraga. The
general tenor of the thought of the evening was that the American
squadron had proved to Japan, despite occasional and temporary reverses,
an argosy of treasures for the perpetual benefit of the nation.

The object-lesson in modern civilization, given by Perry on the sward at
Yokohama, is now illustrated on a national scale. Under divine
Providence, with unique opportunity, Japan began renascence at a time of
the highest development of forces, spiritual mental, material. With
Christianity, modern thought, electricity, steam, and the
printing-press, the Mikado comes to his empire “at such a time as this.”
Since the era of Meiji, or Enlightened Peace, was ushered in, January
26, 1858, the Mikado Mutsŭhito, the 123d sovereign of the imperial line,
born twenty-one days before Perry sailed in the _Mississippi_ for Japan,
has abolished the feudal system, emancipated four-fifths of his subjects
from feudal vassalage and made them possessors of the soil, disarmed a
feudal soldiery numbering probably six hundred thousand men trained to
arms, reorganized the order of society, established and equipped an army
forty thousand strong, and a navy superior in ships and equipments to
that of the United States, assured the freedom of conscience, introduced
the telegraph, railway, steam-navigation, general postal and saving, and
free compulsory public educational systems;[65] declared the equality of
all men before the law, promised limitation of the imperial prerogative,
and the establishment of a national parliament in A. D. 1890.

All this looks like a miracle. “Can a nation be born at once,” a land in
one day?

The story of the inward preparation of Nippon for its wondrous flowering
in our day, of the development of national force, begun a century before
Perry was born, which, with outward impact made not collision, but the
unexpected resultant,—New Japan, deserves a volume from the historian,
and an epic from the poet. We have touched upon the subject
elsewhere.[66] Suffice it to say that the Dutch, so long maligned by
writers of hostile faith and jealous nationality, to whom Perry in his
book fails to do justice, bore an honorable and intelligent part in
it.[67] Even Perry, Harris and the Americans constitute but one of many
trains of influences contributing to the grand result. Perry himself
died before that confluence of the streams of tendency, now so clearly
visible, had been fully revealed to view. The prayers of Christians, the
yearning of humanity, the pressure of commerce, the ambition of
diplomacy, from the outside; the longing of patriots, the researches of
scholars, the popularization of knowledge, the revival of the indigenous
Shintō religion, the awakening of reverence for the Mikado’s person, the
heated hatred almost to flame of the Yedo usurpation, the eagerness of
students for western science, the fertilizing results of Dutch culture,
from the inside; were all tributaries, which Providence made to rise,
kept in check, and let loose to meet in flood at the elect moment.

Meanwhile, Japan groans under the yoke imposed upon her by the Treaty
Powers in the days of her ignorance. “Extra-territorialty” is her curse.
The selfishness and greed of strong nations infringe her just and
sovereign rights as an independent nation. In the light of twenty-eight
years of experience, treaty-revision is a necessity of righteousness and
should be initiated by the United States.[68] This was the verdict of
Townsend Harris, as declared to the writer, in 1874. This is the written
record of the English and American missionaries in their manifesto of
April 28th, 1884 at the Ozaka Conference.[69] Were Matthew Perry to
speak from his grave, his voice would protest against oppression by
treaty, and in favor of righteous treatment of Japan, in the spirit of
the treaty made and signed by him; to wit:

“There shall be a perfect, permanent, and universal peace, and a sincere
and cordial amity, between the United States of America on the one part,
and the Empire of Japan on the other, and between their people,
respectively, without exception of persons or places.”


[51] Young Japan, J. R. Black.

[52] A Cruise in Japan waters, and Japan fragments.

[53] November 1st, 1859.

[54] Commodore Tatnall told this to Gideon Nye. See Mr. Nye’s letter,
January 31st, 1859, to the Hong Kong _Times_; reprinted in pamphlet form
Macao, March 22, 1864.

[55] See their names, and dates of the _Mississippi’s_ movements, in “A
Cruise in the U. S. S. Frigate Mississippi,” July 1857 to February 1860,
by W. F. Gragg, Boston, 1860.

[56] It was in the educational service of this baron and his son, that
the writer went to Japan and lived in Echizen. The Mikado’s Empire, pp.
308, 426-434, 532-536.

[57] Episodes in a Life of Adventure, p. 163, by Laurence Oliphant,

[58] Townsend Harris’s words to the writer, October 9th, 1874.

[59] Cruise of the Marquesas, London, 1886.

[60] The story of the Riu Kiu (Loo Choo) complication by F. Brinkley, in
_The Chrysanthemum_, Yokohama, 1883. Audi Alteram Partem, by D. B.
McCartee Esq. M. D.

[61] Asiatic Soc. of Japan. Transactions Vol. I, p. 1; Vol. IV. p. 66.

[62] Asiatic Society of Japan, Transactions Vol. IV, p. 3.

[63] Asiatic Society and Japan Transactions, Vol. VI, part III, pp.

[64] Corea, the Hermit Nation, p. 423.

[65] Hon. John A. Bingham to Mr. Evarts, U. S. Foreign Relations, 1880.

[66] The Recent Revolutions in Japan, chapter XXVIII in The Mikado’s
Empire, and pamphlet The Rutgers Graduates in Japan, New Brunswick N. J.

[67] Transactions, Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. V. p. 207.

[68] Japanese Treaty Revision by Prof. J. K. Newton, _Bibliotheca
Sacra_, January 1887.

[69] Published in _The Independent_, N. Y.


                          A P P E N D I C E S


                        WRITINGS OF M. C. PERRY.


    DIARY, REMARKS, ETC. (on board the United States frigate
    _President_, Commodore Rodgers), made by M. C. Perry. [From
    March 19, 1811, to July 25, 1813].

    LETTERS of M. C. Perry to his superior officers, and to the
    United States Navy Department, in the United States Navy
    Archives, Washington D. C.; in all, about two thousand. These
    are bound up with others, in volumes lettered on the back
    =Officers' Letters=, MASTER COMMANDANTS’ LETTERS,
    =Captains' Letters=. As commodore of a squadron, M.
    C. Perry’s autograph letters and papers relating to his cruises
    are bound in separate volumes and lettered: =Squadron,
    Coast of Africa, under Commodore M. C. Perry, April 10 1843, to
    April 29 1845=, [1 volume, folio]; =Home Squadron,
    Commodore M. C. Perry’s Cruise= [2 volumes, folio, on THE
    MEXICAN WAR]; =East India, China and Japan Squadron,
    Commodore M. C. Perry=, Volume I, December 1852 to
    December 31 1853; Volume II, January 1854 to May 1855 [2
    volumes, folio].

    LETTERS to naval officers, scientific men, and personal friends.


    Unsigned articles in _The Naval Magazine_, Brooklyn, N. Y.

    =Future Commercial Relations with Japan and Lew

    =The Expediency of Extending Further Encouragement to
    American Commerce in the East.=


    =Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the
    China Seas and Japan.= 3 volumes, folio. Washington, 1856.
    1 volume, folio. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1857.

    The Perry family Bible, dates of births, marriages and deaths.

    Scrap books, kept at various periods of M. C. Perry’s life by
    the children and relatives of M. C. Perry.

                         JAPANESE AUTHORITIES.

    _Kinsé Shiriaku_ (Short History of Recent Times, 1853–1869, by
    Yamaguchi Uji, Tokio, 1871 translated by Ernest Satow, Yokohama,

    _Genji Yumé Monogatari_ (Dream Story of Genji, inside history of
    Japan from 1850 to 1864), translated by Ernest Satow in _Japan
    Mail_, 1874.

    _Kinsé Kibun_ (Youth’s History of Japan, from Perry’s arrival, 3
    volumes, illustrated, Tokio, 1874).

    _Hoku-é O Setsu Roku_, Official Record of Intercourse with the
    American Barbarians (made by the “Tycoon’s” officers, during
    negotiations with Perry in 1854; manuscript copied from the
    Department of State, Tokio, 1884).

    _A Chronicle_ of the Chief Events in Japanese history from 1844
    to 1863, translated by Ernest Satow; in _Japan Mail_, 1873.

    Japanese poems, street songs, legends, notes taken by the writer
    during conversations with people, officers, and students,
    chiefly eyewitnesses to events referred to.

    The other authorities quoted, are referred to in the text and
    footnotes, or mentioned in the preface.


    IN answer to an inquiry, Hext M. Perry, Esq., M.D., of
    Philadelphia, Pa., who is preparing a genealogy of the Perry
    family, has kindly furnished the following epitome:—

        DEAR SIR,—I have no doubt of our name being of
        Scandinavian origin. The Perrys were from Normandy, the
        original name being Perier which has in course been
        reduced to its present—and for many hundred years past
        in England and America—Perry. A market town in
        Normandy, France, is our old Perry name—Periers. The
        name doubtlessly originated from the fruit, Pear, French
        _Poire_; or, the fruit took its name from the family
        which is perhaps more likely. At any rate _Poire_ is
        easily modulated into Perer, Perier, Periere, etc., and
        so across the Channel to England, with William the
        Conqueror, in 1086, it soon ripens into our name Perry.
        Perry is a delightful fermented beverage in England made
        from pears—a sort of pear cider.

        “Perry” identifies by its arms with “Perers.” The family
        of Perry was seated in Devon County, England, in 1370.

        That of “Perier” was of Perieres in Bretagne (Brittany,
        France), and descended from Budic, Count of Cornuailles,
        A. D. 900, whose younger son Perion gave name to
        Perieres, Bretagne. A branch came to England, 1066, and
        Matilda de Perer was mother to Hugo Parcarius who lived
        in time of Henry I. The name continually recurs in all
        parts of England, and thence the _Perrys_, Earls of
        Limerick. There was also a Norman family of Pears
        intermarried with Shakespere which bore different arms
        “Perrie” for Perry—“Pirrie,” for Perry.


        Odo, Robert, Ralph, Hugh, &c., de Periers, Normandy
        1180-95. Robert de _Pereres_, England, 1198.

        It appears that the family Saxby, Shakkesby, Saxesby,
        Sakespee, Sakespage or Shakespeare was a branch of that
        of De Perers, and this appears to be confirmed by the
        armorial. The arms of one branch of Perire or Perers
        were: Argent, a bend sable (charged with three pears for
        difference). Those of Shakespeare were:—Argent, a bend
        sable (charged with a spear for difference). As before
        stated, the family of Perere came from Periers near
        Evreux, Normandy, where it remained in the 15th century.
        Hugo de Periers possessed estate in Warwick 1156;
        Geoffrey de Periers held fief in Stafford, 1165, and
        Adam de Periers in Cambridge. Sir Richard de Perers was
        M. P. for Leicester 1311, Herts 1316-24, and Viscount of
        Essex and Herts in 1325.

                                           Courteously Yours,
                                                 HEXT M. PERRY.

                           THE NAME CALBRAITH.

    IT is interesting to inquire whether the family of Calbraith is
    still in existence. An examination of the directory of the city
    of Philadelphia during the years 1882, 1883, 1884 recalls no
    name of Calbraith, and but one of Calbreath, though fifty-two of
    Galbraith are down in the lists. The spelling of the name with a
    C is exceedingly rare, the name Galbraith, however, is common in
    North Ireland and in Scotland. Arthur, the father of our late
    president of the same name, in his “Derivation of Family Names,”
    says it is composed of two Gaelic words _Gall_ and _Bhreatan_;
    that is “strange Breton,” or “Low Country Breton.” The
    Galbraiths in the Gaelic are called Breatannich, or Clanna
    Breatannich, that is “the Britons,” or “the children of
    Britons,” and were once reckoned a great clan in Scotland,
    according to the following lines:—

                    “Galbraiths from the Red Tower,
                    Noblest of Scottish surnames.”

    The Falla dhearg, or Red Tower was probably Dumbarton, that is
    the Dun Bhreatan, or stronghold of the Britons, whence it is
    said the Galbraiths came.

    Of one of the unlucky bearers of the name Galbraith, a private
    of our army in Mexico, Longfellow has written in his poem of
    “Dennis Galbraith.” In his “History of Japan,” Mr. Francis
    Ottiwell Adams, an English author, naturally falls into the
    habit of writing Matthew G. Perry. The Rev. Calbraith B. Perry
    of Baltimore, nephew of Matthew C. Perry, suggests that the
    initial letter of the name is merely the softening of the Scotch

                       THE FAMILY OF M. C. PERRY.

    OF MATTHEW C. PERRY, born in Newport, April 10, 1794, and JANE
    SLIDELL born in New York, February 29, 1797, who were married in
    New York, October 24, 1814, there were born four sons and six

       JOHN SLIDELL PERRY, died March 24, 1817.
       SARAH PERRY (Mrs. Robert S. Rodgers.)
       JANE HAZARD PERRY (Mrs. John Hone) died December 24, 1882.
       MATTHEW CALBRAITH PERRY, Jr., died November 16, 1873.
       SUSAN MURGATROYDE PERRY, died August 15, 1825.
       OLIVER HAZARD PERRY, died November 17, 1870.
       WILLIAM FREDERICK PERRY, died March 18, 1884.
       CAROLINE SLIDELL PERRY, (Mrs. August Belmont.)
       ISABELLA BOLTON PERRY, (Mrs. George Tiffany.)
       ANNA RODGERS PERRY, died March 9, 1838.

    MATTHEW C. PERRY died in New York, March 4, 1858; his wife, who
    was his devoted companion and helper, =Jane Slidell
    Perry=, survived him twenty years, and died in Newport, R.
    I., June 14, 1879, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. George
    Tiffany. A pension of fifty dollars per month was granted to
    her, by Act of Congress, from the date of her husband’s death.

    Of the Commodore’s children, who grew to adult life, Sarah was
    married to Col. Robert S. Rodgers (brother of the late
    Rear-Admiral John Rodgers, U. S. N.), at the Commandant’s house,
    Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N. Y., December 15, 1841, and now lives
    near Havre de Grace, Maryland.

    Jane Hazard was married to John Hone, Esq., of New York, at the
    Commandant’s house, Brooklyn Navy Yard, October 20, 1841.

    Matthew Calbraith married Miss Harriet Taylor of Brooklyn, April
    26, 1853. He entered the United States Navy as Midshipman, June
    1, 1835, was appointed Lieutenant April 3, 1848, and later
    Captain. He was placed on the retired list April 4, 1867.

    Oliver Hazard Perry, an officer in the United States Marine
    Corps, was appointed Lieutenant February 25, 1841; was in the
    Mexican war, and resigned July 23, 1849; was appointed United
    States Consul at Hong Kong. He died in London May 17, 1870. He
    was unmarried.

    William Frederick Perry, died unmarried.

    Caroline Slidell Perry was married, in New York, to the Hon.
    August Belmont, late Minister of the United States to the
    Netherlands, November 7, 1849.

    Isabella Bolton Perry married Mr. George Tiffany in New York,
    August 17, 1864.


  (Furnished by the Chief Clerk United States Navy Department, 1883.)

    MATTHEW C. PERRY was appointed a Midshipman in the United States
    Navy, January 16th, 1809; March 16th, 1809, ordered to the naval
    station, New York; May 11th, 1809, furloughed for the merchant
    service; October 12th, 1810, ordered to the _President_;
    February 22d, 1813, appointed Acting Lieutenant; July 24th,
    1813, appointed Lieutenant; November 16th, 1813, ordered to New
    London; December 20th, 1815, granted six month’s furlough;
    September 22d, 1817, ordered to the navy yard, New York; June
    8th, 1821, ordered to command the _Shark_; July 29th, 1823,
    ordered to the receiving ship at New York; July 26th, 1824,
    ordered to the _North Carolina_; March 21st, 1826, promoted to
    Master Commandant; August 17th, 1827, ordered to the naval
    rendezvous at Boston; September 2d, 1828, granted leave of
    absence; April 22d, 1830, ordered to command the _Concord_;
    December 10th, 1832, detached and granted three months’ leave;
    January 7th, 1833, ordered to the navy yard, New York; February
    9th, 1837, promoted to Captain; March 15th, 1837, detached from
    the navy yard, New York; August 29th, 1837, ordered to command
    the _Fulton_; March the 2d, 1840, ordered to the steamer
    building at New York to give general superintendence over the
    gun-practice; June 12th, 1841, ordered to command the navy yard,
    New York; February 20th, 1843, ordered to hold himself in
    readiness for command of the African squadron; May 1st, 1845,
    detached and granted leave; December 27th, 1845, ordered to
    examine merchant steamers at New York; January 6th, 1846,
    ordered to examine docks at New York—examination finished
    February 4th, 1846; May 18th, 1846, ordered to examine steamers
    at New York; 21st July, 1846, ordered to report at Department;
    August 20th, 1846, ordered to command the _Mississippi_; March
    4th, 1847, ordered to command the Home Squadron; November 20th,
    1848, detached from command of Home Squadron, and ordered as
    General Superintendent of ocean mail-steamers; November 3d,
    1849, ordered to report at the Department; January 22d, 1852,
    given preparatory orders to command the East India Squadron; 3d
    March, 1852, detached as Superintendent of ocean mail-steamers;
    March 24th, 1852, ordered to command the East India Squadron;
    January 12th, 1855, reported his arrival at New York; June 20th,
    1855, ordered to Washington as a Member of Efficiency Board
    under Act of Congress, February 28th, 1855; September 13th,
    1855, Board dissolved; December 30th, 1857, detached from
    special duty and wait orders.

    He died at New York City, N. Y., on the 4th of March, 1858.


    MATTHEW C. PERRY may be called the founder of the apprenticeship
    system in the United States Navy, however much the present
    improved methods may differ from his own. He was the first
    officer to attempt a systematic improvement on the hap-hazard
    and costly method of recruiting formerly in vogue. Under the old
    plan, one-fourth the men and boys picked up at random became
    invalided or were discharged as unfit. It took four month’s work
    at five recruiting stations to get a crew for the “_North
    Carolina_.” The daily average of recruits at five stations, New
    York, Philadelphia, Boston, Norfolk and Baltimore, was but
    seven, at the utmost, and could not be increased without
    bounties. Perry’s experience at recruiting stations prompted him
    to a thorough study of the subject, and attempt at reform. He
    addressed the Department on this theme as early as 1823. In a
    letter of eleven pages, dated January 25, 1824, a model of
    clearness and strength, he elaborated his idea of providing
    crews for men-of-war by naval apprentices properly educated. He
    proposed that a thousand apprentices be engaged yearly, saving
    in expense of pay (from $792,000 to $462,000) the sum of
    $330,000. He suggested withholding the ration of spirits for the
    first two years of indenture, so that a further saving of
    $43,800, and total saving $373,800, would be secured.

    In this paper he treats the problem of the great difficulty,
    delay and expense of obtaining men for our naval service, which
    becomes greater in time of hostilities. This was shown in the
    war of 1812 when large bounties were offered. The sea-faring
    population of the United States had not increased since 1810.
    Whereas there had been in 1810, 71,238 seamen, there were in
    1821 only 64,948. In case of another war, the merchant ships
    should not be suffered to rot in port as in 1812, but ought to
    pursue their usual voyages. Hence merchant ships would want
    sailors, and when there was considered the number wanted for
    that popular branch of speculation—privateering, he feared that
    few would be left for the public service, unless exorbitant pay
    and bounties were given as inducements for enlisting. Owing to
    the decay of the New England carrying trade, and the fisheries,
    the sources for sea-faring men had dried up; and it was easier
    to get ships than men. Even in New York a sloop’s crew was
    unobtainable in less than twenty days. If this were so, how hard
    would it be to equip a fleet!

    The remedy proposed was to receive boys as apprentices to serve
    until of age and to be educated and clothed by the government.
    Such a system would be a blessing to society. It would reform
    bad and idle boys, and create in a numerous class of men
    attachment to the naval service, besides raising up warrant and
    petty officers of native birth. These at present were mostly
    foreigners. Boys shipped only for two years; they then got
    discharged and perhaps went roaming on distant voyages all over
    the earth, losing the _discipline_ they had acquired. There was
    no difficulty to get boys in New York. The city alone could
    supply five hundred annually, and the city corporations would
    assist the plan. “Experience proves that these lads do well. The
    very spirit which prompts them to youthful indiscretion gives
    them a zest for the daring and adventurous life to which they
    are called in our ships of war.”

    With characteristic tenacity, he returned to the subject in a
    letter to the Department, January 10 1835, giving the results of
    further studies. One half of all the men enlisted for the navy
    came from the New York rendezvous. From April 2d, 1828 to
    October 14, 1834, there were enlisted 17 petty officers, 2,335
    seamen, 1,174 ordinary seamen, 842 landsmen and 414 boys, a
    total of 4,782, or 19 a week. Nearly ten months were necessary
    to get 750 men, the crew of a line-of-battle ship, twenty weeks
    to furnish a frigate with 380 men, and eight weeks to enlist 150
    men for a sloop of war.

    Perry noticed another glaring defect in the system, and wrote
    September 25, 1841, concerning frauds on the government, by men
    enlisting in the navy getting advance pay and then deserting.
    Parents connived at enlistment, and often got off “minors” by
    habeas corpus writs, and the government thus lost both the
    recruit and the advance money. The same trouble had been found
    in the British navy. Native-born men enlisted, got advance pay,
    and then claimed alien birth. Perry consulted with the district
    attorney as to how to stop this practice.

    While on the _Fulton_, Perry returned to his idea of perfecting
    the apprenticeship system first suggested by him. He asked
    permission to have his letters of 1823 and 1824 copied for him
    by Dr. Du Barry, that he have authority to increase the
    complement of the _Fulton_ as vacancies should occur, and to
    employ as many as the vessel would accommodate. His requests
    were finally granted. The law of Congress passed in March or
    April 1847, authorizing the apprenticeship system, was the
    result of his persistent presentation of his own plan elaborated
    in 1824.

    Seventeen indentured apprentices were received, and a daily
    school on board the _Fulton_ was instituted, in which the lads
    who proved apt to learn were taught the English branches,
    seamanship, war exercises, and partially the operations of the
    steam engine. After one year’s experience, Perry wrote July 8th,
    1839, reporting that the boys already performed all the duties
    of many men. They gave less trouble and were more to be depended
    upon. While the utmost vigilance of officers was required to
    prevent desertions of sailors on account of the near allurements
    of the great city, the boys with a greater attachment were more
    to be trusted.

    As only one-fifth of the sailors in the navy were native
    Americans, Perry took intense pride in the enterprise of rearing
    up men for the national service, in whom patriotism would be
    natural, inherited and heartfelt. He cheerfully met all the
    difficulties in the way—such as parents claiming their boys on
    various pretexts, and the law-suits which followed. To the boys
    themselves, Perry was as kind as he was exacting. He believed in
    tempting boys in the sense of proving them with responsibility
    enough to make men of them. Sufficient shore liberty was given,
    and once in a while, even the joys of the circus were allowed

    He proposed to man one of the new national vessels with a crew
    of his trained apprentices, and under picked officers to send
    them on a long cruise to demonstrate the success of his system.
    When the brig _Somers_ was launched April 16, 1842, the time
    seemed ripe, and he obtained permission of the Department to
    carry out his plan. The vessel had been built, and the boys had
    been trained under his own eye. After a conference with
    Secretary Upshur in September, it was arranged she should make a
    trip to Sierra Leone and back, occupying ninety days, traversing
    seven thousand miles, and visiting the ports or colonies of four
    great nations. A few days afterwards the _Somers_ sailed away,
    full of happy hearts beating with joyful anticipations, yet
    destined to make the most painful record of any vessel in the
    American navy.

    On this sad subject, either to state facts or give an opinion,
    we have nothing to say. The real or imaginary mutiny and its
    consequences did much to injure and finally destroy the
    apprenticeship system as founded by Perry. Other reasons for
    failure lay in the fact that boys of good family expected by
    enlistment to become line and staff officers. Disappointed in
    their groundless hopes, they deserted or wanted to be
    discharged. Failing in this, they sought release by civil

    By the system of 1863, the same failure resulted. In 1872
    “training ships,” as we now understand the term, were put in
    use. On June 20, 1874, the Marine School Bill was passed which
    created the present admirable system, which has little or no
    organic connection with any other system previously in vogue. It
    is now possible, with the Annapolis Naval Academy and the
    School-ship system, to provide abundantly both officers and
    sailors for the military marine of the United States. In any
    history of the naval-apprenticeship system of the United States
    navy, despite the claims made by others, or the many names
    associated with its origin or development, the name of Matthew
    Perry must not be lost sight of as prime mover.


    MATTHEW PERRY never fought a duel, or acted as a second, though
    duelling was part of the established code of honor among naval
    men of his school and age, and provocation was not lacking. On
    his return from the cruise in the _North Carolina_, an
    unpleasant episode occurred, growing out of idle gossip and the
    malignant jealousy felt towards an officer of superior parts by
    inferiors unable to understand one so intensely earnest as
    Matthew Perry. The manner in which Perry dealt with the man and
    the matter strengthens the claim we have made for him as an
    educator of the United States Navy. The conversation at a dinner
    party in Philadelphia filtered into the ear of a certain
    lieutenant in Washington, who reported that Captain M—— had
    spoken of Matthew Perry as “a d——d rascal.” Perry at once took
    measures to ferret out the anonymous slanderer. He first learned
    from Captain M—— the total falsity of the report, and then
    demanded from the disseminator of the scandal the name of his
    informant, which was refused. Thereupon Perry wrote to the
    Secretary of the Navy, pleading the general injury to the
    service from calumnies and unfounded reports. The Secretary
    wrote to the offending lieutenant to tell the truth. The latter
    pleaded the “privacy of his room,” “sacred confidence among
    gentlemen,” and declined to give the name of the person
    “understood” to have made the offensive remark to him. The
    Secretary, Hon. Samuel L. Southard, in a letter which is a model
    of terse English, read the offender a lecture on the unmanly
    folly of dabbling in idle gossip, and laid down the principle of
    holding the disseminator of reports responsible for the truth of
    statements made on the authority of another. The triangular and
    voluminous correspondence from Boston, Washington and Norfolk,
    from November 15th 1827, to April 1828, may be read in the
    United States Navy Archives. Perry demanded a court-martial, if
    necessary, to clear himself from unjust suspicion. It was not
    needful. His tenacity and perseverance conquered. The gossipper
    begged permission to withdraw his remark, and then crawled into

    In this paper war, extending over several months, the officer
    whose victories both in peace and war were many, scored points
    in behalf of truth and good morals, of the discipline and order
    of the Navy, and of the advance of civilization. Heretofore, the
    custom of duelling had largely prevailed in the corps, and to
    this savage tribunal of arbitration a thousand petty questions
    of personal honor had been brought. Yet despite all arguments in
    favor of the bloody code, which believers in or admirers of its
    supposed benefits may fabricate in its favor, the fact remains
    that it served but an insignificant purpose. Its direct
    influence was slight in repressing those petty personal
    differences which, belonging to human nature, have such
    congenial soil in a crowded ship. Duelling was a cure but no
    preventative, the killing being as frequent as the curing.

    Matthew Perry might have challenged the lieutenant, and, like
    scores of his brother officers, appealed to the savage code; but
    having long pondered upon and frequently witnessed the slight
    benefit accruing from the costly sacrifice of life and limb from
    duelling, he aimed to cut out from the life of the service the
    whole system, root and branch, and to substitute the more rigid
    test of personal responsibility. In choosing the slower and, in
    old naval eyes, more inglorious method of correspondence, and
    appeal to considerate judgment of his peers in court, he
    exhibited more moral courage, showed his true character and
    motive, and lifted higher the splendid standard of the American
    Navy. To the formation of that _esprit_ of discipline which all
    now concede to be “the life of the service,” Perry, in this
    episode nobly contributed. He made the pen mightier than the

    Despite his clear record on this subject, made thus early, he
    came very near being made the victim of a political quarrel, and
    a reformer’s zeal. Readers of the works of John Quincy Adams may
    get an impression unjust to Captain Matthew Perry, because of
    the Resolution of Inquiry, December 3d, 1838, “into the conduct
    of Andrew Stevenson (United States Minister to Great Britain,
    and J. Q. Adams’s political enemy) in his controversy with
    Daniel O. Connell, as well as the participation of Captain Perry
    in that affair.”[70] To make a long story short, Mr. Adams, in
    his political zeal to injure an enemy and moral purpose to
    abolish “the detestable custom of private war,” struck the wrong
    man. All the information on which Mr. Adams based his inquiry
    was contained, as he confessed, in “those published letters of
    James Hamilton of South Carolina;” whereas, Mr. Hamilton
    regretted and publicly apologized for writing the principal
    letter which gave rise to the other two.[71] The whole
    controversy is not without interest, and humor of both the Irish
    and American sort. It is possible that Perry never knew till he
    found his name dragged into Congress, what use of his name had
    been made by Hamilton. So far as manifested in his official
    record,[72] Matthew Perry’s example, influence and energetic
    action were totally opposed to duelling. In his African cruises,
    and at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we find him earnestly laboring to
    root out of existence a practice at war with Christian

    How well he and like-minded men succeeded, is now known to
    all—except an occasional hot head in which passion outruns
    information. It is perfectly safe for a person seeking either
    notoriety or satisfaction to challenge a naval officer of the
    United States to fight a duel. One familiar with the “Laws for
    the better government of the Navy” need have no fears of the
    result. Neither government nor individuals now consider “a
    single person entitled to a whole war.”


    [70] J. Q. Adams’ _Works_, Vol. X, p. 48; and _Journal_ of same

    [71] _Niles Register_, Vol. LV, (from September, 1838 to March,
    1839, pp. 61, 62, 104, 105, 132, 133, 258.)

    [72] Letters. U. S. Navy Archives, August, 10th, 1841; February,

                    MEMORIALS IN ART OF M. C. PERRY.


    By William Sidney Mount in 1835, when M. C. Perry was forty
    years old, now in possession of one of the Commodore’s children.

    One at the time of his marriage.

    One painted from a photograph by Brady, about 1864.

    One at the Brooklyn Naval Lyceum.

    One at the Annapolis Naval Academy, by J. R. Irving.

    A painting from a daguerreotype was made in Japan by a Japanese


    Of these, there are several taken from life, from one of which
    the frontispiece of this volume has been made.


    In _Harper’s Magazine_ for March, 1856, from a photograph by
    Brady of New York, in an illustrated article on “Commodore
    Perry’s Expedition to Japan,” by Robert Tomes, Esq., M.D.

    In a London illustrated paper, about 1853.

    In Gleason’s Pictorial, Boston, of August 5th, 1854.

    In Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper of Saturday March 13,

    Other prints in newspapers and lithographs of the face or bust
    of M. C. Perry were made during his lifetime.

                            Bust and Statue.

    A bust in marble of M. C. Perry, in sailor garb by E. D. Palmer,
    of Albany N. Y., was made in 1859, and is now in possession of
    the Commodore’s daughter, Mrs. August Belmont of New York.

    In Touro Park, Newport, R. I., the city of his birth, about
    fifty yards east of the “old round tower” is a bronze statue of
    M. C. Perry, on a pedestal of Quincy granite. The extreme height
    is sixteen feet, the statue being eight, and the pedestal eight
    feet in height. The face, modelled partly from photographs and
    partly from Palmer’s bust, is considered a good likeness. The
    effect of the figure is grand, and the position easy and
    natural. The model was designed by John Quincy Adams Ward of New
    York, and the pedestal by Richard M. Hunt. On the latter are
    four excellent bas-reliefs in bronze, representing prominent
    events in M. C. Perry’s life.

    These are, “Africa, 1843,” Perry’s rescue of the man condemned
    to undergo the sassy ordeal, (p. 173); “Mexico, 1846,”
    transportation of the heavy ship’s guns through the sand and
    chapparal to the Naval Battery; “Treaty with Japan, 1854,” two
    scenes, representing the reception of the President’s letter at
    Kurihama (p. 359), and the negotiation of the treaty at Yokohama
    (p. 366). On the front of the plinth of the pedestal is cut an
    American ensign; on the north and south sides an anchor, and in
    the rear, “Erected in 1868, by August and Caroline S. Belmont.”
    The bronzes were cast at the Wood Brothers’ foundry in
    Philadelphia. Pa. The statue was unveiled October 2d, 1868, when
    the city of Newport was given up to public holiday in honor of
    the event. The military display consisted of marines, sailors,
    and apprentices from the U. S. S. _Saratoga_ and cutter
    _Crawford_, under command of Captain, now Rear-Admiral, J. H.
    Upshur; and four militia companies. One thousand children from
    the public schools were ranged within the hollow square formed
    by the military, and sang chorals. Besides seven or eight
    thousand spectators, there were officers of the army and navy,
    clergy and the children and grand-children of Commodore M. C.
    Perry. After prayer by Rev. J. P. White, unveiling of the statue
    by Mrs. Belmont, salutes from guns in the park and on shipboard,
    music, a speech of presentation by Mr. Belmont, and responses by
    Mayor Atkinson, the orator of the day, the Rev. Francis Hamilton
    Vinton, D. D. delivered the oration and eulogy. The exercises
    were closed by a speech from Captain J. H. Upshur, U. S. N., who
    drew a glowing picture of M. C. Perry’s action at Vera Cruz, and
    of his success in Japan. See the _Newport Mercury_ of October
    3d, 1868, and the published oration of Dr. Vinton “The statue”
    says Pay Director J. Geo. Harris, U. S. N., in a letter to the
    writer May 19, 1887, “is in all respects a likeness.” “I was
    impressed with its remarkable fidelity in stature, pose and
    bearing, as in full dress he met the Japanese commissioners on
    the shore at Yokohama.”


    The gold medal struck in Boston had on its face the head of
    “Commodore M. C. Perry,” and on the reverse the following legend
    with a circle of laurel and oak leaves: “Presented to Com. M. C.
    Perry, Special Minister from the United States of America, By
    Merchants of Boston, In token of their appreciation of his
    services in negotiating the treaty with Japan signed at
    Yoku-hama, March 31, and with Lew Chew at Napa, July 11, 1854.”
    On the band at the base of the wreath is the word _Mississippi_,
    and over it the figures of two Japanese junks, between the
    sterns of American ships. Copies of this medal in silver and
    bronze were received by subscribers to the gold original. The
    die was cut by F. N. Mitchell.



Adams, Will, 353.
Admiral, 212, 396, 397.
Admiralty, British, 48, 103, 130.
Alabama Claims, 2.
Albany, 365.
Alexander, Sarah, 5, 6.
American Geographical Society, 386, 408.
Anecdotes, see under Perry.
Annapolis, 22-24, 197, 250, 305, 439, 443.
Antarctic Exploration, 107-109.
Arctic Exploration, 9, 87, 102.
Army and Marine Officers:
  Capron, Horace, 306, 307.
  Coppée, Henry, 397.
  Edson, 249.
  Forrest, 202, 250.
  Holzinger, D. S., 229.
  Lee, R. E., 228, 130.
  Patterson, R., 227, 277.
  Pillow, 237.
  Perry, O. H., 297, 354, 394, 432.
  Quitman, 238, 239.
  Ringgold, 150.
  Scott, Winfield, 210, 218, 221, 222, 233-237, 252, 257.
  Shaw, R., 270, 261-263, 298, 378, 391.
  Steptoe, 239.
  Taylor, Zachary, 209, 218, 282.
  Totten, 337.
  Viele, 267.
  Watson, 257.
  Worth, W. T., 237.
Asiatic Society of Japan, 420, 421, 424.
Artillery, see Ordnance.
Ashburton Treaty, 167.
Authors quoted or referred to:
  Adams, F. O. 431.
  Addison, 139, 194, 403.
  Audubon, 368.
  Arthur, Rev. Wm., 431.
  Bancroft, Herbert, 260.
  Berkely, 13.
  Black, J. R., 409.
  Bowditch, 352.
  Brinckley, F., 420.
  Comte de Paris, 134.
  Confucius, 357.
  Cooper, J. F., 139.
  Darwin, 108.
  Dimon, S. C., 366.
  Halleck, Fitz Greene, 69, 75.
  Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 376, 377, 385.
  Hildreth, 272.
  Hugo, Victor, 35.
  Irving, W., 29, 130, 383.
  James, 30, 43.
  Japanese, 316, 330, 341, 342, 346, 362, 363, 370.
  Johnston, Alex., 213.
  Kaempfer, 295.
  Longfellow, 431.
  Mackenzie, A. S., 73, 74.
  Mencius, 351.
  Oliphant L., 417.
  Osborne, Sherard, 409.
  Parker, W. H., 149, 199.
  Perry, Hext M., 429.
  Poe, Edgar A., 137, 383.
  Roosevelt, 7, 31, 49.
  Satow, Ernest, 428.
  Semmes, Raphael, 240.
  Shakespeare, 430.
  Smith, Sydney, 308.
  Spalding, J. W., 310, 353, 372.
  Taylor, Bayard, 310.
  Taylor, F. W., 200, 246.
  Taylor, Henry, 35.
  Tomes, R., 384, 385, 403, 444.
  Von Siebold, 294.
  Watson, R. G., 62.
  Webb, J. W., 140, 303, 387, 388.
  Wordsworth, 9.


Barhyte, J. 383.
Bells, 313, 357, 373, 374, 392.
Berribee affair, 169, 171, 175-182.
Bible, 13, 404, 405.
Blue Peter, 211.
Boilers and protection, 33, 110, 111, 114, 123, 143.
Bombs, see Shells.
Boston, 42, 43, 44, 214, 379, 387, 445, 446.
Blockade, 45, 46, 116, 117, 369.
Bloomingdale, 45, 386.
Boulanger, 151.
British empire, 131.
British Naval Officers:
  Beechey, 294.
  Bingham, 26.
  Byron, 39.
  Cook, 14.
  Dacres, 22.
  Franklin, J., 87, 102.
  Jones, W., 193.
  Marsden, G., 223.
  Nelson, 35, 140, 392.
  Osborn, S., 409.
  Sartorius, G., 125.
  Seymour, 300.
British Navy, 45, 35-37, 131, 132, 164, 193-195, 409.
British Ships of War:
  _Admiralty_, 164.
  _Beagle_, 108.
  _Belvidera_, 37, 38-41.
  _Blossom_, 294.
  _Daring_, 223.
  _Galatea_, 44.
  _Guerriere_, 20, 22, 23, 26, 37, 42.
  _Jersey_, 3, 5.
  _Leopard_, 15, 16.
  _Little Belt_, 25, 26, 39.
  _Mackerel_, 41.
  _Nemesis_, 142.
  _Penelope_, 130.
  _Penguin_, 236.
  _Rattler_, 164.
  _Reindeer_, 277.
  _Shannon_, 20, 24, 34, 37.
  _Terrible_, 130.
  _Valorous_, 131.
  _Watt_, 4.
Broad pennant, 24, 154, 155, 169, 223, 244, 252, 310, 355.


Calbraith family, 6, 8, 15, 430, 431.
Calabar, 61.
California, 47, 267, 268.
Cannon, see Ordnance.
Cape Palmas, 174, 181.
Cape Mount, 61.
Carronade, 4, 35, 36, 132.
Cemeteries, 192, 343.
Chaplains, 406, see Clergymen.
Circumnavigation of the globe, 7, 18, 47, 159, 379.
Clay, Henry, 175.
Columbiads, 149, 218, 226.
Confederates, 48, 117, 126-128, 159, 240, 396.
Congo, 51, 184.
Cortez, 216.
Cotton-clad vessels, 117.
Clergymen, chaplains and missionaries:
  Andrews, 59.
  Bacon, 56.
  Bettelheim, J., 277.
  Bowen, N., 45.
  Bittenger, E. C., 406.
  Coke, D., 56.
  Colton, Walter, 406.
  Cuffee, Paul, 55.
  Dewey, Orville, 407.
  Harris, 154.
  Hawkes, F., 270, 385, 386, 392.
  Jenks, J. W., 82, 84, 97.
  Jones, 384, 406.
  Kelly, J. 182.
  Mills, 185.
  Noble, M., 407.
  Payne, 181.
  Perry, Calbraith, 431.
  Robertson, 89.
  Stewart, C. E., 406.
  Talmage, John, 286.
  Taylor, F. W., 200, 406.
  Vinton, F., 390, 392, 403, 445.
  White, J. P., 445.
  Williams, S. Wells, 275, 366, 388.
  Winn, 59.
  Canada, 167, 298-302.
  China, 7, 237, 307, 310, 333, 374, 376, 386, 387, 388, 394, 408, 409,
  Corea, 11, 251, 268, 275, 422.
  Egypt, 88-90.
  France, 10, 11, 92, 94, 131-134, 196.
  Great Britain, 2, 3, 19, 23, 35, 37, 43, 46, 130-132, 193, 196, 298-302,
    308, 409.
  Greece, 73-75, 88, 89, 408.
  Hawaii, 351, 366.
  Holland, 47, 48, 277, 294.
  Ireland, 5, 6, 12.
  India, 7, 19, 351, 375.
  Japan, 7, 47, 91, 268, 269, 270-386, 409-425.
  Liberia, 50-62, 69, 167-196.
  Mexico, 68-70, 198-260, 266-268, 278, 333, 364, 376.
  Naples, 91-96, 308.
  Norway, 44.
  Russia, 81-85, 296.
  Siam, 273, 410.
  Sierra Leone, 52, 56, 59, 60, 65, 67, 69, 70.
  Spain, 72, 73, 92.
  Turkey, 70, 88-90, 408.
  Yucatan, 250, 257.
Cross-trampling, 349.
Courbet, Admiral, 236.
Cutlass, 31.


Diplomatists and Statesmen:
  Aberdeen, 299.
  Allen, Elisha, 351.
  Ashburton, 167, 168.
  Belmont, August, 376, 432, 445.
  Bingham, J. A., 424.
  Cass, Lewis, 387, 388.
  Cassaro, 94.
  Davis, Jefferson, 306.
  Everett, Edward, 304.
  Harris, Townsend, 384, 409-418, 425.
  Lafayette, 94.
  Macedo, 285, 287, 288.
  Nelson, John, 91-96.
  Nesselrode, 296.
  Nye, Gideon, 376, 414.
  Pratt, Zodoc, 268.
  Randolph, John, 81, 82, 85.
  Reed, Wm. B., 387.
  Roberts, President, 172-176.
  Roberts, Edmund, 273, 274, 410.
  Rochambeau, 14.
  Russwarm, 182.
  Seward Wm. H., 49, 168.
  Shea, Ambrose, 302.
  Slidell, John, 45.
  Stevenson, A., 442.
  Vail, E. A., 133.
  Wall, G. D., 129.
  Webster, Daniel, 167, 283, 284, 303, 304, 306.
  Williams, S. Wells, 275, 354, 366.
Duelling, 440-443.
Dutch, 14, 37, 270-274, 277, 278, 339, 347, 348, 349, 370, 424, 425.


Engineers, 111-115, 123, 125, 161-163.


Feudalism, 88, 322, 326-329, 334, 336, 358, 359, 361, 417.
Fever: African 59, 189-191.
  Yellow, 254, 255.
Fire, 158, 163, 313.
Fireworks, 312.
Fisheries, 296, 298-302, 436.
Flags: British, 23, 46.
  Japan, 348, 420.
  Liberia, 184.
  Pirate, 67, 68.
  United States, 17, 18, 19, 41, 73, 395, 410, 416.
Flogging, 85, 86, 263-266.
French, 10, 14, 18, 38, 91, 92, 131-134;
  in Africa, 195, 196;
  in China, 236, 345;
  in Mexico, 199, 236.
Frigate, 10, 20, 27, 36, 43, 140, 159, 161.
Funchal, 41, 310.


Gaboon, 195.
Galbraith, 6, 8, 15, 430, 431.
Gardiner’s Island, 103.
Germans, 16, 51, 229.
Gettysburg, 304.
Golownin, 335, 355, 356.
Greeks, 73-75, 87-89.
Grog ration, 86, 263-264, 435.
Guinea, 51, 61.
Gunnery, see Ordnance.


Halifax, 34, 41, 300.
Hazard family, 3, 13.
Hessians, 57.
Heusken, Mr., 417.
Hong Kong, 310, 343, 374, 375, 376, 394, 432.


Impressment, 20-23, 48, 49.
International rifle match, 43.
Inventors, artists, men of science: 107, 134, 165, 297, 370.
  Bomford, 149.
  Bowditch, 352.
  Cochrane, W., 146.
  Coehorn, 216.
  Ericsson, 110, 126, 164.
  Faraday, 134.
  Fresnel, A., 133.
  Fulton, R., 28, 29, 110.
  Henry, J., 134.
  Humphries, 71.
  Irving, J. R., 443.
  Krupp, 150.
  Mount, W. S., 443.
  Paixhans, 149.
  Palmer, E. D., 444.
  Redfield, W. C., 140-143.
  Symmes, J. C., 107.
  Teulère, 136.
  Toussard, 20.
  Ward, E. C., 103.
  Ward, J. Q. A., 444.
  Wheeler, S., 148.
Irish soldiers, 206.
Iron-clads, 32, 118, 126-128, 157, 373, 419.
Iron ships, 130.


  Adzuma, 352, 373, 419.
  Art of, 314, 332, 336, 359-361.
  Bonin islands, 274, 311, 419-421.
  Buddhism, 320, 342, 357.
  Christianity in, 324, 325, 349, 363, 423.
  Fatsisio, (Hachijo), 421.
  Fuji yama, 312, 316, 353.
  Gorihama, 335-342.
  Hachijo, 421.
  Hakodaté, 343, 365, 371, 373, 419.
  Hiogo, 418.
  Idzu, 312, 371.
  Kamakura, 327, 352, 354.
  Kanagawa, 356, 413, 415.
  Kiōto, 413, 414, 418, 419.
  Kurihama, 335-342.
  Kuro Shiwo, 296.
  Loo Choo, see Riu Kiu.
  Matsumaé, 274, 277, 278, 371.
  Meiji era, 419, 423.
  Midzu-amé, 315.
  Nagasaki, 7, 270-272, 278, 316, 319, 411.
  Nagato, 321, 371.
  Names and titles, 318, 322, 326, 328, 333, 334.
  Napa, see Riu Kiu.
  Nitta, 352.
  Ogasawara islands, 311, 419, 420, 421.
  Okinawa, see Riu Kiu.
  Ozaka, 413, 418.
  Riu Kiu, 294, 310, 312, 343, 347, 351, 419, 420, 446.
  Ronin, 335, 417.
  Sapporo, 419.
  Shidzuoka, 368.
  Shimoda, 342, 371, 410, 411, 412, 415, 416.
  Shuri, 314, 419.
  Tokio, 419, 422.
  Uraga, 276, 279, 313, 356, 423.
  Yamato damashii, 338, 422.
  Yedo, 315, 326-328, 329-334, 412, 416, 419.
  Yokohama, 312, 357, 363, 415, 421, 423.
  Yokosŭka, 353.
  Bonzes, 315, 342.
  Buniō, see Kayama Yézayémon.
  Cho-teki, 419.
  Embassies, 417, 418.
  Echizen, 346, 416.
  Fudo, 338.
  Guanzan, 339.
  Hayashi, 350, 351, 357, 359, 362, 365, 413.
  Hokusai, 331.
  Hori Tatsunoske, 318.
  Hotta, 413.
  Ii, 413-417.
  Ito, 336, 338.
  Izawa, 355, 356.
  Iyésada, 329, 346, 347, 413.
  Iyeyasu, 270, 314, 329, 348.
  Iyéyoshi, 329, 345, 346.
  Katsu Awa, 366.
  Kayama Yézayémon, 321, 335, 338.
  Kobo, 357.
  Kuroda, 422.
  Kurokawa Kahéi, 354.
  Manjiro, 351, 352, 366.
  Mikado, 295, 309, 311, 318, 326-328, 333, 417, 410, 423.
  Mito, 346, 416, 417.
  Moriyama, Yenosuke, 276.
  Nagashima Saburosuke, 317, 318.
  Nitta, 352.
  Nio, 338.
  Ota Do Kuan, 329, 330.
  Sakuma, 349, 350.
  Taiko, 325, 333.
  Taira ghosts, 321.
  Toda, 336, 338.
  Tokugawa, 317, 329, 334, 336, 346, 351.
  Tycoon, 326, 327, 329, 333, 414, 417.
  Yoshida Shoin (Toraijiro), 349, 350, 369, 416.


Khartoum, 88.
Kings and rulers.
  Bomba, 95.
  Bonaparte, J., 91.
  Catharine, 84.
  Crack-O, 176-178.
  Cromwell, 3.
  Freeman, 72.
  George III., 52, 84.
  Gomez Farias, 225.
  Iturbide, 69, 70.
  Koméi, 315.
  Louis Phillipe, 131, 133, 134.
  Mehemet Ali, 88, 98.
  Murat, 91.
  Mutsuhito, 309, 423.
  Napoleon, 132.
  Nicholas, 82-84.
  Santa Anna, 205, 257, 258.
  Victoria, 131.


Lake Erie, 8, 14, 34, 45.
Langrage shot, 33, 34
Lighthouses, 133-137, 312.
Line-of-battle ships, 32, 71-75, 140.
Liquor, 86, 263, 265, 335, 341, 367, 368.
Loo choo, see Riu Kiu.
Louisiana, 11, 207, 208, 218.
Lyceum, 99-103, 443.


Macao 273, 274, 343.
Maryland in Africa, 173, 174, 185.
Massachusetts Horticultural Society, 87.
Mesurado, 59, 61, 172, 183.
Mexican war, 67, 197-269, 278, 364, 444.
Mexico, 69, 70, 198, 216, 250, 253, 260.
  Alvarado, 199, 239, 240.
  Cerro Gordo, 241.
  Green Island, 219, 220.
  Laguna, 208, 209.
  Mexico City, 210, 257, 333.
  Sacrificios island, 199, 253.
  Salmadina island, 250.
  St. Juan d'Ulloa, 69, 131, 219, 232, 233, 238, 258, 375.
  Tabasco, 200, 202-205, 242-249.
  Tampico, 205, 206-208.
  Tuspan, 241, 255.
  Vera Cruz, 68, 70, 216-240, 249, 258.
Missionaries, 52-56, 89, 407, 425.
Missions, Christian, 407.
Mongols, 320, 333.
Monitor, 72, 141.
Monrovia, 59, 60, 169, 183, 184.
Montravel Com., 344.
Mosquito fleet, 68, 233.
Mother of M. C. Perry, 6, 7, 12-14, 393.
Moustaches, 104-107.


Naval Academy, 17, 193, 197, 250, 374, 443.
Navy of the United States.
  admiral, 212, 396, 397.
  archives, 21, 264, 285, 441.
  beards and mustaches, 105, 107.
  benefit of, 4, 5, 11, 27, 47-49, 57, 65, 66, 73, 74, 95, 108, 396.
  broad pennant, 154, 244.
  bureaus, 160, 212.
  cemeteries, 191-193, 205, 343, 344.
  commodore, 154, 155.
  comet, 2-11.
  discipline, 16, 42, 86, 187, 188, 240, 249, 297, 344, 361, 371, 436,
  duelling, 440-443.
  flogging, 264-266.
  grog ration, 264-266.
  honor of, 193, 261-263, 400.
  hospitals, 64, 250, 343.
  hygiene, 187-191, 250.
  marine corps, 202, 222, 241, 249, 257, 264, 361.
  mutiny, 53, 264, 439.
  nursery, 301, 435-439.
  recruiting service, 29, 30, 46, 114, 435-439.
  reforms, 154, 263, 266, 435-439, 440-443.
  sailors, 20, 29-32, 48, 65, 85-87, 89, 90, 114, 200, 226-237, 239,
    241-249, 263-266, 301, 367, 371, 391, 440, 443.
  ships, types and varieties of, 4, 19, 71, 72, 110, 111, 115, 117,
    140-145, 156-166, 212.
  signals, 25, 38, 198, 211, 220, 313.
  staff and line, 112-114.
  steam, 110-119, 121, 130, 156-166, 298.
  tactics, 33, 117, 118, 121, 125, 159.
  torpedoes, 28, 29.
  trophies, 5, 46, 49, 179, 240, 248, 250, 261, 262.
New Orleans, 46, 92, 207.
Newport, 8, 11, 14, 15, 44, 255, 380, 393, 444, 445.
Newspapers, 218, 223, 224, 259, 262, 308, 378, 405, 442, 445.
New York, 17, 23, 100, 99-166, 379, 383, 386, 391.
Norfolk, 69, 82, 210, 252, 306.


O'Connell, Daniel, 442.
Officers, Merchant marine:
  Burke, 170, 172.
  Carver, 170.
  Cooper, Mr., 275, 276, 294.
  Coffin, R., 311.
  Jennings, 283.
  Odell, 399.
  Stewart, 271.
  Storm, J., 139.
  Whitfield, J. H., 351.
  Whitmore, 351.
Officers, U. S. Navy:
  Abbot, 347, 364, 375.
  Adams, H., 292, 305, 322, 354, 355, 356, 400.
  Almy, J., 95, 98, 400, 404.
  Aulick, J., 230, 237, 262, 283-288, 290, 297, 307.
  Babcock, G. W., 4.
  Bainbridge, 37.
  Barron J., 123, 127.
  Bent, Silas, 292, 379, 398.
  Biddle, 68, 276.
  Bigelow, A., 212, 249, 391.
  Breese, 237, 391.
  Bridge, H., 175.
  Buchanan, F., 126, 197, 252, 286, 292, 305, 322, 337.
  Burt, N., 115.
  Cheever, 204.
  Conner, D., 107, 198, 199, 205, 206, 219-221, 238.
  Contee, J., 306, 318, 322.
  Craven, 181.
  Dahlgren, 150.
  Decatur, 45, 46.
  De Long, 297.
  Fairfax, A. B., 212.
  Farragut, D. G., 36, 72, 126, 396.
  Farron, J., 115.
  Follansbee, J., 40.
  Freelon, 188-190.
  Geisinger, D., 277.
  Glynn, J., 277-279, 281, 282.
  Gregory, 402.
  Harris, J. G., 365, 445.
  Haswell, C. H., 115, 211.
  Hunt, T. A., 212.
  Hunter, C. G., 212, 239, 240, 258.
  Hull, 143.
  Jenkins, T. A., 35, 137, 388.
  Jones, Paul, 396.
  Jones, T. ap C., 126, 197.
  Kennedy, 274.
  Kearney, 130.
  Lawrence, 24.
  Lee, S. S., 247, 292, 304, 305.
  Lockwood, 205.
  Lynch, Wm. F., 117.
  Mackenzie, A. S., 45, 73, 139, 237, 245.
  Magruder, G. A., 212.
  May, Wm., 244.
  Matthews, J., 343, 344.
  Maury, 379.
  Mayo, J., 179, 197, 220, 231, 234, 235, 236.
  McIntosh, 293.
  McCluney, 299, 391.
  McKeever, 293.
  Moller, B. C., 103.
  Morgan, C. W., 74, 440.
  Morris, 203, 205.
  Nicholson, J., 4.
  Parker, F. A., 159.
  Parker, W. A., 203.
  Parker, W. H., 149, 199, 220.
  Patterson, D., 47, 92, 97, 308.
  Pearson, 293.
  Perry, C. R., 3-8, 10, 11, 17, 254.
  Perry, J. A., 47, 48.
  Perry, O. H., 8, 13, 17, 20, 39, 98, 390, 393.
  Perry, R., 17, 20, 45.
  Pinckney, R. S., 212.
  Pickering, C. W., 117.
  Porter, D. D., 47, 66.
  Porter, D. D., 107, 246, 247, 401.
  Preble, Geo. H., 104, 105.
  Reany, 291.
  Ridgely, C. G., 99, 101, 102, 104, 108, 118.
  Rodgers, John, 28, 30, 38, 44, 72.
  Rodgers, John, 28, 47, 432.
  Rodgers, R. C., 240.
  Sands, J. R., 202, 232, 304, 305, 400.
  Sanford, H., 115.
  Semmes, R., 240.
  Shubrick, 232.
  Skinner, 193.
  Sloat, 129, 391.
  Stellwagen, 171.
  Stewart, 37, 396.
  Stockton, F., 164, 241.
  Swift, W., 103.
  Tatnall, J., 232, 233, 409, 414, 415.
  Thornton, J. S., 166, 240.
  Townsend, J. S., 153.
  Trenchard, E., 50, 52, 56.
  Upshur, J., 222, 445.
  Van Brunt, J. G., 212.
  Walke, 220.
  Walker, W. S., 212.
  Wilkes, C., 45, 49.
  Williamson, 85.
Ordnance, 17, 27, 32-36, 72, 131-133, 144, 146-155, 226-237, 241, 243,
  266, 361.
Ordeal, 172-174.


Pacific Ocean, 47, 84, 268, 294, 296.
Packenham, Gen., 46, 92.
Paddle-Wheels, 111, 114, 130, 164, 298.
Paixhans Cannon, 149, 151, 226-230, 335-361.
Palaver, 162-169, 175, 177.
Perry, C. R., 3-7, 10, 11, 17.
Perry, Edmund, 3-8, 10-12.
Perry, Freeman, 3, 382.
Pension, 432.
Port Hudson, 158, 159.
Perry, Matthew Calbraith:
  ancestry, 1-7.
  anecdotes of, 8, 21, 24, 219, 222, 224, 341, 342, 366, 397, 399, 400,
    404, 405, 440-443.
  birth, 8.
  childhood, 8-15, 380.
  children, 431-433, 445.
  citizen of New York, 100.
  commodore, 154, 155.
  commodore’s aid, 22.
  Europe, 41-44, 48, 71-98, 440, 442.
  Japan, 310-379, 427.
  Mediterranean, 71-98.
  Mexico, 68, 70, 197-260, 427, 444, 445.
  West Indies, 65-71.
  cruise in Africa, 50-63, 69, 167-195, 427, 444;
  —— —— Europe, 41-44, 48, 71-98, 440, 442;
  —— —— Japan, 310-379, 427;
  —— —— Mexico, 68, 70, 197-260, 427, 444, 445;
  —— —— West Indies, 65-71.
  death, 390, 415.
  detail, 431, 434.
  diary, 21, 307, 403.
  duelling, 440-443.
  executive officer, 71-75.
  family, 2, 3, 292, 429-433.
  fights pirates, 65-71.
  first battles, 25, 26, 30-41.
  founds U. S. Naval Lyceum, 101, 103.
  funeral, 390-393.
  habits, 395-408.
  hair, 105, 375.
  Japanese regard for, 364, 365, 415, 418, 423.
  knowledge of Japan, 294, 295.
  letters, 193, 403, 427.
  marriage, 45, 431-433.
  mother, 6-8, 11-14, 393.
  name, 8, 429-431.
  nick-name, 43, 259, 265.
  _Revenge_, 20-27, _President_, 38-45.
  _United States_, 45, _Chippewa_, 46, 48.
  _Cyane_, 50-57, _Shark_, 58-70.
  _North Carolina_, 71-76.
  _Concord_, 81-90, _Brandywine_, 94-96.
  _Fulton_, 110-111, _Saratoga_, 169, _Mississippi_, 198-229, 310, 374.
  _Germantown_, 252, _Cumberland_, 258.
  _Susquchanna_, 310-355.
  _Powhatan_, 355-372.
  organizes engineer corps, 112, 115.
  organizes Japan expedition, 295, 297, 305.
  organizes naval brigade, 241-246.
  organizes school of apprentices, 118, 435-439.
  organizes school of gun-practice, 146-148.
  personal traits, 83, 97, 98, 104-106, 397-408.
  politics, 139, 310.
  portraits, 443-446.
  refuses salute, 55.
  reimbursed by Congress, 93, 98.
  religion, 14, 324, 404-406.
  residence in Macao, 343, 344;
    Naples, 96-98;
    New London, 80;
    New York, 386, 388;
    Tarrytown, 138-140, 261, 289;
    Washington, 379, 388.
  rheumatism, 76-80, 389, 390.
  selects site of Monrovia, 59, 183.
  shore duty, 99, 100-166, 379-390.
  statue, 444, 445.
  takes orders to Rodgers, 23, 24.
  training at home, 13-15.
  training on ship, 19-27.
  visits, the Czar, 82-85;
    England, 129-131;
    Egypt, 88, 89;
    France, 131-134;
    Funchal, 309-310;
    Greece, 75, 88;
    Holland, 48;
    Khedive, 88;
    Louis Philippe, 133, 134;
    Shuri, 311, 419.
  wounded, 40.
  writings, 427, 428.
Perry, Oliver Hazard, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 34, 45, 98, 139, 390,
Perry, Sarah Alexander, 6-8, 11-14, 45, 324.
Physicians and surgeons:
  Ayres, Eli, 58, 59.
  Du Barry, S.S., 287, 437.
  Kellogg, 189.
  McCartee, D. B., 245, 286, 420.
  McGill, 173.
  Parker, P., 275, 287.
  Rush, Benjamin, 6.
  Wiley, 63.
Pirates, 11, 63, 65-71, 75, 104.
Pivot-guns, 40, 144, 145, 150.
Pontiatine, Ad., 345.
Portsmouth, N. H., 81, 273.
Portuguese, 15, 55, 60, 62, 196, 344.
Presidents of the United States:
  Washington, 5, 216, 374.
  Jefferson, 11, 271.
  Adams, J., 10.
  Madison, 37.
  Monroe, 60.
  Adams, J. Q., 442.
  Jackson, 81, 91, 96, 119, 273.
  Van Buren, 158.
  Harrison, 139.
  Polk, 210, 255, 256, 260.
  Taylor, 209, 218, 282, 283.
  Fillmore, 298, 305, 323, 329.
  Pierce, 241, 310, 387, 410.
  Buchanan, 296, 387.
  Arthur, 431.
  Cleveland, 167, 421.
Press-gang, 20, 22, 23, 48, 49.
Prince de Joinville, 131.
Privateers, 4, 5, 36, 65, 75, 436.
Propellers, 164, 304.


Quakers, 2, 3.
Quarantine, 54, 93.
Quarrels on ship, 441, 442.


Ram, 28, 120-128.
Rhode Island, 7, 14, 15, 380-383, 393, 444.
Right of search, see Impressment.
Rohde, Ad., 198.
Russians, 82-85, 131, 296, 311, 349, 352.


Saké, 341, 356.
Saratoga, 383.
Savory, N., 311.
Schenectady, 197, 344.
Scurvy, 42, 54, 63, 64, 188, 208.
Sebastopol, 107.
Secretaries U. S. Navy, 20, 154.
  Smith, 17.
  Southard, 406, 440.
  Paulding, 157.
  Mason, 256.
  Bancroft, 197.
  Graham, 106, 283, 288, 289, 298.
  Kennedy, 298, 299, 302, 305, 306, 307.
  Dobbin, 106, 288.
  Settra Kroo, 172, 173.
  Shells, 4, 33, 146-155, 217, 228-230, 312.
  Sherbro, 52, 53, 55, 56.
  Shinto, 342.
Ships, merchant:
  _Adventurer_, 311.
  _Auckland_, 283.
  _Caroline_, 61.
  _Central America_, 389.
  _Edward Barley_, 170.
  _Elizabeth_, 51, 52, 55.
  _Great Western_, 129, 130.
  _Jeune Nelly_, 219.
  _Ladoga_, 277.
  _Lawrence_, 276.
  _Manhattan_, 275.
  _Mary Carver_, 170, 177, 179, 180.
  _Morrison_, 274, 275, 316.
  _San Pablo_, 420.
  _Sara Boyd_, 351.
  _Transit_, 311.
Ships of War:
  _John Adams_, 55, 66, 93, 95, 96.
  _Aetna_, 212.
  _Alabama_, 2, 145, 165, 240.
  _Albany_, 226, 239.
  _Alleghany_, 298.
  _Alliance_, 94.
  _Argus_, 24, 38, 43, 264.
  _Bonita_, 201, 204.
  _Boston_, 92, 93.
  _Boxer_, 282.
  _Brandywine_, 91, 94-96.
  _Chesapeake_, 34.
  _Chippewa_, 46, 48.
  _Columbus_, 7, 149, 276.
  _Concord_, 81-90, 92, 93, 95, 96.
  _Congress_, 38, 66, 293.
  _Constitution_, 42, 43, 50, 74, 159.
  _Creole_, 131.
  _Cumberland_, 198, 201, 258.
  _Cyane_, 47, 50-64, 74.
  _Decatur_, 212.
  _Demologos_, 110.
  _Destroyer_, 110.
  _Electra_, 212.
  _Enterprise_, 274, 282.
  _Erie_, 74.
  _Falmouth_, 293.
  _Forward_, 201, 204.
  _Fulton, 1st_, 110.
  _Fulton, 2nd_, 110-119, 120, 121, 141, 153, 187, 437.
  _Gallinipper_, 68.
  _General Greene_, 10, 254.
  _Germantown_, 252, 258, 354.
  _Gnat_, 68.
  _Grampus_, 68.
  _Hartford_, 396.
  _Hecla_, 212.
  _Hornet_, 54, 236.
  _Hunter_, 219, 225.
  _Jeannette_, 297.
  _Kearsarge_, 144, 145, 165, 166.
  _La Gloire_, 125.
  _Lackawanna_, 143.
  _Lawrence_, 45.
  _Lexington_, 345, 347, 375.
  _Macedonian_, 45, 46, 171, 347, 352, 361, 375, 404.
  _Merrimac_, 126, 127.
  _McLane_, 199, 201, 204.
  _Miantonomah_, 71.
  _Midge_, 68.
  _Mifflin_, 4.
  _Mississippi_, 123, 158-162, 198, 201, 207, 209, 210-212, 215, 219-221,
    252, 298, 299, 352, 379, 415, 423.
  _Missouri_, 156-166, 306.
  _Mosquito_, 68.
  _Nautilus_, 57.
  _Nonita_, 201, 204.
  _North Carolina_, 72-76, 266, 402, 435.
  _Ontario_, 74.
  _Pallas_, 345.
  _Peacock_, 273, 274.
  _Petrel_, 209.
  _Petrita_, 201, 205.
  _Porpoise_, 171, 172, 181, 379.
  _Portsmouth_, 411.
  _Powhatan_, 298, 306, 353, 362, 415, 417.
  _President_, 20-28, 38-44, 144.
  _Princeton_, 164, 304-306.
  _Plymouth_, 310, 312, 347.
  _Raritan_, 250.
  _Reefer_, 201.
  _Revenge_, 17-20.
  _Sand-fly_, 68.
  _San Jacinto_, 410.
  _Saratoga_, 171, 258, 310, 312, 347, 445.
  _Sea-gull_, 66.
  _Scorpion_, 212, 242, 243, 247.
  _Shark_, 58-64, 65-71.
  _Somers_, 438.
  _Southampton_, 347.
  _Spitfire_, 22, 198, 232, 246, 247.
  _St. Mary’s_, 226.
  _Stockton_, 164.
  _Stonewall_, 373, 419.
  _Stromboli_, 212, 243.
  _Susquehanna_, 285, 286, 310, 312, 321, 379.
  _Supply_, 310, 312, 343, 347, 375.
  _Tennessee_, 126.
  _Thistle_, 50.
  _Trumbull_, 4, 5.
  _United States_, 43, 45, 95, 104.
  _Vandalia_, 343, 347, 355, 357.
  _Vesuvius_, 212, 243.
  _Vincennes_, 276.
  _Virginia_, 126.
  _Vixen_, 198-202, 209, 232.
  _Washington_, 7, 243.
  _Wasp_, 45.
  _Weehawken_, 28.
Sinoe, 169, 172.
Shō-gun, 279, 326-328, 329, 333, 352, 362, 368.
Slave-trade, 15, 53, 58, 60-62, 167, 168, 194-196.
Slavery in America, 15, 57, 67, 184-186, 260.
Slidell, Jane, 43, 376, 431, 432.
Slidell, John, Mr., 45, 47, 48.
Smithsonian Institute, 369.
Soudan, 15, 88, 234.
South Carolina, 20, 382, 442.
Statistics, 266, 267:
  U. S. Navy, Revolution, 5.
  —— ——, War of 1812, 30, 32, 36, 37, 48, 49.
  —— ——, Mexican war, 266-268.
  —— ——, Civil war, 143, 144, 396.
  —— ——, in Japan, 343, 364, 371, 375, 379.
  Africa, 184, 186, 194, 196.
  broadsides, 32, 72, 144.
  Japan, 419-424.
  lighthouses, 136.
  merchant marine, 296, 300, 301.
  ordnance, 151, 226, 230, 235.
  Perry’s work, 69, 97, 123, 225, 385, 389, 390, 395.
  recruits, 435-439.
  slave-ships, 61, 194.
  steamships, 132, 212.
Steam, 110-119, 121, 198, 199, 368, 423, 424.
Steven’s battery, 126, 155, 156, 159.
Submarine cannon, 110.
Sunday, 14, 324, 405, 406.


Tarrytown, 138-140, 261, 289.
Telegraphs, 38, 47, 134, 368, 424.
Telephones, 312.
Temperance, 86, 263-265, 435.
Torpedoes, 28, 29.
Tower Hill, 8, 10, 11, 382.
Trafalgar, 36, 37, 132.
Treaty-house, 357, 415.
Treaty, Canadian of 1818, 300;
  reciprocity, 302;
  of Ghent, 47;
  Naples, 96, 308;
  Hidalgo Guadalupe, 257;
  with Japan, 370, 371, 412-416;
  of Tientsin, 415.
Triremes, 121, 124, 140.
Tycoon, see Shō-gun.


Union College, 107.
United States, 49, 216, 395, 396.
—— ——, colonial policy, 57, 184.
—— ——, policy in war, 209, 213, 214, 250, 308.


Victorian era, 131.
Viele, Mrs. A., 420.


Wallace, Sir William, 12.
  Revolutionary, 4-6, 51, 52, 383.
  Tripolitan, 11, 18, 50.
  1812, 28-49, 103, 143, 149, 301, 435.
  Mexican, 67, 150, 198-267, 278.
  Civil, 31, 126-128, 134, 150, 165, 166, 258, 268, 396.
  Victorian era, 131.
Washington obelisk, 374.
West Point, 258.
Whalers, 274, 276, 295, 296, 421.
Wheatley, Phillis, 15.


Yamato, damashii, 338, 422.
Yellow fever, 217, 252, 254, 255.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected. Where multiple
spellings occur, majority use has been employed.

Punctuation has been maintained except where obvious printer errors

Some illustrations were moved to facilitate page layout.

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