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Mr, Robert H. Pruyn has been appointed to succeed you, and, I presume, will reach Yedo as early as January next. You will, of course, remain in the discharge of official duties until relieved by his arrival. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. TOWNSEND HARRIS, Esq., &c., fr., fc., Yedo.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn.

No. 2.]


Washington, November 15, 1861. SIR: Generally a foreign mission is eminently desirable. It is no small honor to be the organ of one's country in her communications with a foreign state. The opportunities which such a position affords to serve two nations, and, consequently, the whole family of mankind, cannot fail to awaken a noble ambition in any generous and benevolent mind.

But I fear you will find embarrassments in your mission which will make you regret its honors and undervalue its powers.

Japan is a semi-enlightened and isolated country, only recently compelled into treating with the United States, as it has also been with the other western powers. The judgment of its government has been convinced, and, I have no doubt, its sentiments have been won to this new relation with the United States through the great discretion of the late Commodore Perry, and the wonderful sagacity and patience of your predecessor, Mr. Harris. But it is notorious that the people of Japan, especially its ruling classes, have not yet reconciled themselves to the sudden and complete revolution of national habits, of which there is no memory to the contrary existing among them. Hitherto, as we have reason to believe, the Japanese government and people have been kinder in their sentiments towards us than towards other western nations with whom they have framed treaties under the same circumstances.

But the time has now come for our trial. When we gently coerced Japan into friendship with us we were a united nation. We did not admit that there then was, or, indeed, that there ever had been, a stronger one in the world. Our mercantile and our naval marine vindicated this high pretension on every sea, however distant from our own continent. Nine months have wrought a great and melancholy change in this proud position. We are divided by faction, and engaged in civil war. The national authority is tasked for its utmost vigor to maintain our flag within our own territory, and our commerce is harassed by pirates of our own kindred, even in our own waters.

You know that we have no doubt of our success in putting down this unhappy insurrection and restoring the federal authority. You have already seen how the government daily gains strength, and how the insurrection already begins to decline. But what will be the influence of the news of our divisions among the semi-barbarians of Japan, magnified and painted, as they will doubtless be, by strangers, enemies of the republic, its prosperity, and its power? Will the government of Japan retain the fear which, perhaps, was the best guarantee of its good will towards us? Will the misguided faction in Japan, so hostile to all foreigners, suffer the government to remain in friendship with a nation that will seem to them to have lost the virtue of patriotism so essential to command the respect of other nations ? Already we have heard that the Chinese authorities, informed of our divisions, have come to underrate our power, and to disregard our rights Is this evil to be experienced also in Japan? To prevent it is the responsibility of your mission—to watch and guard the national interests there, while the storms of faction are spending their force against the government at home, will be your chief duty. It will require great dignity and firmness, combined with equal prudence and moderation. I can give you only one counsel. Have faith, under all circumstances, in the virtue of your countrymen, and, consequently, in the triumph of the Union. If you fail in that faith, your distrust will be discovered by the ill-informed and feeble-minded community around you. They will have no respect for a government which they think more pretentious while it is weaker than their own; your mission will be a failure, and perhaps end in disaster and danger. If you have that faith, you can impress it upon the gorernment and people of Japan, and their friendly relations towards us may ba retained until, our domestic differences being ended, we are able once more to demonstrate our power in the East, and establish our commerce there on secura foundations. You will find no open questions for discussion in your mission. I is important to preserve friendly and intimate relations with the representatives of other western powers in Japan. You will seek no exclusive advantages, and will consult freely with them upon all subjects, insomuch as it is especially necessary, at this time, that the prestige of western civilization be maintained in Yedo as completely as possible. In short, you will need to leave behind you all memories of domestic or of European jealousies or antipathies, and will, by an equal, just, and honorable conduct of your mission, make the simple people of Japan respect, not only the institutions of your own country, but the institutions of christianity and of western civilization. I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Mr. Seward to Mr. Harris.

No. 25.]


Washington, November 19, 1861. Sir: Herewith I enclose, accompanied by an office copy, a letter from the President to his Majesty the Tycoon of Japan, announcing your recall at your own request. A duplicate of this letter will be committed to the care of your successor, Mr. Pruyn, who will soon set out for his post, and whose arrival at Yedo it is very desirable you should await.

On taking leave of his Majesty, you will, of course, make known to him in appropriate terms the friendly sentiments towards his government entertained by the President and people of the United States, and express the hope that the two countries may be drawn still more closely together by the ties of amity and good understanding. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Townsend Harris, Esq., &c., fr., fr., Yedo.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn.


Washington, December 9, 1861. SIR: The accompanying sword is one of the two which were purloined from the Japanese ambassadors during their stay at Baltimore, in June, 1860. It has recently been forwarded to the President by Major General Dix, who states that its recovery is due principally to the exertions of Mr. McPhail, deputy provost marshal of the police of Baltimore.

I commit it to your care in order that you may restore it to its rightful owner on your arrival at Yedo. The occasion of your doing so will be a proper one to impress upon the Japanese authorities a sense of the importance which we attach to the detection and punishment of crimes of every degree committed by our citizens. Though the guilty may escape for a while, the ends of justice here seldom fail of accomplishment. Especially is this the case when the victims are citizens or subjects of a friendly power. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. PRUYN, Esq., fr., 80., 80., Albany, N. Y.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn. No. 3.]


Washington, December 19, 1861. SIR: I address to you, on the eve of your intended departure, my replies to the recent despatches of Mr. Harris, for the reason that he is expected to take his leave of the Tycoon as soon as you shall have arrived at Yedo.

Mr. Harris's despatch of July 12 (No. 30) is before me. It communicates a conversation which he had just before held with the minister for foreign affairs of the Tycoon on the subject of the outrages which had been recently committed by some of his subjects against the British legation at Yedo. At this distance no reliable opinion can be formed concerning the good faith of the government of Japan in the explanations made on that occasion. I learn from sources outside of the despatch itself that the British government is not satisfied upon the point thus raised. It must be left largely to your discretion to determine the matter for yourself, and to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction to the Japanese government as you shall decide to be just and wise.

I notice in Mr. Harris's despatch some ground for supposing that a good understanding does not exist between him and Mr. Alcock, the British minister in Yedo. I forbear from judging upon the causes of the alienation, although we have abundant reason for believing Mr. Harris to be always just and prudent in his intercourse with the representatives of the other western powers.

At the same time I cannot too earnestly enjoin upon you the duty of cultivating the best possible understanding with those representatives, and of doing all in your power to maintain harmony of views and policy between them and yourself, because very large interests, not of our own country only, but of the civilized world, are involved in retaining the foothold of foreign nations already acquired in the empire of Japan. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. Pruyn, Esq., &c., fr., fr.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn. No. 4.]


Washington, December 20, 1861. Sir: Mr. Harris's despatch of July 15 (No. 31) has been received. It announces to us that the consul general of the Netherlands, then at Yokahama, in consequence of the late attack upon the British legation at Yedo, had determined not to return there until further instructed by his government. It is, of course, for his government to pronounce upon the wisdom of that course; but we are at liberty to express our regret that the interests of the western nations in Japan have lost the advantage of the presence of a representative of so respected a power in Yedo. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. Pruyn, Esq., fr., dc., dec.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn.

No. 7.]


'Washington, February 5, 1862. Sir: Mr. Harris's despatch of October 14 (No. 40) has been received. It conveys to us the pleasing information that two more of the assassins who were engaged in the attack on the British legation had been detected and had perished; and, further, that Mr. Alcock, the British minister at Yedo, had now become satisfied that the government of the empire was acting with good faith in its endeavors to bring the offenders in that wicked transaction to justice.

It will be your pleasant duty to felicitate, in the President's name, not only the Japanese ministers for foreign affairs, but also the British minister, on these gratifying accounts, so honorable to the government of the Tycoon, and so conducive to the peace of his empire. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. PRUYN, Esq., sc., fc., 8c., Yedo.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn.

No. 8.]


Washington, March 11, 1862. Sir: Herewith I transmit a sealed communication, addressed to their excel. lencies the ministers for foreign affairs of his Imperial Majesty the Tycoon of Japan, in answer to one from them on the subject of the retirement of your predecessor from the mission to that empire. I enclose for your information : transcript of this communication, and request that you will place the original in the hands of their excellencies without delay. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. PRUYN, Esq., fc., fc., fr., Yedo.

Ur. Seward to Mr. Pruyn. No. 10.)


Washington, March 24, 1862. SIR: Mr. Harris's despatch of November 23 (No. 49) has been received.

The views expressed therein concerning the questions between this government and that of Japan, which had previously been committed to him for consideration, appear to the President to be eminently sagacious. You will communicate these sentiments to Mr. Harris if he shall yet be remaining at Yedo. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. Pruyn, Esq., dc., &c., &c., Yedo.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Pruyn.

No. 9.1


Washington, March 24, 1862. Sir: The despatch of Mr. Harris, of the 27th of November (No. 50) has been submitted to the President.

The arrangement which Mr. Harris has made with the Japanese government, by which that government agrees to use its most diligent efforts to bring to condign punishment the murderers of the late Mr. Heusken, our secretary of legation, and also to pay to this government, for the use of Mr. Heusken’s doubly bereaved mother, ten thousand dollars, is entirely satisfactory to the United States.

You will assure the minister for foreign affairs that the President is most favorably impressed by the promptness and cheerfulness with which the government of the Tycoon has acceded to the demands, in that respect, which the President deemed himself obliged to make by a careful regard to the rights and the honor of our own country. He reposes full confidence upon the sincerity and good faith of the Tycoon and his enlightened ministers. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Robert H. PRUYN, Esq., 8c., &c., fc., Yedo.

Mr. Seward to the ministers for foreign affairs of Japan. To their excellencics the ministers for forcign affairs of his Majesty the Tycoon

of Japan: I have carefully read and considered the letter which you have addressed to me concerning a postponement of the time for the opening of Yedo to residence by American citizens, and of certain ports to American commerce, stipulated in our existing treaty with Japan. I have also received the instructions of the President of the United States thereupon.

Your letter presents very important considerations in a strong light and in a good and liberal spirit towards the United States and other western nations. The subject, however, has been complicated by the yet unpunished and unatoned homicide of Mr. Heusken, our late secretary of legation. You must be aware that the first element of national fraternity is the safety of the persons charged with the conduct of their mutual intercourse and relations. The spirit of this government is liberal and friendly towards Japan, but it is obliged to ask that its messengers to that country shall be protected by the government of Japan. I have reason to know that the same spirit animates all the western powers..

I shall fully instruct Townsend Harris of the views and opinions of this government, and I sincerely trust that he will be able to negotiate with you upon a basis that shall render the future intercourse between your great country and our own a perpetual source of benefit to both.

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