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Abstract of the USS Macedonian in the East India Squadron – one of the ships that participated in the opening of Japan by Commodore Perry
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This table provides a detailed chronology of the more than three-year cruise of the USS Macedonian, one of the ships in Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1854 flotilla that opened Japan to trade with the United States.

[JAPAN]. Manuscript Document, 1856, titled “Abstract Cruise of the USS Macedonian bearing the broad pendant of Com. Joel Abbott in the years 1853, /54, /55 & /56.” 2 pp., 7¾ x 12½ in.

Inventory #25036       Price: $2,500

Historical Background

From the middle of the seventeenth to the middle of the nineteenth century, the empire of Japan remained closed to trade with European nations; only China carried on any substantial trade with the Japanese islands. A single Dutch ship per year was allowed to trade at the port of Nagasaki. In 1852, President Millard Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to Japan to accomplish three objects: protection of American ships and sailors wrecked on or driven by weather to the Japanese islands, permission for American vessels to enter one or more Japanese ports to obtain supplies and make repairs, and permission for American vessels to enter one or more Japanese ports to trade. Perry’s expedition was an early example of “gunboat diplomacy,” using displays of naval power to pursue foreign policy objectives.

Perry sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, aboard the USS Mississippi in November 1852 and arrived in Hong Kong in April 1853, when he rendezvoused with the rest of the East India Squadron.

The East India Squadron of the United States Navy was established in 1835 to protect American interests in the Far East and operated from the port of Canton (Guangzhou). After the Treaty of Nanking ended the First Opium War between the United Kingdom and China in 1842, the United States sought similar advantages. The treaty ceded Hong Kong Island to the British and opened five treaty ports to foreign trade, including Shanghai and Canton. In addition, Portugal had occupied Macau since the sixteenth century as a trading post. In 1844, the United States signed the Treaty of Wanghia with the Chinese Qing-dynasty that established American trading rights in the five treaty ports. For the next several decades, the East India Squadron asserted American naval power in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Macau, Hong Kong, and the five Chinese treaty ports. Perry commanded the East India Squadron from November 1852 to September 1854.

In July 1853, Perry took a fleet of four vessels—USS Susquehanna, USS Mississippi, USS Saratoga, and USS Plymouth—into Edo (Tokyo) Bay, which he had surveyed to within seven miles of that city. He delivered a letter from the President of the United States and left for Hong Kong after spending more than a week in the Bay, promising to return the following year.

Perry returned to Edo Bay with ten ships, including the USS Macedonian, and 1,600 men in February 1854. On March 8, he landed at the village of Yokohama, twenty miles south of the imperial city. After three weeks of negotiation, Perry and the Japanese representatives signed the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, 1854. Perry signed as minister plenipotentiary for the United States, and Hayashi Akira signed as representative of shōgun Tokugawa Iesada, the de facto ruler of Japan, rather than Emperor Kōmei. The treaty opened the ports of Shimoda (eighty miles southwest of Tokyo) and Hakodate (on the northern island of Hokkaido) to American ships, promised care for shipwrecked sailors, and established an American consulate in Shimoda.

Perry immediately sent the USS Saratoga with Commander Henry A. Adams and the American copy of the signed treaty toward the United States, while the rest of the fleet, including the USS Macedonian, surveyed Shimoda and Hakodate from April to June 1854. The Saratoga arrived at Honolulu in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) on April 29, 1854. From there, Adams sailed to San Francisco with the treaty. The Saratoga sailed south around South America and reached Boston, Massachusetts, on September 1, 1854, nearly four years after leaving Norfolk. Commodore Perry returned to the United States via an overland route from India, arriving in New York in an English mail steamer on January 12, 1855. His flagship, the USS Mississippi reached the navy yard at Brooklyn on April 23, 1855.

The USS Macedonian left Shimoda on June 26 for Formosa (Taiwan), which it reached on July 11. It reached Manila in the Philippines on August 10, and returned to Hong Kong on August 27. The ship remained in China until February 1856, when it sailed 15,450 miles to return to the United States via Singapore, Java, and St. Helena. It completed its journey and arrived in Boston in August 1856.

USS Macedonian (1836-1871) was a three-masted, wooden-hulled sailing frigate carrying thirty-six guns. It was rebuilt from the keel of the first Macedonian (1810-1828), which had been captured from the British during the War of 1812, at the Gosport Navy Yard in Virginia. From 1839 to 1847, it served in the West Indies Squadron to deter pirates in the Caribbean and along the west coast of Africa. In 1847, carried relief provisions to Ireland during the Great Famine. In 1852, it was converted to a faster and lighter twenty-gun sloop-of-war for Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan. Under the command of Captain Joel Abbot, it was one of ten American ships to enter Edo Bay early in 1854 with Commodore Matthew Perry that resulted in the Convention of Kanagawa. The ship remained in the North Pacific for the next two years, then returned to serve with the Home Squadron in the Mediterranean and Caribbean from 1857 to 1861. During the Civil War, the Macedonian served in the Caribbean, South America, and chased Confederate privateers along the coast of Portugal. For a brief time, famed naval historian Alfred Thayer Mahan served aboard the ship. From the end of 1863 through 1870, the Macedonian served as a naval training ship at the United States Naval Academy in Newport, Rhode Island, and Annapolis, Maryland. The ship was sold in 1871 for civilian service and was converted to a hotel in the Bronx around 1900 and burned in 1922.

Joel Abbot (1793-1855) was born in Massachusetts and entered the Navy as a midshipman at the beginning of the War of 1812. Commissioned a lieutenant in 1814, he gained command of a captured pirate ship in 1818. He was promoted to commander in 1838, and the following year, he became commander of the Boston Navy Yard. In 1843, he commanded a ship in Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s African Squadron, and was promoted to captain in 1850. In 1852, Perry chose Abbot to command the USS Macedonian, and he served as second in command to Perry in the expedition that opened Japan in 1853-1854. In 1854, Abbot became commodore of the East India Squadron, and he died in Hong Kong in December 1855.

Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858) was born in Rhode Island, the younger brother of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819). He received a position as midshipman in 1809, initially on a ship commanded by his older brother. He served during the War of 1812 and Second Barbary War. He became a lieutenant in 1813, commander in 1826, and captain in 1837. Perry helped to establish the curriculum at the United States Naval Academy and supported modernizing the navy. Dubbed the “Father of the Steam Navy,” he oversaw the construction of the steam frigate USS Fulton, which he then commanded. Perry organized the first corps of naval engineers and conducted the first naval gunnery school. Perry became a commodore in 1840, when the Secretary of the Navy appointed him as commandant of the New York Navy Yard. After commanding the African Squadron in 1843-1844, he commanded the USS Mississippi during the Mexican War. In 1852, he was commissioned to open trade with Japan. Leading a fleet of four steamships into Edo Bay in July 1853, Perry presented a letter from the President of the United States and promised to return. He again visited Edo Bay from February to April 1854, where he signed the Convention of Kanagawa, ending four centuries of Japan’s isolation. Perry returned to the United States in 1855 and prepared a report on the expedition in three volumes. He also received promotion to rear-admiral.

Excerpts:

[1854:]

Sailed from

When

Arrived at

When

Distance Sailed

Passage (D/H)

Remained at

How Long (D/H)

Lat. (D/M)

Long. (D/M)

Loo-Choo

Jany 31

Ieddo Bay

Feby 13

1400

13 10

Ieddo Bay

13 16

26.05

128.18

Ieddo Bay

Feby 27

Yokohama

Feby 29

9

  1   3

Yokohama

40 22

35.32

135.33

Yokohama

April 10

Ieddo Bay

April 10

9

  1   7

Ieddo Bay

  0 13

35.40

135.33

Ieddo Bay

April 11

Bonin Id

April 20

852

  9   9

Bonin Id

  8   4

35.32

135.33

Bonin Id

April 28

Simoda

May 2

581

  4   0

Simoda

  3 12

27.05

142.11

Simoda

May 6

Hackadadi

May 11

723

  5   5

Hackadadi

19   8

35.40

140.00

Hackadadi

May 31

Simoda

June 11

1204

11 13

Simoda

14 12

41.32

140.04

Simoda

June 26

Formosa

July 11

1771

15  5

Formosa

12 20

35.40

140.00

 

In Port 2 Years, 2 months, 23 days. / At sea 1 year, 1 month, 1 day. / Miles sailed 48,447 / Deaths. On board 26

Condition

Slight toning on outer panel when folded. Otherwise, excellent.


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