The Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan was published in 1856. It has three volumes, the first volume contains the complete narration of Commodore Perry's mission. The second volume contains a series of reports. The third volume contains Observations on the Zodiacal Light.1 When this three-volume book was printed in 1856, MC Perry wrongly believed that all the material written about this trip were put together in his book. The reality was that several diaries written by some members of the trip were secretly kept and only came to light some time after the book was published. Such documents included the day books of the chief interpreter, Samuel Wells Williams. Also, there were confidential letters from Perry to the President and to the Secretary of the Navy, and some other official correspondents. This three-volume-book is basically Perry's book in that it was a verbatim copy from his journal.2 The abridged edition had omitted, among other things, the over fifty thousand words written about Japan, including its origin, its people, and its history.3 In the course of this expedition, the US already knew that an unusually large Russian navel force was gathering at the Pacific near Japan, expecting the visit of MC Perry. Should Perry's visit lead to a military conflict with Japan, the Russian would stand on the side of Japan.4 Japan was important to Russia. Indeed in a letter dated 12th November 1853, the Russian admiral had made a proposal to joint Perry's squadron. Japan, on the other hand, seemed to be distrustful of the Russian in view of the latter's activities on the Amur River at that time.5 (to be continued)
1. Perry, Matthew Calbraith ed. by Sidney Wallach. Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. NY: Coward-McCann, 1952, page xxiii.
2. Ibid., page xxv
3. Ibid., page xxvi
4. Ibid., page xxix
5. Ibid., page xxx