American Pioneers and the Japanese Frontier: American Experts in Nineteenth-Century Japan

American Pioneers and the Japanese Frontier: American Experts in Nineteenth-Century Japan

American Pioneers and the Japanese Frontier: American Experts in Nineteenth-Century Japan

American Pioneers and the Japanese Frontier: American Experts in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Excerpt

On 16 September 1871, in the imperial palace in Tokyo, the young Japanese emperor met four Americans--Horace Capron, Thomas Antisell, A. G. Warfield, and Stuart Eldridge. It was only three weeks before that the quartet had first set foot in Japan, which Capron had vaguely thought "a far-off and semi-barbarous country." The Japanese government had brought them in as advisers to develop Hokkaido, the large northern island of Japan. Also assembled there was a distinguished group of leading Japanese officials, including Chancellor of the Council of State Sanjo Sanetomi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Iwakura Tomomi. Just three years before they had all been through the tumultuous upheaval that had led to the collapse of the feudal regime of the Tokugawa Bakufu (the name of the government headed by a shogun) and the establishment of the new Meiji government.

The emperor's greeting, addressed to Capron, the head of the so-called American Commission, was read by Chancellor Sanjo and translated by an interpreter. Appreciating Capron's "scientific knowledge and wide experience," the emperor conveyed his wishes that Capron would "operate jointly with my High authorities [in Hokkaido] to produce a good result." In return, Capron expressed his hopes and determination:

I hope that my own long and practical experience, aided by that of my assistants, men eminent in their respective professions, and already tested at home, may be valuable not only in increasing the agricultural . . .

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