TREATIES AND POLITICS
Trading agreements--repercussions in Japan--agitation for reform
COMMODORE MATTHEW CALBRAITH PERRY, whose ships were the first modern Western squadron to reach Japan, was a senior and distinguished officer of the United States Navy. He had only accepted the Pacific command with reluctance, in the expectation that he would be provided with a force commensurate with his rank and reputation, and he had no intention of suffering the same kind of treatment in Japan as had been meted out to previous Western envoys. On July 8, 1853, therefore, when his two steamers and two sailing vessels anchored off Uraga, his orders were that no insults or slights in any form were to be tolerated. The ships were to be cleared for action at all times. Only officials were to be allowed on board. These, moreover, were to be told that only an envoy of high rank, appointed by the Japanese government, would be permitted to see the commodore, who would deliver to him in proper manner a letter from President Fillmore, together with a number of presents for the Japanese ruler. The letter was intended subsequently to form the basis of negotiations. Meanwhile, no matter what arguments and entreaties the Japanese employed, the commodore was not prepared to go to Nagasaki for discussions. Indeed, the only move he was prepared to consider was one which would take him nearer Edo.
In the Shogun's capital, Perry's arrival and the obvious strength of his squadron caused consternation, even though advance warning of it had been given by the Dutch several