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Commodore Matthew Perry: The Life and Legacy of the U.S. Navy Officer Who Opened Japan to the West

Commodore Matthew Perry: The Life and Legacy of the U.S. Navy Officer Who Opened Japan to the West

by Charles River Editors
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*Includes pictures
*Includes excerpts of contemporary accounts
*Includes a bibliography for further reading
"The Japanese are remarkable for their inordinate curiosity." - Commodore Matthew Perry
During the 19th century, Japan severely limited contact with the rest of the world, although it was not the total isolation sometimes presumed. The government was quite aware of what was happening in the rest of the world, and the Japanese left a window open to Europe, in the form of a small and highly restricted Dutch presence on an artificial island in Nagasaki harbor, a presence that lasted more than 200 years. Courtesy of the Dutch, the Japanese were aware of contemporary events in Europe, along with the rest of the world, and they were also aware of scientific and technological progress, although whether this resulted in any practical applications is hard to establish.
The Japanese stayed out of the chaos in China as the Ming dynasty collapsed, but on July 8, 1853, U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry led four American warships into Uraga Harbor near Edo (later renamed Tokyo), presenting the Japanese with a letter from President Millard Fillmore. The Japanese couldn't know they were at the end of their long withdrawal from the rest of the world, but they were quite aware that the conditions in China and in Asia generally were being forced to change. They were also certainly aware that the Americans, as a result of the Gold Rush, had made California a state (in 1852) and extended the United States to the Pacific Ocean. They were also aware that American ships dominated the Pacific whaling industry, and that they commonly sailed to China. Japan was further aware of the British and French colonial incursions into China, and they were looking across the Sea of Japan where the Russians were actively occupying territory that was uncomfortably close to Japan. Thus, the appearance of an American naval force was obviously ominous.
Perry's 1853 flotilla included two sailing ships and two steamships, and Perry returned in February 1854. The Japanese may not have been very impressed with the gifts from America that Perry presented, but they clearly were impressed by the steamships. Perry's cruises and other threatening events resulted in a fundamental change in Japan, so much so that after having given up guns in the 1600s, the Japanese quickly moved to reintroduce them in the wake of the Americans' arrival. It became painfully evident that if Japan was to avoid becoming another victim of European colonial expansion, the country would have to become powerful itself.
Perry remains a fairly familiar name in America as a result of his time in Asia, but that legacy actually belies just how influential he was for the U.S. Navy back at home. Known as the "Father of the Steam Navy" in America, Perry not only modernized America's naval forces, but literally wrote the book on it, helping put together doctrinaire curricula for the country's future sailors. He was also a seasoned veteran, having fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, ensuring that by the time he died in 1858, he was considered a national hero.
Commodore Matthew Perry: The Life and Legacy of the U.S. Navy Officer Who Opened Japan to the West chronicles how he became one of 19th century America's most important military figures, and the impact of his expedition to Japan. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about Perry like never before.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9798606238163
Publisher: Independently published
Publication date: 01/29/2020
Pages: 50
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.10(d)

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