In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of the East India Squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty.
In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of the East India Squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo (modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time (see Sakoku).
As he arrived, Perry ordered his ships to steam past Japanese lines towards the capital of Edo, and position their guns towards the town of Uraga. Perry refused to abide to demands to leave. He then demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, and threatened to use force if the Japanese boats around the American squadron did not disperse.
Perry attempted to intimidate the Japanese by presenting them a white flag and a letter which told them that in case they chose to combat, the Americans would necessarily vanquish them. Perry's ships were equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of wreaking great destruction with every shell. The term "Black Ships", in Japan, would later come to symbolize a threat imposed by Western technology.
After the Japanese agreed to receive the letter from the American President, Perry landed at Kurihama (in modern-day Yokosuka) on July 14, 1853 presented the letter to delegates present, and left for the Chinese coast, promising to return for a reply.
Fortifications were built in Tokyo Bay at Odaiba in order to protect Edo from possible American naval incursion.
Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_C._Perry
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