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Mr. Harris to Mr. Seward.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES IN JAPAN,
Yedo, July 9, 1861. Sir: It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that a daring and murderous attack was made on the British legation in this city on the night of the 5th instant.
Mr. Alcock providentially escaped uninjured, but Mr. Oliphant, secretary of legation, and Mr. Morrison, consul for Nagasaki, were wounded. Four of the assailants were killed, and two wounded were made prisoners. Of the Japanese defenders of Mr. Alcock three were killed and fifteen wounded.
For full details of this bloody affair I beg to refer you to the following enclosures:
No. 1, Mr. Alcock to Mr. Harris, July 6.
The Japanese were cridently taken by surprise, but they soon recovered from it and fought with great bravery, and at last beat off the assailants.
This is the first instance in which a blow has been struck in defence of a foreigner in this country, and may be considered as proof of the desire of this government to give us protection.
I consider the present as a crisis in the foreign affairs of Japan, for if the government is too weak to punish the instigators and agents of this nefarious affair, it may be believed that it will lead to some very decided action on the part of the English government, for the outrage was too great to be overlooked.
There is a party in this country who are opposed to the presence of any foreigners in Japan, and, in addition to this, there is a very strong dislike to the English in particular, which feeling seems to attach especially to Mr. Alcock. He was absent from this city for some three months, during which time the utmost quiet prevailed; yet within thirty-six hours after his return the attack in question was made on him.
I am happy to say that these prejudices do not extend to our citizens in this country, and I think that I am personally popular among all classes of the Japanese. Yet it must not be concealed froin you that I am, in common with my colleagues, subject to the same unpopularity that attaches to the presence of all foreigners in Japan
I have requested the ministers for foreign affairs to give me an interview on the 11th 'instant, and I shall then endeavor to place before them, in a forcible manner, the great danger that will arise from any want of firm action on their part at this juncture. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Minister Resident. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, Washington.
Mr. Alcock to Mr. Harris.
HER MAJESTY'S LEGATION,
Yedo, July 6, 1861. Sir : Last night between eleven and twelve o'clock the British legation was suddenly attacked, and an entrance effected at several points simultaneously by armed bands of Japanese, said to be Loonins, and by others, Prince of Mito's men. Two of the members of the establishment, Mr. Oliphant and Mr. Morrison, were met in a passage and both wounded ; the first, I am sorry to say, very severely, when a momentary diverson was effected by a shot from Mr. Morrison's revolver, which appears to have taken effect. A few minutes later the same or another division of the assassins sought to effect an entrance to the apartments occupied by myself, by breaking through and hacking in pieces some glass doors opening into another suite, having mistaken their way. To this alone, under Providence, we probably owe our lives, for several minutes were thus lost to them ; at the end of which the Yaconins or Dainios guards appeared to have come to the spot, and the assailants were finally driven out of the house, after having penetrated into nearly every room except my own, leaving traces of their presence by slashing at all the beds and furniture. Marks of bloodwere found in various directions, and a prolonged conflict took place outside, in the avenue and approaches to the legation, with the officers and men on service.
Such a deed of atrocity, perpetrated in the capital of a government to which foreign representatives are accredited by the western powers, needs no comment. I only feel it a duty to communicate to my colleagues the facts for their guidance and information, and to acquaint them that, as a temporary measure, I have ordered up her Majesty's ship “Ringdove," and caused a guard of men to be landed. "What measures it may be expedient to adopt for future security of this and the other legations in Yedo, and the maintenance of those international rights and immunities so grievously attacked, becomes a serious consideration, and one the pressing importance of which cannot well be overlooked. But on this part of the subject I shall be glad to enter into further communication with you and the rest of my colleagues, should you feel disposed to favor me with your views. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
Plenipotentiary in Japan. Townsend Harris, Esq.,
Resident Minister of the United States in Japan.
Mr. T. Harris to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED States in JAPAN,
Yedo, July 8, 1861. I am informed by Mr. Alcock, the British envoy, that an attempt was made on the night of the 5th instant to assassinate him and the persons attached to the British legation in this city. I am further informed that the house was broken into at the same moment of time in three different places ;
and that, during the contest, two persons in her Britannic Majesty's service were wounded.
This makes the seventh attack on foreigners within the period of two years ; and in five of the attempts murder was committed. Up to this day not one person has been punished for these atrocious crimes. You have frequently assured me that you were making constant efforts to arrest these criminals, but that you were unable to discover them.
In the present case evidence is in your possession to enable yon to arrest the persons concerned in the last atrocious attempt at murder, for you
have made a prisoner of one of the men, and you have a pocket-book found on the ground which contains a list of the names of fourteen of the party; and these two sources of evidence will enable you to arrest and bring to condign punishment the whole of the gang. I feel it my duty to say to you that, in my opinion, your failure to arrest and punish the perpetrators of previous criminal acts has encouraged the present horrible attempt to take the life of Mr. Alcock.
I have given you too many evidences of my friendship for you to doubt my good will; and as your friend, who earnestly wishes to see Japan peaceful, prosperous, and happy, I now say to you, that if you do not promptly arrest and punish the authors of this last deed of blood, that the most lamentable consequences to your country will inevitably ensue ; for if you do not punish these men, it will show that you do not wish to do so. you earnestly to consider this friendly and serious warning.
I propose to have an interview with you in a few days, at which time I will enter more largely into details than I can do in a letter. Stated with respect and courtesy.
Minister Resident of the United States in Japan. Their Excellencies Kudsi Yamato Nokami and Ando Fusima NOKAMI,
Ministers for Foreign Affairs, fc., 8c., fc., Yedo.
Mr Harris to Mr. Alcock.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES IN JAPAN,
Yedo, July 8, 1861. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant, giving me the particulars of an attack made the previous night, by a band of Japanese assassins, on her Britannic Majesty's legation, and informing me that Mr. Oliphant, secretary of her Britannic Majesty's legation, and Mr. Morrison, consul for Nagasaki, were wounded in the melee which ensued, and adding the gratifying intelligence that you had, providentially, escaped any bodily injury.
I cannot conceal from you the horror and indignation which the atrocious attempt on your life excites in my mind, exceeding, as it does, in the boldness of its design and in the extent of its intended slaughter, all previous essays of the kind.
In the nineteen months that followed the residence of the foreign representatives in this city, six distinct outrages were perpetrated on the persons of foreigners. Yet, up to this day, not one of the persons engaged in those criminal acts has been made to answer for his crime. The Japanese ministers have reiterated the assurance of their anxious desire to arrest and punish the
offenders in question, but have declared their inability to identify them. In the present case no such plea can be set up, for two of your assailants are prisoners, and a pocket-book found on the ground near your legation contains a list of fourteen of the gang. With these two sources of information in their possession, there cannot be any difficulty in ascertaining the names of the whole band, and their consequent arrest and punishment.
Should this government fail in its duty in the present case, it will be almost conclusive that it is either unable or unwilling to give us that protection which the punishment of crime would secure by the repression of criminal designs, and it will then become a matter of serious consideration what line of conduct should be adopted to secure to us those rights which we have guaranteed to us by our solemn treaty stipulations.
I have addressed a letter to the Japanese ministers for foreign affairs in the sense of the foregoing, and I have pointedly shown them that any failure on their part at the present crisis will greatly endanger the peace of their country.
I propose to have an interview with the ministers in this behalf, when I intend to urge upon them the necessity that exists for their action in this matter.
In this connexion I beg to say that if you intend to have an interview with the ministers shortly, I will defer mine until after yours bas taken place.
I renew to you my cordial congratulations on your truly providential escape from a daring and almost successful attempt on your life. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
Minister resident of the United States in Japan. RUTHERFORD Alcock, Esq., C. B.,
Her Britannic Majesty's Envoy Exty and Minister Plen'y in Yedo.
Mr. Alcock to Mr. Harris.
HER MAJESTY'S LEGATION,
Yedo, July 8, 1861. Sir: I have to thank you for the congratulations of escape from the assassins, conveyed in your letter of this date, and the expression of your views upon the present conjuncture, in which I am glad to say there is a general accordance with my own.
If there be any divergence, it is in the absence of all hope on my part that the Japanese government will behave otherwise on this than on every former occasion of the like nature. They have shown great supineness and indifference hitherto, and appear wholly unconscious of the gravity of the circumstances and the atrocious nature of the outrage offered to the flag.
I had proposed seeing the ministers to-morrow, but since the event of the 5th I have thought it better to wait an answer to a letter which I addressed them, urging them to give such full satisfaction as should relieve them of all charge of complicity or indifference.
I expect Admiral Hope here also in a few days, which may further induce me to postpone an interview. If you wish to see the ministers, therefore, I beg I may not be a cause of delay. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
RUTHERFORD ALCOCK, Her Britannic Alajesty's Envoy Exty and Minister Plenty in Japan. TOWNSEND HARRIS, Esq., Sc., 8c., 90.,
United States Legation, Yedo.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Harris.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, October 21, 1861. Sir: Your despatch of the 9th of July (No. 28) has been received.
The assaults committed upon the minister of Great Britain and the other members of that legation, in violation of express treaty, of the laws of nations, and of the principles of common humanity, have excited a deep concern on the part of the President.
Your prompt, carnest, and decided proceedings in aid of the just desire of her Britannic Majesty's minister to obtain adequate satisfaction for that outrage meet his emphatic approval. I have lost no time in assuring the British government directly of the willingness of the United States to co-operate with it in any judicious measure it may suggest to insure safety hereafter to diplomatic and consular representatives of the western powers in Japan, with due respect to the sovereignties in whose behalf their exposure to such grave perils is incurred. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. TOWNSEND HARRIS, Esq., 8c., 8c., 8c., Yedo.