Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States.  Compiled from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry and his officers, at his request, and under his supervision, by Francis L. Hawks … With numerous illustrations.  Published by order of the Congress of the United States. 

Washington, A.O.P. Nicholson, Printer, 1856. 

Three vols, 4to, pp. xvii, [1], 537, [1]; [8], 414, [32]; xliii, 705, with 133 lithographic plates (some folding, some hand-coloured, most tinted, some in colours), including the nude bathing plate, ‘Public bath at Simoda’, which is sometimes lacking; 22 maps (18 folding); and numerous illustrations; some spotting, but a good copy, recased in the original cloth; presentation inscription in each volume: ‘Isaac S. Bingham / Rome, NY, April 1st 1857 / Comts of Hon. W.A. Gilbert’.

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Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States.  Compiled from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry and his officers, at his request, and under his supervision, by Francis L. Hawks … With numerous illustrations.  Published by order of the Congress of the United States. 

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First edition of the official account of the naval expedition that established diplomatic and commercial relations between the United States and Japan and forced the end of Japan’s self-imposed policy of seclusion from the outside world. 

‘As one of the chief diplomatic achievements of the nineteenth century, the opening of Japan will long make the name of Perry memorable.  His expedition marked a departure in Occidental policy respecting Japan, in American policy respecting the Orient, and in Japanese policy respecting the western world’ (DAB). 

The first volume is the narrative of the expedition; among the plates are lithographs after daguerreotypes by Eliphalet Brown, the photographer who accompanied the expedition on its return visit in 1854.  The second volume consists primarily of reports on natural history and economic geography and ends with a 14-page facsimile of the Japanese text of the treaty concluded with the United States – a prefatory note states: ‘As the treaty of Kan-a-ga-wa was the first formal instrument of the kind ever negotiated by the empire of Japan, according to the usages of international law, with any Christian nation, it has been thought advisable to preserve a fac-simile in this report of the original document’.  The third volume consists entirely of scientific ‘observations on the zodiacal light’ made during the voyage. 

The is the House of Representatives issue, with A.O.P. Nicholson in the imprint and ‘House of Representatives’ at the head of the title of volume II.  The Senate issue gives Beverley Tucker as printer and has ‘Senate’ printed at the head of the title of volume II. 

Provenance: William A. Gilbert (1815–1875) was elected as an Opposition party candidate to the Thirty-Fourth Congress in 1855, but resigned in 1857 rather than face an expulsion vote over accusations of bribery in connection with a railroad contract. 

Cordier, Japonica 513; Hill p. 231; Nissen, ZBI 3132; Sabin 30958. 

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