U.S. Japan Expedition Commodore Matthew C. Perry - (1852-1854)

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The U.S. Japan Expedition, commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, had a mission to obtain open trade with Japan. All previous attempts, including four American expeditions and fourteen international expeditions, had failed to initiate trade. Commodore Perry was the first to be successful and persuaded Japan to sign the Kanagawa Treaty on March 31, 1854. Perry clearly saw the benefits trade with Japan could provide the United States, but he also knew that gathering information about the country’s natural history was important. Rev. Samuel Wells Williams and Dr. James Morrow were appointed to collect botanical specimens. Before the expedition began, Morrow was given the additional task of delivering western seeds and plants to the Japanese. The botanists brought back both dried and live plants, some of which were placed in the U.S. Botanic Gardens. The expedition resulted in a three-volume report, which contained a list of plants collected in Japan and compiled by Asa Gray. |Additional Sources: Morrow, James. A Scientist with Perry in Japan, the journal of Dr. James Morrow. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1947. Navy Historical Center. “A Brief Summary of the Perry Expedition to Japan, 1853.” Navy Department Library, n.d.http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/perry_exp.htm The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. “Perry Collection: Perry and the Trip to Japan.” Commodore Perry: Naval Diplomat and Collector, n.d. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/perry/japan/info.html


  • Brown University Library. “Matthew Calbraith Perry.” Perry Visits Japan: A Visual History, n.d. http://dl.lib.brown.edu/japan/perrybio.html
  • Gray, Asa, et. al. "List of Dried Plants Collected in Japan by S. Wells Williams, Esq. and Dr. James Morrow." Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1864, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy, by Order of the Government of the United States. Washington, D.C., A.O.P. Nicholson, printer, 1856. Vol. II: 305-332.
  • Harvard University Herbarium. “U.S. Japan Expedition (1852-1854) and U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition (1853-1856).” Library of the Gray Herbarium, n.d. http://www.huh.harvard.edu/libraries/expinv/JAPAN.html

Date Range

1852 - 1854


  • Plants
  • Botany




Expedition name