Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
SHIMONOSÉKI INDEMNITY. The town of Shimonoséki commands the narrow straits leading into the Inland sea from the sea of Japan, which, at this point, are about a half-mile wide. On June 25, 1863, in obedience to orders from the mikado to close the straits, the clansmen of Chõshiu fired on the American steamer Pembroke, but without injury to the vessel. On July 16, by order of the minister of the United States, Capt. McDougall, of the United States steamship Wyoming, attacked the batteries, and sunk two vessels moored under them. French and Dutch vessels, being fired on, also shelled the batteries, the French with a landing force destroying one of the redoubts. On Sept. 5, 1864, a combined squadron of one American, nine British, three French and four Dutch ships of war, with 208 guns and 7,590 men, attacked the forts and destroyed them. The American portion of this force consisted of the chartered steamer Takiang, with one Parrot gun, commanded by Lieut. Pearson, who had 258 men under him; the expenses being in all less than $25,000. The allied representatives claimed from the shögun's government, at Yedo, compensation for damage done, $420,000, or $140,000 apiece to the Dutch, French and Americans, out of the "indemnity" of $3,000,000, to be divided among the four treaty powers, making the share of Great Britain $645,000, and of each of the others $785,000. The bill presented for damage to the Pembroke (loss of time, freight and passengers) was $10,000; the further claim for "annuities to dead and wounded" of the Wyoming, not being allowed. The last installment of the indemnity was paid to the treaty powers by the mikado's government in Tökiö, in 1875. This "Shimonoséki Indemnity Fund," deposited in the treasury of the United States, amounting, in 1882, with interest, to more than double the original sum, has never been applied to public use, the whole business being looked upon, as it indeed was, as iniquitous and extortionate. A bill authorizing the return of this money to Japan, after deducting a small part of it for the officers and men of the Wyoming, has repeatedly passed one house of congress.*106
W. E. G.
Notes for this chapter
End of Notes
Return to top