The U.S.S. Columbus and Vincennes in Japan


The U.S.S. Columbus and Vincennes in Japan


Depiction of Commodore Biddle's ships in Edo Bay, 1846


Lithograph depicting U.S. ships anchored in Edo Bay in 1846 and surrounded by small Japanese boats.
The text at the bottom reads:
"On the 20th of July 1846, the U.S. Ships Columbus & Vincennes entered the Bay of Jeddo or (as the Japanese call it) Yeddo. The Ships stood well up the Bay until the Japanese, who had come on board, mentioned that they must not proceed further, and the Commodore not wishing to give offense anchored abreast a village, and about three miles from the shore. As soon as the Ships anchored they were surrounded by a large number of boats from whose warlike appearance much difficulty was not anticipated. Shortly after the sails were furled, the Commanders were politely requested to land their guns, ammunition, muskets & everything in the shape of a weapon, which request was as politely refused. The Anchorage was about 15 miles to the S(outh) and E(ast) of Yedo, which was hidden by a high point of land making out into the Bay. The Country around was beautifully green and the fields as well as could be distinguished from the ships were in fine order and to all appearance well cultivated. No person was allowed to land; and boats passing between one ship and the other were always followed by at least four Japanese armed boats to prevent their landing; and therefore there was no good opportunity of judging as to what the real state of the country might be. The visit altogether was one of the most novel kind. The people polite, amiable and exceedingly jealous of their customs, and adhered strictly to the long established one of not receiving the slightest remuneration for anything that they gave. The visitors were politely informed that as soon as their wants were made known they would be attended to and that done they were desired to leave and never return again. The Ships sailed from there on the 29th after an interesting stay of nine days, during which time hundreds of Japanese visited the Ships, and to hasten their departure, formed a line of several hundred boats to tow the vessels out to sea, and left rejoicing that they had rid themselves so easily of such a number of Barbarians."


Based on sketches by John Eastly


MIT Visualizing Cultures

Part of the essay: Black Ships and Samurai by John W. Dower


Wagner & McGuigan, Philadelphia




Peabody Essex Museum


Folio Lithograph




Based on sketches by John Eastly, “The U.S.S. Columbus and Vincennes in Japan,” Japan's Samurai Revolution, accessed January 21, 2021,