Anton L.C. Portman

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Anton L.C. Portman was a prominent American diplomatic official in Bakumatsu period Japan.

Born in the Netherlands, Portman first traveled to Japan in 1853 as a Dutch language interpreter in service to Commodore Matthew Perry's mission. After playing a role in drafting the Kanagawa Convention, he returned to the United States, where he played a role in receiving the 1860 Japanese Embassy to the United States.

Portman returned to Japan the following year (1861), replacing the assassinated Henry Heusken as legation secretary. He then served for about one year as interim Resident Minister, overseeing diplomatic matters from 1865/4, when Resident Minister Robert H. Pruyn departed Japan, until the arrival of his successor, Robert Bruce Van Valkenburgh, in 1866/7. During the intervening time, when in 1865/9 three other countries had warships sail to Hyôgo to threaten the imperial capital and press for imperial authorization for international treaties, Portman had American ships do so as well, supporting the political legitimacy of the Tokugawa shogunate and its decisions and policies.

Following the arrival of Van Valkenburgh to Japan, Portman returned to his position as legation secretary. During the Boshin War, he reportedly supported and believed in the possibility of shogunate victory up until the very end.


  • "Portman," Brittanica kokusai daihyakka jiten.