USS Mississippi

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The USS Mississippi was a US Navy steamship which traveled to Japan in 1853-1854 as part of the fleet commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry. During this mission, the Mississippi was captained by Sydney Smith Lee. US Navy Purser (i.e. financial officer) J.C. Eldridge and his clerk William Speiden were based on the Mississippi during this voyage.[1]

Along with the Susquehanna, Plymouth, and Saratoga, the Mississippi departed Norfolk, Virginia for Japan on 1852/10/13 (Nov 24). Before arriving in Japan proper in July of 1853, they first called at Naha, the chief port of the Ryûkyû Kingdom, on May 26 (4/19 on the Japanese calendar), departing Ryûkyû more than a month later, on 5/26.

Roughly one month later, on 6/19 (July 24), a member of the crew named Hugh Ellis died. He was buried at the Tomari International Cemetery in Naha the following day. The fleet left Ryûkyû again shortly afterwards, traveling to Hong Kong and elsewhere before returning once again to Naha on on 12/22 (Jan 20, 1854), this time with a total of ten ships, and then moving on to Edo and Yokohama, where the Convention of Kanagawa would eventually be signed.

Another member of the crew, US Marine Private Robert Williams, died 1854/2/8 (March 6) while the fleet was at Yokohama and was buried at Zôtoku-in in Yokohama; his body was later moved to Gyokusen-ji in Shimoda.

Once the port of Hakodate was opened by negotiations following the signing of the Convention, Perry sent several ships from the fleet to inspect the location. Perry then traveled to Hakodate himself aboard the USS Powhatan, accompanied by the Mississippi, arriving in Hakodate on 4/21. They then departed Hakodate on 5/8 to return to Shimoda (near Edo).[2]

When the fleet departed Japan for the final time, Perry sailed aboard the Mississippi.

The Mississippi then returned to Japan in 1858, making port at Nagasaki on 1858/5/13, and departing on 6/9. The ship then arrived at Shimoda on 6/13, informed US consul general Townsend Harris about British and French activities in East Asia, and departed alongside the Powhatan on the 15th. [3]


  1. "About this Collection, William Speiden Journals, Digital Collections," Library of Congress.
  2. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 1 (1937), 584, 589, 599.
  3. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 566, 584.