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Golden gate castaway: Joseph Heco and San Francisco, 1851-1859.

Late in October 1850, the Japanese junk Eirikimaru, after delivering its cargo to Edo (Tokyo), departed for its return trip to Hiogo (now part of Kobe). On the evening of the fourth day, rain began to fall, engulfing the ship in a gale. There was a brief respite, and then winds began anew, ripping the sails from the mast.

The youngest member of the crew was a fourteen-year old boy named Hikozo, subsequently called Joseph Heco. Hikozo and his sixteen fellow crew members would not set foot on land for more than three months. That land would be in San Francisco, and before these men and boys found their way back to Japan several years later, their lives would become intertwined with significant events in both their native country and the United States. Hikozo, especially, would make connections in San Francisco that would enable him to meet leading American intellectuals and politicians (including at least two presidents), become the first naturalized Japanese-American citizen, convert to Roman Catholicism, and establish business contacts that would endure throughout his life. He would later write two sometimes-contradictory accounts of his adventures. The first, written in Japanese and published in 1863, was undertaken in part, he said, because he was tired of continually being asked to relate his experiences. The second memoir of his adventures, which is far longer, appeared in English in 1893. Although Heco's writings are full of exaggerations, omissions, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies, they provide a very strong basis for telling his remarkable story.


At the time of Hikozo's shipwreck in the mid-nineteenth century, Japan had been closed to outsiders for more than two centuries. An imperial decree of 1638 stipulated that any Japanese who left the country could not return upon pain of death. Such was also the penalty for learning a foreign language, following foreign customs, or converting to Christianity. (1) Watchtowers and cannons guarded the shoreline, preventing news and information about the outside world from penetrating Japanese society. The ruling Tokugawa shogunate imposed Japan's isolation in the seventeenth century as protection against outside influences that it feared would disrupt the delicate political balance established among the feudal warlords. The isolation was not total, however; there were occasional breaches in the wall of silence. Even supporters of the exclusion policy granted limited exceptions to the Dutch and the Chinese. The former were allowed to send one trading ship each year to Nagasaki, where they were confined to a man-made island (Deshima) in the harbor. Similarly, the Chinese were allowed annual trading privileges to the same port. Through the Dutch and the Chinese, Japanese officials managed to acquire a certain understanding of western technology, geography, and politics.

Still, isolation dominated, and to promote it in i639, the Japanese government ordered that all junks be built with open sterns and large square rudders, ensuring their suitability only for coastal trading. If swept out to sea by storm, an event that happened all too often in the treacherous seas off Japan, the sails and rudders might be ripped away, causing the junks to drift helplessly. Over the years, there must have been many hundreds of vessels lost and unrecorded by this terrifying fate. This misfortune was so common that the Japanese language had a word to describe its victims: hyoryu, meaning a person adrift on the sea. Once caught in the warm Japanese current, these sturdy junks could drift for months until they finally washed ashore, were rescued by passing ships, or simply disappeared. The currents carried them as far as Alaska, the West Coast of North America, and to the Hawaiian Islands. (2)

Depending on what the junks carried in their cargoes, these drifters could survive for months on rice, by fishing, by capturing rainwater, and by distilling seawater. One junk drifted for over a year until finally coming ashore in early 1834 on the Olympic Peninsula in the present state of Washington. The three surviving members of the fourteen-man crew were captured and enslaved by Indians before being rescued by employees of the British Hudson's Bay Company. Eventually taken to Macao, the three were handed over to missionaries who tried in vain to return them to Japan. (3) The path of one of these survivors was to cross that of Joseph Heco many years later.

Wherever they landed, despite the possible penalties, the Japanese almost always wanted to return home. Their rescuers were generally sympathetic, but knew that they could not simply sail into Japanese ports. One solution was to hand over castaways to Russians, who would take them to Urup, the closest Russian territory to Japan. From there, the survivors might be able to make their way in a small boat to neighboring Japanese islands. Occasionally, Dutch seamen helped, since they were allowed annual trade visits to Japan and could presumably return castaways. (4) Another increasingly common approach by the mid-nineteenth century was to turn castaways over to the Chinese, who housed them in a special dormitory near Shanghai. When the annual Chinese trading expedition went to Nagasaki, the castaways went along to be handed over to Japanese authorities. Although it was commonly assumed that anyone who left Japan and returned would be put to death, in fact, there were many castaways who did make it back. Many months of interrogation might follow, but if the sailors convinced the government that they had left involuntarily and had not become Christianized, they were allowed to return to their homes. (5)


After the storm had torn sails from the mast, the crew of the helplessly drifting Eiriki-maru jettisoned much of its cargo of barley and peas to lighten the ship. They tried to pump out the water that poured in and cut off the useless mast to make the junk less top heavy and more maneuverable. The men prayed, drifted, fished, and made oil from walnuts they found in the cargo hold. They even distilled water by covering a rice pot, boiling the seawater, and collecting the condensed steam. This tedious process, which produced only a little more than a liter of fresh water after three hours, was abandoned because it required so much fuel. (6)

Yet they managed to suture for fifty days. Finally, about five hundred miles off the coast of Japan they were sighted and rescued by the American merchant ship Auckland, commanded by a Captain Jennings, carrying a shipment of sugar from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Somewhat apprehensive, but knowing that their own vessel would not last much longer, the castaways boarded the strange ship. (7) They took little with them except the clothes on their backs, some rice, and their navigational equipment. Language was an obvious problem, but the exhausted Japanese saw that the "very rough and odd" strangers were actually "kind and attentive." (8) With the help of the ship's Chinese cook, whose written characters, but not language, the Japanese could understand, they learned something about a "Gold Mountain," but had no idea that this referred to California.

The technological superiority of the American ship impressed the Japanese. The junk had a crew of seventeen sailors, the much larger American ship only eleven. The junk often required at least two and as many as five men to work the tiller; the American ship operated with only one man at the wheel. The multiple masts and sails on the American ship were obviously superior to the junk's single mast. The Japanese compass had only twelve points; the American version had thirty-two. (9)

The Japanese did not like the American food, especially meat and dairy products (forbidden to Buddhists), but as the days passed they grew used to it. Realizing the differences in customary diet, the Americans gave the Japanese raw fish and vegetables, to which the castaways added a little rice that they had brought from their junk. They exchanged their tattered garments for western clothes and haircuts. Despite the kindness, however, there remained a lingering suspicion among the culturally restricted Japanese that the Americans would eat them if their own food ran out. Fortunately this theory was never tested; the ship arrived at San Francisco on March 4, 1851, forty-two days after the rescue. The Japanese had been at sea for three months. (10)

News of the exotic new arrivals spread quickly throughout the city. (11) Many San Franciscans simply wanted to see the visitors. Others suggested that returning the castaways could help achieve the desirable opening of diplomatic and trade relations with Japan. The Alta California proposed that the Japanese "be well treated, and sent back in one of our ships-of-war." (12) This newspaper was especially fervent in its desire to "open" Japan, by force if necessary, and frequently expressed that opinion over the next several months. Secretary of State Daniel Webster reckoned the diplomatic possibilities: When informed of the situation, he surmised that the castaways' arrival on U.S. soil might "afford a favorable opportunity for opening commercial relations with Japan." He suggested to Secretary of the Navy William A. Graham that a "small national vessel" on the West Coast "take these unfortunate men ... to Hong Kong." From there, Captain John Henry Aulick (predecessor to Commodore Matthew Perry in the proposed venture to "open" Japan) could take them home. "Accompanied by an imposing Naval force ... and with kindly disposition," the expedition, by "returning these unfortunates to their homes," might accomplish the "more important objects" of the mission. (13) The expedition that would ultimately lead to Commodore Perry's "opening" of Japan (1853-54) was then in the planning stages, and the fate of the Japanese castaways was inevitably tied to that diplomatic effort.


Most San Franciscans believed that the castaways were "the first of their nation" to set foot in North America. (14) Of course this was not true, since we now know of many previous incidents, (15) although people at the time had little likelihood of knowing. They were not even the "first of their nation" to visit San Francisco. That distinction belongs to Manjiro, who like Hikozo, had been cast away at age fourteen. Ten years before Hikozo's adventures began, Manjiro and his shipmates were stranded on an uninhabited island for six months before they were rescued by an American whaler. The captain, William H. Whitfield, was impressed by Manjiro and invited the boy to return with him to New England for schooling. The boy agreed and sailed with Whitfield, leaving his four colleagues in Hawaii as guests of that kingdom's government. Whitfield bestowed on Manjiro the Americanized name of John Mungero, often shortened to John Mung. The whaling ship took two years to complete its voyage, but once in New England, Manjiro enrolled in school, and by 1845, had apprenticed to a cooper. Despite the kindness he received, he dreamed of returning to Japan. Hearing about the discovery of gold in California, with Whitfield's encouragement, he decided to try his luck in the mines to make enough money to return home.

Working his way on a San Francisco-bound lumber ship, he arrived in February 1850, spent several days in the city, and then took a riverboat to Sacramento. Within four months he had accumulated the six hundred dollars he thought necessary, returned to San Francisco, and caught a ship for Honolulu. Apparently, his time in San Francisco went unnoticed. Anyone who met him probably regarded him as Chinese. His ability to speak English and his somewhat Chinese-sounding name (John Mung), not to mention the thorough implausibility of finding a Japanese in California, would have worked against people guessing his nationality. Whether he failed to disclose his Japanese heritage for some reason is unknown. He arrived in Honolulu just in time to act as interpreter for yet another group of castaways, and then Manjiro and two of his former colleagues returned home on a small boat lowered into the water off the Japanese coast from an American ship headed for China. Once home, they were imprisoned and interrogated for several months, but released in 1853. (16)

The seventeen castaways who went ashore in San Francisco in 1851 were not the first, but they were certainly the largest known group of Japanese anywhere in America to that time. Their lengthy stay provided an opportunity for them and for San Franciscans to learn about each other. One man from New Haven, Connecticut, bragging to relatives back home about the diversity of nationalities in the young city, told his relatives that "we now have some Japanese ... the first that were ever seen abroad." He had not yet seen these "curiosities," but like many others hoped that they would be returned quickly to further the cause of opening Japan to Americans. (17)

The boy Hikozo was now generally called Heco, probably intended as a shortened nickname coined by sailors on the Auckland. A few days after arriving, he and his shipmates went ashore to tour the city. The boy from a provincial Japanese town, who had had only one brief visit to Edo, later related his first impressions:
 The streets were broad and paved with
 stones and tiles, with sidewalks for foot
 passengers.... The houses were much
 larger than in our own country, some of
 them two or three storeys high, built of
 brick and stone, and though some of
 them were of wood, still even they were
 large and spacious. There were numerous
 shops of all kinds, with goods displayed
 in large glass windows, hotels,
 restaurants, drinking places, horses,
 carts and carriages.... And in fact it
 appeared to me much like the City of
 Yedo [Edo or Tokyo] with the exception of
 the carts which were drawn by horses
 instead of by men or cows and bullocks
 as they are in our country. (18)

Heco also saw his first chain gang "digging and carting the earth from the hill close by" and his first black man, whose appearance frightened him. Much of this account, written forty years later, is obviously mistaken, exaggerated, or a result of fading memories. No one in San Francisco in March 1851 would have described the city's streets as "broad and paved with stones and tiles." Though there were a few projects to "plank" major roads in 1851, they were certainly not paved during the year the castaways were there. Where Heco saw "stones and tiles," others saw only mud, and the Alta California referred scornfully to a major street as Lake Montgomery. Perhaps Heco was remembering the San Francisco often years later, when he returned for a visit from Japan. (19)


For the next few days, the Japanese helped the crew of the Auckland unload its cargo onto a hulk anchored next to the ship. The hulk's captain decided to show off the Japanese to the citizens of San Francisco. He managed to convey to them that he wanted them to change out of their newly acquired western clothes and put on their "exotic" native clothes and go into town with him one evening to "see the grand dances." One wonders at the condition of their discarded clothes after being at sea for three months, but they obliged him. The newspapers reported that the "shipwrecked Japanese" would "be present at the Grand Fancy Dress and Masquerade Ball, at the California Exchange, on Wednesday Evening, March 19." At this popular entertainment venue, they "would perform some of their most favorite dances in true Japanese style." Everyone was urged to attend, since the castaways' stay was surely limited, and this might be the only opportunity to see them. What a treat it would be to see the Japanese dance "with the ladies of a civilized country." (20) The impression was that the Japanese had volunteered to put on a show.

Heco remembered the event very differently. On the appointed evening, the captain of the hulk took them all to the ballroom on Kearney Street. He then took them upstairs "into a room of about twenty-four feet by eighteen, with velvet cushioned chairs, soft and handsome window curtains, and with a large mirror on the side of the wall." They had never seen such a large mirror, and at first they thought that their reflection was actually another group of Japanese. In the next room, dancers were getting dressed and putting on makeup and masks. "We saw some females put on men's clothes," Heco remembered, "while some men arrayed themselves in women's garments."

Still unclear as to what was happening, at about eight-thirty they heard a "fearful and hideous" commotion. This was the band, unfamiliar to them, which made a terrible noise and gave some of them headaches. When the captain led them to a stage with the curtain lowered, the Japanese began to understand what was happening. Some of them grew angry when they realized that they were being put on display to make money for the captain. Mango, their own junk's captain, calmed his men, pointing out that this was a small price to pay to people who had saved their lives. When the curtain rose, "there was a large audience in front of us." (21)

The Japanese sat there for several minutes, and then the captain of the hulk indicated through gestures that they should get up and mingle with the "splendidly dressed" crowd of men, women, and children. Either out of curiosity or pity (Heco could not decide) "people came up close, took our hands, and gave us tobacco, rings, candy, and silver coins, each according to his own fancy." Heco, probably because of his young age, "received an especially large amount, there being fifteen or sixteen pieces of silver coin alone." In return he gave some of them Japanese coins that he had.

There were gaming tables throughout the room, and at nine o'clock the dancing began. One unidentified young man about twenty-five years old escorted Heco around the hall and showed him how to gamble. Then at eleven p.m., after eating supper in a room downstairs, they returned to the ship.

The following day, one newspaper called it "a brilliant and jovial affair," at which the Japanese "created a great deal of amusement, by their looks of wonder and unique appearance." That appearance, according to yet another newspaper, included "complexions ... of the greyish order," and facial features much like those "of their Asiatic neighbors the Celestials [Chinese]." They were "intelligent" and "good natured" and one of them--perhaps Heco---"engaged in 'chipping' at one of the faro banks, and seemingly appreciating the game." The bartenders had been instructed not to serve alcohol to the Japanese, who received only mineral water and cigars. (23)

Heco's next lesson in American life was less agreeable. The Auckland's first mate offered to help Heco buy new clothes with the money received the night before. Instead, the mate took Heco to a bar to meet friends. They drank, smoked, and danced with women (whom Heco guessed were prostitutes), using Heco's money. "The man had misled me ... at which I was greatly vexed." Later, Heco and a couple of companions asked the mate to return the money. Instead, the mate gave Heco an oversized coat from China: "This old coat was all I got in return for my $15.50," Heco complained. Not surprisingly, and with good reason, he and his friends no longer trusted the mate. (24)

Though Heco does not mention it, apparently there was another unfortunate incident around the same time. On March 17, one of the newspapers mentioned "a fine chart of the coast of Japan" among the items salvaged from the junk. The following week, another paper reported that someone had gone on board the Auckland and "probably by mistake" had taken the chart. Whoever took it was urged to return it immediately. (25)

Aside from these two incidents, however, the Japanese apparently enjoyed themselves and were treated with respect. One day they visited the offices of the California Daily Courier, with the captain of yet another ship, P. R. Macy of the Panama. They inspected the type, the presses, and other equipment. There is no indication of what prompted this visit, but since newspapers were unknown in Japan, the castaways may have expressed curiosity about the vehicle through which they received so much attention. Several years later Heco would establish one of the first newspapers in Japan; perhaps this visit to the Courier's office planted the idea. (26)

A few days later, onshore at the Long Wharf, the Japanese visitors had "a jovial sort of time." They were trying to exchange their Japanese coins, "a bushel of which is worth exactly a dollar and a quarter." They must have had several bushels, because the Alta California reported that they exchanged for "Spanish quarters, Yankee dimes and half dollars" and "in the course of the day ... acquired a considerable quantity." They then spent the money on "coffee and cakes, molasses candy, peanuts, and some elegant specimens of brass jewelry." The latter, the writer predicted frivolously, would probably be used to "initiate themselves into the good graces of the lovely damsels of Japan." (27)

The next day the Alta California carried a story specifically featuring Heco, referring to him as "Sako." The boy was "as bright, and intelligent a little fellow as [could be] found in any nation." His "clear black eyes appear to drink in all he sees in this to him strange world." Furthermore, he was "exceedingly polite," bowing low when spoken to. He had already attracted the attention of people who were willing to "retain" the boy if he wished to remain in San Francisco, but the paper suggested that this would not be a good idea. The "poor unsophisticated little fellow," even if he were "rid of his barbarous and heathenish ideas," would probably end up a monte dealer. It was far better for him to return to Japan before he "learned more than the good features of the Americans" although Heco had already accomplished as much. Nevertheless, the paper predicted that he would probably have "a useful life before him in his own land," and would be "the best ambassador to send from here amongst the Japanese." (28)

The masquerade ball at the California Exchange had been so successful that the Japanese were invited back for another appearance. Heco does not mention this second event, but newspaper accounts claimed that the Japanese were "delighted with all they saw." Meanwhile, The California Daily Courier denounced a rumor that the Auckland's Captain Jennings had profited by exhibiting the Japanese. The "worthy Captain has never received one cent, directly or indirectly," the paper claimed indignantly. Quite the contrary, the captain had hosted the Japanese for over seventy days, taking "every possible care of them," and all he had received in return was their help in unloading the ship's cargo.

Henry Cole, proprietor of the California Exchange, seemingly was the only person to profit, since two appearances of the Japanese attracted large crowds to his establishment. The Courier suggested that Cole do something in return for the Japanese, "destitute of money and clothing." The result was a benefit ball, scheduled for March 29. Other newspapers joined in the appeal to "turn out in full force to assist these poor and unfortunate persons." At this event, the papers predicted, the public would probably have their last chance to see "these curious specimens of humanity," since they would probably soon sail for home. (29) As with previous stories, these accounts reflect a mixture of sympathy, ignorance of Japanese culture, and patronizing racism. They also include the continuing assumption that the castaways would be sent back to Japan very quickly. Curiously, Heco did not mention the benefit in his writings, nor did any of the newspapers report what happened or how much money, if any, was raised.

Indeed, the newspapers seldom mentioned the Japanese again, except in the context of using them as a wedge to open commerce with Japan. The Alta California suggested that the "moderate demands" of Americans might need to be "backed by a small force ... [to] exert a Christian and civilizing influence." Another paper ominously suggested that the Japanese government should learn from "the lesson their Chinese neighbors ... received from the English" in the recent Opium War, (30) when the British forced trade with China and seized Hong Kong in the process.


In late March, the Aukland was ready to return to sea. Collector of the Port T. Butler King, who had written to Washington for instructions, assumed responsibility for the Japanese, anticipating that he would be directed to transfer them to a revenue cutter on which they would be domiciled, and in time, assigned for duty. On March 22, the revenue cutter Polk received sixteen mattresses (one short of the number of Japanese passengers, for reasons unknown). Three days later, the Japanese themselves, along with seventeen blankets and seventeen tin pots went aboard. (31) The Alta California printed one last story reporting on the transfer of the men from the Auckland to the Polk, making another plea for the return of the chart stolen off the Auckland, and mentioning another shore visit, where the Japanese "amused themselves by circulating around the Plaza." (32) Then, as far as the newspapers were concerned, the castaways were no longer news. Most of what we know about the castaways' remaining months in San Francisco comes either from Heco's accounts or from sketchy reports in the Polk's logbook.

The Polk was a large iron-clad ship of about six hundred tons, commanded by Captain Henry D. Hunter of New York, with a crew of about forty men. The Japanese were quartered "on the berth deck between the ward room and the men's quarters." The "very kind" crew gave them dark blue pants and jackets. In September, after six months on board, Customs Collector King provided each Japanese with one additional blue cloth jacket, one pair of pants, two pairs of "draws," two undershirts, and two pairs of socks. The jackets' brass buttons made the Japanese feel like important officials whenever they went ashore. (33)

Language continued to be a problem. Communication consisted mainly of gestures and pointing. Fortunately for the Japanese, the Polk's master at arms, Thomas Troy, wanted to learn Japanese and offered to teach English in return. "A fierce-looking, burly man with a great amount of whiskers," the Irish American, belying his fearsome appearance, "was reliable and honest, and ... kind-hearted." The Japanese agreed to help Troy with their language, but most of them were reluctant to learn English for fear of potential punishment when they returned home. The youthful and less cautious Heco, despite attempts to dissuade him, was an exception, and he learned a little English over the next several months. (34)

Since the Polio was a military ship, "each person had a schedule of duties day and night." (35) Everyone had duties, that is, except for the Japanese. Both because they were bored and because they wanted to do something to repay the kindness they were receiving, they suggested that the youngest of the group "should go and help and wait on the officers." The Americans accepted the often Heco worked directly for the captain; three other young castaways, Tora, Kame, and Shin, helped the wardroom officers; and the rest of the group helped clean the decks and other chores. For their work, they were compensated with clothes, shoes, or money, and after about a month, the Japanese replaced the stewards, who left the ship, taking over all their duties for most of the remainder of their stay. (36) Meanwhile, the Polk continued to perform normal customs service operations, each day boarding several inbound ships to inspect the cargoes. (37)

Apparently, the only diversions available to the Japanese men were Sunday walks around the city. According to Heco, Captain Hunter always ordered someone to accompany them, probably for their own protection along San Francisco's rough Barbary Coast. Besides Sunday outings, there was one evening an excursion to "Shelton's Agricultural and Mineral Exhibition," which displayed California's bounty. (38) One of the Sunday walks was memorable even forty years later when Heco wrote about it. Walking through the hills, they came across "an isolated building with a great fence around it." Curious to see what was inside, they found a few Mexicans "murdering cattle in the most cruel and merciless fashion." Horrified, the Japanese hurried back to the ship. (39)

As interesting as the incidents Heco included in his memoirs are the things he left out. There is no mention, for example, of the great fire of May 4, 1851, two months after they arrived, that destroyed most of the business area of the city with flames observed as far away as Monterey, one hundred miles to the south. (40) It is inconceivable that Heco and his comrades were unaware of this and a subsequent fire a couple of weeks later, or the resulting disruption to the city, yet these catastrophes do not appear in either of his memoirs. Also absent is any mention of the first Vigilance Committee, which was spawned by the city's lawlessness, not the least of which was the arson that had caused such destruction and waste. Probably the Japanese were unaware of San Francisco politics, especially given the language barrier, but it seems unlikely that they would not have heard about the four hangings in Portsmouth Squarer. (41)

By September, possibly because of the damp weather on the bay, or because of the unaccustomed diet, the Japanese were frequently sick. The nature of the illness is unknown, but at least two of them were sick enough to be taken off the ship and sent to a hospital. So concerned was the new captain of the Polk, John A. Webster, that Customs Collector King assigned a physician to the ship. Throughout October, three unnamed Japanese were listed in the log as sick each day; by November, there were still two listed each day. (42)


The U.S. sloop of war St. Mary's, under the command of G. A. Magruder, sailed through the Golden Gate on February 17, 1852, and anchored at "Saucelito." (43) The ship, with twenty-two guns and a crew of 220, was to take the Japanese to Hong Kong, where they would join the expedition being assembled by Commodore Matthew Perry and return home. On the 28th, Webster sent the Japanese to the St. Mary's, with a letter to Magruder warning that the junk's Captain Mango was "extremely ill, and unless the best of care is taken of him, he will not make his port of destination." He described the Japanese as "very respectful and obedient and desiring of doing all they can." (44)

The impending departure created a mixture of joy and sadness. Tears welled in the eyes of the Polk's captain. Heco felt as if he were saying goodbye to a parent. Leaving Thomas Troy was especially difficult, both because of his kindness and because he was the only one who could speak any Japanese. Despite the "comfortable quarters" awaiting them on the St. Mary's, they bemoaned being among strangers, none of whom understood Japanese. On a final visit to the Polk before they sailed, they asked Troy to join their Pacific crossing. He was willing if the St. Mary's captain could pay him "ordinary seaman's wages" of twelve dollars per month. Captain Magruder agreed. Troy gave up his post on the Polk (which paid fifty to sixty dollars per month) and off they went. The ship sailed for the Hawaiian Islands on March 13. Three weeks later they reached Hilo, where old Captain Mango died at age 63. After burying him there, they sailed for Hong Kong, arriving about May 20, and then to Macao, where they expected to find the American squadron. (45) Only the paddle steamer Susquehanna, flagship of the U.S. eastern squadron and commanded by Captain John Henry Aulick, had arrived. Heco and his colleagues boarded the Susquehanna, which sailed to Hong Kong.

Their treatment and their circumstances took a turn for the worse. The weather in Hong Kong was very hot, and the castaways "suffered terribly." Their quarters "were extremely cramped and unpleasant," and the crewmen of the Susquehanna "were rough and unkind." Thomas Troy told them that the men of this ship were used to dealing with Chinese, whom they considered "a greedy and a cringing race," and that they regarded the Japanese in the same manner and treated them in the same fashion. Upset at these conditions, the Japanese looked for ways to leave the ship. When they were allowed to go ashore one Sunday, about half of them set off for Nanking, as a first step to getting back to Japan. But they were ambushed by robbers and forced to return to the Susquehanna in a "piteous plight." There seemed little choice but to continue to submit to the treatment they were receiving on the ship. Meanwhile, Troy became impatient waiting for Perry, and wanted to return to California "before the gold fever was over." He asked Heco to go back with him, offering to pay all expenses and arguing that Heco could improve his English, and after Japan was opened, could return without fear. It would be in Heco's and the Japanese government's interests to have an English-speaking Japanese. Reluctant at first to leave all his countrymen, Heco finally agreed when Troy offered to take two of Heco's friends as well. (46)


Heco, Troy, and the two friends, Tora and Kame, moved to a "cheap boarding-house" in Hong Kong until they found passage to San Francisco on the Sarah Hooper, an old British ship of about four hundred tons. Thomas paid the fifty-dollar fare for each of them; there were no first- or second-class cabins, so they traveled "in the steerage," arriving in San Francisco in December 1852. (47) Troy found old friends from the Polk, now assigned to another revenue cutter, the Frolic. These friends agreed to keep Heco on board that ship while Troy searched for jobs for Tora and Kame. Heco remained and worked on the Frolic until April 1853, though he easily got seasick on the small ship. He "suffered much" on a trip to San Diego and back. There was also a disagreement with Captain Douglas Ottinger over Heco's wages, which upset Troy's friends who were watching out for him. They advised Troy to take Heco ashore, offering to help support him until he found work.

Tora and Kame, meanwhile, found good jobs on two ships at Benicia, across the bay. They earned seventy dollars and sixty dollars, respectively, more than Troy made as master at arms. Kame, who worked on the cutter Ewing, was certainly the unnamed Japanese who "jumped overboard" from that ship on the night of June 28, 1853. Heco did not mention this incident, and it is unclear whether it was accidental or intentional. Kame's "shriek after rising to the surface" went unheard by others on the ship, but fortunately he was seen and rescued by two men from another ship. (48)

Captain Pease of the revenue cutter Argus (where Tora worked) happily took both Troy and Heco on board until Heco could find another job. Troy resumed his old position as master at arms, and Heco, with Captain Pease's help, found a job in a boarding house in Benicia that paid him twenty-five dollars per month. The work was hard for a fifteen-year-old boy, though the proprietor and his son helped him as much as they could. The Chinese cook, on the other hand, gave Heco all "his dirty work." Captain Pease and Troy found yet another job for Heco "in a nice genteel boarding-house kept by a lady and her two daughters." The five or six boarders were "all gentlemen of the first class," and even better, the new job paid five dollars more per month than the old one had.

One day Captain Pease returned from business in San Francisco with a stranger, dressed in Japanese clothes, "with a sword stuck in his girdle." When they saw him, both Heco and Tora feared that he was an officer of the Japanese government who had come to take them home "to pay the penalty of our wrong-doing." Fortunately, the stranger was another shipwrecked Japanese, brought to San Francisco by a fruit schooner from the South Sea Islands. When Heco and Tora spoke to him in Japanese, "he opened his eyes widely ... he fell on his knees, and ... prayed to us to help him." Supercargo on a ship with a crew of twelve, the stranger was the only survivor when his junk was swept out to sea and drifted for four months with a broken rudder.

Captain Pease persuaded Heco, Troy, and Juitaro (the stranger) to return with him to San Francisco. The four of them went to see the customs collector, Beverly C. Sanders. A Baltimore businessman, Sanders had arrived in San Francisco in 1851, seeking his fortune. He had established several ventures in the city, including a banking business with former and future mayor, Charles Brenham. This and other political connections had enabled him to secure the plum appointment as customs collector. (49) Sanders agreed to help by keeping Juitaro on the Argus, and Heco, who served as interpreter, so impressed him during their initial meeting that he invited the boy to live with him, promising to send him to school Pease advised Heco to accept the "fine offer," and although the owner of the boarding house tempted Heco with a raise, he wanted an education. His boss reluctantly abandoned attempts to retain him in her employ and on June 15, 1853, Heco went to work for Sanders. (50)


Though his duties were purely clerical, Heco felt pride in having been "made a gentleman all in a twinkling." Sanders' political connections proved advantageous from the start. On the afternoon of his first day of work, for example, Sanders introduced Heco to California's Senator William H. Gwin. Later the same day, Heco was astounded by a visit to Sanders' home at the corner of Mission and Kearney (now Third Street), the finest house he had ever seen, the home of "such a wealthy man."

When Sanders traveled to his home in Baltimore, where his wife and most of his family remained, he took Heco with him. They arrived in New York on August 5, 1853, where Heco was astonished by his introduction to the telegraph and other technological wonders, such as his first train ride: "a carriage drawn by a steam-engine, which could go at the rate of 25, 40, or even 60 miles an hour." In Baltimore, Heco was "introduced as a stranger in a strange land, and as perhaps the first Japanese that had ever been in Baltimore." A few days later, Heco accompanied Sanders to Washington to call on the "Chief Man of the Nation," President Franklin Pierce. The first Japanese person to meet an American president was not terribly impressed because although the White House was nice enough, the president himself was dressed in common clothes, there were no guards, and the rooms, though "furnished with silk curtains and cushions on the chairs," were not grand enough for the "Chief of the Nation." In Japan, "even the smallest district official has more pomp and splendor about his person than this man has!" When the president entered the room in which Sanders and Heco waited, he shook hands with each of them and the president himself brought Heco a chair. Pierce suggested that Heco feel free to roam around the house "and amuse [himself] without ceremony," while the two men talked about business. Heco obliged and "found everything astonishing."

In January 1854, Sanders traveled to Russia to discuss contract terms to ship ice to San Francisco from Alaska. While Sanders was abroad, Heco remained in Baltimore at school, studying reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion. Before returning to California, Mrs. Sanders, "who was very ardent in the matter of religion," suggested that Heco be baptized. At the cathedral, Heco met "Father--I forget his name--who ... questioned me on various matters and points." The priest told Heco he would need a Christian name, suggesting several, and Heco settled on "Joseph."

Baptized and with the rudiments of an American education, Joseph Heco and Sanders traveled via Panama, arriving in San Francisco on November 24, 1854. Sanders again placed Heco in school for a few months, but the Panic of 1855 destroyed the ice-importing firm of Sanders and Brenham (a San Francisco partner), and Sanders had to cut off his support. Heco managed to continue school for six months more "with the aid of another kind friend," but when this unnamed friend was also hurt by the panic, Heco left school for good. (51)

In April 1856, Sanders helped the nineteen-year-old Heco get a job with Macondray & Co., a large commission firm on Sansome Street near Pine. Coincidentally, the ship Auckland, which had rescued the castaways five years earlier, had been carrying a shipment of sugar for this firm from Hong Kong. Heco worked there for the next year and a half. What he learned there and the contacts he made helped him later in Japan where he began his own business. Though he almost certainly could not have realized it at the time, as he implied he did in his 1863 memoirs, Heco came to see that a similar company in Japan would require seventy or eighty people. Macon-dray and Co. had only eight employees. He cited a number of factors for the greater efficiency of American firms: more technology, mechanization, "no empty formalities or ostentation," good salaries, "and people made to work without idleness." (52) Heco does not say exactly what his own duties were, but apparently he worked directly for junior partner T. G. Cary. In addition to commission, insurance, and banking activities, Macondray and Co. was the first tea importer in San Francisco. Later, exporting tea from Japan, Heco carried on an extensive correspondence with Frederick Macondray, Jr., son of the founder, and sent many items to him on commission in the 1860s and 1870s. (53)


At some point during his tenure at Macondray and Co., Heco caught the eye of Senator Gwin, whom he had earlier met through Sanders. The senator offered to take Heco to Washington, D.C., promising to help him obtain a position with the state department that would prepare him for a future assignment in Japan. Heco apparently thought the opportunity too good to pass up, and he left California with Gwin in September 1857.

On November 25, 1857, Gwin introduced Heco to Secretary of State Lewis Cass, and then they all went to the White House to meet President James Buchanan. The president agreed that Heco would be good in the State Department, but claimed there were no vacancies. Gwin suggested that Buchanan create one, but the president replied that as a senator, Gwin was in a better position to influence government appropriations in the next Congress. Heco remained with Gwin, working as a private secretary for several months. A State Department job never materialized and Heco asked Gwin to release him from service, saying he wanted to go to Baltimore where he had friends. The senator agreed and wrote the collector of the port of Baltimore, asking him to give Heco a temporary position.

Gwin owed Heco money. His salary (thirty dollars per month) came to $150, of which only fifty-five dollars had been paid. Of the ninety-five dollars remaining, Gwin subtracted seventy-five dollars to cover the cost of "proper" clothes bought at the insistence of Mrs. Gwin after their arrival in New York. Heco fumed at the paltry sum that remained. Gwin, a wealthy senator who owned plantations and slaves in the South, and who with his wife was a leader in society, had lured Heco away from an excellent job in San Francisco with promises he could not keep. And now, in a strange land, the senator set Heco "adrift with a precious twenty dollars!" To make matters worse, the collector of the port in Baltimore had no job for Heco either: "So much for the worth of the Senator's letter!!" (54)


Presumably depressed and frustrated, Heco went to Baltimore, where the Sanders family welcomed him. When he ran out of money, San Francisco connections came to his rescue. He received a surprise letter from Boston written by the father of his old employer in San Francisco, T. G. Cary, who was then in China. The son had asked his father to give Heco money if he needed it. At about the same time, he received another letter from Lieutenant J. M. Brooke, USN, whom he had met through Senator Gwin in Washington. Brooke was to command an exploratory expedition to China and Japan, and offered Heco a clerk's position, providing passage to Japan. Heco's luck seemed to be turning. With money from the senior Cary, Heco prepared to join Brooke in San Francisco, but Sanders suggested that Heco seek American citizenship first, which he did. Granted naturalized status by a judge, Heco became literally the first Japanese American; there would not be a second for many years. (55)

Back in San Francisco at the end of July 1858, Heco joined Brooke at Mare Island and sailed in late September on the schooner Fenimore Cooper. They reached Honolulu after forty-three days, an unusually long voyage, and found yet another group of five Japanese castaways who had been there for two years. The Fenimore Cooper left in late December, but ran into rough seas and Heco as usual was very seasick. After a month at sea, the ship was forced to return to Honolulu in early February 1859. They learned there that the United States and Japan had signed a commercial treaty.

Heco was eager leave the Fenimore Cooper, both because the small size of the ship aggravated his seasickness and because the new treaty spurred him to get back to Japan more quickly. He found passage on the clipper Sea Serpent, bound from San Francisco to Hong Kong. One of the passengers was an old San Francisco friend, Eugene M. Van Reed, who was going to Japan via China. Apparently, Heco and Van Reed had met in 1853, and Van Reed having learned some Japanese from Heco, was now heading for Japan to see what opportunities might await. Late in 1858, before Heco left on the fenimore Cooper, the two of them had a photograph taken together in San Francisco. (56)

Arriving in Hong Kong in March 1859, Heco met Dan Ketch (Iwakichi), one of his fellow castaways. He had been in Canton with the British Consul there, who had just been appointed Consul General to Japan. Dan had returned to America at least once during the 1850s and had picked up enough English to be hired as translator for the British. Unfortunately, his flaunting of western culture and dress infuriated xenophobic Japanese. Shortly after returning to Japan, Dan Ketch was murdered in front of the British legation for being "puffed up with pride of place and ... insolent and abrasive." (57) Heco also met Townsend Harris, the newly appointed Minister to Japan. Heco showed Harris his naturalization papers and the Minister agreed to "take charge" of Heco once they were in Japan. E. M. Door, the U.S. Consul for Kanagawa (Yokohama), who was with the Minister's party, hired Heco as interpreter, while his friend Van Reed was hired on as clerk in the same consulate.

In Shanghai, Heco learned about the fate of his remaining comrades from Otokichi, who was one of three 1832 castaways in North America. He was captured by Indians, rescued by the British, and from China, he attempted to return to Japan but had been forcibly rebuffed. Angered by the Japanese government's attitude, Otokichi gave up further attempts and settled in the Chinese city, where he provided support to other castaways who came there.

His comrades, Heco learned from Otokichi, had finally sailed with Commodore Perry to Japan, but most of them had been afraid to face Japanese officials. They had stayed below deck and returned to Shanghai. Otokichi took responsibility for them and later persuaded the Chinese to take them on one of their annual voyages to Nagasaki, where they were successfully repatriated. The two who had returned with Heco and Troy to San Francisco in late 1852, Kame and Tora, also eventually made it home. Tora, who worked for Wells Fargo for several years and who had "attained a fair knowledge of our language and habits," sailed for Japan on the bark Melita in late March 1859. (58)

In the end, only one member of the junk's crew, Sentaro, called Sam Patch by the Americans, actually accompanied Perry ashore on his first visit to Japan. Sentaro had been the next youngest on the junk after Heco. The two resented each other, and Heco does not even mention Sentaro in his memoirs. (50) Finally, on June 15, 1859, Joseph Heco himself left Shanghai on the Mississippi, and three days later entered Nagasaki harbor, a twenty-two year old American citizen employed by the consulate at Kanagawa. (60)


Heco's return to Japan did not end his relationship with San Francisco. He did not get along either with the consul, E. M. Dorr or with Minister Harris. One evening, Heco, Van Reed, and Captain Brooke of the Fenimore Cooper (wrecked in a storm on the Japanese coast the year before) were Dorr's guests for dinner. An argument broke out when Heco related the poor treatment he had received on the cutter Frolic in 1853. The volatile Dorr upbraided Heco for criticizing the captain of that ship, who happened to be a friend. Van Reed and then Brooke quickly came to Heco's defense, and a duel nearly resulted between Dorr and Brooke. Van Reed calmed the situation and tempers cooled, but tensions remained. (61) Van Reed left the consulate shortly and Heco sometime later, going into private business as a commission agent in Yokohama. Financing for this venture came from Sail Francisco friends of T. G. Cary. The business continued for a year, with mixed results, during which Heco hired his old friend and mentor, Thomas Troy as his clerk when the latter arrived in Yokohama. (62)

Internal turmoil in Japan and mounting hostility and violence towards foreigners worried Heco. The assassination of his fellow castaway Iwakichi (Dan Ketch) in early 1860, followed a year later by the murder of Minister Harris's secretary, only increased his concern. Heco himself received warnings from friends "too frequent for my comfort." Frightened for his safety, he determined to leave Japan and return to the United States, partly to see old friends and partly in hopes of obtaining a better government job. (63) Arriving in San Francisco in mid-October 1861, his first stop was with his old friend and former employer T. G. Cary, who suggested that Heco would have a better chance of obtaining a government position if he went in person to Washington.

Armed with a flattering letter of introduction to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, signed by Cary, other leading businessmen, and several government officials, Heco arrived in New York via Panama in December. The Boston branch of the Cary family introduced him to famed Harvard professor, Louis Agassiz, a Cary in-law. Agassiz offered to write letters of introduction to Secretary of State William Seward and Senator Charles Sumner. From Boston, Heco went to Baltimore to visit the Sanders family. Sanders himself offered to accompany Heco to Washington, introduce him to California Senator M. S. Latham, and help him secure a desirable government job.

Despite these impressive connections, again Heco failed to obtain a lucrative position, though Secretary Seward suggested he might resume his old post as interpreter. Thirty years later, when he wrote his memoirs, Heco reported that he met President Abraham Lincoln during this job search. His claim is plausible, but unlike the two previous presidential meetings, this one cannot be independently confirmed. One recent scholar suggests that Heco or his editor might have made up the Lincoln story to enhance sales. Support for this position lies in the fact that Heco did not mention the meeting in his first memoir, published just two years after such a meeting supposedly occurred. (64)

However, Heco's 1863 memoir did not mention anything at all about this return trip to the United States. The chronology of this first book ends with his return to Japan, perhaps a logical point to close his narrative. Also, he may have been still smarting from his failure to obtain the sought after government job, and so did not want to mention anything about the trip. And, perhaps he believed that mention of a third presidential meeting would not add that much. In 1861, when the Lincoln meeting supposedly occurred, or at the time of publication in 1863, Lincoln had not yet attained greatness or martyrdom. Thirty years later, however, there was a lot more prestige in having met the great man. We may never know if Heco actually met Lincoln. What we do know is that he returned to Japan, very disappointed at his bad luck with the job market. For a time, he worked as interpreter again, but soon resigned to resume business activities.

Retaining connections with the San Francisco firm of Macondray and Company in the 1860s and 1870s, Heco operated his own import and export commission business in Yokohama. Shortly after an 1865 business trip to Japan, Frederick Macondray, Jr., and Heco entered into a frequent business correspondence that continued over the next decade. Macondray sent Heco products for resale in Japan, and Heco in turn sent goods on commission to Macondray. Heco requested garden seeds and multiple copies of English language books, including biographies of Washington and Napoleon, atlases, and dictionaries. In return, he sent Macondray Japanese porcelain, paper, and even Japanese fishing rods (which Macondray had trouble selling). Macondray suggested sending cuttlefish and mushrooms, though "neither can stand a very high profit." (65) Their letters, usually strictly business, occasionally touched on more personal topics, such as the death of one of the senior partners in the firm, appreciation for photographs of Japan that Heco had sent, and the hope and expectation that President U. S. Grant would be re-elected. (66)

Heco may well have indirectly contributed to an increased American understanding of Japan. His next-door neighbor in Yokohama in the 1860s, Francis Hall, arrived in Japan as a correspondent for Horace Greeley's influential New York Tribune in T859. His articles were the major source of American knowledge about Japan at the time, and since he and Heco often are and traveled together, it is reasonable to assume that their conversations influenced Hall's reports. (67)

Still, Joseph Heco never achieved the degree of influence that he hoped and that others predicted he would have. As a young, eager, intelligent, and polite boy, he attracted a lot of attention, met some of the most influential political and intellectual men in the United States, traveled extensively, and adopted many American customs. When he returned to Japan in 1859, he was surely one of the best traveled and one of the best English speaking Japanese in the country. Only Manjiro came close, and it was Manjiro, not Heco, who was chosen to accompany the first Japanese diplomatic mission to the United States in 1860 as interpreter. Ironically, the scarcity of English-speaking Japanese meant that the language of Japanese diplomacy for many years after relations were established continued to be Dutch, the only western language with which the Japanese had some familiarity. (68)

In the eyes of Japanese officials, Heco's American experience was more a liability than an asset. Even Manjiro was suspect because of the time he had spent in the United States, and Heco had been in the United States longer, had become a naturalized citizen (a fact that he did not try to hide), and a Catholic (a fact that he wisely kept to himself when he first returned). In Japan, his low birth acted against him, and in the United States, the American government did not do much to help him. Aside from a couple of stints as consulate interpreter, he was never employed in a significant capacity. The fact is that he lived between two worlds, neither of which regarded him as the bridge between their cultures he desired to be. His San Francisco business connections served him better than his political ones. Heco did become a relatively successful businessman, and he managed to navigate through the tumultuous Japanese political situation, even developing friendships with new political leaders of the 1860s and 1870s. In Tokyo in 1897, he died at the age of sixty. Although not especially long, the life of this provincial boy had been transformed by shipwreck that led to a quantity of unusual experiences, mostly tied to the time he spent and the lasting relationships he developed in the city of San Francisco.

Robert Oaks is a fifth-generation Californian, born in Escondido. After undergraduate work at Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of Southern California, he taught for several years before joining the corporate world. He is now retired, lives in San Francisco, and devotes most of his time to historical research and writing, with an emphasis on the histories of San Francisco and Hawaii. He has recently published a book on the history of the Big Island.

(1) For the background of these laws and for a good sample of drifter stories, see Katherine Plummer, The Shogun's Reluctant Ambassadors, Japanese Sea Drifters in the North Pacific, (Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society, 1991); Charles Wolcott Brooks, "Report of Japanese Vessels wrecked in the North Pacific Ocean, from the Earliest Records to the Present Time," Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences VI, 1875 (1876).

(2) Plummet, Shogun's Reluctant Ambassadors, PP. 7, 9-19; Brooks, "Report of Japanese Vessels wrecked in the North Pacific;" Katherine Plummet, A Japanese Glimpse at the Outside World 1839-1843: The Travels of Jirokichi in Hawaii, Siberia and Alaska (Kingston, Ontario: The Limestone Press, 1991), vii-x; Masao Miyoshi, As We Saw Them, The First Japanese Embassy to the United States (1860) (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1979), p. 8.

(3) Stephen W. Kohl, "Strangers in a Strange Land: Japanese Castaways and the Opening of Japan," Pacific Northwest Quarterly (Seattle) 73, 1 (January 1982); Grace P. Morris, "Wreck of a Japanese Junk, 1834," Oregon Historical Quarterly (Salem, OR) 38, a (1937). In 1875, Charles Wolcott Brooks presented to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco one of the earliest studies of Japanese castaways. He analyzed sixty occurrences, four in the seventeenth century (1613 to 1694), three in the eighteenth century (1710 to 1782), six from 1804 to 1820, eleven from 1831 to 1848, and thirty-six from 1850 to 1876. In the twenty-three cases where numbers of survivors were mentioned, there were 293 people, averaging 12 per junk, ranging from three to thirty-five. In fifteen cases where the duration of drifting was mentioned, the average was slightly more than seven months. Brooks, "Report on Japanese Vessels."

(4) Amasa Delano, Narrative of Voyages and Travels (Boston: E.G. House for the author, 1817), 400-403, 410-411.

(5) Stephen W. Kohl, "Strangers in a Strange Land;" Plummer, A Japanese Glimpse at the Outside World 1839-1843, pp. vii-x.

(6) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki: Floating on the Pacific Ocean (Los Angeles: Glen Dawson, 1955) trans. Tush Motofuji from the 1863 edition, p. 5; Joseph Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; What he has seen and the people he has met in the course of the last forty years, James Murdoch, ed., a vols. (Yokohama: Yokohama Printing & Publishing Co., Ltd., [1892, 1895]), 1, 33-50. The account of the shipwreck and rescue is based on these two books written by Joseph Heco. For a discussion on the differences between the two accounts (written thirty years apart) and their reliability, see John E. Van Sant, Pacific Pioneers: Japanese Journeys to American and Hawaii, 1850-1880 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 24-27.

(7) Heco, Narrative of a Japanese, I, 57.

(8) Ibid., 63.

(9) Ibid., 68-70.

(10) Van Sant, Pacific Pioneers, 27-32; Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, p. 14.

(11) See the March 5, 1851 editions of the newspapers Alta California, Daily California Courier, and Daily Pacific News, all of which noted the arrival of the Japanese.

(12) Alta California, March 5, 1851.

(13) Daniel Webster to William A. Graham, May 9, 1851, in J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed., The Papers of William Alexander Graham, 5 vols. (Raleigh, NC: State Department of Archives and History, 1957-1976), IV, 90-91.

(14) Evening Picayune, March 17, 1851.

(15) Kohl, "Strangers in the Land"; Morris, "Wreck of a Japanese Junk"; and Brooks, "Report of Japanese Vessels."

(16) Donald R. Bernard, The Life and Times of John Manjiro (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992); Hisakazu Kaneko, Manjiro, The Man Who Discovered America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1956; Plummet, Shogun's Reluctant Ambassadors, pp. 138-160. Even though San Francisco papers continued to refer to the Auckland castaways as the first Japanese to visit North America, there were occasional references to Manjiro's earlier visit. See Evening Picayune. March 28, 1851.

(17) Helen Throop Pratt, "The California Letters of Edward Hotchkiss," Quarterly of the California Historical Society XII, 2 (June 1933).

(18) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 89-92.

(19) For the condition of San Francisco streets and attempts to improve them, see Robert Oaks, "The Origins of Bay Area Public Transportation, or 'Do Yon Know the Way to San Jose,'" The Argonaut: Journal of the San Francisco Historical Society, XV, I (2003), pp. 50-55.

(20) Alta California and the Picayune, March 18, 1851.

(21) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, 23-32; Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 92-99.

(22) Ibid.

(23) California Daily Courier, the Alta California, and the Picayune, March 20, 1851; Daily Pacific News, March 21, 1851.

(24) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 92-99

(25) California Daily Courier, March 17, 1851; Alta California, March 21, 1851.

(26) California Daily Courier, March 17, 1851. Possibly Heco himself did not go on this excursion. The paper reported that only fifteen Japanese visited and that the youngest was sixteen years old. There were seventeen in the entire group and Heco was fourteen at the time, but it is impossible to know whether this discrepancy is the result of inaccurate reporting or Heco's not participating.

(27) Alta California, March 22, 1851.

(28) Ibid., March 13, 1851.

(29) California Daily Courier, March 24, March 26, March 29, 1851; Alta California, March 27, 1851; Daily Pacific News, March 27, 1851.

(30) Alta California, March 29, 1851; Evening Picayune, April 2, 1851.

(31) U.S. Revenue Cutter Polk, logbook, March 22, 25, 1851, Record Group 26, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

(32) Alta California, April 5, April 7, 1851.

(33) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 100-106; Polk logbook, September 10, 1851.

(34) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, 32-24; Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; I, 100-106

(35) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, 32-34

(36) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; I, 100-106. The ship's log does not specifically mention what duties the Japanese performed, but in the early days of their stay the daily number of rations served was around forty, plus seventeen Japanese. By December, the number of daily rations provided was for forty men, including the seventeen Japanese. See Polk logbook, December 2, 1851.

(37) Polk, logbook.

(38) Alta California, October 25, October 30, 1851.

(39) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; I, 100-106

(40) Soule, Frank et al., The Annals of San Francisco, reprint of first edition, 1855 (Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1999), pp. 329-333, 344-347.

(41) Lotchin, Roger W., San Francisco 1846-1856, From Hamlet to City (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1974), pp. 193-201.

(42) Polk logbook, August 11, August 14, September 30, 1851.

(43) Alta California, February 18, 1852.

(44) Polk logbook, February 28, 1852.

(45) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, p. 35; Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 106-13.

(46) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; I, 113-123

(47) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 113-123.

(48) Alta California, June 28, 1853.

(49) Norman E. Saul, "Beverly C. Sanders and the Expansion of American Trade with Russia, 1853-1855," Maryland Historical Magazine. 67, 2 (1972), pp. 156-157.

(50) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 125-134.

(51) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; I, 134-143; Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, 41-42; for the early ice trade in San Francisco, see Saul, "Beverly C. Sanders," pp.157-168. Saul suggests that more than the Panic was involved with Sanders' financial problems. See also Robert F. Oaks, "Ice to Early San Francisco," The Argonaut: Journal of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, XIII, I (2002), pp. 58-63.

(52) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, 55-56.

(53) Elizabeth Grubb Lampen, Captain Frederick Macondray 1803-1862 (Privately Printed, 1994), Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Frederick Macondray, Jr., copybooks, 1864-1880, 2 vols., Frederick W. Macondray Papers, 1821-1880, MS. 3140, California Historical Society.

(54) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; I, 147-54.

(55) Heco's naturalization raised questions a few years later, since that privilege was restricted by law to "free white persons." The judge who granted Heco his citizenship obviously considered him white. The law would later be revised, though a few other Japanese obtained American citizenship over the next several years. See Van Sant, Pacific Pioneers, p. 44.

(56) Albert Altman, "Eugene Van Reed, A Reading Man in Japan 1859-1872," Historical Review of Barks County, XXX, I (1964-1965), pp. 7-31.

(57) F. G. Notehelfer, ed., Japan Through American Eyes, The Journal of Francis Hall, 1859-1866 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001), pp. 72-73; Plummer, "Shogun's Reluctant Ambassadors, pp. 206-207.

(58) San Francisco Herald, Steamer Edition, March 21, 1859.

(59) Plummer, Shogun's Reluctant Ambassadors, pp. 203-204, 210-211; M.C. Perry, Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, Sidney Wallach, ed. (London: Macdonald, 1954), pp. 147-148.

(60) Hikozo (Joseph Heco), Hyoryu Ki, 56-58; Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese; 1, 155-198.

(61) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 216-218.

(67) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 235, 240-241, 277; Van Sant, Pacific Pioneers, p. 46.

(63) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 278; Notehelfer, ed., Japan Through American Eyes, pp. 15, 204.

(64) Heco, The Narrative of a Japanese, I, 279-305. Some historians such as Katherine Plummer and Carl Sandburg accept Heco's account at face value. Van Sant is skeptical. See Plummet, Shogun's Reluctant Ambassadors, pp, 204-205, Van Sant, Pacific Pioneers, pp. 42-43; and Carl Sandburg. Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, 4 vols. (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1939) I, 376-377. There are other examples of Heco's imagination getting carried away. in his 1863 work, he tells of watching a battle between American and Mexican forces from a warship. It is difficult to see how this was possible, either geographically or chronologically.

(65) Macondray to Heco, September 6, September 15, 1875, Macondray, copybooks.

(66) Ibid., March 8, 1866, September 10, 1874, November 15, 1875.

(67) Notehelfer, Japan Through American Eyes, 12-13, 186, n. 6.

(68) Miyoshi, As We Saw Them, pp. II, 26. Good as his English was, Heco's command was far from perfect. His Narrative, which he wrote in English, required substantial editing before publication. See Miyoshi, As We Saw Them, p. 189, n. 15.
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Date:Mar 22, 2004
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