Townsend Harris (1804-1878) was born in Sandy Hill, New York. In 1855, he was appointed U.S. Consul General to Japan. He negotiated
commercial treaties with Siam in 1857 and Japan in 1858. After the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, he resigned and returned
to New York City. The collection consists of a microfilm copy of the original journal and letters of Townsend Harris, the
first U.S. Consul to Japan, from the original manuscript at the College of the City of New York.
Harris was born October 3, 1804 in Sandy Hill, New York; at age 13 started work at a dry goods store in New York City; joined
his father and brother in business importing china; elected as a Democrat to the Board of Education in 1846, where he successfully
led the fight for a free college which later became the College of the City of New York; purchased a trading ship, sailed
to California, and undertook voyages in the Pacific and Indian Oceans which ended in financial disaster; in 1855 he was appointed
U.S. Consul General to Japan; negotiated commercial treaties with Siam in 1857 and Japan in 1858; after the election of Abraham
Lincoln in 1860, he resigned, returned to New York City, became a War Democrat, and joined the Union League Club; spent his
remaining years concerned with temperance, Christian missions, and foreign affairs; he died on February 25, 1878.
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