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July 17, 2006


– Visit Coincides With 150th Anniversary of Harris’ Appointment as First U.S. Consul to Japan –

NEW YORK, July 17, 2006 – The Chairman of the City Assembly of Shimoda, Japan, Harushige Mori, will lead a delegation on a pilgrimage to The City College of New York (CCNY) to honor CCNY’s Townsend Harris, who opened the first U.S. consulate in Japan, and to meet Dr. Richard H. Rush, Townsend Harris’ grand-nephew. The six-member group of Shimoda civic officials and citizens will tour the CCNY campus at 138th Street and Convent Avenue in Manhattan Monday, July 24. 

They are the 20th delegation from that city to visit CCNY to pay homage to Harris, who founded the College as The Free Academy in 1847. The visit coincides with the 150th anniversary of the opening by Mr. Harris of the U.S. consulate located there. 

Chairman Mori’s delegation will tour CCNY’s North Academic Center (NAC) building. They will examine the Townsend Harris memorabilia in the Cohen Library Archives, view the Cohen Library Atrium exhibition, The Japan Connection: The 150th Anniversary of Townsend Harris’ Arrival in Japan, and attend a reception with Dr. and Mrs. Richard H. Rush and faculty and students from the College’s Asian Studies Program. 

Among the items on display in the archives will be the American flag that Mr. Harris flew in Japan, his diplomatic pouch, a volume from his journals and his diplomatic passport. The visit will conclude with a presentation on the life and career of Townsend Harris by CCNY Archivist, Professor Sydney Van Nort, at 2:00 p.m. in the Cohen Library Atrium.

Prior to their visit to City College, the Japanese visitors will attend the Black Ship Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. The festival is named for the kurofune, or black ships, that Commodore Matthew C. Perry anchored in Yedo Bay (now Tokyo Bay) in July 1853.

Commodore Perry’s fleet went to Japan to press a U.S. demand that Japan end its two centuries of self-imposed isolation and open its ports to trade. When the United States was granted the right to open a consulate at what was then the remote outpost of Shimoda, President Franklin Pierce named Townsend Harris, Consul General to the Empire of Japan in July 1856.

Mr. Harris, a prominent New York merchant, negotiated a treaty of trade and amity between the United States and Japan that was signed in July 1858, and is credited as the diplomat who first opened the Japanese Empire to foreign trade and culture. Owing to his goodwill, openness and honesty, Mr. Harris quickly gained the respect and affection of the Japanese people, and is revered to this day there.

The Shimoda visitations to CCNY date to 1986. That year, officials of that city and The College held a ceremony in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery, where Mr. Harris was buried in 1878, to dedicate a refurbished gravesite that was a gift from the Japanese people.

For more information on the visit to the City College by the Chairman of the City Assembly of Shimoda, please call the CCNY Archives at (212) 650-7609.