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America: Van Reed

 America: Van Reed

America: Van Reed (Amerika koku, Uen riito) from Picture of the Residence of a Foreign Merchant in Yokohama (Yokohama torai isho juka no zu), by Hashimoto Sadahide (Japanese (1807-1873)), 1861. Ink and colors on paper. Fred M. and Nancy Livingston Levin, The Shenson Foundation in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson, 2006.7.

An early genealogy tells us of the San Franciscan depicted in this print that Mr. Eugene Miller Van Reed, was first Consul General of the Sandwich Islands [Hawaii] to the Court of Japan, from 1866–1873, when he died aboard the “Japan” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on his voyage home. He was buried in the Masonic Cemetery at the foot of Lone Mountain, San Francisco, Cal., in a beautiful spot looking westward through the “Golden Gate.” 

This print was made two years after Van Reed went to Japan to seek his fortune as a merchant, an arms dealer, and later the founder of his own trading company. Van Reed was also responsible for the first organized emigration of Japanese laborers in the modern era. In 1868 he arranged for the transport of 148 men to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations. Their treatment of these laborers on the plantations became a source of controversy among the governments of Japan, Hawaii, and the United States.