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Francis Hall (Notehelfer, 2001)

Scholarship

F. G. Notehelfer, introduction to Japan Through American Eyes: The Journal of Francis Hall, 1859-1866 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001), 25.

It seems odd that there is not a single reference to Hall in an American historical study of Japan. Walsh, Hall & Co., the leading American trading house in the port treaty, is equally unknown. This would matter little if the men and institutions in question were nonentities. But as Hall’s writings reveal, this was hardly the case. As America’s leading opinion maker on Japan in the 1860s, hall was a man of considerable influence. That his journal remained unpublished so long is truly regrettable.

Like many a nineteenth-century American who lived for a time in Japan, Hall allowed his experiences there to slip into obscurity. Free from the financial need to make Japan part of his professional career, which drove men such as William Elliot Griffis and Lafcadio Hearn, who followed in his footsteps, Hall returned to his private life.  Although Hall and his company set the standard for integrity in the treaty port and consequently earned the United States and American businessmen much respect among the Japanese, after returning home Hall displayed little of Townsend Harris’s preoccupation with his image in Japan. Hall simply went on with his life.

If there is anything that shines through Hall’s Japan years as well as his life in America, it is his remarkably even disposition and likeable personality. As Thomas K. Beecher noted: “Francis Hall was the best balanced man I ever saw. No one ever saw him angry.”

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How to Cite This Page: "Francis Hall (Notehelfer, 2001)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/21306.