David Murray, Professor of Mathematics and the Superintendent of Education of the Ministry of Education (1873-79)

David Murray (1830-1905) was a professor of mathematics at Rutgers from 1863-1873. He was instrumental in creating the science curriculum at Rutgers College and successfully lobbied for Rutgers to become New Jersey’s land grant college in 1864. He was a teacher and friend to many Japanese students who came to Rutgers, including the Iwakura brothers and Hatakeyama Yoshinari. His home became a social center for the Japanese students in New Brunswick. “These young men referred to Dr. Murray’s residence as their “American Home” and spent much of their leisure time there.”1 One of the objectives of the Iwakura Mission was to search for a Western adviser for the newly formed […]

Guido Verbeck and His “Brief Sketch”

Many of the Japanese students who came to New Brunswick had studied in Nagasaki under Guido F. Verbeck (1830-1898), one of the first three missionaries sent to Japan by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1859. Among his students were future leaders of Japan, such as Ōkuma Shigenobu, Ito Hirobumi, Ōkubo Toshimichi and Soejima Taneomi. The Yokoi brothers, Kusakabe, and the Iwakura brothers had also studied with him in Nagasaki prior to coming to New Brunswick. Verbeck’s “Brief Sketch,” written for his former student Ōkuma Shigenobu in 1869, is known to have inspired the Iwakura Mission. In it, he writes, …[T]here is something in the civilization of the West that must […]

Hatakeyama Yoshinari, the Third Secretary of the Iwakura Mission and the First President of Kaisei Gakkō

Hatakeyama Yoshinari (1842-76), known under the name “Kozo Soogiwoora” while at Rutgers, was a native of the Satsuma domain in present-day Kagoshima prefecture. He was one of the first nineteen students who were secretly sent by the domain to study in England in 1865. In 1867, he and five other students (Mori Arinori, Sameshima Naonobu, Yoshida Kiyonari, Matsumura Junzō, and Nagasawa Kanaye) left for Brocton, New York, to join Thomas Lake Harris’ “Brotherhood of the New Life”, a Christian spiritualist community. Mori and Sameshima left the community to return to Japan in 1868; Hatakeyama, Matsumura, and Yoshida, in search for further opportunities for Western education, went on to Rutgers. In […]

Prologue: The Japanese Students at Rutgers

“Fifth day of the fifth month[…] Daybreak came at New Brunswick of the New Jersey state. This is the city where the famous school is.” The “famous school” (有名なる学校) that is referred to in this brief passage on New Brunswick, New Jersey, in A True Account of the Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary’s Journey of Observation is Rutgers University, known as Rutgers College at the time. Rutgers and its preparatory Rutgers Grammar School had become a home to dozens of Japanese students by 1872. The first to arrive in 1866 were Yokoi Saheita and Daihei, nephews of the famed philosopher Yokoi Shōnan. They were soon joined by Kusakabe Tarō of Fukui […]