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Sabine

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The Sabine was a French warship which called at Naha in 1846, seeking trade negotiations and to establish missionary operations.

The ship arrived in Ryûkyû on 1846/4/7, with a crew of 300. The captain, or his representatives, met with Ryukyuan officials in the subsequent days, seeking to negotiate for the beginning of trade between France and Ryûkyû, and for permission to deploy missionaries to proselytize to the Ryukyuan people. The Ryukyuan officials resisted these overtures, citing the small size of the kingdom and of its economy, an economy particularly incapable of entering into new trade relationships due to recent famines. Further, they cited their tributary relationship with China, which also prevented them from freely entering into additional trade arrangements. The Ryukyuans also requested that the French not send further Christian missionaries, arguing that the people were fully devoted to Confucianism, and would not embrace Christianity.

A few weeks later, the crew of the Sabine began coming ashore at another port a short distance to the south of Naha. On 1846/5/13, two more French warships arrived, bringing another 1200 Frenchmen to the islands. They stayed for roughly three months, charting the coastlines, hiring horses and riding them across the island, and interacting with the islanders.

All three ships and their crews eventually left in the eighth month, after deciding their efforts would not be successful; when they departed, they took with them the French missionary Theodore Augustin Forcade, who had arrived two years earlier on the French ship Alcmene.

References

  • Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 156-157.
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