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No One Expects US Park Service Propaganda

Updated: Jun 21, 2023


PHOTO: Japanese woodblock print by Hashimoto Chikanobu of former American President Ulysses S. Grant and the former first lady's reception in Japan by the Emperor after their trip to the Manchu Empire. - Original from The Granger Collection, New York There is a famous skit in Monty Python where characters at the most Random moments and unlikely places will jump out and yell "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" It is humorous in its non-sequitur context.


Yet there is nothing funny in the recent National Park Service article, which appears just as random as the Monty Python sketch, Ulysses S Grant International Arbitrator by an anonymous National Park Service author.


Aside from the final paragraph that briefly mentions planting three memorial trees (not in US National Parks), nothing can be found to connect the article to the US Parks Service, except perhaps if it was the Communist Chinese National Parks Service. Such is the degree of inaccuracies, misleading by omission, and politicization inherent in the article.


However, failures often provide an excellent opportunity for a "teaching moment," and the National Park Service (NPS) article's failure gives us that chance. The lackluster NPS article allows us a "teaching moment" due to it's failings on three major topics:

The US National Park Service (NPS) Article is notable for: 1. Lack of historical knowledge of Asia, China, and Japan in the US.

2. Lack of historical knowledge of Ulysses S. Grant.

3. Lack of historical reference to the US Government's own source documents on the topic.


The last one is the most concerning, and is covered in depth here.



WHAT DID THE US NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ARTICLE SAY?


The article makes the case that "carries the water" for the CCP myth that "China" has a historical claim on Okinawa and that former US President Grant, then on a world tour, supported the claim and would have pressured the Japanese to rescind their claim had he lived long enough.


The NPS attempts this by distorting information on Grant and his interaction with Prince Kung and Minister Li in the Manchu Empire (inaccurately referred to as "China"), and with Emperor Meiji as well as a multitude of ministers and Generals in Japan. (1)


The reality is that the Manchu "Chinese" claim attempted to conceal the fact that present day Okinawa had been a tribute paying province of the Japanese Satsuma Daimyo for centuries. Essentially for internal political and tax reasons, this relationship was kept well hidden. The Manchu "Chinese" claim was that Okinawa had families that had immigrated there and was therefore "culturally" Chinese and should belong to their empire.



PHOTO: Map by Japanese cartogroher Ino Tadakata in 1781, showing trade and relationship routes. Modern day Okinawa is listed as part of the Japanese Satsuma domain.



The Manchu "Chinese" claim was based upon Japan modernizing it's form of government to eliminate the Daimyo political system of governance, and adopt the Western centralized system. When Okinawa was being transitioned into the new system officially, the "Chinese" took offense and sought to make false historical claims, reaching out to Grant in the process.


Grant of course publicly and privately stated he remained neutral in the case, but would carry Minister Li's claim to the Japanese as he was travelling there next. Upon reaching Japan he maintained his neutrality publicly, but upon hearing the Japanese side, privately noted their claim was the legitimate one.


None of this was reported in the NPS article. Instead the "Chinese" version of events was repeated.


One can clearly see that either the author was rather amateurish in their research or intentionally misleading. Either way the US NPS article obscures an accurate accounting of history in order to take sides in a current geopolitical dispute between US ally Japan and the militaristic expanding China.


Interestingly, current CCP ruled China, which is advancing claims in Okinawa, is using material similar to those contained in the US National Park Service article. This is ironic considering Japan is a Democratic ally of the US while CCP China totalitarian adversary. So why would a US agency take the talking points of a militaristic neo-Nazi adversary?


The answer to the question of intent is beyond this article and will not be discussed here as it is off-topic for the Historical Detective Agency.


So please read and enjoy the CASE FILE on Ulysses S. Grant's visit to the Manchu Empire (1) ("China") and Japan. Then go back and read the NPS article and see how many more errors you can uncover.



FOOTNOTES:


1. Use of the more accurate "Manchu" or "Manchurian Empire" instead of "China."


The Historical Detective Agency strives for positivism within its approach. Much like good Detectives or Private Investigators will use accurate descriptors for the evidence, so as not to cloud the conclusions, the HDA applies this ethic to historical research as well.


For example: Modern-day Turkey is not the Ottoman Empire, and conversely, describing the Ottoman Empire as "Turkey" is equally incorrect. Yet fashion today sees usage of "China" for political constructs where it didn't exist.


During Grant's visit in 1879, the land known as "China" was a foreign-occupied empire. The Manchurian kingdom had conquered and occupied multiple kingdoms and peoples in Northeast Asia. The "Qing Dynasty" was largely developed by the ignorant West, but subsequently promoted by political jingoists on the Asian mainland. The "Dynasty" label carried with it the implication of an implication of an unbroken government from time immemorial.


However, during the period of Grant's visit and for decades afterward many mainland Asians and Chinese nationalists such as Sun Yat-Sen saw what the West called "China" through the lens of the historical "Chinese" people; the Han. The nationalist Han saw the "Qing Dynasty" for it's accurate historical structure; an occupying foreign government. In other words a "Manchurian Empire" and not "China" nor "Chinese".


The relation between the traditional Han and other ethnic groupings, Manchus and Manchurian Empire, and the West's dual standards regarding naming geopolitical organizations in Asia is a topic for future CASE FILES and blog posts.


2. For further reading on the imaginary construct of "China" in historical writing, please see the following books:


Lee, Gregory B. China Imagined From European Fantasy to Spectacular Power. London: C Hurst & Co., 2018.


Shieh, Milton J.T. The Kuomingtang: Selected Historical Documents 1894-1969. Yangmingshan: St. John's University Press, 1970.


Li, Huaiyin. Reinventing Modern China Imagination and Authenticity in Chinese Historical Writing. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2013.


An earlier blog article on Grants visit to the Manchurian Empire and his conversation with Minister Li is HERE.


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12 Comments


I tried a number of times to respond to "Moriken" but had problems signing on. In fact I've had to reboot my computer every time I want to get to the HDA site. Then I got a msg to change my PW -- which I did not request. AJ: Are you in the process of removing this site? I hope not.

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Replying to

6=19 Seems that my computer problems have resolved and were related to my being simultaneously on minds.com. I'm using minds.com to post my favorite music, or music that evokes memories of different time periods. If you like music check out wabisabi5 at minds. Am glad you are not removing HDA, and I look forward to your additions!🌺

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This lack of historical knowledge on Qing is quite widespread and concerning. CCP frequently takes advantage of the ignorance to make otherwise ridiculous claims. Taiwan, for example, was under Dutch rule before pirates took the island, then Qing took over. And Qing's rule over the island was nominal at best. They seemed to have been only interested in preventing the island from becoming pirates base of operation again. They stationed few officials in Taipei, avoiding to touch rest of the island because of the prevalence of malaria and other diseases at the time.

So, Taiwan was never part of "China" until Kuomintang occupied the island, as Qing is not technically China. Same with East Turkestan, Manchuria, and Tibet, as those…

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Al Johnson
Al Johnson
Jun 15, 2021
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Moriken,


Excellent observations. This is why terminology is important, and needs to be applied across the board. The KMT was a "Government in exile" on Taiwan. Much like European governments during Nazi or Communist occupation. However, the use of this accurate legal term was neglected and has led to serious misunderstanding today.



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Of possible interest? New from J. Morgan on Japan's constitution.

https://japan-forward.com/bookmark-why-does-the-u-s-imposed-constitution-continue-to-frame-japan-as-a-nation/

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Replying to

Amazing that Japan has not revised of amended it constitution since the Occupation. Thanks for the asking AJ, but am not qualified to do a comparative study of the Meiji const. vs. the GHQ const.

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Do you have access to Harper's Weekly magazine. It has been around since at least 1890's. In 2012 I read a Harper's article ca 1895, the year JPN won the Sino-JPN War. Correspondent interviewed Chinese (in America?) on their thoughts on the S-J War. He was surprised the Chinese showed little indignation the JPN was winning and little angst that "China" was losing. This was because "China" at the time was ruled by foreign occupiers -- the Manchurians to the North, and the Chinese disapora in America were largely Han Chinese who had lived under a foreign presence for 266 years, and were not necessarily pro-Qing empire.


Your article on Grant's visits to China and Japan reminded me about the…

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Al Johnson
Al Johnson
Jun 15, 2021
Replying to

I will research Harper's Weekly and add to this list. Thank you.


As far as the "electronic book burning" on the internet, one measure that is helpful is going to the "wayback machine" and looking up the archived page. Many pages that were erased from view are still available for reference in the archives.

If you have the original URL post them in the search bar, then use that link as your source.


https://web.archive.org/

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Fantastic article! Very important point about the mythical construct called "China" during President Grant's presidency was an Empire built by foreign occupiers - the Manchurians from the north. The Qing Empire (1644-1910) was a vast and diverse empire consisting of the several unique Asian territories (kingdoms) and cultures, and languages conquered by the Manchurians over roughly 266 years of Manchu rule. It included vast lands in western China (Tibet, Xinjiang (E. Turkestan). Also Mongolia, and the Manchu Homeland (Manchuria) to the North. And of course Han China defined by the Great Wall.


When the Ottoman Empire fell, it was replaced by the Turkish Republic and various successor states in southeastern Europe and the Middle East. No one territory claimed t…

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