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Change was the currency of the Meiji era — Sources of the Meiji Restoration To understand the dynamism of the Meiji years, one must begin with the factors in the Tokugawa era — that made Japan a unique and sophisticated nation.
Even the Europeans, who had participated in some of the sixteenth century conflicts, were tightly controlled in these years, with most of them excluded from Japan altogether and the Dutch alone allowed to maintain a limited trading presence at Nagasaki, nearly 1, miles away from the capital.
The system also encouraged the growth of important national institutions. Thousands of schools tied to temples, government offices, and private scholars gave Japan a literacy rate of perhaps 40 percent for boys and 10 percent for girls in the early s, ranking it near the top of the world.
They also provided a leadership class committed to the Confucian ideal of public service. Industry and trade flourished, even as the samurai class and the Tokugawa government languished economically, giving Japan high levels of capital accumulation. At the same time, a set of specific developments historians would call them contingencies made late-Tokugawa Japan ripe for change.
And perhaps most important, the balance between Tokugawa and domain governments began shifting, with large and distant domains such as Satsuma in southern Kyushu and Choshu on western Honshu experiencing political and economic growth even as the shogunate sunk ever more deeply into a kind of inflexibility caused in part by old age.
Opposition to the Tokugawa arose from several quarters.
They were too much on the outside to topple the government, but their terrorist acts disrupted the tranquility of political centers in ways that had not been seen for centuries. More directly threatening to the Tokugawa were the growing challenges after the late s from establishment scholars and political leaders of major domains.
The shogunate reacted as aggressively as any regime-under-attack might be expected to, but by the mids, Choshu was in the hands of an anti-Tokugawa administration, and by lateShogun Tokugawa Keiki concluded that the best way to preserve order was to resign as shogun and create a system in which he likely would share power as the chief among a council of leaders.
The Transition to Meiji, — The government that came into being in had three overriding characteristics: By Japanese leadership standards, these men were mere juveniles—unbound by the networks and mores of traditional leadership.
This, perhaps, is what made them so pragmatic; they developed policies without the restraints of ideology or custom—or of any overriding vision of where Japan should go.
Confucian tradition discouraged commerce, but they moved Japan as forcefully and quickly as possible into the world of international commerce. Whereas they once had supported the idea of national seclusion, sometimes fanatically so, now they made the West their model and pursued internationalization with a vengeance.
Samurai and nobles all, they abolished the class and status systems and disbanded the feudal domains. The tenuousness of their power was illustrated by the Boshin War, a violent conflict between the new regime and the Tokugawa followers, which raged for a year and a half after the Restoration.
It was little wonder that journalists predicted the imminent collapse of the Meiji government well into the s. All of this meant that the first Meiji years were characterized by a seat-of-the-pants, try-this-try-that style of governing.
No one seemed, however, to know just what that meant initially, as the government grappled with inadequate revenues, challenges from imperialist nations, threats from the regional domains, conspiracies by disgruntled samurai across the nation, and a complete lack of precedents for the organizational structures the modern era demanded.
One result was that the government structure was reorganized repeatedly in the first years. Another was that membership in the leadership faction kept shifting. Still a third was that policies were revised often. At the same time there was a single, clear direction: And always there was a commitment to making Japan a modern nation, accepted as an equal by the world powers.
Internationalization showed up in two ways. First, the new leaders studied Western models with a zeal born of deep fear that weakness might invite invasion. They sent missions to the West, including a member group headed by head of state Iwakura Tomomi in —, to negotiate and to study institutions such as banking, schools, political systems, and treaty structures.Labor Systems of Early America Native American Labor.
A short guide to the tribes of North America (site also has a bibliography); Richard Hakluyt Discourse of Western Planting (). Discussion Goal #1: To take an introductory look at urban poverty at the end of the 19th century.
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At the end of the 19th Century when the American frontier and rural America were undergoing tremendous change, urban America was also experiencing tremendous social, political, and economic transformations.
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Difference Between Slavery and Factory Workers ; About Factory Workers: History ; European Factory Workers and . America on the Move explores the role of transportation in American history. Visit communities wrestling with the changes that new transportation networks brought. See cities change, suburbs expand, and farms and factories become part of regional, national, and international economies.
Meet people as they travel for work and pleasure, and as they move to new homes. Discussion Goal #1: To take an introductory look at urban poverty at the end of the 19th century.
At the end of the 19th Century when the American frontier and rural America were undergoing tremendous change, urban America was also experiencing tremendous social, .