Press/Journalists

Press Release
May 27, 2008

National Archives Presents Three Summer Featured Document Displays

“Ping pong diplomacy,” the Harris Treaty, and Treaty of Paris

Washington, DC…The National Archives will celebrate summer with three featured document displays highlighting the Harris Treaty with Japan, “ping pong diplomacy,” and the anniversary of the Treaty of Paris. All three displays will be located in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building which is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW, and is open from 10 AM to 7 PM daily. Admission is free, and the building is fully accessible.

The Harris Treaty -- July 1–31
For 200 years, Japan’s “closed door” policy controlled foreign access and contact. Commodore Matthew Perry’s squadron wasn't the first attempt to “open” Japan. The United States and other Western nations had tried before and been turned away. Although unwilling to open its borders to foreign trade, Japan signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with Commodore Perry in 1854, opening some Japanese ports to American ships for supplies and limited exchange. Townsend Harris, the first US Ambassador to Japan, arrived in Japan in 1856 to negotiate a trade agreement. Japan tried to delay and stall negotiations, while Harris doggedly worked to gain access and concessions. On July 29, 1858, the first Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Japan (The Harris Treaty) was signed by Shogun Iemoti. Other nations quickly followed with their own trade agreements, and Japan’s doors were opened.

“Ping Pong Diplomacy”-- August 1–28
In recognition of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing this summer, the National Archives presents a special document display on “Ping Pong Diplomacy” -- an athletic event that became part of diplomatic history. The display features a 1971 State Department “Intelligence Brief” that notes remarks made by Chinese Premier Chou En-lai to the American table tennis team during their visit to China. The document highlights the Chinese Premier’s discussion of a “new page” in the relationship between the United States and China with the adoption of a “people’s diplomacy.” The display also includes a picture of the U.S. table tennis team at the Great Wall of China in April 1971. A related program, History Declassified: Nixon in China, will be held Wednesday, August 6, at noon, in the William G. McGowan Theater.

Treaty of Paris -- August 29–September 3
In celebration of the 225th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris, the National Archives presents a special document display that includes the original Treaty that ended the American Revolution and resulted in the reshaping of modern North America. This document display is in connection with a National Archives exhibition titled: 1783:  Subject or Citizen?, an international exhibition featuring the collections of the National Archives and Library and Archives Canada. The exhibition opens in Washington, DC, on October 3, and runs through January 25, 2009, in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery.

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For information on National Archives Public Programs, call 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.

For press information contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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