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In 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry, who had the year before forced the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan to sign a treaty with the US, dropped anchor of Formosa, now Taiwan, for 10 days. He recommended that the island be occupied as it had reserves of coal that would be useful for the new steam powered warships the US navy was using. President Franklin Pierce declined, demurring at the cost. Imagine the outcome of a different response in DC.