ABOLITION OF THE FEUDAL SYSTEM. 183 ity of any attempt to exclude the west by force. Many of them, moreover, were students of western history, philosophy, and science, and with the charac­teristic readiness of the Japanese to appropriate from any source what they believe to be for the benefit of the country, after the fall of the Shogun they not only repudiated that portion of the original programme of the malcontents which related to foreign intercourse, but openly advocated the Europeanization of Japan. From this policy, in the face of formidable difficulties, and of an opposition which did not hesitate at rebel­lion and assassination, they have never swerved. The principal obstacle to centralization lay in the feudal system, and the first requisite was the disappearance of the clans as separate units in the political system and the abolition of the hereditary fiefs and privileges of the daimio. In 1869 the four great princes of Satsuma, Choshii, Tosa, and Hizen addressed a me­morial to the Mikado in which they acknowledged his ownership of the soil and formally surrendered their possessions and territorial rights. Their exam­ple was followed by the lesser clans, the titles of court prince (kuge) and feudal noble (daimio) were abol­ished, and steps were taken for the establishment of uniform laws throughout the empire. One after an­other, in rapid succession, the props of feudalism were cut away. The country was divided into prefectures, and a centralized bureaucracy replaced the local ad­ministration of the clans. Officials were appointed irrespective of their clans or residence. The social disabilities of the lower classes were removed. A general law, providing for the organization of ana­tional army by conscription, destroyed the samurai as a military class. The Mikado emerged from his se-