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Tadaatsu Matsudaira

photograph of Tadaatsu Matsudaira (year unknown)

Tadaatsu Matsudaira, born in 1851, was the younger brother of Tadanari Matsudaira and son of Tadakata Matsudaira, Daimyo of the Ueda domain. In 1872, he and his brother traveled to New York with the Iwakura mission. Both later enrolled at Rutgers College so they could return home with a western education. Tadaatsu transferred to Harvard and graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1877. Disobeying his father’s wishes, Tadaatsu remained in America and began working for Manhattan Elevated Railway. He even married an American, Carrie Sampson, and started a family with her.

 Tadaatsu worked all around the country: as an engineer for Union Pacific in Wyoming and as a miner in Idaho and Montana. When appointed as the city engineer in Bradford, Pennsylvania, he became the first man of Japanese nationality to be appointed to civil office in the U.S. After contracting tuberculosis Tadaatsu and his family moved to Colorado, where he died in 1888. To this day, Colorado has a significant Japanese-American population.  

Though accounts and records of the Matsudaira brothers’ lives contain conflicting information, Tadaatsu’s legacy as a pioneer of early Japanese settlement in America is celebrated.


Hosokawa, Bill. Colorado’s Japanese Americans : From 1886 to the Present, University Press of Colorado, 2005. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Miyagishima, K. M. (2007). Colorado’s 0RW1S34RfeSDcfkexd09rT2nikkei1RW1S34RfeSDcfkexd09rT2 pioneers: Japanese Americans in twentieth-century Colorado (Order No. 1444720). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (304750739). Retrieved from