Purpose, Title and Disbanding the Shinsengumi

The Principal objective of the Shinsengumi
The Shogunate wanted to appoint the Shinsengumi as vassals, however Kondou Isami declined, pushing instead for the main aim of the Shinsengumi which was the expulsion of foreigners.

The Refusal of Title
With the assassination of Serizawa Kamo, the problems of the Shinsengumi were resolved. There was a move on part of the Shogunate to treat the group of Roshis who came from Edo an award in terms of stipend and rank. Kondou Isami who heard of this from the Aizu clan met with Matsudaira Katamori. On October 15 he declined the title and submits instead a petition (document). In that petition it is mentioned that the payment was for them to be the pioneer to expel the foreigners. In a word they declared the purpose of the Shinsengumi is becoming the advanced soldier for the expulsion of the foreigners and that they remained in Kyoto for that purpose although they had assumed patrol duties in Kyoto.

Kondou proposes to disband the group
There was already conflict in the political situation and the reality was eventhough the Shogunate aimed at “Koubukattai”, the union of the Shogunate and Imperial Family, there were factions that supported the Shogunate and those who were anti-Shogunate had their eye on the Imperial family to overthrow the Shogunate. On October 10 Kondou Isami attended a meeting of Shogunate Supporters in Gion and opened by “One Power”, his remarks was that the expulsion of the foreigners is done because of the order of the Shogunate for the Koubukattai. Although they also advocate reverence of the Emperor and the expulsion of the barbarians, the Shinsengumi as a group under the Shogunate must manage the powers which opposes the policy of the Shogunate. After all patrol of the city was requested because of the early problem with the expulsion of foreigners. Frustrated by the situation Kondou eventually submits a petition to the Aizu clan to dissolve the Shinsengumi in May the following year (1864). However the Choshu domain which had wanted to regain its status would make plans to take the emperor which leads to the Ikedaya affair and political change in August. It was at this time the Shinsengumi made themselves known.

Notes: Although the book itself didn’t really go into detail about Kondou’s frustration, I have read before that at this point the Shogunate was stuck between a rock and a hard place wherein they could not take definite punitive action against anti-shogunate factions because of their relations to the imperial family. Kondou’s frustration here is most probably the Shogunates indecisiveness in dealing with those who had tried to put a wedge between the Bakufu and the Emperor.
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