to Mr. Blaine.
Honolulu, August 29, 1881. (Received September 14.)
Sir: I have had occasion frequently to report to the Secretary of State the discomfort felt by the British commissioner and other residents here, on account of the predominance of United States influence and interests in the Hawaiian Islands.[Page 628]
The watchfulness of the commissioner to find means of undermining this influence and fostering British interests has been constant, and for the most part praiseworthy, and has not interfered with our personal relations further than to put them upon a general basis of perhaps exaggerated consideration and courtesy.
* * * * * * *
The subject of cooly immigration from British India is one that I have had occasion to speak of as one of great and increasing danger to both Hawaiian and American interests.
There has been a systematic and indomitable struggle to force the Hawaiian Government into a convention for the importation of East Indian coolies, so as to give the English a separate judicature, and furnish innumerable opportunities for meddlesome interference with the internal affairs of this government.
There is a constant stream of newspaper publication—especially in the native papers—on this question, urging it upon the King, and bitterly assailing his ministers for their conservative course in the matter.
“The United States has given us the reciprocity treaty—why should we not allow Great Britian to give us labor?”—is the way it is put.
The British commissioner busies himself personally in stirring up the partisans of his side, and full page broadsides are written for the native papers by the Hon. Godfrey Rhodes, late president of the legislative assembly. The Hon. Archibald Scott Cleghorne, a scotch brother-in-law of the King, is kept in a state of excitement on the same subject by Major Wodehouse. Indeed, it is one of our advantages in the position that he is so, as the King is always happy to disoblige his brother-in-law.
Just now, while the King is abroad, with a special view to securing immigration, a supreme effort is being made to force action, and there does seem to be cause for apprehension that something may be done.
The newspapers of last week state that the British Government, while the King was in London, offered him a convention for the emigration of coolies to the Sandwich Islands, but stated to His Majesty that “of course, they must be accompanied by a British protector, the same as in case of emigration to British or other colonies.”
This “protector” tries all cases of disputes arising among the coolies themselves, and also between coolies and citizens of the country where they reside; and cases of appeal from his judgment go, not to the courts of the country, but to the British consul or diplomatic representative.
I have been diligent in steadily keeping this in mind of all the different ministers the different changes have brought into power, and have generally received assurances that the islands should never be put under an alien judicature, in this insidious manner.
The matter has assumed a character of such grave importance, in view of what may have been initiated by the King while in London, that I am earnestly desired by one of the King’s ministers (who personally knows Mr. Secretary Blaine) to ask the Secretary as a favor personally to give a hint to the King, should a favorable opportunity offer during his visit in Washington, in order that he may be made to see the danger of introducing such an element into the affairs of his government. I am assured that the King has a great respect for the honorable Secretary of State, and will listen attentively to any observations en passant from that quarter.
The British commissioner has also skillfully taken hold, in the same connection, of the matter which I have treated in the private letter to Captain Gillis, a copy of which is made inclosure No. 1 with this dispatch. The original I have taken the liberty of sending direct to Captain [Page 629] Gillis, as it would lose fourteen days in going through the State Department and return.
The British claims arising out of the reciprocity treaty are still held over the head of the Hawaiian Government, as a menace and reminder of English power. The English commissioner is probably waiting instructions for his next step in the business.
Meantime I have verbally conveyed to the Hawaiian minister of foreign affairs the spirit of the instructions received from the Secretary of State, in Nos. 102 and 105, with the best of my skill, assuring him that there was no lack of confidence in the intention of Hawaii to strictly observe the stipulations of the reciprocity treaty; and that the honorable Secretary of State concurred in the opinion that the claim of Great Britain for the same privileges under the treaty with the United States was wholly inadmissible.
Both the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of the interior (Mr. Green and Mr. Carter) desired me to express their thanks to the Secretary of State, in terms of unusual warmth and gratification, for an intimation so important and assuring.
I am, &c.,