No. 399.
Mr. Comly to Mr. Blaine .

No. 194.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 189 and to former communications on the subject of the British claims, I have the honor to report further as to the attempt to create distrust in the mind of the regent in regard to the intentions of the United States.

There is no doubt in my mind that the British commissioner excited sufficient alarm in the mind of the princess regent to cause her to correspond directly with him, and without submitting her notes to the inspection of the cabinet or privy council; and it is believed that she accepted some sort of assurance from him that Great Britain would protect the independence of the islands against alleged anticipated violent proceedings on the part of the United States.

It is for this reason that I took occasion of my separate and confidential” note, informing the minister (as directed by the Secretary of State) of the approval of his position on the British claims, to refer also to the effort to sow distrust in the mind of the princess, and the real reason for such action.

I have received no written reply to this note, and it has been intimated pretty clearly in a confidential way that there are things with reference to the action of the regent which it is not pleasant or easy for his excellency to put upon paper. I respectfully invite the attention of the Secretary of State to my note above cited.

Having at a later date forwarded the answer of Captain Gillis, showing that the failure of the Lackawanna to salute was the result of neglect on the part of the governor of Oahu (husband of the regent), I was surprised to find how active their alarm had been, and what a load was taken off the mind of the regent and others, as will more dimly appear in the formal reply of the minister of foreign affairs.

I believe confidence is now fully restored.

I have, &c.,

[Page 631]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 194.]

Mr. Comly to Mr. Green .

Separate and confidential.

Sir: The Secretary of State has acknowledged the receipt of a “separate and confidential” dispatch from this legation, transmitting a copy of the inclosure with your “private” note of June 28, 1881.

The honorable Secretary of State expresses confidence that the Hawaiian Government desires and intends to strictly carry out the provisions of the reciprocity treaty in perfect good faith; and concurs in the opinion that the extension of the privileges of this treaty to other nations, under the “most favored nation” clause in existing treaties, would be as flagrant a violation of the stipulations of Article IV, as a specific treaty making the concession, and is wholly inadmissible.

I am instructed to say that the Government of the United States considers this stipulation as of the very essence of the treaty, and cannot consent to its abrogation or modification, directly or indirectly.

I am instructed to add that if any other power should deem it proper to employ undue influence upon the Hawaiian Government to persuade or compel action in derogation of this treaty, the Government of the United States will not be unobservant of its rights and interests, and will be neither unwilling nor unprepared to support the Hawaiian Government in the faithful discharge of its treaty obligations.

Having promptly informed the minister of the interior (ad interim for the foreign office during your exeellency’s absence with the princess regent) of the substance of the foregoing, verbally, and having verbally repeated the same to your excellency on your return, I have carefully considered the important dispatches from the honorable Secretary of State, in order to accurately render my instructions in writing.

There is another matter, your excellency, which has been brought through irregular channels to my attention, and which I suspect to have an intimate relation to the enforcement of the British claims.

Your excellency must be aware that an effort has been made to awaken distrust and fear as to the intentions of the United States in the mind of the princess regent, and that assurances of British protection were tendered to the princess regent in view of an alleged aggressive and aggrandizing temper in the United States.

It is a little irregular to refer your excellency to newspaper publications, but men of affairs in these days often consult these sources for the first public intimations of important matters. I will, therefore, ask your excellency to read in a supplement to this day’s Hawaiian Gazette, a dispatch dated Victoria, August 19, in which the colonist newspaper is quoted as saying that “the cause which led to the quick dispatch of H. M. S. Gannet for the Sandwich Islands on Monday, arose from the fact that telegraphic information was received of the intention of the United States to gobble up Kalakaua’s kingdom. It is added that the flag-ship is hastening towards Honolulu.

The unmitigated absurdity of the report as to the United States is equaled only by the spectacle of my revered British colleague, “protecting” the independence of the Sandwich Islands from the grasping embrace of the United States of America with a third class gunboat (gallantly manned, unquestionably). It is beyond the stretch of credulity itself to believe that there is any real alarm on the score of the United States and it becomes necessary to seek the real pretext for these existing facts and rumors.

The publications in the American newspapers as to the alleged offering of the kingdom for sale have been harped upon assiduously. Now, if your excellency please, it seems to be overlooked that the first publication of this rumor was in a London dispatch to the New York World. The London correspondent of the World is Mr. Louis J. Jennings, an Englishman, a well-known contributor to the London Times, an intimate personal friend of its late editor, and of its present proprietor. Mr. Jennings is in the closest relations with the government circles in London. What reason he may have had for sending such a dispatch I leave to your conjecture. Mr. Jennings had been at one time managing editor of the New York Times, and he knew enough of American newspapers to know how a certain class of sensation-mongers would enlarge upon his hint. As the government does not edit the newspapers in the United States, it should not be held responsible for them.

One more fact, the first authoritative denial of the absurd rumor that the King was peddling his kingdom came from a London dispatch to the New York Herald. Excuse the unavoidable personality, but the gentleman in charge of the Herald’s European correspondence and in personal supervision of the London bureau, is a connection of my family, a fact of no great interest or significance, otherwise than as the reverse of Mr. Jennings’s obverse.

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I am sensible, as I have said before, that these matters are being brought before your excellency (as they were to me) a little out of the regular official channels; but they are of interest, and may not seem out of place in a “separate and confidential” note.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 194.]

Mr. Comly to Mr. Green .

No. 212.]

Sir: Referring to our conversation of some months ago, with reference to the omission of the U. S. S. Lackawanna to salute her royal highness, the princess regent, upon her departure for the island of Hawaii, I now have the honor to address you.

Your excellency may remember that I stated, on the occasion of our former conversation, that I was confined to my room by illness the day the regent left, and consequently had not been aware, until after the Lackawanna left port, that the salute had not been fired, as no one happened to speak of it in my hearing. I also stated my firm conviction that the omission could not have occurred through any disrespect on the part of Captain Gillis, who expressed warmly his sentiments for the regent, and her husband and family, whom he had long known. I also volunteered to write to Captain Gillis, asking him to explain through what inadvertence the salute had failed. 1 wrote by the first mail, and I now have Captain Gillis’s reply, from which I extract the following, covering all that is said on this point.

U. S. S. Lackawanna,
Mare Island, California, September 8, 1881.

My Dear General: Your favor of the 27th ultimo reached me last evening, and I lose no time in replying to same.

“If you remember, Governor Dominis mentioned to me, at the reception accorded by her royal highness, that it was expected that her royal highness would leave on the following day, and the governor said he would inform me, by note, at what time she would leave. I told him that if he would send the note to the care of the United States consul, it would be forwarded to me without delay. No such note was received, and I did not know that the princess was positively to leave until I heard the salute being fired, and, at that time, I was on shore, and it was then too late to show her that respect which it would have afforded me great pleasure to have paid her, and, I really think, that if there was cause of complaint from any one, there was more reason for my finding fault with the neglect to inform me of the intended departure of her royal highness, in accordance with the promise of Governor Dominis. But I did not for a moment attribute any such neglect on the part of the governor to an intentional discourtesy on his part.

* * * * * * *

“Sincerely and truly yours,


It affords me considerable gratification to find my anticipations so fully met by the reply of Captain Gillis.

I am glad to take the opportunity to renew, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 194.]

Mr. Green to Mr. Comly .

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 212, dated 11th instant, with reference to the omission of the U. S. S. Lackawanna to salute her royal highness, the princess regent, upon her departure for the island of Hawaii. I take due note of the copy of the extract of the letter from Captain Gillis to your excellency by which it appears that Captain Gillis expected to receive a written notification from Governor Dominis as, to the exact time when her royal highness was to depart, and his not having received this was the reason that the salute was not fired.

[Page 633]

I have shown your dispatch to her royal highness and the governor, and it affords them great pleasure to find that the omission to fire the salute was through an inadvertence only, arising perhaps in some measure from the omission of his excellency the governor to send the said notification, but the governor was under the impression that the notification was to be sent to Captain Gillis, only in case of any change in the time of her royal highness’s departure. He regrets that there should have been any misunderstanding on his part, and has to thank Captain Gillis for his kind expressions toward the regent and himself.

I need hardly say that I am also much pleased to find that the omission of this salute was, as indeed I expected to learn, accidental, and I have to thank you for the trouble you have taken in clearing the matter up.

I take this opportunity to renew the assurances of my highest respect and consideration.

I have, &c.,

Minister of Foreign Affairs.