No. 175.
Mr. Comly to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 217.]

Sir: I have the honor to state that the Legislative Assembly of this kingdom was opened by the King in person in the presence of a large concourse, consisting of the diplomatic and consular bodies and notable persons, official and non-official, on the 29th day of April, 1882. Copies of the King’s speech are made inclosure No. 1.

I regret to state that although the executive reports are required to be placed before the Legislative Assembly on the first day of the regular session, I have not yet received from the Hawaiian foreign office a copy of any of them, and therefore cannot present to the Secretary of State either the documents themselves or any review by this mail.

I feel it my duty to report that grave apprehensions are felt among foreign residents as to the probable action of the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly should be held in check by a careful and conservative Executive, advised and guided by his constitutional ministers.

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The native Hawaiians own scarcely any property, yet they control absolutely the rate of taxation and amount of expenditure. The enterprising foreign residents—largely American—who have brought their capital here and are developing the resources of the kingdom, own nearly all the estates, real and personal, and do nearly all the business, [Page 343] yet have only a precarious, indirect, and uncertain control of the rate of taxation and amount of expenditure. Even under the most favorable conditions otherwise, this single misjoinder of the producing with the expending power might be looked upon with apprehension. But the conditions are not favorable otherwise; they are actively and menacingly unfavorable.

There is such a state of anxiety in the minds of foreign residents that a number of the most prominent planters and business men have pressed me earnestly for some assurance that the United States Government would protect American citizens against such native legislation as might amount to a practical confiscation of a large share of their estates in these islands.

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I can only say to these gentlemen that, however exceptional and anomalous their condition may be in having their property at the mercy of a legislative body beyond their control and inimical to their interests, the same comity is due to this government that would be paid by the Government of the United States to any stronger and more powerful state.

While the United States will be behind no other power in protecting its citizens against injustice or a denial of justice under any flag that floats, I have expressed my conviction that the Secretary of State would not approve of any interference with the rights of the Hawaiian kingdom as a sovereign state.

It is a difficult question and one of a very practical bearing in the present aspect of affairs here, how far the United States Government may be inclined to go in the protection of its citizens here, under the anomalous circumstances of the existing state of things. Whether a mere “moral support” will suffice in the future for the protection of American interests at stake here, may well be doubled.* * *

I respectfully and earnestly ask that the Secretary of State may be pleased to take these matters into consideration, and instruct me how far the United States Government may be willing to go in the protection of the vested interests of our countrymen who remain American citizens, while they have taken advantage of the reciprocity treaty to seek their fortunes in Hawaii.

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I have, &c.,