No. 202.
Mr. Daggett to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 132.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the Hawaiian minister of foreign affairs has at length been enabled to make such changes and concessions in relation to the granting of special contracts for the transportation of Chinese laborers to these islands as will harmonize substantially with the interpretation of the treaty of 1849 which I was instructed to present to His Majesty’s Government.

Following the receipt of your dispatch of February 2, 1884 (No. 47), I resumed my correspondence on the subject with His Majesty’s minister of foreign affairs, and, with an emphasis warranted by more definite instructions, again advised his excellency of your interpretation of Article VI of the treaty of 1849, and asked His Majesty’s Government to take such measures as might be necessary to relieve American steamships carrying the United States mails of the discrimination against them involved in the continuance of existing or the making of future contracts according to particular lines of steamships the exclusive privilege of bringing Chinese laborers or passengers to the Hawaiian Islands. A copy of this letter, bearing date of March 5, 1884, I have the honor to inclose herewith.

On the 13th instant I was favored with a reply from the minister of foreign affairs, a copy of which I also inclose. His excellency conveys the information that no steamship company holds or has lately held any authorization to transport Chinese laborers to the Hawaiian Islands. This will occasion no surprise when it is remembered that the contract with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, by previous notification of the Hawaiian Government, ceased on the 1st of January last, and that the Oceanic Steamship Company, or Mr. Spreckels, to whom the privilege was to have been transferred, is still without steamers to perform the service.

Without fully abandoning its position respecting its right, under its treaty covenants with the United States, to make exclusive contracts for the transportation to these islands of limited numbers and specified classes of Chinese immigrants, the Hawaiian Government has met the emergency with an order, followed with corresponding instructions to its representatives abroad, to the effect that Chinese immigrants in excess of twenty-five in any one vessel will not be admitted hereafter into the Hawaiian Kingdom, and his excellency gives assurance that, pending the consideration of the subject of Chinese immigration by the next Legislative Assembly, “no permits are or will be issued to any steamer lines giving them any exclusive privilege in regard to the transportation of Chinese immigrant laborers from Hong-Kong or elsewhere to this Kingdom.”

As the enforcement of these regulations in good faith will put an end to Chinese immigration, as well as to the discrimination complained of in connection with it, I shall be pleased to be confirmed in the judgment that a further discussion of the subject at this time is unnecessary.

Very respectfully, &c.,

[Page 280]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 132.]

Mr. Daggett to Mr. Gibson.

No. 248.]

Sir: Referring to your letter of the 19th of December last, relating to the granting by the Hawaiian Government of special and exclusive privileges to the Oceanic Steamship Company in the transportation of Chinese laborers to these islands, I have the honor to advise your excellency that I am now possessed of the specific conclusions of my Government on the subject, with a full consideration of the correspondence in connection therewith between your excellency and this legation.

Without reviewing the entire ground covered by the controversy, I beg respectfully to say that the right claimed by your excellency for Hawaii, under its treaty relations with the United States, to grant exclusive privileges for the transportation of Chinese passengers to these islands, either for sanitary or other reasons, cannot be admitted by my Government. As has already been brought to your excellency’s attention, the real question involved is not the grievance of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company or of any other American line of steamships, nor the relative rights of such lines, however they may be incidentally affected.

It is strictly an international question between the two Governments, involving the construction or interpretation of Article VI of the treaty of 1849, which guarantees to “steam-vessels of the United States “carrying its mails the right to freely enter Hawaiian ports and “land passengers and their baggage.” All steam-vessels of the United States carrying its mails are entitled to this privilege, without regard to the lines to which they may belong.

The sovereign right of Hawaii to prohibit the immigration of Chinese to its shores is not questioned, and American steamships, of whatever line, would be bound to respect such prohibition; but if Chinese immigrants are permitted to come to Hawaii, either indiscriminately or in limited numbers, or under any other condition that may be imposed by the laws or regulations of the Kingdom, then such immigrants are passengers within the meaning of Article VI of the treaty of 1849, and all American steamships carrying the mails possess an undoubted right to take and land them as passengers in any of the ports of Hawaii, in accordance with treaty stipulation.

To accord an exclusive right to carry such passengers either to Hawaiian vessels, to vessels of a nation foreign to both the United States and Hawaii, or to vessels of any particular line, whether American, Hawaiian, or foreign, would be equally a discrimination against American steam-vessels, and would be held by my Government to be a violation of the plain letter of Article VI of the treaty of 1849; and neither would my judgment counsel nor my instructions permit me to assent to an interpretation giving warrant to any such discrimination.

I beg again to assure your excellency that no exclusive privilege is claimed for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. On the contrary, the granting of such a privilege to that or any other line would be quite as objectionable as the discrimination now sought to be made in favor of the Oceanic Steamship Company.

What is asked is that all American steamships, of whatever line, shall, with respect to the carrying trade and within the limitations of treaty provisions, be placed on an equality with each other, with the vessels of the most favored nation, and with the vessels of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This is the only interpretation of the treaty which seems to be just; the only interpretation which my Government is prepared to assent to; and in connection with it the question of sanitary measures or the rights of any particular line of steamships cannot be considered. The treaty must be interpreted in harmony with its spirit and its language, and so long as its provisions are held to be binding the observance of its covenants cannot justly or in good faith be contravened or modified by either party to meet a sanitary or other emergency.

To state the point directly, the exclusive privilege already or about to be granted to the Oceanic Steamship Company is conceived by my Government to be an unjust discrimination against all other American steamships carrying the mails between the eastern and western shores of the Pacific Ocean; that it is in contravention of the provisions of the treaty of 1849; and the President hopes, as he believes, that the Hawaiian Government, noted no less for its high intelligence than for its sense of justice, will speedily adopt the proper measures to rescind the privilege, if granted, and if not granted, to prevent its fulfillment.

I have, &c.,

[Page 281]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 132.]

Mr. Gibson to Mr. Daggett.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s letter of the 5th instant, replying to mine of December 19, conveying to me the specific conclusions of the Government of the United States on the subject of exclusive privileges connected with the transport of Chinese laborers to these islands, to the effect that the right claimed by this Government to grant such exclusive privileges, either for sanitary or other reasons, involves a violation of treaty stipulations.

In my dispatch of January 4, which was accompanied by a copy of a letter to His Majesty’s consul-general at Hong Kong, I had the honor to inform your excellency that ho instruction had been sent to authorize any line of steamers, to transport Chinese immigrant laborers to these islands, and at the present time no such authorization exists. Any attempt on the part of any line of steamers to introduce such immigrant laborers is wholly without the warrant of permission or instruction from His Majesty’s Government.

His Majesty fully appreciates the assurances coming from the Government of the United States that the sovereign right of His Majesty’s Government to restrict or inhibit Chinese immigration remains unquestioned.

This immigration cannot be regarded in the same light as ordinary passenger travel such as was contemplated when the treaty of 1849 was negotiated.

His Majesty’s Government would not think, even without treaty obligations, of imposing restrictions on ordinary passenger traffic to this Kingdom; but a passenger traffic composed exclusively of male laborers, entirely without means, who show no disposition for settlement or assimilation abroad, is of such a character that the great American Republic itself has found it expedient, as Hawaii now does, to have a complete control of such traffic or immigration. Without such control there would in the case of this country be danger to its autonomy.

Therefore, His Majesty’s Government, confirming a resolution of His Majesty in cabinet council of July 13, of last year, have placed in the control of this Department the regulation of Chinese immigration, and I have the honor to inform your excellency that an order has been issued and communicated to His Majesty’s diplomatic and consular representatives at Washington, San Francisco, and elsewhere, that Chinese coming here (not already furnished with official permits) in numbers exceeding twenty-five in any one vessel will not be allowed entrance into this Kingdom. Meantime the whole subject of Chinese immigration will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly at its approaching session with the view of obtaining new and decisive legislation upon the subject. I have therefore the honor to inform your excellency that in the mean time no permits are or will be issued to any steamer lines giving to them any exclusive privileges in regard to the transportation of Chinese immigrant laborers from Hong Kong or elsewhere to this Kingdom.

I have, &c.,