No. 622.
Mr. Merrill to Mr. Bayard.

No. 201.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose two copies of the “report of special committee on the Chinese question,” submitted to the Hawaiian Legislature on the 7th instant, also two copies of a proposed amendment to the constitution recommended by the committee granting enlarged legislative powers regarding the Chinese.

Doubtless the proposed amendment will receive the support of a majority of the members of the present Legislature, but the principal contest will occur at the election two years hence, when the proposed amendment must be agreed to by two-thirds of all the members of Legislature then elected before it shall become part of the constitution.

The bill referred to on page 6 of the report of the committee, requiring laborers to procure a license, was referred to and has been considered by a newly-appointed special committee, and the committee this day returned the bill, accompanied by an adverse report, but recommend the adoption of the proposed amendment to the constitution and stringent [Page 869] restrictive measures against the further influx of Chinese pending the adoption of the amendment.

Restricting the immigration of Chinese to this Kingdom, and the proper legislation touching those resident here, while conserving the interests of the planters and the white laboring classes, are vexed questions for the Legislature to determine.

The Chinese residents of the Kingdom will use all influence possible to prevent any legislation in the premises.

I have, etc.,

Geo. W. Merrill.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 201.]

report of special committee on the chinese question.

The Hon. W. R. Castle,
President of the legislative assembly, A. D. 1888:

Sir: The undersigned, a special committee to whom was referred several matters relating to Chinese and Chinese and Asiatic immigration, beg leave to submit their report.

Three petitions and one constitutional amendment were referred to them, to wit:

  • First. Petition number 12 merely commending the course of the legislature in attempting to control Chinese immigration, and which, therefore, we here recommend be received and laid on the table.
  • Second. Petition number 93 from certain prominent Chinese merchants, praying that the law requiring photographs of persons seeking return permits may be repealed and that the fee for return permits be reduced to two dollars.
  • Third. Petition number 55 from a large number of citizens and residents, relative to Asiatic immigration and containing fourteen specific prayers relating thereto and to Asiatic residents in this Kingdom; and
  • Fourth. A constitutional amendment numbered bill 57, relating to Chinese.

In regard to petition number 93 from prominent Chinese merchants, your committee recommend that the same be laid on the table. This petition prays that the regulation be abolished requiring that Chinese departing the Kingdom and desiring return permits shall be photographed as a means of identification. The frauds perpetrated upon the Government in regard to Chinese return permits when it retained no means of identifying those who received them showed that Chinese could not be allowed the same freedom in this respect as other citizens and residents without abusing it, so that the Government was compelled either to adopt some means of identification in issuing return permits or to become the sport of those who received them. The Chinese have compelled this regulation in regard to photographs by their own conduct. By Chinese we do not mean all Chinese, but Chinese as a class. If there was any practical way of relaxing this regulation in individual cases where it was clearly unnecessary, the committee would recommend it, but, in their opinion, there is no way to do this without seriously impairing the law. While your committee sincerely believe that the Chinese merchants in this Kingdom as a class have many admirable qualities, yet your committee are compelled to say that in too many cases many of them render but scant assistance or information to the Government in its necessary efforts to control the mass of their countrymen residing here.

The same wholesale evasions of law in regard to passports exist, it is believed, in still greater degree in the matter of taxation and the vagrancy law, and the Government receives so little assistance from the abiding Chinese in these respects, that it is time the Government protected itself, and while the Government would undoubtedly fain give Chinese all the immunities enjoyed by other citizens it can not safely do so until they themselves learn better to use them. In justice to the Chinese, however the committee wish to say that undoubtedly the main reason that Chinese as a class evade the revenue taxation and kindred laws more than other races, is that there is far greater opportunity and therefore more temptation for them to do so, owing to the fact that the mass of them can not be identified or individualized.

This petition also prays that the $5 fee for return permits be reduced to $2. The committee believe that the extra expense to the Government necessitated by this class of passports will about offset the extra fee charged therefor; therefore think it unwise to reduce the same.

Petition No. 55 with fourteen specific prayers relating to Asiatics.

[Page 870]

Instead of entering into a detailed recital and consideration of each prayer of this petition, your committee consider that the same results can be obtained by giving in brief the findings of facts and conclusions the committee has come to after having very carefully canvassed the whole subject of Asiatic immigration, and having taken evidence and consulted with many persons of different views on this subject.

Your committee find that the classification and identification of Japanese with Chinese is not justified by the facts; that the habits, traits of character, and tendencies of the two races are radically different and therefore recommend that the consideration of Japanese in the issue now before us be eliminated.

Undoubtedly some legislation in regard to Japanese immigration may from time to time be required, but it will be of a class entirely different from that required in regard to Chinese. Japanese immigration under proper restrictions should be encouraged as the best partial substitute for Chinese labor in this Kingdom, bringing as it does a class who are willing to adopt western civilization and who can be incorporated into our industrial system without seriously disjointing it.

In regard to the Chinese your committee find the following facts: Chinese labor in company with other labor is needed for field work on rice and sugar plantations in this Kingdom, it not being safe to rely exclusively on Japanese labor, the same being liable to recall by the Japanese Government, and Portuguese with large families needing wages that can only be permanently assured to them in the higher class of labor on plantations, and in the minor or middle industries of the Kingdom.

The committee, on the other hand, find that the competition of other races with Chinese is impossible, and that whenever other races are forced into such competition the result is not competition, but substitution of the Chinese for their competitors. That the Chinese are absorbing the different minor industries, mechanical, agricultural, and commercial in this Kingdom, and your committee see nothing to prevent them ultimately reducing the Kingdom practically to a Chinese colony, with scattering people of other nationalities here and there among them, and this even though no more Chinese are introduced for the present, because outside of the sugar and rice industries very few comparatively find employment, but what there is of such employment serves to retain in the country the higher class of artisans and middlemen upon whom the Government must rely to preserve constitutional representative government in average purity, and there are enough Chinese now in the country to swallow up such employments unless checked by law.

How to remedy this evil is a most serious question, and one that has been very fully discussed by the committee.

After mature deliberation the committee believe the Government should adopt the following policy in regard to Chinese:

  • First. That no Chinese shall hereafter be allowed to immigrate to this Kingdom except such as are needed to supply labor for the rice and sugar industries, and all who are allowed to enter for that purpose shall be prohibited by law from engaging in any other occupation whatsoever, and shall stay for a term of years only, to return home thereafter unless an extension of time is granted upon like conditions.
  • Second. As to Chinese already in the Kingdom, that Government shall by law prevent those now employed as day laborers from engaging in any other occupation. And, as to those who are already engaged in other occupations, that the power be given to the legislature of abridging from time to time their rights to continue in the same, more particularly the trades, whenever opportunity offers of so doing without undue injustice or infringement of vested rights, and the exigencies and needs of people of other nationalities demand it.

To carry out such a policy the constitution needs to be amended, and the committee therefore recommend that the proposed constitutional amendment, numbered bill number 57, and referred to this committee with certain amendments, do pass and be submitted to the elections in 1890. A copy of such constitutional amendment as modified by the committee is hereto attached and made a part hereof. The house is already acquainted with its main points. It has been modified in some respects and widened in others by the committee, but as it now stands will, it is believed, if ultimately adopted, give the legislature power to deal with the Chinese question along the line of the policy above outlined.

The only other legislation that your committee can recommend is a bill hereto attached requiring laborers to take out a license before authorized to do common labor in this Kingdom, such license to be given as a matter of right for a nominal fee, to be good only for two years and only for the district in which it is granted. This bill it is believed is constitutional and necessary as a police regulation, serving to identify, individualize, and locate laborers, thus doing much to prevent evasion of taxation, vagrancy, and other laws and to eliminate that class of semi idle perambulatory labor that is now floating around the country and congregating in the towns.

In conclusion, your committee consider that, in recommending the passage of the constitutional amendment and bill in question, they have granted the main relief [Page 871] asked for in petition numbered 55, popularly known as the anti-Chinese petition, and therefore recommend that the same be laid upon the table, to be considered with the report and the bill and constitutional amendment accompanying the same.

Respectfully submitted.

  • W. E Foster.
  • W. A. Kinney
  • J. Maguire.
  • Geo. H. Dole.
  • Jos. U. Kawainui.

The undersigned concur in the recommendations of the above report and the legislation therein proposed.

  • Jona. Austin.
  • H. P. Baldwin
[Inclosure 2 in No. 201.]

proposed amendment to the constitution.

Be it resolved by the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom, That the following article be and thereby is, proposed as an amendment to the constitution:


The legislature may by law name or limit the occupation or employment of every kind whatsoever in which Chinese, or any body or class of Chinese, may lawfully engage or continue to pursue; the estate and interest in land they may acquire, or acquiring, hold, and the duration thereof; and the number of years, not less than six, during which any Chinese may lawfully reside in the Hawaiian Kingdom; and may provide for the registration and identification of Chinese: Provided, however, That no law shall operate to make it unlawful for any Chinese to engage in the cultivation or manufacture of rice or sugar: And provided, further, That no Chinese in the Hawaiian Kingdom, when this amendment becomes a part of the constitution, shall thereafter be compelled to depart the same, except such Chinese as shall be legally sentenced to transportation or deportation for felony.

The legislature may enforce the provisions of this amendment by appropriate legislation; and no such legislation shall be declared unconstitutional because confined in its operation to Chinese, or any body or class thereof.

In this amendment “Chinese” means any person or persons; male or female, wholly of Chinese or Mongolian birth or descent, whether born in China or elsewhere, and whether citizens or subjects of China or any other country, and shall include and apply to all and every person or persons wholly of Chinese or Mongolian birth or descent who now are or hereafter may be a citizen or citizens, subject or subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom: Provided, however, That the provisions of this amendment shall not be construed to include or apply to persons of Japanese birth or descent.