Mr. Merrill to Mr. Bayard.
Honolulu , September 29, 1888. (Received November 3.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that, as instructed by the Government of Great Britain, the British commissioner resident here recently addressed a communication to the Hawaiian minister of foreign affairs protesting against the Hawaiian Government granting to Audley Coote or any other person the “exclusive right and privilege to construct or land a submarine electric telegraph cable or cables, which shall reach to or from any British possession or colony upon the shores of any island of the Hawaiian group,” as provided in section 2 of an act relating to submarine cables, approved December 16, 1887, and published on page 46 of “session laws, 1887,” forwarded to the Department with my No. 177, of March 29, 1888.
On the 28th instant, in reply to the protest, the minister of foreign affairs in substance stated that His Majesty’s Government regarded the granting of such a privilege as entirely within the control of the Government, and an inherent right of sovereignty pertaining to Hawaii as an independent state.
In this connection I will state that, in several interviews with His Majesty’s minister of foreign affairs I learn that it is quite improbable [Page 874] that Mr. Coote by the 1st of August next will be able to give assurances that the cable will be completed by the 1st day of August, 1890, as required by the submarine cable act.
In fact, Mr. Coote is not meeting with that encouragement at one time anticipated by him, and it is confidently believed here that the projected cable between British Columbia and Australia via Hawaii, under his contract, will not be completed.
I am assured that for this Government to render all the financial aid possible in the laying of an electric telegraph cable between some point in the United States and the Hawaiian Islands would meet the hearty support of His Majesty’s Cabinet, and be generally approved by residents and those interested in the welfare of this Kingdom.
While the sentiment here is largely in favor of some cable to connect these islands with the outer world, yet at the present time the popular feeling is without doubt in favor of a terminus on United States territory, and the hope is often expressed that such an enterprise may receive such practical encouragement from the United States or citizens thereof as will insure its success.
It is believed that such an enterprise completed would greatly strengthen the material commercial interests of the two countries, and by daily contact firmly cement to the United States the kindly feeling of those who are to control the political future of Hawaii, and largely assist in preserving the autonomy of this Kingdom. Agents of English capitalists are seeking investments in the different islands, and now are contemplating the purchase of large tracts of land suitable for agricultural purposes, on the islands of Kauai and Hawaii, while an English company owns an exclusive right to build and operate a street railway throughout Honolulu and suburbs for a term of years, and which at the present time is in course of construction, and soon will be in full operation.
So far as possible these and similar enterprises direct trade and influence through English channels, encourage British lines of commerce, and readily assist any enterprise which tends to bind British interests to those of Hawaii.
With a steam-ship line and cable connection with the British possessions in North America the people of this island Kingdom would naturally become imbued with the opinions of their commercial connections and imperceptibly absorb the sentiments and feelings of those controlling the source of their daily intelligence.
The people here are earnestly desirous of and doubtless will eventually obtain cable communication with the coast of North America, and it is hoped that it may terminate on United States soil, thus strengthening what ought to be an indissoluble commercial and political bond.
The laying of a cable between these islands and America I consider no longer problematical, but when, by whose aid, and on what part of the continental coast it shall terminate, I conceive to be of vast importance to the United States, as by bringing these people in daily contact with the world through United States sources, would largely and imperceptibly aid in the natural gravitation of commerce and political influence to our country, and would silently yet strongly tend to quiet the periodical unrest natural to a segregated, ocean-bound community.
I have, etc.,