Mr. Webster to Mr. Severance.

No. 4.]

Luther Severance, Esq.:

Sir: Your confidential communications, Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, have been duly received, submitted to the President, and by him considered.

They relate to a subject of great importance, not only to the Hawaiian Government and its citizens, but also to the United States.

The Government of the United States was the first to acknowledge the national existence of the Hawaiian Government, and to treat with it as an independent state. Its example was soon followed by several of the Governments of Europe; and the United States, true to its treaty obligations, has in no case interfered with the Hawaiian Government for the purpose of opposing the course of its own independent conduct, or of dictating to it any particular line of policy. In acknowledging the independence of the islands, and of the Government established over [Page 100] them, it was not seeking to promote any peculiar object of its own What it did, and all that it did, was done openly in the face of day, in entire good faith, and known to all nations. It declared its real purpose to be to favor the establishment of a government at a very important point in the Pacific Ocean, which should be able to maintain such relations with the rest of the world, as are maintained between civilized states.

From this purpose it has never swerved for a single moment, nor is it inclined, without the pressure of some necessity, to depart from it now, when events have occurred giving to the islands and to their intercourse with the United States a new aspect and increased importance.

This Government still desires to see the nationality of the Hawaiian Government maintained, its independent administration of public affairs respected, and its prosperity and reputation increased.

But while thus indisposed to exercise any sinister influence itself over the counsels of Hawaii, or to overawe the proceedings of its Government by the menace or the actual application of superior military force, it expects to see other powerful nations act in the same spirit. It is, therefore, with unfeigned regret that the President has read the correspondence and become acquainted with the circumstances occurring between the Hawaiian Government and M. Perrin, the commissioner of France at Honolulu.

It is too plain to be denied or doubted that demands were made upon the Hawaiian Government by the French commissioner wholly inconsistent with its character as an independent state, demands which if submitted to in this case would be sure to be followed by other demands equally derogatory, not only from the same quarter, but probably also from other states, and this could only end in rendering the islands and their Government a prey to the stronger commercial nations of the world.

It can not be expected that the Government of the United States could look on a course of things leading to such a result with indifference.

The Hawaiian Islands are ten times nearer to the United States than to any of the powers of Europe. Five-sixths of all their commercial intercourse is with the United States, and these considerations, together with others of a more general character, have fixed the course which the Government of the United States will pursue in regard to them. The annunciation of this policy will not surprise the governments of Europe, nor be thought to be unreasonable by the nations of the civilized world, and that policy is that while the Government of the United States, itself faithful to its original assurance, scrupulously regards the independence of the Hawaiian Islands, it can never consent to see those islands taken possession of by either of the great commercial powers of Europe, nor can it consent that demands, manifestly unjust and derogatory and inconsistent with a bona fide independence, shall be enforced against that Government.

The substance of what is here said has already been intimated with sufficient explicitness to the Government of France, and we have the assurance of his excellency, M. Sartiges, minister of the Republic of France near the United States, that that Government has no purpose whatever of taking possession of the islands or of acting towards them in any hostile or aggressive spirit.

A copy of this letter will be placed in the hands of the French minister here; another copy will be transmitted to Paris; and another copy [Page 101] you will please to communicate to M. Perrin, the French commissioner, upon the appearance of any disposition on his part or on the part of any French naval commander in the Pacific Ocean to proceed to hostilities against the Government of Hawaii for the purpose of enforcing the demands which have been made upon it on the part of France.

The Navy Department will receive instructions to place, and to keep, the naval armament of the United States in the Pacific Ocean in such a state of strength and preparation as shall be requisite for the preservation of the honor and dignity of the United States and the safety of the Government of the Hawaiian Islands.

I have, etc.,

Daniel Webster.