Mr. Gresham to Mr. Blount.
Washington, March 11, 1893.
Hon. James H. Blount, etc.:
Sir: The situation created in the Hawaiian Islands by the recent deposition of Queen Liliuokalani and the erection of a Provisional Government demands the fullest consideration of the President, and in order to obtain trustworthy information on this subject, as well as for the discharge of other duties herein specified, he has decided to dispatch you to the Hawaiian Islands as his special commissioner, in which capacity you will herewith receive a commission and also a letter, whereby the President accredits you to the president of the executive and advisory councils of the Hawaiian Islands.
The comprehensive, delicate, and confidential character of your mission can now only be briefly outlined, the details of its execution being necessarily left, in great measure, to your good judgment and wise discretion.
You will investigate and fully report to the President all the facts you can learn respecting the condition of affairs in the Hawaiian Islands, the causes of the revolution by which the Queen’s Government was overthrown, the sentiment of the people toward existing authority, and, in [Page 468]general, all that can fully enlighten the President touching the subjects of your mission.
To enable you to fulfill this charge, your authority in all matters touching the relations of this Government to the existing or other government of the islands, and the protection of our citizens therein, is paramount, and in you alone, acting in cooperation with the commander of the naval forces, is vested full discretion and power to determine when such forces should be landed or withdrawn.
You are, however, authorized to avail yourself of such aid and information as you may desire from the present minister of the United States at Honolulu, Mr. John L. Stevens, who will continue until further notice to perform the usual functions attaching to his office, not inconsistent with the powers entrusted to you. An instruction will be sent to Mr. Stevens directing him to facilitate your presentation to the head of the Government upon your arrival, and to render you all needed assistance.
The withdrawal from the Senate of the recently signed treaty of annexation, for reexamination by the President, leaves its subject-matter in abeyance, and you are not charged with any duty in respect thereto. It may be well, however, for you to dispel any possible misapprehension which its withdrawal may have excited touching the entire friendliness of the President and the Government of the United States toward the people of the Hawaiian Islands or the earnest solicitude here felt for their welfare, tranquility, and progress.
Historical precedents and the general course of the United States authorize the employment of its armed force in foreign territory for the security of the lives and property of American citizens and for the repression of lawless and tumultuous acts threatening them; and the powers conferred to that end upon the representatives of the United States are both necessary and proper, subject always to the exercise of a sound discretion in their application.
In the judgment of the President your authority, as well as that of the commander of the naval forces in Hawaiian waters should be, and is, limited in the use of physical force to such measures as are necessary to protect the persons and property of our citizens; and while abstaining from any manner of interference with the domestic concerns of the Islands, you should indicate your willingness to intervene with your friendly offices in the interest of a peaceful settlement of troubles within the limits of sound discretion.
Should it be necessary to land an armed force upon Hawaiian territory on occasions of popular disturbance, when the local authority may be unable to give adequate protection to the life and property of citizens of the United States, the assent of such authority should first be obtained, if it can be done without prejudice to the interests involved. Your power in this regard should not, however, be claimed to the exclusion of similar measures by the representatives of other powers for the protection of the lives and property of their citizens or subjects residing in the Islands.
While the United States claim no right to interfere in the political or domestic affairs or in the internal conflicts of the Hawaiian Islands otherwise than as herein stated, or for the purpose of maintaining any treaty or other rights which they possess, this Government will adhere to its consistent and established policy in relation to them, and it will not acquiesce in domestic interference by other powers.
The foregoing general exposition of the President’s views will indicate the safe courses within which your action should be shaped and [Page 469]mark the limits of your discretion in calling upon the naval commanded for coöperation.
The United States revenue cutter Rush is under orders to await you at San Francisco and convey you to Honolulu.
A stenographic clerk will be detailed to accompany you and remain subject to your orders.
It is expected that you will use all convenient despatch for the fulfillment of your mission, as it is the President’s desire to have the results before him at the earliest possible day. Besides the connected report yon are expected to furnish you will from time to time, as occasion may offer, correspond with the Secretary of State, communicating information or soliciting special instruction on such points as you may deem necessary. In case of urgency you may telegraph, either in plain text or in the cipher of the Navy Department, through the kind offices of the admiral commanding, which may be sent to Mr. W. A. Cooper, United States dispatch agent at San Francisco, to be transmitted thence.
Reposing the amplest confidence in your ability and zeal for the realization of the trust thus confided to you,
I am, sir, your obedient servant,