No. 6.
Mr. Blount to Mr. Gresham
No. 3.]

Sir: On the 7th instant the Alameda reached this place. Among its passengers were Dr. William Shaw Bowen and Mr. Harold M. Sewall The San Francisco papers announced that they had refused [Page 480]to say that they were not joint commissioners with myself to Honolulu, The former represented himself to me as a correspondent of the New York World, and said he would be glad to give me any information he could gather here. Thinking it a mere matter of courtesy, I thanked him. On Sunday, the 16th instant, I was out walking and met him on the street, riding in a buggy. He left his buggy in the hands of his friend, Mr. Sewall, and joined me in a walk of some length. Before it was concluded he said to me that he and Paul Neumann were arranging a meeting between President Dole and the Queen, the object being to pay her a sum of money in consideration of her formal abdication of the throne and lending her influence to the Provisional Government with a view to annexation to the United States. He repeated this statement frequently, at intervals, to which I made no response.

Finally he asked me if I did not think it would simplify the situation very much here and facilitate annexation. Suspecting that my answer was designed to be used to induce the Queen to yield to solicitations to abdicate: I replied “I have nothing to say on this subject.” Dr. Bowen said: “I did not ask you officially, but simply in a private way.” I responded: “I am here as a Commissioner of the United States and must decline to converse with you on this subject.”

The next morning early I had an interview with President Dole. I told him that I had seen in the San Francisco newspapers intimations that Dr. Bowen and Mr. Sew all were here as representatives of the President of the United States; that the former told me that he had arranged to bring him and the Queen together on that morning; that I desired to say to him that neither Dr. Bowen nor Mr. Sewall, nor any other person was authorized to act for the Government in that or any other matter relating to the present condition of affairs in the islands save myself; that I did not know absolutely that these two gentlemen had claimed to have such authority. He replied that he had been informed that they were here representing the Government. He did not give his authority.

He said that there had been some approaches from the Queen’s side with propositions of settlement; that he had responded: “I will consider any reasonable proposition.”

I told him I would not permit the Government of the United States to be represented as having any wish in the matter of any negotiations between the Queen and the Provisional Government. He asked if I would be willing to authorize the statement that I believed it would simplify the situation. It replied that I was not willing to do this, that I was not here to interfere with the opinions of any class of persons.

Since this interview with President Dole I have heard that Dr. Bowen, when asked by newspaper people if he represented the President of the United States, declined to answer, saying that all would be revealed hereafter.

He is representing himself in various quarters as an intimate friend of the President. I can but think that these statements are made to create the impression that he is here authorized to bring about negotiations for a settlement between the Queen and the Provisional Government.

On the day before yesterday Dr. Bowen came over to my table to say that a meeting between the Queen and President Dole had occurred, and terms were agreed upon. I said I did not care for him to talk with me on that subject.

On the 21st instant Mr. Claus Spreckels called to see me. He said [Page 481]that he suspected there was an effort at negotiation between the Queen and the Provisional Government, and that he had urged the Queen to withdraw her power of attorney from Paul Neumann. I inclose herewith a copy of that power of attorney (Inclosure No. 1) which Mr. Spreckels says was derived through the agency of Mr. Samuel Parker, the last secretary of foreign affairs. He told me that Paul Neumann would leave for Washington by the next steamer, under pretense that he was going to the United States and from there to Japan. How much or how little Mr. Spreckels knows about this matter I am unable to say, as I do not know how to estimate him, never having met him before. He promised to see me again before the mail leaves for the linked States on next Wednesday and give me such information as he could acquire in the meantime.

I believe that Dr. Bowen, Mr. Sewall, and Mr. Neumann have pretended that the two former knew the opinions of Mr. Cleveland and assured the Queen that annexation would take place, and that she had better come to terms at once.

Mr. Neumann leaves here on the next steamer, probably with a power to act for the Queen, with authority derived from her out of these circumstances.

The question occurs to my mind whether, if the United States desired the adjustment as probably agreed on, it had better not be accomplished through its representative here, either myself or the successor of Mr. Stevens as minister here, that assurance might be had that the action of the Government was free from any suspicion of indirection in the transaction.

I know the American minister, Mr. Stevens, has said that he had learned that Mr. Blount believed that such a settlement as indicated would simplify the situation, I called on him yesterday and told him that I did not think it was proper for him to speak of my views on the subject; that declarations of that sort coming from him would give rise to the suspicion that the Government of the United States was behind Dr. Bowen and Mr. Sewall in whatever they might see fit to represent in regard to the views of the President. During this interview I called his attention to the following conversation between Mr. Spreckels and myself on the 21st instant:

Mr. Blount. Please state whether or not you have had any message from the American minister, and whether any conversation with him.

A. I have.

Q. Be kind enough to state it.

A. He sent down on Tuesday about 3 o’clock, whether I would be kind enough to come-up to his house to see him. I took a carriage and saw him at 4 o’clock that Tuesday afternoon. He told me that Mr. Parker had no influence with the Queen, but that Paul Neumann could control her, and, if I would, I could control Paul Neumann; that Paul Neumann tell the Queen that she be in favor of annexation, and tell the Kanakas, who follow her, to go all for annexation. He said that he expected to be here only thirty or forty days, and he would like for annexation to be before he left. Some words to that effect.

He said he thought Mr. Spreckels misunderstood him as to his declaration that he wanted to finish up annexation before he left. I then told him that I felt assured that it would be displeasing to the Secretary of State and the President if they were informed that he was seeking to mold opinion here on the matter of annexation of these islands; that I was here instructed in part to inquire into that very subject; that it was certainly very unseemly, while I was making the inquiry, for him to be urging annexation; that he must know by the fact of my presence alone that he was not authorized to represent the views of the present administration in relation to any matter growing out of the [Page 482]proposition to annex these islands to the United States. At first he said that his position had been made known through the publication of his dispatches, and that he never could go back on them.

To this I replied that the proposition of going back on his dispatches was one thing, and that his undertaking to form public opinion here on the subject of annexation at this time for an Administration not of his own political party, and when I was present to represent it especially in such matters, scarcely seemed fair in the light of the courtesy which had been manifested towards him. I said to him that I hoped in future that he would not undertake to advance or retard the cause of annexation or to represent the Government in any way in that connection, and that whenever it was necessary for him to speak on the matter that he would refer persons to me. This he agreed to. All this colloquy was characterized by kindliness on my part, and, so far as I could observe, by courtesy on the part of Mr. Stevens. He complained somewhat that I did not confide in him and did not seek his opinion about men and things here. I replied that I was engaged on certain lines of inquiry and might in the future find occasion to seek his opinion.

On Tuesday, the 18th instant, President Dole sent Mr. Prank Hastings, his private secretary, to say that Mr. Stevens had requested, on application from Admiral Skerrett, permission for the United States troops to land for the purpose of drilling, and said that he thought proper, before consenting to it, he should make this fact known to me. I replied that I did not desire the troops to land. I then sent for Admiral Skerrett and told him that there were circumstances of a political character which made the landing of the troops for any purpose at this time inadvisable. This was entirely satisfactory to him.

On the 21st the aforesaid Mr. Hastings called and asked how he should answer Mr. Stevens’ note for permission to land the troops. 1 replied by simply saying that the Commissioner had informed him that he disapproved of it.

The landing of the troops, pending negotiations between the Queen and President Dole, might be used to impress the former with fear that troops were landed to lend force to the Provisional Government in bringing her to an adjustment. I did not think proper to communicate this reason to Mr. Stevens or any other person, save Admiral Skerrett, and to him confidentially.

A great many hearings have been given to persons classed as Reformers or as Royalists. The former justify the dethronement of the Queen, because of her revolutionary attempt to subvert the constitution of 1887, and by proclamation to create a new constitution in lieu thereof, containing provisions restoring to the Crown the right of appointing nobles and of appointing ministers responsible only to it. In speaking of the controversy they refer to one party as whites and the other as natives. They represent the political contests for the last ten or twelve years as running parallel with racial lines. A confidence is sometimes expressed that the revolution of 1887 taught the whites that whenever they desired they could do whatever they willed in determining the form of government for these islands, and had likewise taught the natives that they would be unable to resist the will of the whites.

It is urged that the aid of the Government of the United States was not needed to make the revolution successful. Closer scrutiny reveals the fact that they regarded the revolution as successful when they should be able to proclaim a constitution from some public building, believing that the presence of the United States troops signified their use for the preservation of public order, which latter, in the minds of [Page 483]the people of Honolulu, means the prevention of hostile com opposing parties. Whatever may be the truth, I am unable to discover in all the testimony any apprehension that the troops would be inimical to the revolutionary movement. In all of the examinations of persons thus far this fear has never manifested itself for an instant. The natives, on the other hand, insist that the Queen never contemplated proclaiming a new constitution without the assent of the ministry. They argue that the establishment of a new constitution by the proclamation of the Queen was as justifiable as that of 1887, in which a mass meeting of whites in the city of Honolulu extorted the proclamation of a new constitution from King Kalakaua, which had never been ratified by any vote of the people. They represent that the proclamation of a new constitution by the Queen was founded on the universal wish of the native population, which is in overwhelming majority over other races participating in the affairs of this Government.

They allege that on the day the Queen sought to proclaim a new constitution a committee representing the Hui Kalaiaina were waiting on her by direction of that organization. They represent that various petitions had been presented to the Queen and to the legislature for a series of years, asking for a new constitution similar to that existing prior to the revolution of 1887. Testimony on these two lines of thought has been taken. In addition to this, very much evidence has been given in the form of voluntary statements as to the causes of the revolution and the circumstances attending it, especially as to how far the whites compelled the Queen to acquiesce in their movement on the one side, and on the other as to the entire success of the movement of the whites, depending on the action of the United States troops and the American Minister in support of this movement.

It is not my purpose at this time to enter into an elaborate consideration of the evidence which has been adduced, because many other statements are yet to be made, which will be considered.

I invite your attention to the following copy of a memorial from the Hui Kalaiaina, because of its striking disclosure of the native Hawaiian mind in its aspirations as to the form of government, and, in connection with that, a colloquy between myself and a committee of that organization taken down by a stenographer and approved by them:

Statement of facts made by the Hui Kalaiaina (Hawaiian Political Association) in behalf of the people to J. H. Blount, the United States Commissioner, showing why the people urged the Queen to promulgate a new constitution for the Hawaiian people.

To the Honorable J. H. Blount, the United States Commissioner, greeting:

We, the Hawaiian Political Association, in behalf of the people of the Hawaiian islands—an association organized in the city of Honolulu, with branches organized all over these islands, which association has been in existence since the overthrow of the constitution of Kamehameha IV by the descendants of the sons of missionaries who are seeking to usurp the Kingdom of our Queen for themselves—

And for this reason the people did ask King Kalakaua to revise the constitution of 1887 now in force, and during his reign many petitions were made to him and to the Legislature with thousands of signatures attached, but the desire of the people was never fulfilled.

Therefore, the people petitioned to him for redress according to these statements now submitted to you:

  • First. This constitution deprived the Grown of Hawaiian Islands of its ancient prerogatives.
  • Second. This constitution based the principles of government on the forms and spirit of republican governments.
  • Third. This constitution opens the way to a republican government.
  • Fourth. This constitution has taken the sovereign power and vested it outside of the King sitting on the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
  • Fifth. This constitution has limited the franchise of the native Hawaiians.

[Page 484]

For these five reasons was King Kalakaua petitioned by his people to revise the constitution, but it never was carried out until the time of his death.

During the reign of Queen Liliuokalani the same thing happened. Numerous petitions were laid before her by and from the people, and from this association to the Legislature and to the Queen. These petitions contain over eight thousand names, and this Hawaaian Political Association did repeatedly petition the Queen to revise and amend or to make a new constitution, to which she finally consented to lay this request from her people before the cabinet, but the wishes of the people were not carried out.

On the 14th of January, 1893, at the time of the prorogation of the Legislature, in the afternoon, this political association came and petitioned Her Majesty Liliuokalani to issue a new constitution for the people, to which she consented, with the intention of listening to the desires of her people, but her cabinet refused.

A short while afterwards the descendants of the missionaries came forward in their second attempt to usurp the Kingdom of our Queen Liliuokalani, and said attempt would not have succeeded had it not been for the support given it by the American Minister Stevens—therefore our Queen yielded the Kingdom into their hands through the superior force presented by the men of the American warships, who had been landed on the Hawaiian soil.

Queen Liliuokalani yielded her Kingdom into their hands, not with good will, but because she could not defend it, and because the Queen did not desire to see the blood of her Hawaiian people shed on this land of peace.

Therefore, we submit to you our humble petition and statements, as you are in possession of vast powers in your mission to do justice to the Hawaiian people, our independence, the throne, and the Hawaiian flag; we beg you to restore our beloved Queen Liliuokalani to the throne with the independence of the Hawaiian people, as you have restored the Hawaiian flag.

Submitting these statements and petitions to you we pray that the Almighty God would assist you in your responsible duties, that the prayers of our people may be granted, that continued friendship may exist between us and the American nation.

We, the undersigned subscribers of the Hawaiian Political Association.

W. L. Holokahiki,

Chairman.

John Keeui,

J. Alapai,

J. Akahoonei,

J. B. Kurha,

J. Kean,

D. W. Kanoelehua,

T. C. Pohikapa,
Committee.

In accepting the copy of the resolutions Mr. Blount responded as follows:

Gentlemen: Very much of the duties of my mission I cannot communicate to you. I will say, however, that your papers which have been presented I will accept and forward to the President in the nature of information indicating the opinions of your people in these Islands in reference to the inclination on your part to support the existing condition of things—that is to say, whether you are in favor of the Provisional Government and annexation, or whether your preference is for royalty. I am gathering information on these lines for the purpose of submitting it to the President. That is the extent of what I can say to you by way of response. I would like to ask, however, a few questions. Which is the chairman of your committee?

Interpreter. W. L. Holokahiki, of Honolulu.

(These questions were given and answered through the interpreter.)

Q. On the day of the prorogation of the Legislature a number of natives are reported to have gone in to see the Queen—about thirty in number—and that their object was to ask for a new constitution. Was that a committee from this organization?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How many voters—people who vote for representatives—are there in this order?

A. Some thousands; as we have it in our books about 3,000 of native Hawaiians.

Q. What did the Queen say in response to your request?

A. That she was quite ready to give a new constitution, but her cabinet is opposed to it. Her cabinet refused it so that she could not do otherwise. She told the people that they had to go home quietly and wait for the next session of the Legislature.

Q. When would that be if the Government had not been overthrown?

A. The time, according to our laws, was two years, and that would run us up to 1894.

Q. Then the information was that nothing could be done under two years on account of the disapproval of the cabinet?

A. Yes; the Queen could do nothing.

[Page 485]

Q. She said she could do nothing?

A. Yes; because the constitution said she could do nothing without being approved by her Cabinet.

Q. What did the committee do when they went out? Did they give this information to the native people?

A. Yes, sir. This committee shortly after they came out—they told the people they could do nothing now; that they would have to wait until the next session. Also, the Queen came out and told the people she could not give them any constitution now because the law forbids.

A great many petitions were exhibited—sometimes they were to the Queen and sometimes to the Legislature—asking for a new constitution.

A book was also shown containing the names of members of the organization throughout the island, and giving the numbers as follows:

Oahu, 2,320; Maui, 384; Hawaii, 266; Kauai, 222, and Molokai, 263.

Q. (To interpreter.) Why don’t other natives join the organization?

A. They sometimes go to meetings. When anything happens they go together.

Q. These are active members of the organization?

A. Yes.

Q. In matters of this sort the natives followed the lead of this organigation?

A. Yes, sir.

Prior to the constitution of 1887 the nobles were appointed by the Crown and the representatives were elected by the people, with but little obstruction in the qualification of the elector. The number of nobles was 20 and the number of representatives was 28, and these, constituting one body, enacted the laws. The cabinet was only responsible to the King. The majority of voters was overwhelmingly native. It is easy to understand how completely the native people could, if they desired, control the Government as against the white race. Under the constitution of 1887 the number of nobles and representatives is equal. The qualification of an elector of a noble required him to own property of the value of $3,000, unincumbered, or an income of $600. Practically this vested the power of electing nobles in the white population, or, as it is sometimes termed, the reform party. A cabinet could not be removed by the Crown except on a vote of want of confidence by the Legislature. The ability to elect a small number, even one of the representatives, enabled the white race to control legislation and to vote out any ministry not in accord with them. This placed the political power in the hands of the white race. I use the words “white” and “native” as distinguishing the persons in the political contests here, because they are generally used by the people here in communicating their views to me.

I had supposed up to the appearance of this memorial that the real demand of the native was for a just proportion of power in the election of nobles by the reduction of the money qualification of an elector. This I had derived from interviews with some of the intelligent half-castes. This memorial indicates an opposition to the new constitution because it takes away from the Crown the right to appoint nobles and the right to appoint and remove cabinets at will. There is no aspiration in it for the advancement of the right of the masses to participate in the control of public affairs, but an eager, trustful devotion to the Crown as an absolute monarchy. I had wondered whether or not this race of people, which up to 1843 had no rights of property, and over whom the king and chiefs had absolute power of life and death, had fully cast off the old system and conceived the modern ideas in the United States of the control of the government by equal participation by every citizen in the selection of its rulers. Up to the appearance of this memorial I had received but little satisfaction on this line of thought.

In this connection I invite your attention to Inclosure No. 2, being a copy of resolutions presented on the 16th instant by a committee of the “Hui Aloha Aina”—the Hawaiian Patriotic League.

[Page 486]

Taken in connection with the foregoing memorial of the Hui Kalaiaina, it is strongly suggestive of blind devotion to arbitrary power vested in the crown worn by a person of native blood. I have forwarded these two documents because they present a phase of thought which had not been so well defined in anything I had seen in publications relating to these islands. They seem to go very far in the matter of the capacity of these people for self-government.

I have received communications from every source when offered, not to support any theory, but simply to see what might be derived from them in the way of information. I have studiously avoided any suggestion that the President contemplated the consideration of the restoration of the Queen, the support of the existing Government, or the question of annexation on any terms. I have intended to invite the freest expression of thought without any indication that it was to be considered with a view of guiding the action of the Government in the determination of any proposition. In all this I find my action most heartily approved by both whites and natives.

In several local papers, beginning with the 13th instant, editorials have appeared advising in terms somewhat indefinite, and yet pointing to the extreme action which should be taken towards the Queen and her adherents, and deploring the want of such action on the part of the Provisional Government. On the night of the 14th instant a prominent half-caste called upon me. He had always assured me hitherto of the quiet intention of the native population. On this latter occasion he said: “We are in trouble. It is said the Queen is to be put out of the way by assassination, and her prominent followers to be prosecuted for treason or deported.”

These apprehensions naturally grew out of the editorials alluded to. I said to him I had no idea there was any foundation for his fears in the purposes of the Government. Before he left me he seemed to be relieved.

On the morning of the 15th I called on President Dole, and invited his attention to the newspaper articles above referred to and to the visit of the half-caste, with his expressions of fear and my response. I said to him that perhaps I had gone farther than propriety would suggest in my opinion to the half-caste on the evening before, but that I was impelled solely by that humane feeling which would regret to see disorder and bloodshed inflicted on any portion of the community. I also intimated that if he deemed it desirable, owing to the kindly feeling the native population had manifested towards me, I might, without pretending to represent the Government, allay their anxieties and contribute to the public peace by assuring them that the extreme measures advocated by the press I did not believe were approved by the Government. To this he responded that it would be very gratifying to him and to those in political accord with him for me to act as I had suggested. He furthermore declared that it was the purpose of the Government to confine its action only to the preservation of order, and to take no extreme steps against any parties here unless it should be to meet a forcible attack on the Government.

When the ensign was hauled down and the troops ordered to the vessels there was some comment on the omission to recite in the order or by some public declaration the exact import of this action.

In the above conversation I referred to the subject and said that at the time I believed that any speech or written declaration might be liable to many and false constructions, and that the action of hauling down the ensign and the removal of the troops would in a few hours [Page 487]tell with more simplicity and accuracy and with better results than any utterances of mine could do.

To this he replied that at first there was some criticism, but that all minds had come to the conclusion that I had taken the wiser course.

He took occasion to say to me that all men everywhere could only think that I was governed by the highest motives in all my actions here.

At 10 o’clock on the morning of the 22d instant Mr. Spreckels called to see me. He assured me that Mr. Neumann was going to San Francisco and then to Japan. I said to him: “But he is going to Washington.” He said: “Yes; but in order to take some dispatches from Mr. Stevens to the Washington Government.”

On the 21st, in the conversation with Mr. Stevens, to which reference has already been made, he told me for the first time of a letter he had written to you concerning certain matters which had passed between him and the Japanese commissioner at this place. The extent of it was that by representations that the United States was opposed to the presence of a Japanese war vessel here that it was determined that the Japanese Minister should ask his Government to cause the aforesaid vessel to be withdrawn.

In view of my instructions, I felt bound to give assurances to the Japanese commissioner that the present Administration does not view with displeasure or suspicion the presence of one of her war vessels here.

Mr. Paul Neumann is generally regarded here as a bright, plausible, unscrupulous person. Permit me to suggest that if the Administration should entertain any proposition from Mr. Neumann in connection with a contract between the Queen and the Provisional Government in the matter of her abdication, the consummation of it is surrounded by so many circumstances indicating that the Government of the United States has been made to appear to the Queen as favoring such action on her part that it would be far better to decline to entertain anything from Mr. Neumann, but for the Government to accomplish its purpose in a more direct manner. If such an adjustment is desirable, instructions to the American representative here to endea.vor to bring about such an arrangement would be a much more honorable course on the part of the United States.

The representatives of the Provisional Government are conscious that the movement inaugurated on the 14th of January last for the dethronement of the Queen and annexation to the United States is a much more desperate one than they then realized.

The white race, or what may be termed the Reform party, constitute the intelligence and own most of the property in these islands and are desperately eager to be a part of the United States on any terms rather than take the chances of being subjected to the control of the natives. With them we can dictate any terms. The feeling of the natives is that while they do not want annexation, if the United States does it will be accomplished, and they will acquiesce. The situation is so completely under our control that I should regret to see Mr. Neumann’s agency in the matter of abdication of the Queen, with his connection with Dr. Bowen and others and the attendant circumstances, recognized by the Government. You will readily understand that this is not intended as impertinence, but only as a suggestion.

Since writing the foregoing portion of my letter relating to attempts to represent the views of the President of the United States by unauthorized persons in connection with the subject of an agreement between ex-Queen Liliuokalani and the Provisional Government, I have deemed it proper to have an interview with the former in order to understand, [Page 488]as far as I might, from her whether any negotiations had been authorized by her, and if so, how far they had gone. Before doing so, I called on President Dole and informed him of my purpose to see her in connection with this subject, stating to him that I was not willing that persons should make fraudulent representations to her as to that matter. I told him that I had abstained from seeing her lest my visit might be construed in a way to produce disorders, but now I felt all danger of this had passed. He concurred in my views as to the propriety of my calling, if I saw fit to do so.

I said to the ex-Queen that I had been informed that certain persons had sought to impress her with the idea that the President desired some such adjustment as indicated to be made 5 that I wished to say that no person was authorized by the President nor by myself to place the Government of the United States in such an attitude; that, while I would interpose no objection to such negotiation, I wanted her to know that whatever she did in the matter was free from any moral influence from the Government of the United States. I further said to her that I desired to be able to inform my Government whether she had been engaged in such negotiations or contemplated them, or whether anybody was authorized to act for her in any such matter; that I wished the information simply to put the Government at Washington in possession of the true state of facts.

She replied that parties who had represented her in other matters had talked to her on the subject; that she had declined to indicate any disposition to act in the matter; that she had said to some of them that she would wait until President Dole came to see her in person, and had heard what he had to say; that she did not intend to enter into any negotiations until the Government at Washington had taken action on the information derived through my report. She said she had sent Mr. Neumann to Washington to prevent the ratification of the treaty and to have a commission sent out here, and he reported that he had been successful in both. I then asked her what she desired me to say to the Government at Washington as to her purpose in the matter of this negotiation. She expressed a wish that I should say from her that no one was authorized to act in her behalf in this matter and that she should take no action until the Government at Washington had passed upon the information derived through the Commissioner.

Lest she might make improper inferences from my visit or something I had said I told her that one of the objects of my visit was to get all the facts connected with her dethronement and the disposition of the people of the Islands in relation to the present Government; that she could readily see that that was a matter to be hereafter considered by the Government in such manner as it saw fit. Without any apparent connection with what had been said, she remarked that much depended on Mr. Spreckels as to the future; that he and Mr. Bishop had been in the habit of furnishing money to the Government, and that if Mr. Spreckels did not advance to the Government she thought it would go to pieces. To this I made no response. It is evident that she is being impressed with the idea that the present Government could not get money enough to run itself long.

I am not sufficiently informed to express any views on this proposition at this time.

I think the operations of Dr. Bowen and Mr. Sewall have been conducted through Mr. Neumann. I shall, perhaps, know more before closing this communication.

I send you a map, marked Inclosure No. 3. You will find it useful [Page 489]in considering the location of the various military forces connected with the revolution, to which I may refer in this and especially in subsequent communications.

I send you a written statement from F. Wundenburg (Inclosure No. 4), who says that his information is derived from being personally present in all the conferences of the committee of safety and that his utterances are based on his personal knowledge. He appears to be an intelligent man. He says that he acted with the committee in good faith until the American flag was hoisted, and then he ceased communication with them. He is at this time deputy clerk of the supreme court. I think in my next communication I may be able to give you information strongly corroborating all that Mr. Wundenburg has said.

I may say that the peaceful surroundings of the revolution are confirmed by all persons with whom I have communicated, and that Judge Cooper, who was and is an intense annexationist, let drop, in answer to a question of mine, that when the Government building was entered by the committee of safety and the proclamation dethroning the Queen and establishing the new Government was read by him there was not a soldier of the Provisional Government or of the Queen on the ground.

I send you, in original, a communication from Mr. William H. Corn well, a member of the Queen’s cabinet at the time of her dethronement (Inclosure No. 5).

I also send you, in original, a communication from Mr. John F. Colburn, a member of the Ex-Queen’s cabinet and a half-caste (Inclosure No. 6).

These are forwarded in advance of the testimony or voluntary statements in response to interrogatories by himself, because they present the views of these gentlemen as to the circumstances attending the revolution and which do not appear in any of the papers relating to the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands printed by the United States so far as I have been furnished with them.

It is my purpose to examine them in person so as to have an opportunity of thoroughly sifting them.

I inclose you a copy of a communication from the committee of public safety—which conceived and executed the dethronement of the Queen—addressed to the American Minister (Inclosure No. 7). On page 12 of Executive Document No. 76, Fifty-second Congress, second session, this paper issimply referred to in the following language: “A copy of the call of the committee of public safety for aid is inclosed.” It appears significant enough to have justified its being printed in full. To be imploring protection from the Government of the United States on the 16th and establishing the provisional government and dethroning the Queen without firing a gun on the next day—without any reference to the presence of United States troops— is quite a draft on my credulity.

This paper may have been overlooked, and hence my calling your attention to it.

I send you a pamphlet, entitled “Papers of the Hawaiian Historical Society No. 3” (Inclosure No. 8),* on the subject of the evolution of the Hawaiian land tenures. To this I will add further information in relation to the tenure of lands in these islands. It appears from all information attainable that the great mass of the natives have at all times had but little interest in real property. This will throw some light on the little development attained by them, and how the real property [Page 490]has, by virtue of the operation of these laws, resulted in the ownership by large landed proprietors, mostly of foreign birth.

I see in the newspapers that the War Department is issuing in a documentary form information of various sorts in relation to the islands. In one of them it is stated that the natives generally speak the English language. This is quite contradictory to my information from intelligent persons here and my own observation. In Honolulu, where the situation is most favorable to development, the groups of children playing along the streets use their native tongue. The natives of mature age whom you meet are generally unable to converse with you in English or to understand what is said to them. They learn in the schools the English text-books as an American child would learn the Latin or Greek languages. This done, their capacity to think or speak English seems very slight.

I am very much impressed with a belief that a large majority of the people of these islands are opposed to annexation and that the proofs being taken will verify this opinion.

I have not indicated any purposes of the United States on the subject of annexation in seeking to ascertain the sentiment of the people towards existing authority. A response to this necessarily involves the question of how the people feel towards annexation. The Provisional Government being avowedly a part of a scheme towards annexation, and the opposition taking the form of opposing it, I have from necessity been compelled to put my inquiries more or less in a form answering to this division of sentiment. I have never claimed to mold the disposition of the administration on that question nor indicated my own.

The condition of the public mind is very peaceful. I think it important to maintain this situation that a representative of the United States should be here before my departure who will maintain the attitude of noninterference in local affairs which I have observed. The contrary course on the part of an American representative would immediately produce much bitterness and discontent in one or the other of the parties now dividing the people. I can see no advantage in my remaining here longer than the month of May. I trust that you will consent to my return at such time during the month of June as I may choose. I prefer to write my report on my return to Washington rather than while here. Interruptions on the part of people who are constantly seeking my attention make this preferable.

It is difficult to get passage from here to the United States on account of the great amount of travel and arrangements must be made some weeks in advance.

Please be kind enough to telegraph me in response to the subject of my return.

I am, etc.,

James H. Blount,
Special Commissioner of the United States.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 3.]
Power of attorney for Mr. Neumann.

To all persons and to the Government of the United States of America and to all other Governments whatsoever: To all bodies corporate as well as bodies politic, and more especially to the President and to the Secretary of the Department of State of the United States of America, I, Liliuokalani, of the city of Honolulu, in the Island of Oahu, one of the Hawaiian Islands, send greeting:

[Page 491]

Whereas on the seventeenth day of January, A. D. 1893, at the city of Honolulu aforesaid, I did yield to the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands my authority as Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands under protest;

And whereas by so doing I claim to be entitled by international law and in the high forum of conscience and equity to receive consideration and provision both for myself and family and for Kaiulani, who was my legally appointed successor as such Sovereign;

And whereas it is my intention and desire by these presents to authorize, secure, accomplish, and finally complete and to ratify by such arrangements as may conduce to the greatest welfare and benefit of all the people of the Hawaiian Islands and also of myself and family and the said Kaiulani;

And whereas I repose the fullest confidence in the ability, integrity, and fidelity of Paul Neumann, esq., of the city of Honolulu aforesaid, counsellor at law, and have entrusted him with full power and authority to act for me in the premises;

Now, therefore, know ye, that in consideration of the premises, I, Lilioukalani, aforesaid, have made, constituted, and appointed, and by these presents do hereby make, constitute, and appoint the aforesaid Paul Neumann, esq., my true, lawful, and sufficient attorney, for me and in my name, place, and stead, to negotiate, arrange, and agree with the United States of America and the President and the Secretary of the Department of State thereof, and with any other (if any) representative or official thereof having authority in the premises for such official, or the consideration, benefit, and advantage as in the opinion of my said attorney shall, may, or can be obtained from the United States of America as well for myself and family as for the said Kaiulani, in consideration of existing conditions and circumstances. And if no official consideration for myself or said Kaiulani shall in the opinion of my said attorney be attainable from the United States of America, then and thereupon, and in such case to arrange and agree upon such pecuniary considerations, benefits, and advantages as can or may be secured for myself and family, and for said Kaiulani, from the United States of America, and whether the same shall be in the form of payment at one time of a sum of money to myself for of distinct sums of money to myself and said Kaiulani, or in payment of stated sums of money annually, or oftener, for a fixed period or periods of time, and upon ascertaining that such pecuniary considerations, benefits, advantages, or payments of money from and on the part of the said United States can be secured to agree upon, receive, and accept the same, and in my name and behalf to make, execute, and deliver such agreements, releases, and acquittances of ail my claims, demands, and pretensions whatsoever upon the throne of the Hawaiian Islands and upon the Government of the United States of America, as well as of the Hawaiian Islands and upon all persons having had anything to do with or having been or being in any way concerned in the said Provisional Government as shall be requisite to accomplish and secure such pecuniary considerations, benefits, advantages, and payments, or which shall be required therefor by the President or the Secretary of the Department of State aforesaid, or by any other (if any) representative or official of the United States authorized to act or agree ix the premises, and all that my said attorney shall do or cause to be done in the premises I do hereby for myself and my successors, executors, administrators, and assigns ratify and confirm, and further I do hereby covenant with my said attorney and his executors and administrators and with the President of the United States of America and with any other person and persons representing the said United States of America in the premises, and with each of them, and with their respective successors both jointly and severally that all and whatsoever my said attorney shall in my behalf agree to do or cause to be done or agreed upon by virtue of these presents I will and my successors, heirs, executors, and administrators shall ratify and confirm, and that I will at any time thereafter execute, sign, seal, acknowledge, and deliver such other and further releases, acquittances, assurances and instruments in writing, as shall in the opinion of my said attorney or in the opinion of the President of the United States of America or of any officer or representative thereof having the matter in charge be requisite and proper in order to carry out the full intent and meaning of these presents.

In witness whereof I hereunto and also to two other instruments of the same date and time have set my hands and seals at the city of Honolulu aforesaid this day of in the year A. D. 1893.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 3.]
Hawaiian Patriotic League to Mr. Blount.

We, the women of the Hawaiian Islands, for our families and the happiness of our homes, desire peace and political quiet, and we pray that man’s greed for power and spoils shall not be allowed to disturb the otherwise happy life of these islands, and [Page 492]that the revolutionary agitations and disturbances inaugurated here since 1887, by a few foreigners, may be forever suppressed.

To that effect we believe that, in the light of recent events, the peace, welfare, and honor of both America and Hawaii will be better served, for the present, if the Government of the great American Republic does not countenance the illegal conduct and interference of its representatives here and the rash wish of a minority of foreigners for annexation.

Therefore, we respectfully but earnestly pray that Hawaii may be granted the preservation of its independent autonomy and the restoration of its legitimate native monarchy under our Queen Liliuokalani, in whom we have full confidence.

And we hope that the distinguished citizen, who so wisely presides over the United States, may kindly receive this our petition, for which we shall evermore pray for God’s blessing on him and his Government.

  • Mrs. James Campbell, President.
  • Mrs. J. A. Cummins, Vice-President.
  • Mrs. Al. Fernandez, Treasurer.
  • Mrs. C. K. Stillman, Secretary.
  • Mrs. Joseph Nauahi,
  • Mrs. Junius Kaae,
  • Miss Hattie Hiram,
  • Mrs. M. Kahai,
  • Mrs. Lulia Aholo,
  • Mrs. L. Kekupuwolui Mahelona,
  • Mrs. W. H. Aldrich,
  • Mrs. M. A. Lemon,
    Executive Committee.

They were evidently persons of intelligence, and refined in their deportment. After reading the papers handed to me I responded that I would forward them to my Government as a matter of information, but that I could not enter into any discussion of the situation; that I would accept and transmit their papers, as I did all other facts, for purposes of information. To this they responded that they did not expect me to communicate anything to them as to my views or the disposition of the Government of the United States.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 3.]
A report from Mr. Wundenburg to Mr. Blount.

The committee of safety met at the office of W. O. Smith in Fort street, Honolulu, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon of Monday, the 16th day of January, 1893, for the purpose of discussing the necessary steps to be taken in forming a new government.

Shortly after the committee met it was decided that they were not ready for the landing of the American troops, and a committee of three, with Thurston as the chairman, was immediately dispatched to the American legation to prevail upon Mr. Stevens to delay the landing of the Boston’s men. The committee returned shortly and reported that Mr. Stevens had said to them: “Gentlemen, the troops of the Boston land this afternoon at 5 o’clock, whether you are ready or not.”

The foregoing report of Mr. Stevens’s reply to the committee is as near literal as can be remembered, and gives a correct idea of the meaning conveyed. The committee of safety adjourned to meet the same evening, at 7:30 o’clock, at the house of Henry Waterhouse, in Nuuanu Valley. The American troops landed at 5 o’clock, as Mr. Stevens had told the committee they would, and marched up Fort street to Merchant, and along Merchant street, halting in King street, between the palace and Government building.

At the time the men landed the town was perfectly quiet, business hours were about over, and the people—men, women, and children—were in the streets, and nothing unusual was to be seen except the landing of a formidable armed force with Gatling guns, evidently fully prepared to remain on shore for an indefinite length of time, as the men were supplied with double cartridge belts filled with ammunition, also haversacks and canteens, and were attended by a hospital corps with stretchers and medical supplies. The curiosity of the people on the streets was aroused, and the youngsters more particularly, followed the troops to see what it was all about. Nobody seemed to know, so when the troops found quarters the populace dispersed, the most of them going to the band concert at the hotel, which was very fully attended, as it was a beautiful moonlight evening, all who were not in the secret still wondering at the military demonstration.

The committee met at Mr. Waterhouse’s residence, according to adjournment, [Page 493]at 7:30–o’clock p.m. of the same day, January 16. The formation of some sort of government was under discussion, and it was decided that a commander in chief of the forces supporting the proposed new government should be appointed. The position was offered to Mr. John H. Soper, who demurred, as he did not see any backing whatever to support the movement. Mr. Soper was answered by members of the committee that the American minister would support the move with the troops of the Boston. Mr. Soper still doubted, so a couple of the committee escorted him over to the legation, which, by the way, was in the adjoining premises, and the three came back after a time, reporting that Mr. Stevens had given them the full assurance that any proclamation of the Government put forward at the Government building, or any other building in Honolulu for that matter, would receive his immediate recognition and the support of the Boston’s men. This assurance seemed to satisfy Mr. Soper, and he accepted the position.

On Tuesday afternoon, January 17, the committee of thirteen, or committee of safety, proceeded from the office of W. O. Smith up Merchant street to the Government building and read the proclamation of a new government at 2.40 o’clock, there being practically no audience whatever. As the reading proceeded a dozen or so loungers gathered, and near the close of the ceremony about thirty supporters, variously armed, came running into the side and back entrances of the yard and gathered a-bout the committee.

At this moment the United States troops, in the temporary quarters in the rear of the Music Hall (less than 100 yards from where the committee stood) appeared to be under arms and were evidently prepared for any emergency.

During all the deliberations of the committee, and in fact throughout the whole proceedings connected with plans for the move up to the final issue, the basis of action was the general understanding that Minister Stevens would keep his promise to support the movement with the men from the Boston, and the statement is now advisedly made (with a full knowledge of the lack of arms, ammunition, and men, also the utter absence of organization at all adequate to the undertaking), that without the previous assurance of support from the American minister and the actual presence of the United States troops no movement would have been attempted, and if attempted, would have been a dismal failure resulting in the capture or death of the participants in a very short time.

(Having been present at the several meetings referred to in this statement, I hereby certify that the same is correct in every essential particular. F. Wundenburg.)

(Note.—This person appears to be highly esteemed here. He was tendered the position of collector of customs recently by the Provisional Government and declined it. I send an extract from the Daily Pacific Commercial Advertiser, showing its esteem of him.):

a projected appointment.

It is stated that the council at its meeting yesterday recommended the appointment of F. W. Wundenberg as collector-general of customs. The appointment would be in all respects a worthy one. Mr. Wundenberg is thoroughly qualified by long business experience for the position. He is a man of great energy and character, and of unimpeachable integrity. If made collector he may be trusted to make no compromise with evil, but to fight it to the bitter end.

Mr. Wundenberg was identified with the revolution from the 14th of January until the danger was over. He was placed in charge of the police station at a time when everything depended on reliable leadership, and if an uprising should occur he would follow the cause into the cannon’s mouth to-day. As a recognition of valuable service at a critical moment his appointment would be peculiarly appropriate.

Mr. Wundenberg has an abundant crop of enemies. In this he does not differ from most men of positive traits. The fact will recommend him to all who desire to see a strong and fearless man collector-general.

[Inclosure 5 in No. 3.]
Mr. Cornwell to Mr. Blount.

The following statement does not purport to be an exhaustive or full history or report of the resolution of the 17th day of January, but are simply plain facts relating to that political incident as they came within my personal knowledge and observation as a minister in Her Majesty’s cabinet.

On the 14th of January Her Majesty prorogued the Legislature, with the usual ceremony pertaining to such occasion. It was noted that the foreign members of [Page 494]the Legislature absented themselves as an expression of their disapproval and opposition to the cabinet, thereby indicating their threatening attitude against the Government and giving color to the rumors, which already, then, had reached us, that the reform party was conspiring to take some steps to, if possible, recover their lost power. After prorogation Her Majesty informed the cabinet that she wished to see them at the palace, and we responded to her order at about 1:30 p.m. After our arrival the Queen stated to us that, at the request of some 8,000 of her native subjects, she had decided to promulgate a new constitution, in which the grievances of her petitioning subjects would be remedied, and she asked us to sign the document with her. We all declined to become a party to this move and refused to comply with her request, and we earnestly advised her to give up her intention, although we were well aware that more than two-thirds of the electors of the country were in favor of the change, and that nearly all the representatives in the Legislature were elected on a platform in which the main plank was a new constitution. However, after talking with her and explaining the impossibility of taking such a step, she admitted that we were in the right, although calling our attention to the precedent which the Reform party had created by the revolutionary constitution which was promulgated in 1887.

The Queen then told the people’s delegates, who were assembled in the throne room, that she could not grant their request at this time, but asked them all to return home quietly and await in peace the time when a proper course could be adopted to carry out the will of the people. The people dispersed quietly, and in a short time there were no Hawaiians in the palace grounds. A few remarks were made by the Hon. William White, the representative for Lahaina, to the effect that, while the people regretted the Queen’s inability to grant the wishes of the people, they would accept the assurances of the Queen and await the proper time, which, if they were successful at the next election to be held, would be at the meeting of the Legislature in 1894. The insurgents have falsely reported the remarks of Mr. White, and in their press and otherwise represented him as making an incendiary and threatening speech. The falsehood of such statement, well known, to us who were witnesses at the scene, will shortly be proven in the courts of justice, as Mr. White has retained counsel for the purpose of bringing a damage suit for malicious libel against the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, the principal organ of the reform party. Saturday evening and night were as peaceful and quiet as at any other time, but the conspirators were at work.

On Sunday morning, January 15, Mr. Thurston, the head of the revolutionary party, called on my colleagues, Ministers Col burn and Peterson, and asked them to join with himself and others in deposing the Queen, assuring them that such movement would be perfectly safe, as Minister Stevens had promised them the support of the United States forces and also that he would recognize and support a provisional government as soon as such a step could be taken. My colleagues naturally refused to entertain the infamous proposition of Mr. Thurston, and immediately communicated with myself and Minister Parker. The cabinet held several consultations with leading citizens of known loyalty to the Queen, and, knowing the strength of our forces, we felt confident that we easily could cope with any insurrection of the few malcontents.

On Monday, the 16th, we were informed that the conspirators had decided to establish a revolutionary government, giving as a reason that Her Majesty had attempted to violate the constitution, but the cabinet still felt sure that no such attempt could succeed if the insurgents depended on their own forces. The cabinet then advised the Queen to issue a proclamation to the people, in. which she explained her reasons for desiring to promulgate a new constitution, and at the same time assured them that she would not make any further attempt or proposition to gain that object. This was done, and at 11 a.m. the proclamation was printed and distributed all over town. Assurances to a similar end were also sent to the foreign representatives and accepted as satisfactory. In the afternoon two mass meetings took place, one at the armory, where the actions so far taken by the so-called safety committee were indorsed, and one on Palace square, where the proclamation of the Queen was accepted and responded to in a resolution.

I will here state that of the large number of citizens who gathered at the armory meeting, perhaps not fifty understood or desired that any further steps should or would be taken. Of this I have been assured by a number of prominent citizens with whom I am on terms of friendship, although differing with them politically, and who went to that meeting simply for the purpose of giving a public expression that the community disapproved of the step which the Queen had desired to take, and who believed that the matter would be dropped right there. The issue of the Queen’s proclamation was done after a consultation which the cabinet held Monday morning with the foreign representatives. We stated to the members of the corps diplomatique, who were present, what we intended to do, and were told that it was considered a wise step which they believed would be satisfactory. Present at the consultation were the representatives of England, France, Japan, and Portugal. [Page 495]Minister Stevens declined to be present, which did not surprise us, knowing his sympathy for the revolutionists. At about 4 p.m. we were informed that the United States forces were landing.

Ministers Parker and Peterson immediately called upon Minister Stevens and gave him to understand that the Government was perfectly able to take care of the situation, and requested him to keep the troops on board. He answered that he had landed the troops for the protection of American life and property and proposed to keep them ashore. The troops then marched up by the palace, passed as far out on King street as the residence of Mr. J. B. Atherton, a distance of about 600 yards, and later on returned and quartered for the night in the Arion hall, a building opposite the government building and the palace. It is noteworthy that the Arion hail and all the buildings in the immediate vicinity are not American property, so if the troops were landed solely for the protection of American property, the placing of them so far away from the center of the property of Americans and so very close to the property of the Hawaiian Government was remarkable and very suggestive.

On Tuesday, the 17th, we were informed that the insurgents would proclaim a provisional government in the afternoon, and the cabinet called upon Minister Stevens, asking him if he would afford any assistance to the legal and lawful Government of the country to which he was accredited in case that such assistance should be required. He refused in unmistakable terms, and made us understand that he should acknowledge and support the revolutionary government as soon as it was established. We then proceeded to the station house, where we held a council of war. Our forces were enthusiastic, and volunteers enrolled so rapidly that it became necessary to close the doors of the station house. A little after 3 o’clock p.m. we were informed that a handful of citizens had entered the government building and that a proclamation had been read claiming that a provisional government had been established and that the Queen was deposed, and also that the United States forces, under command of Capt. Wiitse, were marched up ready for action, with sharp loaded cannon and guns.

The Government had decided not to place forces in the Government building, as the immediate vicinity of the United States troops would endanger the lives of the men from the Boston in case of a conflict with the rebels, and the Government desired, at all hazards, to avoid giving Minister Stevens any excuse or pretense for his hostile actions. After the information relating to the establishing of the Provisional Government had been received the cabinet wrote a letter from the station house to Minister Stevens and sent it to him by Mr. Charles Hopkins, a noble of the Legislature. The letter was a request to the American minister to inform the Queen’s Government if he intended to recognize or support the lawful Government or the revolutionary government, which it was claimed was in existence. Mr. Stevens received the letter, and, through his daughter, informed Mr. Hopkins that he would answer it in due time. Mr. Hopkins demanded, cautiously but firmly, an immediate answer, and after considerable waiting a letter was handed to him addressed to His Excellency Samuel Parker, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which Mr. Stevens stated that he had recognized the Provisional Government because they were in possession of the Government building, and that he intended to support them.

We realized then that any steps from our side to dislodge and arrest the rebels would unavoidably lead us into a conflict with the United States forces, and we decided to surrender to the Provisional Government with the full understanding that such surrender was under protest, the United States Government to decide if the action of their minister and the use of their forces to destroy a friendly Government was justifiable and according to American principles. The conference between the Provisional Government was carried on by Mr. S. M. Damon on their behalf and the cabinet on behalf of the Queen. Other stipulations were agreed upon, the Provisional Government showing itself ready to promise anything so long as a fight could be avoided, but all such stipulations and promises were totally ignored after the surrender was made. It was after 7 o’clock p.m. when finally the arms and ammunition of the Queen’s Government were turned over to the Provisional Government, or about three hours after Minister Stevens had acknowledged that he had recognized the revolutionary government.

As a man who, for years, has taken an active part in Hawaiian politics, and as a practical sugar planter of many years’ experience, it is not difficult for me to realize the true cause for the late revolution and for the subsequent desire for annexation. The depression in the sugar business which, since the passage of the McKinley bill, has made havoc with the handsome dividends which we have enjoyed since 1875 and the loss of power by the reform party were the only and true reasons for the revolution. The prospects of the sugar bounty was and is the main motive for the desire to be annexed on the part of the handful of responsible men who still desire such step to be taken. That such plans were fully in accord with the policy of the late American Government, from which Mr. Stevens received his instructions, was the only reason why the scheme became feasible. The very idea of losing their independence as a nation is distasteful to the Hawaiians, and I say unhesitatingly, [Page 496]although I am an American citizen, to a large contingent of the foreign residents here.

The Queen’s attempt to give a new constitution is not the only reason which is given by the insurgents as an excuse for the revolution. The passage of the lottery bill and the opium license bill has also been used both by Mr. Stevens and the insurgents as extenuating circumstances. I opposed and voted against the lottery bill, although it was a measure of my party, because I do not believe in the principle of such a law. But the measure was favored and supported by nearly all the Americans in Honolulu, the very men who revolted and who now claim that the lottery was the cause of the revolution.

On the day of the prorogation of the Legislature Minister Stevens returned to town, after a visit to Hawaii, too late to be present at the ceremony of the prorogation, but he called at the Government building where he saw Minister Parker and myself. After having made his excuses for not attending the prorogation he asked if the Queen had signed the lottery bill. Answered in the affimative, he became very excited, and striking the table with his clenched fist he exclaimed, over and over again: “Gentlemen, this is a direct attack on the United States Government.” I told him that the Queen had signed the bill because the measure seemed to be the wish of the people, and that the petitions favoring the bill from Honolulu contained a large number of names of prominent and responsible men, and although I was personally opposed to the bill I did not consider it justifiable for the cabinet to advise the Queen to veto it.

The opium license act I consider a wise measure, and as an employer of a large number of men I claim that the regular sale of opium is of greater advantage to all classes than the prohibition of it, which no government can enforce owing to the facility for smuggling offered by the large territory of coast on the islands. The opium license law was passed not alone as a revenue measure, but for the purpose of checking the wholesale corruption which the smuggling of the drug carried with it, and was, if anything, a measure in favor of the morality of the country rather than a measure of corruption. The bill was supported by many of the leading men in the present Government and also by many planters, irrespective of political sentiments or party.

In concluding this statement I wish to call attention to the fact that Minister J. L. Stevens, in one of his official dispatches to Secretary Foster, now published, has expressed himself to the effect that I am entertaining feelings of hostility and enmity towards him. I am not aware of ever having given Mr. Stevens any reason for making such an assertion, which is utterly without foundation, and I only call the attention to the matter to avoid a possible impression that anything which I have here stated should be construed as biased or influenced by any private motives or the result of any alleged unfriendly relations with the American minister.

Wm. H. Cornwell.
[Inclosure 6 in No. 3.]
Mr. Colburn to Mr. Blount.

Sir: As a member of Her Majesty Liliuokalani’s cabinet that was deposed with her by a handful of citizens backed by the troops of the good ship Boston of the U. S. Navy, I called on you on the evening of Saturday, April 8, and paid my respects to you. You received me kindly, and during our conversation you asked me to prepare for you a statement of the facts connected with the Hawaiian revolution and all that was incident to it, and other important matters in re Hawaii, from my own knowledge and observation.

In response to your request I submit to you the following, trusting that it may be of value to you in summing up your conclusions in all that has happened, and the position of Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian people.

In opening up my statement, I desire first to introduce myself thoroughly to yon, so that you will recognize at once that I propose to take the responsibility of all that I write, and will produce to the extent of my ability, all such evidence as you may require, to corroborate what I write should you so desire it.

My name in full is John Francis Colburn. I was born on the 30th day of September, 1859; my father was an American and my mother a Hawaiian. My father died when I was but 2 years of age, and I, with my brother and sister, was brought up by my mother, who labored and toiled for our support with a sewing machine. I have received the whole of my education right here and have never traveled further than beyond San Francisco, Cal., when my presence was called there on business, and I made four different trips to that large city. At the age of 16 years I entered [Page 497]into employment, receiving such from the firm of Lewers & Cooke, the latter being one of the commissioners of the Provisional Government who went to Washington to secure annexation. At the age of 20 years I was married, and have living to-day five children; for the last seven years I have conducted a large hay, grain, and feed business on my own account, and am still following that pursuit. I omitted to mention that I had a large number of relatives on my father’s side residing in different parts of the United States, chief among them being the husband of my father’s own sister, J. H. Gans, residing in Red Bud, Ill., a strong Democrat and an applicant to President Cleveland for the position of American minister to this country in place of J. L. Stevens. My great grandfather, Thomas Colburn, was the first man killed at the battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, fighting as a patriotic American.

Liliuokalani was proclaimed Queen of the Hawaiian Islands January 29, 1891; her first cabinet had Mr. Samuel Parker as premier; he and his colleagues were voted out by a resolution of want of confidence, introduced by Mr. W. C. Wilder, one of the commissioners to Washington to seek annexation. After they were voted out the Queen appointed and commissioned a cabinet with E. C. Macfarlane as premier; they reported to the legislature and immediately upon sight L. A. Thurston moved an adjournment for two days. After adjournment, and when the members had taken their seats, W. O. Smith, the present attorney-general of the Provisional Government, introduced a resolution of want of confidence. After a long and heated discussion a vote was taken, and only twenty-four members responded to adopting the resolution; it was only lost to be resurrected again at another day. Time rolled on, and two weeks after another resolution of want of confidence was introduced against this same cabinet, but this time, through the intrigue of Thurston and his party, it was brought in and read by a native member. A vote was taken and a sufficient number of votes were cast to oust them.

They retired and the Queen, appointed another cabinet, of which W. H. Cornwell was premier. This cabinet, as soon as it presented itself to the house, was voted out on sight; the reason of it was, that the intrigue was worked so well on some of the native members of the legislature by paying them bribes and a weekly support, that they agreed with Thurston and his faction to vote out any cabinet the Queen chose to send to the legislature, unless it be a certain four of their own party, who they wanted to get in as the cabinet, and control the affairs of the country. The funds put up for this purpose was partly by S. M. Damon and C. Bolte, also by Mr. H. P. Baldwin, a large sugar plantation owner. When the Cornwell cabinet was voted out the Queen was puzzled as to what to do. She looked upon this reform party, who was doing all this work, as bringing about a conflict with her and the legislature; this reform party wanted to dictate to the Queen who the cabinet should be, and she, on the other hand, did not wish to recognize them to that extent, because the whole of the opposition, who had been voting cabinets out, were a mixture of three different political parties, and she was well informed that bribery was at the bottom of the whole affair.

She stood the Legislature off for a week or ten days; in the meantime she asked several well-to-do conservative business men to consult with her as to what course she should pursue, and considerable advice was given her to make the appointments of the persons whom the reform party was clamoring for, so as to bring about quiet and contentment in the business community, who was worked up to a certain pitch about the fact that the only work the Legislature was doing was to oust cabinets, and it was affecting business. The Queen paid heed to this advice given, and commissioned what was known as the Wilcox or the missionary cabinet. They reported to the Legislature, and to show you that they were not a popular cabinet, twenty-five members were ready to vote them right out, and it was only through the influence of some of us that the resolution was not introduced then, so that this cabinet could have a fair trial. It staid in power two months when, on the 12th day of January, 1893, a resolution was introduced and they were voted out. The reform party or the missionaries, as they are better named and called, were disgruntled and dissatisfied and discouraged at this work, and openly said we will get even with you, meaning the Hawaiians. They knew this vote meant their losing their power and influence in this country for years to come, and they were hostile. However, the majority of the people were satisfied that they were voted out, and looked to the prospects of the Queen appointing a cabinet with at least two Hawaiians in it, so that the race prejudice which had been created for quite a while would wear away and the Hawaians and foreigners would work together; the Queen also realized this matter as of great importance, and on Friday, January 13, 1893, she summoned and appointed the writer, minister of interior; Samuel Parker, minister of foreign affairs; W. H. Cornwell, minister of finance, and A. P. Peterson, attorney-general; the first two of us being the Hawaiian representation and the last two the foreign.

We repaired to the Legislature who was waiting for the Queen’s new cabinet, and as this cabinet approached the Government building from the palace the former was thronged with people who were anxious to see the new cabinet and extend their [Page 498]congratulations to us. That was a scene that has never before been witnessed upon the appointment of former cabinets; however, we arrived at the Legislature and amidst great cheering we took our seats. The house went through its work and then adjourned. The next day was the time that had been previously set for proroguing the Legislature. At 10 o’clock of that day, January 14, 1893, Mr Peterson informed me that he had heard it rumored that it was the Queen’s intention to promulgate a new constitution. I replied to him that she was making a mistake and I would oppose her if she really intended to do it. I called out to Messrs. Parker and Cornwell, and the four of us consulted over the matter. We all agreed that if the Queen was determined upon doing this work, and pleasing only the native element, we would oppose her. Mr. Parker went over at once to the palace to find out correctly if there was any truth to this rumor, but he was unable to see her, as she was preparing herself to prorogue the Legislature. He returned and informed us that he could not see her, and we decided to wait until the closing of Parliament.

In the meantime, however, I felt as though we should place ourselves in the right light before the foreign element of the community, and to get their view on the matter in case the Queen’s intentions were really as rumored and she would make it an issue with us, I left my colleagues at the Government building and repaired at once with all haste to the office of A. S. Hartwell, an old and esteemed friend of mine, and told him about the rumor we had heard, the consultation we had had, and the position we would take if the Queen could not be guided by our advice, and that was to resign. He asked me if he could ask Messrs. Thurston and Smith (the Provisional Government commissioner at Washington and the present attorney-general of the Provisional Government) to be together with him, and we would all consult the matter over together. I consented and he summoned them. When they arrived I went over what I had told Mr. Hartwell a short time previous and when I got through Thurston spoke up and said, “Colburn, don’t you resign under any conditions; if the Queen makes this an issue with you, we (meaning the foreign element) will back you up and I feel sure Minister Stevens will.” He further asked, are you alone in your stand?” and I replied, “no, I was positive Peterson took the same view as I did.” He spoke up again, “bring Peterson down here; we want to talk to him.”

I repaired at once to the Government building, told Peterson what I had done, and asked him to come down to Hartwell’s office with me. He consented, and we both came down. Upon arriving there we held a consultation. Thurston submitted in writing a plan for action in case the Queen was going to carry out her desire. We took the document, which was written by Thurston himself, and told him we would await developments. We then left them and went to the Government building. This was now approaching the noon hour. At 12 m., precisely, the Queen arrived at the Government building and prorogued the Legislature. Immediately after the Queen had left to return to the palace, Mr. Parker came up and said to us that the diplomatic corps wanted to have an interview with us at once in the foreign affairs office. We all consented and went directly upstairs to meet them.

After we were all seated, Mr. Wodehouse opened the conversation by asking us if we knew that a knew constitution was to be promulgated that afternoon by the Queen? Mr. Parke? replied that the cabinet were not aware of it, but they had heard rumors of it; he asked again what position the cabinet would take if the Queen did attempt to promulgate a new constitution, and Mr. Parker replied that the cabinet would oppose it. The conversation then drifted into their inquiring as to what reason could prompt the Queen to do anything like this, if the rumors that they and ourselves had heard were true, and we answered that it must be from the petition the natives had got up, signed, and presented to her. Mr. Wodehouse then said the Queen must not promulgate a new constitution, and if she had any idea of it she must abandon it. We assured him we would do all in our power to avoid anything of this kind happening. During all this conversation Mr. J. L. Stevens, who had kept perfectly quiet, not saying anything, spoke up now and asked if the Queen had signed the lottery bill? Mr. Parker replied in the affirmative; he asked again, did the cabinet advise the Queen to sign it? Mr. Peterson replied that the Queen considered that the bill having passed the Legislature by a majority the should sign it as she had no reason for vetoing it, and the cabinet acquiesced in her action. Mr. Stevens instantly raised his cane and stamped it on the floor and said the passing of the lottery bill and the signing of it by the Queen is a direct attack upon the United States; and he picked up his hat and walked out of the room, but before he was fairly out he spoke up and said, he wanted the cabinet to inform him at once if the Queen was going to attempt what we had a little while before discussed; we replied to him that we would, and we parted company.

The cabinet then went directly from the Government building to the palace where there was in waiting the Queen, members of the legislature, members of several political societies, and a large number of the public. Upon our arrival at the palace we entered the blue room and met the Queen. After seating ourselves she said to us that she had received a petition signed by nine thousand of her native subjects asking [Page 499]her for a new constitution; and she thought this was an opportune time to grant them their prayer and asked us to countersign her signature that she wanted to place on the document. Each one of us got up, one after the other, and told her that we could not accede to her wishes, and advised her to abandon the idea. She was very determined at first, and said she should promulgate it anyway. We reasoned with her and left her to think the matter over again, and at the same time take rest.

Messrs. Cornwell, Peterson, and myself left the palace and went to the Government building; we held a consultation and sent a message to each of the diplomatic corps; they all arrived and we entered into consultation again. The gentlemen of the diplomatic corps urged us very strongly to return to the palace and inform Her Majesty that she must abandon the idea at once. While this was going on at the Government building, Thurston and others who had heard of this matter were enrolling names down town with the avowed object of supporting the Cabinet in their positions and the stand they had taken. Thurston then came up to me and said to oppose the Queen’s intention as the foreign element of the community did not want a new constitution, and we could receive support, all that we wanted, even if it was necessary to depose her. At 3 o’clock, of that day we left the Government building again, and started over to the palace as the Queen had just sent us a message she wanted to see us at once.

As we were hurrying over there, and just before I had got out of the gate at the entrance of the Government building yard, W. O. Smith, the present attorney-general, came rushing in in a hack very much excited, and said, Colburn, don’t be alarmed; buck the Queen all you can; the troops of the Boston will assist in supporting you in your stand; make all the haste you can. Mr. Stevens has sent an order to the captain of the Boston, and his men with their guns and ammunition are already in the boats of the ship ready to come ashore at once.” I made no reply to him except telling him we were then on our way to the palace. He left me and I sung out to my colleagues, and told them what Smith had said to me. We arrived at the palace, and the Queen, who was waiting for us, asked us if we would read the new constitution she wanted to promulgate, and compare it with the one forced upon the late King Kalakaua by the Reform party in the revolution of 1887, and also the one promulgated by Kamehameha V in 1864. We replied that we would, sat down, and after comparing it we found some defects in it and pointed them out to her and advised her again to abandon the idea. After a little while she spoke up, and asked us if we were a unit in our advice, and we all replied yes. She then said she would pay heed to it and would inform her people who were still waiting, that she could not give them what they wanted, and to endure their grievances (this implied to the Constitution of 1887). She did so, and the people departed for their homes.

Mr. Peterson and myself went down town to the office of W. O. Smith, where there was a large gathering of the foreigners, and they asked me to speak to them. I did so and told them all that happened; some of them asked if we did not think the Queen would promulgate it at some other time, and I assured them we would never allow her to do it as long as the people who lived here were not a unit on such a Subject. A little later about 4:30 p.m. of that day, Mr. Thurston came to me with a document written out by him and said, “Colburn, this is a request on Minister Stevens and Capt. Wiltse to land the troops from the Boston and render you support; you and Peterson and Cornwell must sign it and place it in my hands so that in case you are imprisoned by the Queen’s orders that she can put this project of hers through, then this letter can be delivered.” I replied to him that I did not think it was necessary, as I felt sure the Queen had abandoned the idea altogether; he insisted on my taking it, and I took it and handed it to Peterson; where it now is I do not know, but we never signed it, as there was no reason for it.

The next morning, Sunday, January 15, 1893 at 6 a.m., Thurston came to my house and asked me to go with him to Peterson’s house. I asked him what he wanted with us at such an early hour, and his reply was, pressing business. I consented and accompanied him to Peterson’s house. Upon our arriving there we entered the room, and when we were seated, the three of us, he said that he represented a committee of safety who had had a meeting at his house on Saturday evening and decided to send him to us with a proposition, and that was that we, Peterson and Colburn, should depose the Queen. We asked him who this committee of safety was, and he replied thirteen gentlemen picked out from all those that had enrolled to support the cabinet in opposing the Queen against her desires in re new constitution. We asked him to furnish their names and he did so. He then said, it is the desire of this committee you two should depose the Queen and declare a provisional government. Don’t say a word about it to Parker and Cornwell, as Parker is a treacherous liar, and Cornwell is not fit for anything, and simply does what Parker tells him to do. He went on to say that it was their desire to get a division in the cabinet, and the deposing of the Queen should appear to be done by a part of her own cabinet, or a portion of the Goverment itself; and he went on to say that he could inform us that [Page 500]Mr. Stevens had given this committee the assurance that if we two signed a request to him to land the troops of the Boston he would immediately comply with the request and have them landed to assist in carrying out this work; and further, that if we did not agree to the proposition that we could not receive aid and support from them in the future if we needed it. We told him that we would have to take the matter under advisement and would inform him as to our conclusions later on. He pressed for an answer then, hut we refused to give it to him.

After his departure we sent for Parker and Cornwell, and imparted to them what Thurston had proposed to us, and we entered into consultation. We decided to summon at least six responsible and conservative business men of the community to consult with us, and to get their views. We did so, and, at 1:30 p.m. of that Sunday, the following gentlemen met us: Messrs. F. A. Schaeffer, J. O. Carter, S. M. Damon, W. M. Giffard, S. C. Allen, and E. C. Macfarlane. We told them what Thurston, on behalf of the committee of thirteen, had proposed, and asked them for their views. Each one asked if the Queen had given up the idea of promulgating a new constitution altogether, and we replied in the affirmative. They said, in that case the Queen and cabinet should issue a proclamation, giving the community the assurance that this matter was at an end.

We asked them to dictate a proclamation and they did so; they one and all decided that we should inform this committee that we could not consider their proposition, and ask them to accept the assurances that were to be given in the proclamation. They also asked if the Government was in a position to suppress any uprising, and we told these gentlemen that the Government was ready and able to cope with any emergency that might happen, and to suppress any revolt. Mr. S. M. Damon spoke up and said the troops of the “Boston” are going to be landed. Before proceeding further, I may say right here that Mr. Damon’s remark seemed insignificant at the time, but as things turned out he was in with the revolutionists and knew perfectly well the attitude af Mr. Stevens, and when he made the remark at our meeting it signified a good deal; it meant that those forces were going to depose Queen Liliuokalani and place the situation of the country in the position that it is in to-day.

The next day (Monday) the proclamation dictated by these gentlemen was printed and posted and distributed all over town. Later on in the day two mass meetings were held, one by the native element and the other by the foreign element. At the former the natives accepted the proclamation, although it was directly contrary to what they wanted (a new constitution), and the latter denounced the Queen and left everything in the hands of the committee of safety spoken about. At 5 p.m. of that day the troops of the Boston were landed. Immediately upon the information being conveyed to the cabinet that such was the case, Mr. Parker and myself drove with all haste to the residence of J. L. Stevens. When we arrived there, we asked him the reason the troops were being landed, and his reply was that he had received a request from a committee of safety, and he had consulted with Capt, Wiltse. He went on to say that there were a number of women and old men in the town besides children that were alarmed with the rumors of a revolution, and he wanted to offer protection. Mr. Parker replied that the Government was in a position to offer everyone protection, was able to suppress any rebellion, and would offer protection to him (Stevens) and noted his protest. Mr. Stevens replied that he was informed that the Government was in a strong position to suppress any revolt, but he could not help the matter of landing, and as the troops were ashore they would stay ashore. I asked him if he intended to annex the country and he replied “No,” and further said those troops are ashore to preserve the Queen on her throne, you gentlemen in your offices, and to offer protection to the community at large. We fold him again we did not want the troops ashore, and we could preserve law and order ourselves. He replied by saying make your protest in writing, and if you make it in a friendly spirit I will answer in the same tone.

On Tuesday information was conveyed to us that the Queen was to be deposed and a Provisional Government declared; we got everything in readiness to suppress the revolt expected; we had under arms 600 men with rifles, and 30,000 rounds of ammunition, 8 brass Austrian field cannon, and 2 Gatling guns. A little before 2 p.m. of that day the cabinet drove up to Mr. Stevens’s residence to inquire of him as to the position he was going to take in this matter, as we were informed and suspected from ail that Thurston and his followers had said that the American troops were going to assist these usurpers, who everyone knew would not attempt to bring about any such change as they were going to if they were not assured of support by the American forces. We arrived at Stevens’s house and after talking quite awhile with him he gave us no definite answer and we left him and returned to the police station to make our headquarters there and to write to Mr. Stevens about his position. While the letter to Stevens was being dictated by Mr. Peterson, information was brought to us that about 30 unarmed men had taken possession of the Government Building, had read their proclamation, and had committed acts of treason.

We paid no attention to them but sent our letter with all haste at a few minutes before 3 p.m., by Mr. C. L. Hopkins to Mr. Stevens. After Stevens read the letter, [Page 501]he told Hopkins to go away and come back again in an hour. Hopkins replied that the cabinet had instructed him to bring a reply forthwith, so that they would know how to act, and Stevens refused. He kept Hopkins waiting on his veranda one hour and then handed him a reply to us. While Stevens was keeping Hopkins waiting, the usurpers were preparing to resist the Government in case of attack, and we did nothing, but kept our men ready for action. The letter from Stevens carried by Hopkins to us reached us 5 minutes of 4 p.m., and after reading its contents, we concluded to surrender and yield to America.

I want to impress upon you that we never surrendered the palace, police station, and barracks till after we had received Stevens’s letter, and not until we had filed our protest with the Provisional Government. The surrender was a little after 6 in the evening; these usurpers could never have overthrown the Government, as they did not have sufficient arms and ammunition; and on the other hand, it will be admitted by themselves, I think, that the munitions of war that we had would have annihilated them were it not for the United States troops and Minister Stevens.

I remain, etc.,

John F. Colburn.
[Inclosure 7 in No. 3.]
Citizens’ committee of safety to Mr. Stevens.

Sir: We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Honolulu, respectfully represent that, in view of recent public events in this Kingdom, culminating in the revolutionary acts of Queen Lilioukalani on Saturday last, the public safety is menaced, and lives and property are in peril, and we appeal to you and the United States forces at your command for assistance.

The Queen, with the aid of armed force, and accompanied by threats of violence and bloodshed from those with whom she was acting, attempted to proclaim a new constitution; and, while prevented for the time from accomplishing her object, declared publicly that she would only defer her action.

This conduct and action was upon an occasion and under circumstances which have created general alarm and terror.

We are unable to protect ourselves without aid and therefore pray for the protection of the United States forces.

  • Henry E. Cooper,
  • F. W. McChesney,
  • W. C. Wilder,
  • C. Bolte,
  • A. Brown,
  • William O. Smith,
  • Henry Waterhouse,
  • Theo. F. Lansing,
  • Ed. Suhr,
  • L. A. Thurston,
  • John Emmeluth,
  • Wm. R. Castle,
  • J. A. McCandless,
    Citizens’ Committee of Safety.
  1. Footnote omitted on account of length.