Mr. Blount to Mr. Gresham
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.
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,
J. B. Kurha,
D. W. Kanoelehua,
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?
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.,
Special Commissioner of the United States.
- Footnote omitted on account of length.↩