Mr. Blount to Mr. Gresham.
May 6, 1893.
Sir: Since my last dispatch I examined Mr. Bolte, a member of the advisory council. He and Mr. Waterhouse, whose evidence I forwarded to you, stated positively that the station house and barracks were [Page 526]delivered up before Mr. Stevens recognized the Provisional Government. The manner of their testimony caused me to suspect their truthfulness. I had learned from members of the cabinet of the ex-Queen of correspondence with Mr. Stevens which contradicted these assertions. Some weeks ago I had called upon him for the legation records, and was furnished with a book containing correspondence with the State Department. This threw no light on the question of fact I was seeking to settle.
On the 5th instant I went to the legation, feeling that such papers must be there in some form.
In the conversation he spoke of a paper from the Queen which was in his files 5 said that these files were put in a volume when there were enough to make up one. I said I would like to have the volume for January. He said it had not been made up. I then asked him if he had a paper which the ministry had addressed to him inquiring if he had recognized the Provisional Government. He went out to look for it and returned with a book entitled “Correspondence with Hawaiian Government.” In this he showed me a memorandum he had made of a reply to a communication from the ministers, a copy of which I send (Inclosure No. 1).
Believing that he must have the communication itself, this morning I sent my secretary, Mr. Mills, to ask for it. He returned with the paper saying that before giving it to him Mr. Stevens seemed to be at a loss as to whether he had such a paper. This same difficulty occurred when I called upon him for the communication from the committee of safety asking for the landing of the troops of the Boston.
I inclose herewith a copy of the letter in question (Inclosure No. 2).
You will see that in the memorandum referred to he says the letter was received about 4 or 5 p.m. on January 17 and that he informed them that he had already recognized the Provisional Government.
In the conversation I had with him when he turned over the record of the correspondence with the Hawaiian Government he said he had recognized the Provisional Government before the barracks and station house had been surrendered, that he did not consider their surrender of any importance.
In my last dispatch Lieut. Swinburne fixes the surrender of the station house at about half-past 7 o’clock. This morning he called and informed me that Lieut. Draper had said to him yesterday that the station house was not surrendered until after dark. I sent for Lieut. Draper and obtained from him a statement, which I inclose (Inclosure No. 3).
I consider that it is now established beyond controversy that Mr. Stevens recognized the Provisional Government before the barracks and station house had been surrendered or agreed to be surrendered.
Before the committee of thirteen went up to proclaim the Provisional Government they sent a gentleman to see if there were any troops in the Government building. On learning the fact that there were none, the committee quietly went up in two or more squads and, uniting at the Government building, read their proclamation.
Without making any demand for the surrender of the palace, in which were the Queen and her friends, with some 50 soldiers; the barracks, a little beyond the palace, with about 80 men, well equipped with small arms and artillery, and with the station house, some 600 yards off, occupied by some 200 men, well armed and equipped, they asked and obtained from the American minister recognition as a Government de facto. On this basis the minds of the cabinet and Queen were operated upon to give up the barracks and station house [Page 527]and to have her surrender to the Provisional Government. In this way the revolution reached its solution.
I invite your attention to a letter, dated on the 16th of January, 1893, from Mr. Stevens to Mr. W. M. Giffard, as follows:
Honolulu, January 16, 1893.
Mr. W. M. Giffard:
Sir: Please allow Capt. Wiltse and his men the use of the opera house hall for a fair compensation for the same.
John L. Stevens.
This letter was obtained from Mr. Giffard, who had charge of the building as agent for Spreckels & Co. He declined to let Mr. Stevens ‘ have it, because, he said, if any damage occurred while the American troops occupied it it would affect the insurance, as the building was liable to be damaged; that in the insurrection of 1889, when Wilcox and his followers had obtained possession of the palace, the Government forces had used the upper portion of this building to fire on the insurrectionists and that more than $1,000 worth of damage was then done to it by the cannon used by Wilcox and his followers.
This building, Lieut. Swinburne informs me, was agreed upon on board the Boston before the troops were landed as the best place for the location of the Boston’s men. He suggested on shipboard that the troops be quartered near the wharf, so as to be near to their base of supply, the same having been so done when Admiral Skerrett landed troops in 1874. Capt. Wiltse and Mr. Stevens thought it was better that they should be located in the opera house. Failing to get this building, Arion hall, which is on a line with it and adjoins it, and is across the street from the Government building, was obtained for the location of the troops. The men were placed in the rear of Arion hall, but in full view of the palace. A street intervened between the Government building and the palace. It was about 350 yards from one of these buildings to the other.
The American troops were on the same side of the latter street with the Provisional Government troops, which did not probably number 100 men. You will see from the map prepared by Mr. Loevenstein, which I have previously forwarded to you, the location of Arion hall, the Government building, the palace, the barracks, the station house, and the armory. If the Queen’s troops should have attacked the Provisional Government troops our men were in danger of being injured, which might have brought them into collision with the Queen’s troops. The same is true if the Provisional Government troops had advanced on the palace. If the American troops were landed to protect American property and the persons of American citizens, their location at this place, unfortunately, signified a different purpose.
The Queen, her cabinet, and her followers undoubtedly believed, from the location of the American troops and the quick recognition of the Provisional Government by Mr. Stevens, that the United States forces would aid the Provisional Government forces in the event of a conflict.
The request of the committee of safety, on which the landing of the troops was made, did not ask for the protection of the property and persons of American citizens. This paper you have already in your possession. It was signed by Germans, Americans, and natives. Mr. W. O. Smith and Mr. L. A. Thurston, the leading men signing this paper, are natives of these islands, and seemed to be concerned to have [Page 528]the troops protect themselves and all others in the islands from the operation of the Queen’s forces.
In one of the local papers, yesterday morning, there appeared an alleged interview with Mr. Loud, a member of Congress from California, in which he is reported as criticising the authorities for not having arrested and sent Liliuokalani out of the island. In view of your telegraphic instruction of the 25th ultimo (which was received by me on the 4th instant) and the possibility that Mr. Loud’s alleged advice might be pursued and that hostile collision between the friends of the Queen and the Provisional Government might grow out of it, I had an interview this morning with the attorney-general, Mr. W. O. Smith, in which I invited his attention to the reported interview with Mr. Loud. I asked him if he felt free to say to me whether or not the arrest of the Queen was contemplated; that I desired the information because such action on the part of the Provisional Government might produce a condition of affairs which required action on my part. He said that this action was not contemplated by the Provisional Government, but that they were prepared, in the event of hostilities, to take care of certain prominent persons amongst the Royalists. Iasked him if those included the Queen. He answered, “confidentially, Yes.”
The feeling of the annexationists is very intense, and doubtless the Provisional Government is very much pressed to take action against the person of the Queen by confinement or deportation. Should this occur I believe that it will produce a bloody conflict.
It is my purpose soon to announce to American citizens that if they participate in any conflict in behalf of either party I shall direct that the American troops shall not be used for their protection. This, I think, to be in line with your views. I believe that it will tend to prevent extreme action on the part of the Provisional Government.
I have not and shall not intimate any desire to the Provisional Government as to what they should do with the Queen or with any other person connected with the royal cause.
I do not see any occasion for my remaining longer here for the purpose of making further inquiry as to the condition of affairs in the islands. I believe, however, that my departure prior to your sending out a successor to Mr. Stevens would result in serious trouble. The attorney-general said to me this morning there would be no trouble while I remained here, but he had some apprehensions if I should leave.
The native population seem to have great respect for me, growing out of the idea that I represent the President of the United States in an effort to get at the causes of the revolution and a hope that out of that investigation they will regain the political power they have lost.
I have been careful every moment to avoid making an impression on either party that I was here to interfere in their domestic affairs or for any purpose other than that of inquiry, or to indicate what disposition you or the President might make of any information I should report.
Do not infer from these observations that I have any desire to remain here any longer.
I am, etc.,
Special Commissioner of the United States.
P. S.—Since closing the foregoing dispatch the affidavits marked 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 have been handed to me.
(Filed with other affidavits.)*
- Published with affidavits.↩