Mr. Blount to Mr. Gresham.
Sir: Recurring to the correspondence between President Dole and myself in relation to the article in the Hawaiian Star, I inclose herewith a copy of an additional letter which I wrote to him. (Inclosure No. 1.)
Subsequently Vice-President Damon called to see me in relation to the matter, and I said I should not ask the attention of the Government hereafter to any articles of an offensive character in that paper; that I would forward any offensive matter contained therein to the State Department, with the statement that it was the organ of the annexation club, and that the Government was unable to control its conduct. A similar statement was made by me to the Attorney-General, Mr. Smith. In the conversation with me he deplored the article and added that the editor had told the cabinet some days before that he had positive proof of two long interviews between myself and the Queen.
Since this correspondence with President Dole this paper has changed its tone into one of frequent compliment to myself. I presume the Annexation Club found that my reporting their offensive articles was not likely to advance their cause, and changed what had been the uniform course of the paper theretofore. The demeanor of this pamper was doubtless intended to impress the native population with the idea that they could not only dominate them, but could insult the representative of the United States with impunity. I shall prob ably have no more trouble in this direction.
More than 8,000 names have been signed to memorials by the Women’s Hawaiian Patriotic League, asking for the restoration of Queen Liliuokalani.[Page 533]
Memorials have been signed against annexation by 7,500 native voters. The delegates of the latter organization report that the request for the restoration of the Queen was omitted because they feared that if inserted in their memorial they would be arrested for treason.
The Annexation Club inform me that they have on their books 5,180 names for annexation. This is signed generally by American citizens whether they have registered here as voters or not. Some natives have signed this last document, who are on the police force and occupy other government positions—doubtless in order to hold their places. Other natives who have signed are the hired laborers of sugar planters, having been systematically worked upon to do so, and, feeling largely dependent upon the planters for employment, fear discharge.
I have put this question to several leading annexationists, whose statements have been taken in writing and certified to by them: “If the question of annexation were submitted to the people of these Islands, who were qualified to vote for representatives under the Constitution of 1887, under the Australian ballot system, which has been adopted by your legislature, what would be the result?” They have almost without exception declared that annexation would certainly be defeated.
Threats to arrest the Queen and deport leading natives have been repeatedly urged in the annexation organs, and have caused the native people uneasiness and alarm. It has restrained outward manifestations of interest on their part. These threats were founded on charges that the Queen and these natives were engaged in treasonable conduct in urging the natives to vote against annexation.
There is not an annexationist in the islands, so far as I have been able to observe, who would be willing to submit the question of annexation to a popular vote. They have men at work in all of the islands urging the natives to sign petitions for annexation. They seek to impress them with the opinion that if annexed they will be allowed the right to vote. Quite a number of petitions have been signed by natives asking for annexation, provided they were allowed the right to vote. In other instances delegations made up of white men and natives have brought in small petitions signed by natives, and on being asked if the natives were in favor of annexation without the right to vote have always answered that they were not. While this is done I have never yet found an annexationist who did not insist that stable government could not be had without so large a restriction of the native vote as would leave political power in the hands of the whites.
I have had ample opportunity to observe the feeling of the native population on the question of annexation. There is no doubt that the whole race—men and women—are deeply concerned about the independence of their native land. Their mind is not turning to England or to any other country for protection. Their devotion to the United States is continually asserted. If the question of annexation by the United States should be made to depend upon the popular will in these islands the proposition had as well be abandoned at once. There are a great many whites here in addition to the natives who are opposed to annexation, and who are now preparing to sign memorials of this character to the President of the United States.
While I have presented these observations I wish here to assert that I have abstained from expressing any wish for or against annexation [Page 534]to any person in these islands. I have by no act of mine sought to influence opinion on this subject, either one way or the other.
Hereafter I shall discuss this matter from official data, and from the evidence of persons who have filed certified statements with me.
There frequently occurs in Mr. Stevens’ correspondence with the State Department the allegation that the Queen has for a paramour ex-Marshal Wilson. Ordinarily such scandalous statements would be unworthy of attention. Its use to prejudice the minds of the American people against her in connection with the question of annexation has caused me to make some inquiry into the subject. A number of reputable gentlemen have stated in writing their utter disbelief in this allegation. She has been received with apparent admiration through all the years of her reign in the most refined circles in this city. The white population have resorted eagerly to the palace to participate in its social enjoyments without any reserve on account of the Queen’s character.
On April 19, 1892, the American minister gave her a breakfast, to which a number of prominent persons were invited.
Wilson is ten years the junior of the ex-Queen. He married a girl who was reared by her and lived with her at the time of his marriage.
He has never lived in the palace. He lived in the palace grounds with his wife, in a building 75 yards from the palace, where the Queen resided. They were moved into this building after the death of the Queen’s husband at the instance of the Queen. Wilson is universally recognized as a brave man and loyal to the Queen. The frequent revolutions here on the part of the whites doubtless caused her to make him marshal, and put him at the head of the police force, which was the real military force of the Kingdom. Because of his marriage with a native woman, and her connection with the Queen, and her confidence in his courage and fidelity, she trusted him rather than any of the whites in this position.
I forbear any further statement on this subject at this time. Evidently this charge against the Queen has for its foundation the looseness which comes from passionate and vindictive partisan struggles in Honolulu.
On the 16th instant 1 published my instructions in full, accompanied by the following statement:
While I shall abstain from inteference between conflicting forces of whatever nationality for supremacy, I will protect American citizens not participating in such conflict.
I send you newspaper comments on the instructions and the foregoing declaration, in the nature of an interpretation of my instructions. (Inclosure No. 2).
From what I can learn many American citizens intensly active in the late revolution in these islands, and promoters of the cause of annexation, and supporters of the Provisional Government, took offense at the latter language. It seems very difficult for that class of persons to understand why they can not be permitted to participate in political and military movements on these islands with a guarantee of protection from opposing forces by the troops of the United States.
On the 19th instant I published your dispatch of May 9 in relation to my appointment as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States. I believed it calculated to produce an impression on the minds of the people claiming to be American citizens that under no false pretense of preserving order or protecting American [Page 535]citizens could they be allowed to command the services of American troops to promote political schemes here.
I invite your attention to a communication and plat from Admiral Skerrett, which I inclose herewith. (Inclosure No. 3.)
The plat should have shown Music Hall immediately on the corner of the block, and the side of Arion Hall next to the Music Hall nearly on a line with the front line of the Government building.
It is easy to see that any attack on the Government building by the Queen’s troops from the east would have exposed our men to their fire. Any attempt to occupy Music Hall and Arion Hall by the Queen’s troops for the purpose of taking the Government building would have encountered the American troops. Any attempt by the Queen’s troops from the direction of the palace would have exposed our troops to their fire.
In the insurrection of 1889, Music Hall was occupied by sharpshooters of the Government, who contributed more to the suppression of the insurrection than any other forces. This place Mr. Stevens sought to obtain for the United States troops on the 16th of January last, and failing in this, selected Arion Hall.
Admiral Skerrett well says that the place was well chosen if the design of Mr. Stevens and Capt. Wiltse was the support of the Provisional Government troops. It was certainly suggestive of this design to the Queen and her adherents.
I am, etc.,
Special Commissioner of the United States.