No. 2.
Statement of W. D. Alexander.

a brief statement of the causes which led to the late revolution in hawaii nei.

The writer of the following statement, a citizen of the islands by birth, is a conservative both in principle and by natural inclination.

It is generally admitted that revolutions are not justifiable except as a last resort when all constitutional methods of redress have been thoroughly tried and failed and when the most vital and necessary rights of citizens are at stake. Hence, we condemned the coup d’etat of Kamehameha V in 1864 because it was unnecessary, and because it unsettled the foundations of the Government.

The experiment of carrying on constitutional government of the Anglo-Saxon type in a country with a mixed population like that of these islands was a difficult and doubtful one, but it was entered upon by men of rare ability and unselfish patriotism, and for thirty years it was fairly successful.

It was then well understood that in order to maintain an independent government it was necessary to combine the foreign and native elements in one common organization for the good of all classes.

The Kings of the Kamehameha dynasty were sincere patriots and had some conception of their position as constitutional sovereigns and of their true policy towards foreigners.

It seemed for awhile as if these islands would give the world a lesson in the art of combining widely different races on equal terms in one government. The Government in those days has been called an oligarchy, but if so, it was a just and beneficent oligarchy.

It was simply the legitimate Influence exercised by superior intelligence and character, without which the experiment would have failed [Page 664] in the outset. Undoubtedly Kamehameha V was right in saying that privileges and duties had been bestowed upon the common people for which they were wholly unprepared.

During his reign from various causes a retrograde tendency began to show itself among the native population and the former good understanding between the races began to be impaired.

One cause was the partial withdrawal of the American board from its mission to these islands, the evil effects of which have been felt morally, socially, and politically. There has passed away a class of white residents devoted to the interests of the natives and possessing their confidence, who acted as mediators between them and that portion of the white population which had less regard for the rights and the welfare of the aborigines.

Another cause was the premature extinction of the order of chiefs, who were the natural leaders of their race, and whose part could not be filled by plebians or foreigners.

The scourge of leprosy, which compelled the enactment of severe segregation laws, helped to widen the breach between the races.

The consequences were first seen in the lawlessness and race hatred which broke out during Lunalilo’s brief reign, 1873–’74.

The next reign was signalized by an extraordinary development of the resources of the country, produced by foreign enterprise and capital and by a large increase of the foreign element in the population.

King Kalakaua, however, seemed to be blind to the course of events and to the true interests of his people. His chief object appears to have been to change the system of government into an Asiatic despotism on the pattern of Johore, in which the white “invaders,” as they were called, should have no voice in its administration.

In pursuance of this policy systematic efforts were made, with too much success, to demoralize the native population by the revival of heathen superstitions and the encouragement of vice, and to foment race jealousy and hatred under the guise of “national” feeling. The patronage of the Government was abused without stint, and the corrupt arts of Tammany were employed to carry elections and to pack legislatures with subservient officeholders.

A number of patriotic “sons of the soil” of both races labored with small success to stem the tide of corruption and to avert the impending ruin of their native land.

At last affairs reached such a crisis that on the 30th of June, 1887, an uprising of nearly the whole foreign population, supported by the better class of natives, took place, which compelled the King to sign a constitution that was intended to put an end to personal rule. By this instrument the administration of public affairs was placed in the hands of a Cabinet, responsible only to the Legislature, while officeholders were made ineligible to seats in that body.

The remaining three and a half years of his reign teemed with intrigues and conspiracies to restore autocratic government. One of these ended in the deplorable insurrection and bloodshed of July 31, 1889, which did much to aggravate the ill-feeling existing between the two races, and was made the most of by reactionary politicians to fire the native mind.

In spite of Kalakaua’s faults as a ruler he was kind hearted and courteous in private life, and there was mourning in Honolulu at the news of his death, received January 29, 1891.

Grave apprehensions were then felt at the accession of his sister, Liliuokalani, which, however, were partially relieved by her promptly [Page 665] taking the oath to maintain the constitution of 1887. Notwithstanding her past record it was hoped by many that she had sufficient good sense to understand her position and to abide by the spirit as well as the letter of the constitution. This hope has been disappointed. Her ideal of government is the same as that of Kalakaua, and her determination to realize it has cost her the Throne.

I have not the heart to recapitulate the shameful story (with which the newspapers are filled), of the protracted struggle in the late Legislature, culminating in the triumph of the lottery and opium rings, allied with the Crown, and in the attempted coup d’état of the 14th instant.

The experiment spoken of in the beginning of this article, seems to have broken down at last.

The utmost efforts of able and patriotic men have only prolonged its life a few years.

Considering the character of our mixed population, the intensity of race jealousy, the concentration of one-fourth of the population, comprising its most turbulent elements in the capital city, it seems vain to expect a stable, self-governing, independent state under such conditions. It is time one of the great Powers should intervene, and it is needless to ask which power has its hands unfettered by conventions, and already holds paramount interests and responsibilities in this archipelago.

W. D. Alexander.