Mr. Gresham to Sir Julian Pauncefote .

No. 79.]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 3d instant, in which you refer to the trial before a military commission at Honolulu of a number of persons for complicity in the late riot or disturbance in Hawaii, and inquire, under instructions from the Earl of Kimberley, whether the United States Government has taken, or proposes to take, any formal objection to the constitution or jurisdiction of the military tribunal, and request general information as to my views in regard to these proceedings and as to the course this Government proposes to follow.

Although I have been furnished, upon request of the United States minister at Honolulu, with the record in the cases of certain persons who were tried before the commission, and who alleged American citizenship, I am not yet prepared to positively express the views of this Government as to whether the proceedings were authorized even under the Hawaiian constitution. It is plain that, while martial law dispenses with the usual or ordinary tribunals in the administration of justice, it does not dispense with justice itself, and should it appear that American citizens have been condemned by the military tribunal at Honolulu without a fair trial, this Government will not fail to afford them protection.

I have, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.