Mr. Adee to Mr. Somow.
Washington , July 30, 1895.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 22d instant, stating that you have been directed to obtain some information relative to the treaty between the United States and the Hawaiian Islands, and after referring to the exceptional advantages granted by that treaty to the Hawaiian Islands, you request the reasons for the exceptions in question. You also ask the views in regard to the treaty of the United States with your Government of 1832, and inquire whether the most-favored-nation clause in that treaty is hereafter to inure to the benefit of Russia, notwithstanding the exception in favor of Hawaii, and if that exception will not be considered a precedent to grant by treaties to other countries advantages similar to those granted to the Hawaiian Islands.
The exceptional advantages granted to the Hawaiian Islands by the tariff laws of the United States, in conformity with the provisions of the reciprocity treaty with Hawaii, have been yielded to that Government in return for certain valuable and exclusive considerations and by reason of the peculiar geographical and commercial relations that exist between the two countries. The course of this Government has been consistent in holding that such privileges do not fall within the favored-nation clause of any treaty, the concessions which the United States have extended to these islands having been made for considerations of such a character as not to be included within the stipulations for most-favored treatment contained in the treaties with other powers. From the early days of this Government it has been held that a covenant to extend to the most-favored nation privileges otherwise granted only refers to gratuitous advantages, and does not cover those granted on condition of a reciprocal benefit, and the tariff reductions on Hawaiian products have uniformly been considered as falling within this rule. The Hawaiian Government has held the same position in the interpretation of its treaties with other powers.[Page 1122]
The views of the Department with regard to the meaning of the most-favored-nation clauses in Articles VI and XI of the treaty of 1832 were fully expressed in the note to Prince Cantacuzène of February 16 last.
As the mutual concessions under the reciprocity treaty between the United States and the Hawaiian Islands are of an exceptional nature, there does not appear to be any present condition leading to a discussion of the question whether the negotiation of this convention has established a precedent to be followed with other countries.