Mr. Willis to Mr. Gresham.
Honolulu , January 30, 1895 . (Received Feb. 12.)
Sir: I confirm my telegram of this day’s date.1
The principal half-white Hawaiian rebels, Nowlein, Bert elm aim, Warren, and others, upon the promise of the Government to spare their lives, have undertaken to disclose everything connected with the recent revolt. Their evidence before the military commission now in session is that the original plans were submitted by Nowlein to Maj. Charles T. Gulick, Maj. W. T. Seward, and W. H. Ricard. Major Gulick was twice a cabinet minister under the Monarchy. Major Seward has been for many years the business agent of John A. Cummins, one of the three representatives of the ex-Queen, recently at Washington. Messrs. Gulick and Seward claim never to have renounced their allegiance to the United States Government. Mr. Ricard was an officeholder under the Monarchy and is an Englishman. His family, consisting of wife and 16 children, reside in the Island of Hawaii, where he once had large sugar interests.
The plan said to have been submitted to these persons by Nowlein was to march toward the palace in separate squads, occupying the adjoining streets and preventing the assembling of the citizens’ guard. It seemed to be the opinion of Mr. Nowlein that the troops in charge of the executive building would thereupon surrender. For the above purpose, two boxes containing 80 revolvers, together with 288 Winchester carbines, .44 caliber, with a range of 800 yards, had been landed. The guns were concealed in the sand and bushes about 5 miles from this city, near Waikiki. The Government had no information of the landing of these arms until January 6. The inarch upon the city, as finally determined upon, was to begin at 1 o’clock on the morning of Monday the 7th. The police raid upon Bertelmann’s house at Waikiki, when Mr. Carter was killed, disconcerted the plans of the revolutionists. After the skirmish there a retreat was made to the adjoining mountains. The prompt and vigorous measures taken by the Government, coupled with the failure of any sympathetic demonstration in the city, caused an immediate abandonment of the whole scheme. After Monday the main effort of the rebels seems to have been to find some one to whom they could safely surrender. The desultory firing on Monday and Tuesday was without fatal results to either side.
The feature of the rebellion which has caused most bitterness was the discovery of some iron and cement bombs. The evidence showed that 20 of these, of iron, about 2½ inches in diameter, were manufactured, of which about 16 were available. Twenty-one made of cement are claimed [Page 819] to have been found at the residence of the ex-Queen. The only evidence which has been presented as to these latter is that of Walker, who filled them, and who stated that they had been there for the past year or more, and were intended for the protection of the ex-Queen’s residence during that period, she fearing mob violence. The iron bombs were, he stated, to be used for military purposes, in effecting a landing of the arms, if an attempt had been made to prevent it, or in dislodging the troops from the station house and executive building. In 1889, during the native revolt, headed by Wilcox, when they succeeded in reaching the palace grounds, and when the efforts of the sharpshooters, consisting of the leading white citizens, had failed, Wilcox and his band were dislodged by dynamite bombs thrown from a distance into the palace yard. The report that the bombs in the present rebellion were to be thrown into private dwellings and churches for the indiscriminate slaughter of noncombatants, including women and children, naturally excited the greatest horror and indignation, and is largely responsible for the excited condition of affairs here. The absence of any direct evidence on the subject, the infamous savagery of such an attack, so inconsistent with the humane and civilized conditions resulting from half a century of enlightened religious teaching, have caused the more conservative and thoughtful citizens to discredit the extreme views of this subject, and to believe that the use of these bombs was for legitimate warfare, and probably prompted by the recollection of the effective service rendered by them in 1889. These are also the views of the foreign representatives.
A military commission, consisting of seven members, was convened on the 17th instant. The president is the Hon. W. A. Whiting, who was attorney-general under the Monarchy, and is now one of the circuit judges. The others are officers of the national guard. Up to this date 38 persons have been tried, of whom five claim to be citizens of the United States, one is an Englishman, and the others are half whites and Hawaiians.
On the afternoon of the 26th instant, upon invitation, I attended a cabinet meeting, consisting of President Dole, Mr. Smith, attorney-general and minister of foreign affairs ad interim; Mr. Damon, minister of finance, and Mr. King, minister of the interior. The British commissioner was also present by invitation. The President read the findings and sentences of the military commission in the cases of Messrs. Gulick, Seward, Ricard, and Walker. They were found guilty upon all the charges, and the sentence of death was pronounced upon the first three. Mr. Walker was sentenced to imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of $5,000. Mr. Walker married a daughter of Hon. John A. Cummins. The President stated these findings and sentences were now before him for final action, and asked the British commissioner and myself whether we desired to be heard upon the questions involved. As these questions are yet pending, and will I hope be soon submitted to the consideration of our Government, I will hot now repeat what further occurred. I requested that copies of the record be furnished to our Government, that it might determine its duty in the premises. The President suggested that I submit the request in writing, which I did on the 28th, a copy of which I inclose. To this no reply has yet been received.
The excitement has been very great both among the friends and opponents of the Government. The threats of mob violence became so open and the resolutions of many of the squads of soldiers were so urgent that I felt it to be my duty to call the attention of the Government [Page 820] to them. Its reply was that it was cognizant of the situation and had taken due steps to prevent any outbreak. The arrival of the Philadelphia will, of course, have a good effect, as this Government, if it so desired, would have the aid of our Government under proper conditions. I have been in daily attendance upon the military commission and will continue to attend until all who are or who claim to be citizens of the United States have been tried.
On the 16th instant the ex-Queen was arrested and is a prisoner in the executive building, formerly the palace. On the 24th instant she sent to this Government a letter, which I inclose, surrendering whatever claims, political or otherwise, she possessed. The reply of the Government, a copy of which I inclose, was sent to her yesterday.
With renewed assurances, etc.,