Mr. Uhl to Mr. Willis.

No. 83.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch, No. 100,1 of the 11th of April last, transmitting the sworn statement of eight persons asking the intervention of this Government to secure for them indemnity for wrongs done them by the Hawaiian Government. Under date of April 30 last, Senator White, of California, sent the Department sworn memorials of six persons invoking the aid of this Government [Page 855] for the same purpose. Of the six whose claims have been presented through Senator White, four are among those who had made their claims through you. Altogether, then, there are ten persons now seeking aid of this Government for redress of wrongs which they consider themselves to have suffered through the unjustifiable treatment of the Hawaiian Government. They are Karl Klemme, John Ross, Henry von Werthern, Henry A. Juen, Peter M. Rooney, John Mitchell, Arthur White, Nicholas Petersen, C. F. Molteno, and James Dureell.

White, Yon Werthern, Rooney, Juen, Petersen, and Klemme state in their complaints that at the breaking out of the late insurrection in Hawaii they were seized and imprisoned without warrant or any accusation of crime and held in imprisonment under circumstances of great hardship and indignity until, under duress of such imprisonment and through fear of being subjected to the arbitrary proceedings and judgment of the court-martial then sitting for the trial of persons charged with complicity in the insurrection, they signed an agreement to leave Hawaii and never return again during the term of their natural lives. The other persons named above complain of being subjected in like manner to imprisonment without warrant or accusation of crime against them, and of indignities and hardships suffered during a confinement of fifty days in jail, although when released they were not required to leave the Islands.

All these persons, with the exception of Dureell, were living in Hawaii at the time of the subversion of the Monarchy and of the election held in May, 1894, for members of the constitutional convention. Leaving out of view for the moment other tests of their bona fide American citizenship or their right to American protection, it is important to ascertain whether they took the oath required for participation in that election or did actually participate in the same. You are desired to inform yourself accurately on this point and communicate the result to the Department.

Even if none of these applicants for American protection did take the requisite oath or participate in the election for members of the constitutional convention, it is plain that one of them, at least, never had, and questionable whether several of them have not abandoned, any right to the protection of this Government. The one referred to, who never had any right to American protection, is Klemme, who was born abroad and has never been fully naturalized as an American citizen.

John Mitchell was admitted, it appears, to special rights of citizenship under a provision of the new constitution of Hawaii, conferring such rights on persons who actively participated or otherwise rendered special service in the formation of the Provisional Government. Having thus personally taken part in the subversion of one Government and the establishment of another in a foreign country, it is questionable whether he has not so completely identified himself with the Government which was finally established, as to have lost his right to American protection, notwithstanding he appears to have intended to reserve that right.

Von Werthen and Juen have both held official position under the Hawaiian Government—the former as a detective under the Provisional Government and the latter as a custom-house officer and police captain under the Monarchy, and again as a police captain under the Provisional Government. The acceptance of civil office in a foreign country indicates such an identification of the person accepting it with the country he serves as to raise serious doubts whether he can rightfully claim, as against that country, the protection of his original nationality.

[Page 856]

Molteno was born in Hawaii, and, though naturalized here, returned there some years ago, and has continuously resided there since. This fact unexplained raises at least a presumption of his abandonment of any right to our protection, such a presumption being more easily entertained in the case of a foreigner naturalized here and returning to his native land than in the case of a native American taking up his residence in a foreign country.

Rooney, Ross, and Peterson appear, from their own statements, to have made their permanent domicile—their home—in Hawaii, and to have cast their lot with the people of those islands.

It is incumbent upon all of these persons to rebut in a satisfactory manner the presumption of abandonment of their American character by showing that they contemplated a return to this country to participate in the obligations as well as to share the rights of its citizens. The same remark is applicable—though the presumption of abandonment of American character is much weaker in his case than in those of the others named—to Arthur White, who seems to have been in Hawaii about eight years, but who does not appear definitely to have made his permanent home there.

Dureell having only arrived in Hawaii in September last, of course no presumption of abandonment of his rights as an American has arisen, from the mere time during which he has been there.

It is desired that you will carefully inquire into the matters above suggested as affecting the right of the parties named to the protection of the United States, and report fully upon the same.

I am, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl, Acting Secretary.
  1. Not printed.