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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp1070-1071 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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Chairman. Anything else?

MacArthur. I have, by late steamer, reliable information that there is danger that the reciprocity treaty with the United States will be repealed unless the present tension is relieved. The imports from the United States under that treaty in 1892 amounted to $3,838,359.91. Nearly all this was admitted to Hawaii free, whereas as to other competing countries the Hawaiian tariff ranges from 10 to 25 per cent on such imports. With the abrogation of the reciprocity treaty goes the privilege of our acquiring the Pearl Lochs for a naval station.

There are 915,000 acres of crown lands. The rental from these is stated at about $75,000 annually. The Provisional Government has them now. In addition the other Government lands are 851,071 acres, valued at $1,729,700, on which there is a yearly rental paid to the Provisional Government from portions leased of $58,863.


The Chairman. What is your profession??

Mr. Belknap. I am a rear-admiral in the Navy, on the retired list.

The Chairman. We are interested to know, and I think the people of the United States are very much interested in knowing, whether the Hawaiian group of islands, with its base, and particularly Pearl Harbor, is of real importance to this country and its defense in a military and a naval sense; and, if you think it is, or if it is not, what are the general reasons on which you predict that opinion?

Mr. Belknap. I think it is a matter of prime importance to the people of the United States to acquire those islands. I think, in view of the present state of affairs, the coming growth of the population of the Pacific coast, and especially when the Nicaraguan Canal shall have been completed, that those islands will form the most important commercial and strategic point in the Pacific Ocean. I think it would be a suicidal policy on the part of the United States to allow Great Britain or any other European power to get any foothold on those islands.

The Chairman. That policy seems to have been anticipated on the part of the United States for perhaps forty or fifty years, so that the question would then arise, of course, whether it would be better for us in the sense of protecting our commerce and our coast to assume the control of the Hawaiian group of islands, in order that we might there establish our naval station and have in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a means of offense and defense against the fleets of Europe and Asia?

Mr. Belknap. I think we ought to assume control right away. And as to the fleets of Europe attacking those islands, I think they have their hands full in looking out for their own interests in other parts of the world.

The Chairman. You have been on the islands??

Mr. Belknap. Yes, I have been there twice.

The Chairman. And I suppose you have some acquaintance with Pearl Harbor?

Mr. Belknap. I never went to Pearl Harbor.

The Chairman. Do you know where it is located?

Mr. Belknap. I know where it is located.

The Chairman. And its general character?

Mr. Belknap. Yes, sir.


The Chairman. And you also have a general acquaintance with the Bay of Honolulu?

Mr. Belknap. Yes; in my judgment Honolulu is one of the easiest defended ports in the world. They talk about ships attacking that harbor, the fact is they can not do it successfully. A few heavy guns properly located would keep them away.

The Chairman. You speak of the rim of mountains back of Honolulu?

Mr. Belknap. Yes, Punch Bowl and other mountains back of Honolulu. It is constantly rising ground back of the city.

The Chairman. Do you think it would be feasible to establish batteries around on the reef in Honolulu Bay?

Mr. Belknap. No, it is not feasible. It is only a half mile from shore, and that would not be necessary.

The Chairman. With long-range artillery would we be able to give the harbor any perfect protection?

Mr. Belknap. Yes. They talk about long-range guns. It is all nonsense. They can not get the range on ship that they can on shore. I landed a force in Honolulu in 1874 and kept it there a week. That was when Kalakaua was elected King. If you will allow me I will tell you the circumstances.

The Chairman. I think that is what Senator Frye desires to examine you about. Proceed with your statement.

Mr. Belknap. I arrived there on the Tuscarora from San Diego. We had been engaged in making deep-sea soundings. We arrived at Honolulu on the 3d of February, 1874. As we went into the harbor we noticed a throng of people on the wharf and streets. As soon as the pilot came on board we learned that King Lunalilo had just died. It was too late to call on the minister that day, but at 10 o'clock the next morning I went on shore. The minister was then Mr. Henry A. Pierce.

The Chairman. From what State was he?

Mr. Belknap. Massachusetts. He had been in Honolulu for many years, and he made a fortune. He came back to the United States and lost it. Then Gen. Grant made him minister. Mr. Pierce told me that the Legislative Assembly would meet on the 12th of that month, and would elect a successor to King Lunalilo, he having died without designating his successor. It became necessary therefore under the constitution that the Legislature should elect the King. Mr. Pierce said there were two candidates in the field; one was David Kalakaua, the son of a high chief; the other a widow of Kamehameha IV-Queen Emma. There were large numbers of natives and a great body of Americans who favored Kalakaua as being the better person for American interests, while some of the natives, and particularly those belonging to the English church, and the greater part of the English people, headed by the British minister, wanted Queen Emma. Mr. Pierce said he thought there would be trouble, and wanted to know if I would land a force in case it were necessary to do so.

The Chairman. I want to ask right there whether or not there was a distinctive British influence in Hawaii, as there was an American interest, and were they controverting with each other for the real control of the politics of the islands?

Mr. Belknap. I think that was undoubtedly the case. Mr. Wodehouse, the British commissioner, was there. He is now the minister. He has been there for a number of years; I think he has been there over thirty years.

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