1080-1081

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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp1080-1081 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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Mr. Belknap. Yes, for the protection of the treaty.

Senator Butler. Otherwise you would not think of doing such a thing?

Mr. Belknap. No such conditions could not exist there. When I was a midshipman on board the frigate Puritan, at Valparaiso, Chile, they held a presidential election in that country, and the party defeated in that election got up a revolution, and one afternoon we lauded the troops. We landed a force on that shore, and we remained on the wharf there several hours; the British ships did the same thing. We did not proceed up into town, but we were there for the purpose of protecting the consulate if necessary. In November, 1863, the Chinese at the Barrier Forts fired on our flag. They fired from two of four forts; we captured all those forts, blew them up, razed them to the ground, and retired.

Senator Butler. That was an act of war.

The Chairman. But the firing began the war.

Mr. Belknap. The commodore in command was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for such action.

Senator Butler. You would do that in Liverpool?

Mr. Belknap. Yes; if the flag was deliberately fired upon.

Senator Butler. If your flag were fired upon, you would not stop to consider the strength of the Government, but would fire in return?

Mr. Belknap. Yes.

The Chairman. I have drawn up a question which, according to my view, presents the true relations of the commander of a ship in a port to the minister of the United States who may be resident there at the time. When a war ship of the United States is in a port where there is a civil commotion which threatens to become riotous, to endanger the treaty rights of the citizens of the United States, and the question arises whether it is proper to land troops to preserve order, is it not the right and duty of the minister of the United States to ascertain and determine whether the condition of the country is such as to require the landing of troops? In such a case, and as to the question whether the necessity for the landing of troops actually existed, you would feel bound, I suppose, if in command of a war ship of the United States, to respect and follow the request of the minister of the United States to land the troops?

Mr. Belknap. A minister of the United States, of course, has a perfect right to make any request of that sort of the commander of a ship, of a squadron, but it is the duty under the regulations of the Navy Department for the commanding officer of the ship to examine the matter himself and to decide for himself whether he ought to land the force or not, because the responsibility under the regulations of the Navy Department finally rests upon him. If any great mistake is made by which injury comes to the United States in their interests, or any citizen suffers harm through the action of a commander in chief or a commander of a vessel, he is responsible. On the contrary, if he make a mistake in landing the force he is also responsible under the regulations.

Senator Frye. In the recognition of a de facto government, to whom does the recognition belong-to the minister of the United States resident in such country or to the naval officer?

Mr. Belknap. It belongs to the minister.

Senator Frye.The naval officer has nothing to do with that question of recognition?

Mr. Belknap. Nothing to do with it. I was commander of the war

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ship Alaska when the minister of the United States in Peru, Mr. Christiancy, recognized a new government during the Chilean-Peruvian wars. That government was overthrown, and when Mr. Hurlbut became minister he recognized another government.

Senator Frye. You were there all the time?

Mr. Belknap. Yes. When I was at Honolulu in 1874 everything was at the lowest ebb; property was worth nothing, the people could hardly get along. But that fall of 1874 Kalakaua, accompanied by the American minister, Mr. Pierce, came the United States and a treaty of reciprocity was negotiated. From that moment an era of prosperity dawned upon those islands and trade there increased several hundred per cent. I think the 35,000,000 pounds of sugar exported from there in 1875 went up to 136,000,000 pounds in 1890; and the product of rice increased in the same proportion. In fact the United States made those islands what they are-gave them all their prosperity. The town of Honolulu is as much an American town as any town in this country. In 1882, when commanding the Alaska, I was sent in great haste to Honolulu from South America because troubles were apprehended there. The reciprocity treaty was about to expire, and many people there were afraid that the United States would not renew it. Furthermore, Kalakaua had gone into such extravagant expenditures that the people were getting restive under it. After being King for eight years he took the foolish notion into his head to be crowned, a ceremony carried out at enormous expense, and the taxpayers of the islands, a majority of whom were Americans, were stirred up over it and trouble was apprehended.

I arrived there early in September, 1882, and I stayed there two months. During that time there was a meeting of all the planters on the islands in a convention at Honolulu. There was considerable excitement, but finally, after some conferences with the Government, the convention adjourned and everything passed off quietly. There was no trouble; but at that time I was prepared to land a force in case of any outbreak. The English were very anxious to know what we were going to do. Mr. Wodehouse, the British commissioner, was there. One afternoon, or one morning, rather, Mr. Dagget, our minister, and myself got an invitation to dine on a British man-of-war which was in the harbor. We were somewhat surprised at that. When we went on board to dinner that evening we found Mr. Wodehouse there. During the dinner champagne flowed pretty freely. After the coffee and cigars were brought in Mr. Wodehouse attempted to find out what we were going to do there in a certain emergency. But they got no satisfaction; Mr. Dagget and I simply confined ourselves to general talk. I commanded at Mare Island from 1886 to 1889. That was during Mr. Cleveland's first administration. Grave troubles were apprehended at Honolulu at that time, and we kept our ships constantly there. One afternoon I received a confidential telegram from the Secretary of the Navy asking me if I could be ready at a moment's notice to go over to Honolulu. I telegraphed back "yes." Two or three days after that I got a telegram from the Secretary of the Navy saying that, after a consultation with Mr. Bayard, Secretary of State, they had concluded to send an order over to the minister by a telegram through me, which I sent direct from the navy-yard to Honolulu.

Senator Frye. Do you know what the nature of that telegram was?

Mr. Belknap. I do not remember it, but it must be on file in the Navy Department. For the last ten years we have kept our ships in


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