From TheMorganReport
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Previous Page Next Page

Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp1160-1161 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

Text Only


authorities and her statesmen declare the strategic position of the islands to be such that no other country should appropriate them, but American influence must be maintained paramount or they must take possession. Such remarks have been made to me personally by Gen. Schofield and different admirals. Gen. Schofield reiterates the same, with the reasons therefor, in a letter of December 30,1875, addressed to the Hon. J.K. Luttrell, M.C. Admiral Porter sustains these views in a letter to the Hon. Mr. Wood. The London Times says: "The maritime power that holds Pearl River Harbor and moors her fleet there holds the key of the North Pacific." Sir George Simpson says that "this archipelago is far more valuable on this account, that it neither is nor ever can be shared by a rival." Alexander Simpson says: "From the period of my first visit to the Sandwich Islands I became convinced of their value and importance and therefore desirous that they should form a British possession." Mr. Simpson says later: "I cannot but regret now seeing the undecided action of the British Government that some act on the part of Lord Geo. Paulet had not left any other conclusion open than that the dynasty of Kamehameha must cease to reign."

I have deemed the aggressions made by both British and French in former times to enforce demands having in my opinion but little foundation in justice, as part of a system of encroachment, having for its ultimate object the appropriation or possession of these islands.

Indeed it has been stated to me that the French consul said that had they, the French, supposed that the Government could have raised the $20,000 demanded, Capt. Laplace would have placed the sum so high that it could not have been raised, and he would have taken possession as at Tahiti. Shortly before the arrival of the Ambuscade in August, 1842, the French consul told a friend of mine that he had no complaints to make; everything was harmonious with the Government, but shortly the Ambuscade arrived, and the captain presented such a catalogue of inadmissible demands that it must have resulted in a cession had not Mr. Richards and Haalelio just sailed for the United States, England, and France to try to secure the acknowledgment of Hawaiian independence, and adjust any difficulties, if any were found to exist. Under these circumstances Capt. Malet consented to await the result of the mission.

Upon hearing of this, Admiral Richard Thomas, in command of the British Pacific squadron, lying at Valparaiso or Callao, dispatched Lord Geo. Paulet, with the frigate Carysfort, to Honolulu, to secure the settlement of any difficulties between the island Government and the British subjects. The Carysfort arrived on the 4th of February, 1843. On the 14th Lord Paulet presented demands to which the King yielded under protest. On the 20th the King visited the frigate and was received with royal honors, but the next day new demands were presented, amounting to $117,330.89. To satisfy these was beyond the King's power, and after some preliminary negotiations a temporary cessation was made on the 25th, and the administration was committed to two commissioners appointed by Lord Paulet and one by the King.

The French and English were no doubt determined to take and hold possession. They were playing against each other, and the islands were the stake.

Lieut. Frere, the head of the governing commission, told me that they saw the French were determined to have the islands, as they had taken possession of the Society and Marquesas, and they were determined to be beforehand with them. Britons sympathized with the feelings of Mr.


Sympson, already quoted, and they expected the session would be permanent. This, I think, was the general expectation of others as well, and, as I believe, it would have been so had not Lord Paulet sent his dispatches directly to the home Government, instead of through the admiral, as the proper channel. When the admiral heard of the session he immediately sailed for Honolulu, where he arrived July 26, and, after some preliminary negotiations, on the 31st a force of British marines with 2 brass field pieces marched to the plain east of the town, with the admiral and King present, when the British flag was lowered and the Hawaiian hoisted and saluted by the marines. The admiral was offended with Lord Paulet, as I plainly perceived by remarks made to myself when spending an evening at my house; and my belief that the flag would not have been restored but for this informality rests partly on the past practice of the British, and the statement made to me by Mr. Richards that the Earl of Aberdeen, the foreign secretary, or Mr. Addington, the under secretary, told him that if Admiral Thomas had not restored the flag the British Government would not have done so, and until they heard this Mr. Richards could not negotiate.

The London Times of August 20 of the same year, in a semi-official article, says:

It obviously becomes the duty of our Government to secure, by the most positive formal pledges, both from France and America, that independence which we now propose to restore to the native princes.

On the 28th of November, 1843, France and Great Britain jointly engaged reciprocally to consider the Sandwich Islands as an independent State, and never to take possession, neither directly or under the title of protectorate, nor under any other form, of any part of the territory of which they are composed.

In 1846 the French treaty was revised and the $25,000, taken away in 1839, returned in 1849. The French consul, Dillon, with Admiral Tromline, presented a new list of grievances and demands, which the Government could not concede, in consequence of which the admiral landed his force and took possession of the custom-house, treasury, and fort, and held possession three days. After spiking the guns and committing some depredations the force was again embarked and sailed away, taking with them the King's yacht and the consul and family. It was said that they ordered the governor to pull down the Hawaiian flag, which he refused to do, and that they did not do it themselves out of respect to the treaty of November 28, 1843. In 1851 Mr. Perrin, a new French commissioner, arrived, with similar complaints and making similar demands. After long negotiations neither party would yield enough to enable them to come to an understanding, and matters assumed so serious and threatening an aspect that the consul sent to the British commissioner to inquire if in case of necessity he would hoist the British flag and protect the islands. He felt himself precluded from doing so by the obligation of the joint treaty. The United States commissioner was then applied to and consented to do so. I was informed that the French commissioner learned this through the British commissioner, and though the demands were not withdrawn he ceased to press them. The United States were not a party to the treaty, but were the first to recognize the independence of the islands in a Presidential message to Congress December 31,1842.

The demands made were in the main untenable and the claims not well founded, and even when well founded were untenable, because the claimants had refused first to have the local authorities act upon them.

Previous Page Next Page