|Previous Page||Next Page|
foundation for her regal authority and, when she announced that her oath was annulled in its effect upon her own conscience, she could no longer rightfully hold office under that constitution. In such matters the word of the Queen, once sedately uttered, fixes a condition that is irrevocable unless by the consent of those whose condition or rights would be injuriously affected by its subsequent withdrawal; as in the case of a voluntary abdication in favor of a named successor; or of a pardon granted to person accused or, convicted of crime; or the signature to a legislative act, or declaration of war. The official act of the chief executive of a nation is uniformly regarded as creating a condition or status which can not be altered or revoked at pleasure. Indeed, in every case, the word of the king that works a change in existing conditions is the final act of the king. In the crime of treason and the misprision of treason, the word that is spoken by the culprit, though quickly repented of or recalled, has completed the crime and placed the offender beyond the reach of all mercy except that of the sovereign power. In this instance the sovereign power to pardon or condone the Queen's offense resided in the people, and they have so far decided and have adhered to the decision that her abdication was complete. The recantation was two days later than the completed crime and was temporary and conditional, and, in the meantime, popular sovereignty had risen to the assertion of its rights, an indignant resentment had aroused the people, and a large body of citizens claiming to represent them had inaugurated a government of the people and for the people. Whether the people opposing the Queen were strengthened in their purpose to accept and act upon this abandonment by the Queen of her obligations to keep her oath to support and obey the constitution by the presence of the troops of the United States, or whether the Queen was dismayed by their presence and was deterred from supporting her criminal act by the employment of her household soldiery, did not alter the fact that she had openly renounced the constitution of 1887 before the troops were landed or any preparation was made or any order was issued to land them, and the people were preparing to substitute the monarchy, which was still existing in the constitution, by a ruler of their own choice before any troops left the Boston.
Whether the people would permit the restoration of the Queen, or whether they would constitute a new executive head of the Government of Hawaii, was a matter then undetermined, and as to that the Government of the United States had but one concern, and that was that the interregnum should be ended, the executive head of the Government should be supplied, and the laws of Hawaii and the treaty rights of American citizens should have full effect, peacefully, in the protection of their rights and interests. When the Queen found that her Government was opposed by a strong body of the people she did not attempt to reassemble the Legislature, but left the public safety in charge of a committee of thirteen men, organized by those who were endeavoring to preserve the peace and to restore the Government to its full constitutional powers by choosing an executive head. This condition of things continued from Saturday until the succeeding Tuesday, during all of which time the citizens of the United States residing in Honolulu had no protection of law, except such as was guarantied to them by the presence of the Boston in the bay of Honolulu, or the moral influence of the American legation and consulate.
When the Kamehameha dynasty ended, the monarchy in Hawaii was doomed to a necessary dissolution. The five kings of that family, assisted by their premiers, who were Kanaka women, and by such missionaries as Judd, Bingham, Chamberlain, Coan, Goodrich, and Damon
maintained the progress of civilization and prosperity, but when Kalakaua was elected king, the most surprising and disgraceful corruptions infected the Government. Without detailing in this report the constant decline from bad to worse, which the evidence discloses, without contradiction or explanation, when Liliuokalani was enthroned the monarchy was a mere shell and was in condition to crumble on the slightest touch of firm opposition. Under her brief rule, it was kept alive by the care and forbearing tolerance of the conservative white people, who owned $50,000,000 of the property in Hawaii, until they saw that the Queen and her party had determined to grasp absolute power and destroy the constitution and the rights of the white people. When they were compelled to act in self-defense the monarchy disappeared. It required nothing but the determined action of what was called the missionary party to prostrate the monarchy, and that action had been taken before the troops from the Boston landed.
There was then no executive head of the Government of Hawaii; it had perished.
In landing the troops from the Boston there was no demonstration of actual hostilities, and their conduct was as quiet and as respectful as it had been on many previous occasions when they were landed for the purpose of drill and practice. In passing the palace on their way to the point at which they were halted, the Queen appeared upon the balcony and the troops respectfully saluted her by presenting arms and dipping the flag, and made no demonstration of any hostile intent. Her attitude at that time was that of helplessness, because she found no active or courageous support in her isolated position, which was self-imposed and was regretted by few of her former subjects. In this condition of Hawaii the laws for the protection of life and property were, in fact, suspended so far as the executive power was concerned, and the citizens of the United States in Honolulu and all the islands, and their property rights, were virtually outlawed. The citizens of Honolulu were not held amenable to the civil authorities, but were treated by the Queen, as well as by the people, as if the country was in a state of war. A policeman was shot down on the streets by a person who was conducting a wagon loaded with arms to the place of rendezvous where the people had assembled, and no action was taken for the purpose of arresting or putting on trial the man who did the shooting.
In a country where there is no power of the law to protect the citizens of the United States there can be no law of nations nor any rule of comity that can rightfully prevent our flag from giving shelter to them under the protection of our arms, and this without reference to any distress it may give to the Queen who generated the confusion, or any advantage it might give to the people who are disputing her right to resume or to hold her regal powers. In every country where there is no effective chief executive authority, whether it is a newly-discovered island where only savage government prevails, or one where the government is paralyzed by internal feuds, it is the right, claimed and exercised by all civilized nations, to enter such a country with sovereign authority to assert and protect the rights of its citizens and their property, and to remain there without the invitation of anybody until civil government shall have been established that is adequate, in a satisfactory sense, for their protection.
The committee agree that such was the condition of the Hawaiian Government at the time that the troops were landed in Honolulu from the steam warship Boston; that there was then an interregnum in Hawaii as respects the executive office; that there was no executive power to enforce the laws of Hawaii, and that it was the right of the