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United States to land troops upon those islands at any place where it was necessary in the opinion of our minister to protect our citizens.
In what occurred in landing the troops at Honolulu there may have been an invasion, but it was not an act of war, nor did it create that condition of the public law in Hawaii.
In the period of reconstruction, as it is called, which followed the civil war of 1861-'65 in the United States, a very similar condition existed, or was assumed to exist, which caused Congress to provide for vacating the gubernatorial offices in several of the Southern States and filling them by appointments of the President.
In these States strong military bodies were stationed and general officers of the Army took command and enforced the laws found on their statute books and also the laws of the United States. All the civil officers in those sovereign States were required to obey the commands of those Army officers, and they did so, often under protest, but with entire submission to the military power and authority of the President, exerted through the instrumentality of the Army. That was not war. Yet it was the presence of military force, employed actively in the enforcement of the civil laws, and in full supremacy over the civil authority.
The only reason that could justify this invasion of sovereign states by the armies of the United States was the declaration by Congress that the executive governments in those states were not in the lawful possession of the incumbents; that there was an interregnum in those states as to the office of governor.
If the Queen, or the people, or both acting in conjunction, had opposed the landing of the troops from the Boston with armed resistance, their invasion would have been an act of war. But when their landing was not opposed by any objection, protest, or resistance the state of war did not supervene, and there was no irregularity or want of authority to place the troops on shore.
In this view of the facts there is no necessity for inquiring whether Minister Stevens or Capt. Wiltse, in arranging for the landing of the troops, had any purpose either to aid the popular movement against the Queen that was then taking a definite and decisive shape, or to promote the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States. But justice to these gentlemen requires that we should say that the troops from the Boston were not sent into Honolulu for any other purpose than that set forth fully and fairly in the following order from Capt. Wiltse to the officer in command of the detachment:
- U.S.S. Boston (Second Rate)
- Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, January 16, 1893.
- Lieut. Commander W.T. Swinburne, U.S. Navy,
- Executive Officer, U.S.S. Boston:
- Sir: You will take command of the battalion and land in Honolulu for the purpose of protecting our legation, consulate, and the lives and property of American citizens, and to assist in preserving public order.
- Great prudence must be exercised by both officers and men, and no action taken that is not fully warranted by the condition of affairs and by the conduct of those who may be inimical to the treaty rights of American citizens.
- You will inform me at the earliest practicable moment of any change in the situation.
- Very respectfully,
- G.C. Wiltse,
- Captain, U.S. Navy, Commanding U.S.S. Boston.
As between the United States and Hawaii, as separate and independent governments, that order defines the full liability of the Government of the United States in respect of landing the troops at Honolulu. As between the Government of the United States and its officers, the question may arise whether that order was issued in good faith and for the purposes declared upon its face, or whether it was a pretext used for the purpose of assisting in the overthrow of the Queen's Government and the ultimate annexation of Hawaii to the United States.
In reference to this last suggestion, the committee, upon the evidence as it appears in their report (which they believe is a full, fair, and impartial statement of the facts attending and precedent to the landing of the troops), agree that the purposes of Capt. Wiltse and of Minister Stevens were only those which were legitimate, viz, the preservation of law and order to the extent of preventing a disturbance of the public peace which might, in the absence of the troops, injuriously affect the rights of the American citizens resident in Honolulu.
The troops from the Boston having rightfully and lawfully entered Honolulu, and having carried with them the protection of the laws of the United States for their citizens who otherwise were left without the protection of law, it was the right of the United States that they should remain there until a competent chief executive of Hawaii should have been installed in authority to take upon himself the civil power and to execute the necessary authority to provide for the protection of all the rights of citizens of the United States then in Honolulu, whether such rights were secured by treaty or were due to them under the laws of Hawaii. It was the further right of the officers representing the United States in Hawaii to remain there with the troops until all the conditions were present to give full assurance of security to the rights of all the citizens of the United States then in Honolulu.
Before the landing of the troops a committee of safety had been organized that sent a request to the commander of the Boston that troops should be landed for the purpose of preserving the public peace. To this request no response was made, and later in the day the commander of the Boston was informed that the committee of safety had withdrawn its request and then desired that no troops should be landed. But, disregarding all the action of the committee of safety and acting only upon his sense of duty to the people of the United States who were in Honolulu, Capt. Wiltse came to the conclusion that the troops should be landed, and he put them in a state of preparation for that purpose by lowering the boats, filling the cartridge belts of the men, and supplying them with proper accouterments for a stay on shore. After these preparations had been completed Minister Stevens went on board the ship (on Monday), and had an interview with Capt. Wiltse. The evidence shows that this interview related alone to the question of the preservation of law and order in Hawaii and the protection of Americans in their treaty rights. It seems that neither Minister Stevens nor Capt. Wiltse then fully comprehended the fact that the United States had the right, of its own authority, to send the troops on shore for the purpose of supplying to American citizens resident there the protection of law, which had been withdrawn or annulled, because of the fact that there was then an interregnum in the executive department of the Government of Hawaii. The rights of the United States at that moment were greater than they were supposed to be by Minister Stevens or Capt. Wiltse, and they were not the result of treaty rights or obligations, but of that unfailing right to give protection to citizens of the
S. Doc. 231, pt 6----24
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