394-395

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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp394-395 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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possession of the former in case of aggressions made upon them thereafter by any hostile powers.
In 1854 the administration of President Pierce authorized the United States commissioner, Mr. Gregg, to negotiate a treaty with the Hawaiian authorities for the cession of the sovereignty of these islands to the United States; but Mr. Gregg succeeded only in obtaining a protocol for a treaty, by which the United States were to extend a protectorate government over them. The matter in that form did not meet with the approval of Mr. Secretary Marcy, and further negotiations ceased.
I omitted to state in proper sequence that the deed of cession of 1851 was, by order of the Secretary of State, Mr. Webster, returned to the Hawaiian Government.
In conclusion, I herewith inclose Annual Review of the Agriculture and Commerce of the Hawaiian Islands for the year 1870, published by the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, February 25, 1871. Additional copies will accompany my dispatch No. 102. Permit me to refer you to a lithographic map, published in 1867 by U. S. Bureau of Statistics, as showing in convenient form the relative position of these islands to the continents of America, Asia, etc.; also, steamship lines radiating therefrom.
With great respect, your obedient, humble servant,
Henry A. Pierce
Hon. Hamilton Fish,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

A President informed as to the history of his country could find no difficulty in dealing with the question of the annexation of Hawaii to the United States on the ground that it is new; and a minister to Hawaii who should fail to inform his Government of the political changes in Hawaii that would affect that question would neglect his duty.

It is not a just criticism upon the correspondence of Minister Stevens with his Government that he earnestly advocated annexation. In this he was in line with Mr. Marcy and nearly every one of his successors as Secretary of State, and with many of Mr. Stevens's predecessors as minister to Hawaii. His letters to his Government were written under the diplomatic confidence that is requisite to secure freedom in such communications, and were not expected to come, under the scrutiny of all mankind. They show no improper spirit and are not impeachable as coloring or perverting the truth, although some matters stated by him may be classed as severe reflections. Whatever motives may have actuated or controlled any representative of the Government of the United States in his conduct of our affairs in Hawaii, if he acted within the limits of his powers, with honest intentions, and has not placed the Government of the United States upon false and untenable grounds, his conduct is not irregular.

But, in his dealings with the Hawaiian Government, his conduct was characterized by becoming dignity and reserve, and was not in any way harsh or offensive. In the opinion of the committee, based upon the evidence which accompanies this report, the only substantial irregularity that existed in the conduct of any officer of the United States, or agent of the President, during or since the time of the revolution of 1893, was that of Minister Stevens in declaring a protectorate of the United States over Hawaii, and in placing the flag of our country upon the Government building in Honolulu. No actual harm resulted

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from this unauthorized act, but as a precedent it is not to be considered as being justified. The committee have not considered it necessary to present any resolutions stating the conclusions that are indicated in this report, and ask that they be discharged from the further consideration of the resolutions under which this report is made.


We are in entire accord with the essential findings in the exceedingly able report submitted by the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. But it is our opinion—

First. That the appointment on the 11th day of March, 1893, without the advice and consent of the Senate, of Hon. James H. Blount as "special commissioner" to the Hawaiian Government under letters of credence and those of instruction, which declared that "in all matters affecting relations with the Government of the Hawaiian Islands his authority is paramount" was an unconstitutional act, in that such appointee, Mr. Blount, was never nominated to the Senate, but was appointed without its advice and consent, although that body was in session when such appointment was made and continued to be in session for a long time immediately thereafter.

Second. The orders of the Executive Department by which the naval force of the United States in the harbor of Honolulu was in effect placed under the command of Mr. Blount or of Mr. Willis were without authority or warrant of law.

Third. The order given by Mr. Blount to Admiral Skerrett to lower the United States ensign from the Government building in Honolulu and to embark the troops on the ships to which they belonged, was an order which Mr. Blount had no lawful authority to give. Its object was not to terminate a protectorate. That relation had been disavowed by the administration of President Harrison immediately upon receiving information of its establishment. The flag and troops, when such order was given by Mr. Blount, were in the positions from which he ordered them to be removed for the purpose of maintaining order and protecting American life and property. Their presence had been effectual to those ends, and their removal tended to create, and did create, public excitement and, to a degree, distrust of the power of the Provisional Government to preserve order or to maintain itself. That order of Mr. Blount was susceptible of being construed as indicating an unfriendly disposition on the part of the United States toward the Provisional Government, and it was so construed, particularly by the people of Hawaii.

In the light of subsequent relations between Mr. Blount and his successor, Mr. Willis, with the Queen, whose office had become vacant by her deposition and abdication under the attack of a successful revolution, this order and its execution were most unfortunate and untoward in their effect. Such relations and intercourse by Messrs. Blount and Willis with the head and with the executive officers of an overthrown government, conducted for the purpose of restoring that government by displacing its successor, were in violation of the constitution and of the principles of international law and were not warranted by the circumstances of the case.

Fourth. The question of the rightfulness of the revolution, of the lawfulness of the means by which the deposition and abdication of the Queen were effected, and the right of the Provisional Government to


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