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

Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp452-453 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

Text Only


giving feasts, of treating, and extravagantly fond of dress, horses, and sport. His instinct is to leave the country and crowd into the towns. This is as common among the women as among the men. But to live in town, or to indulge in dissipation, requires money, and therefore a family is a burden, especially to women, who are so fond of gaiety. There is, therefore, a deliberate and willful curtailment of the birthrate, and, in my judgment, this has been not much less potent in reducing the population than the abnormal increase in the death rate.

The Government of the islands is now a constitutional monarchy. The King is the chief executive officer, and his powers, though in theory no greater than those of the English sovereign, are in reality much more extensive and effectual. The legislative branch consists of a representative assembly, elected biennially by the people, and a house of nobles limited by the constitution to 20 members. The nobles are appointed for life by the King, but their titles are not hereditary. The judiciary is organized upon a plan somewhat similar to that of New York State, though considerably simpler. At the head of the judicial branch is the chief justice or chancellor and two vice-chancellors, who perform the functions of a supreme court and final court of appeals. They have also original jurisdiction in a wide range of subjects, and indeed in almost all important cases of whatsoever nature. Each of these justices holds circuit courts in various parts of the Kingdom, at which cases are tried both originally and on appeal. There are also lower courts in which petty cases are tried, and in which more important ones may originate. The higher judges are white men truly learned in the law, and they have reflected honor upon their profession and upon their adopted country. All of them are Americans, who received their education and training in law in the United States. The primary judges are in some cases whites, in others natives. The native judges were formerly appointed by the chancellor, but are now appointed by the Crown. There is generally much difficulty in finding men of native birth who possess the requisite legal knowledge and experience. Their intentions are always of the best, but their tendency is to construe law in accordance with their own notions of abstract justice rather than upon legal principles, and few of them are capable as yet of understanding the value and significance of precedents. But the higher courts are always open to appeal. The administration of law is excellent and will, on the whole, compare favorably with any country in the world. The respect of the native for statute law is very great, and the sheriff, policeman, or taxgatherer has no more difficulty in executing his process than in England or Massachusetts; indeed, he has, if anything, less difficulty.

The statutory code is in general modeled after that of New York, though it is apparent that in matters of detail many minor differences were at the first and still are necessary. But the underlying principles were identical. The tenure of real estate, the laws relating to liens and mortgages, to wills and inheritance of property, to bankruptcy and debt, to marriage and divorce, to partnership and corporations, are founded upon those of New York State. The system of jurisprudence is also fundamentally the same. There are many differences of detail and these are sometimes wide, but never so wide as to constitute differences of principle. The processes of the courts are more frequently summary, and their action is much more speedy and direct. Devices for protracting and complicating litigation have not as yet been developed to any great extent.


All laws are enacted by the Legislature, which regulates taxation and customs and appropriates specifically for all public expenditures. In theory the powers of this body are very nearly the same in their broader features as those of one of our State legislatures. The members of the lower house are elected biennially and are mostly natives. In practice, however, there is a wide difference. In England and America the representative body dominates everything and everybody, especially the chief magistrate. In Hawaii the King dominates the representative body. This arises from the fact that this people has always been intensely loyal to the King for scores of generations, and the habit of unquestioning submission to the royal will is far too strongly settled and ingrained to be readily shaken off. The want of experience in self-government on the part of the people, and the habit of absolute command on the part of the kings, will suggest the explanation of the great influence which the King holds over the Legislature.

At the present time the condition of the people of the islands is one of great prosperity, and they are rapidly advancing in wealth and general improvement. The reciprocity treaty now existing between the islands and the United States has been mutually beneficial. Large amounts of American capital have been invested there in sugar plantations and in the commerce with the little Kingdom. The result has been to give abundant employment to the entire population. Wages are high, and all the produce of the islands brings good prices. Thus the condition of the natives has been greatly improved. They are no longer idlers, but the recipients of well-earned wages and incomes. They are rapidly replacing their primitive grass houses with neat frame buildings, built in the regular California cottage style. They have adopted civilized clothing, hats, boots, and shoes, and the women cultivate the fashions as eagerly as our own farmers' wives and daughters, and it is by no means uncommon to see them clothed in silks or delicate woolen fabrics, or white lawns made in scrupulous regard to the latest numbers of Harper's Bazaar. They wear them as easily and naturally as the mulattoes or quadroons in our own country. The women of rank are ladies who are competent to sustain with grace and dignity all the appearances of cultivated society, though it would be expecting too much to look for any high degrees of mental culture according to the rigorous standard of the great white nations. Both men and women, however, are quick to catch the externals of social customs and refinement. The better culture, however, will come in time as wealth and the comforts and luxuries of civilized life increase among them.

One of the most important agencies, and perhaps the most important, has been the enforcement of education. Common schools are sustained at public expense, and a college for the higher education has been established. Unfortunately the natives have never been taught to speak the English language, and this has been a serious obstacle in the way of their intellectual advancement. It is far easier for a white man to acquire the Hawaiian language than for the Hawaiian to acquire English, and as a consequence few of the natives are able to converse or read except in their own tongue. On the other hand, the white residents can converse easily with the natives, and some of them have obtained an excellent knowledge of the Hawaiian language, while almost all the whites can at least use an intelligible jargon. The defect is in some measure offset by the extensive use of books and newspapers printed in the Hawaiian language, and by a postal system which, under the circumstances, is a highly creditable one to the

Previous Page Next Page