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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp460-461 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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was far more rapid than there. The possession of land by foreigners with strong governments back of them, represented here by men of war and zealous consuls, had a stimulating effect upon this movement. It was a transition period; the strength of the feudal despotism was fast waning and there was as yet nothing of a positive nature to take its place. This uncertainty in regard to land tenure was a serious obstacle to material progress. The large landholders—the chiefs and some to whom they had given or sold lands—felt a degree of security in their holdings through the growing sentiment toward permanent occupation and hereditary succession; but this was insufficient to place land matters upon a satisfactory footing and to justify extensive outlays in permanent improvements. But that class of occupiers of land known as tenants, which class included a large proportion of the common people, was still in a condition which had scarcely felt the favorable influences which had begun to improve the status of the chiefs. They were hardly recognized has having civil rights, although they enjoyed freedom of movement and were not attached to any particular lands as belongings of the soil. If a man wanted a piece of land to live on and to cultivate he had to pay for it by a heavy rent in the shape of regular weekly labor for his landlord, with the additional liability of being called upon to assist in work of a public character, such as building a heiau or making a road or fish-pond sea wall. With all this the tenant was liable to be ejected from his holding without notice or chance of redress. That this defenseless condition of the common people was rigorously taken advantage of by the landholding chiefs and their konohikis, we have the evidence of those living in this period, including some of the early missionaries, that it was a feature of the times that large numbers of homeless natives were wandering about the country. This want of security in the profits of land cultivation led many to attach themselves to the persons of the chiefs as hangers-on, whereby they might be at least fed in return for the desultory services which they were called upon to perform in that capacity. This practice of hanging- on or of following a chief for the sake of food was a feature of the perfected feudalism, when insecurity of land tenure was at its height, and the word defining it—hoopilimeaai *—probably originated at that period.

In 1833, Kamehameha III, then 20 years old, assumed the throne, and soon became deeply interested in public affairs. In many ways the unsatisfactory status of land matters was pressed upon his attention. The growing sentiment toward permanence in tenure powerfully influenced the situation. The defenseless and wretched condition of the common people in regard to their holdings appealed to his humanity and to his sense of responsibility as their ruler. The inconsistency of his sovereign control of all the lands of the Kingdom with any progress based upon the incoming tide of civilization became more and more evident every day. The increasing demand among foreigners for the right to buy and hold land was an element of importance at this national crisis and doubtless had much to do in hastening the course of events. The King not only consulted the great chiefs of the realm, who certainly were in favor of permanence in tenure for themselves, but he also conferred with foreigners on the subject. In 1836 Commodore Kennedy and Capt. Hollins visited Honolulu in the U. S. ships Peacock and Enterprise, and during their stay held conferences with the chiefs, in which the question of land tenure was discussed. In 1837, Capt. Bruce of the British frigate Imogene

* Hoopilimeaai—adhering for food.


had several meetings with the chiefs in regard to matters of government, when, in all probability, land matters were considered. The influence of Mr. Richards, for a long time the confidential adviser of the chiefs was undoubtedly very great with the King in leading his mind to the definite conclusion which he reached in 1839, in which year, on the 7th day of June, he proclaimed a bill of rights which has made his name illustrious, and the day on which it was announced worthy of being forever commemorated by the Hawaiian people. This document, though showing in its phrases the influence of Anglo-Saxon principles of liberty, of Robert Burns and the American Declaration of Independence, is especially interesting and impressive as the Hawaiian Magna Charta, not wrung from an unwilling sovereign by force of arms, but the free surrender of despotic power by a wise and generous ruler, impressed and influenced by the logic of events, by the needs of his people, and by the principles of the new civilization that was dawning on his land.

The following is the translation of this enlightened and munificent royal grant:

"God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth in unity and blessedness. God hath also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs and all people of all lands.

"These are some of the rights which He has given alike to every man and every chief of correct deportment; life, limb, liberty, freedom from oppression, the earnings of his hands and the productions of his mind— not, however, to those who act in violation of the laws.

"God has also established government and rule for the purpose of peace; but in making laws for the nation it is by no means proper to enact laws for the protection of the rulers only, without also providing protection for their subjects; neither is it proper to enact laws to enrich the chiefs only, without regard to enriching their subjects also, and hereafter there shall by no means be any laws enacted which are at variance with what is above expressed, neither shall any tax be assessed, nor any service or labor required of any man in a manner which is at variance with the above sentiments.

"The above sentiments are hereby proclaimed for the purpose of protecting alike both the people and the chiefs of all these islands while they maintain a correct deportment; that no chief may be able to oppress any subject, but that chiefs and people may enjoy the same protection under one and the same law.

"Protection is hereby secured to the persons of all the people, together with their lands, their building lots, and all their property, while they conform to the laws of the kingdom, and nothing whatever shall be taken from any individual except by express provision of the laws. Whatever chief shall act perseveringly in violation of this declaration shall no longer remain a chief of the Hawaiian Islands, and the same shall be true of the governors, officers, and all land agents. But if anyone who is deposed should change his course and regulate his conduct by law. it shall then be in the power of the chiefs to reinstate him in the place he occupied previous to his being deposed."

It will be seen that this bill of rights left much to be done in defining the rights in land granted by it. It appears by the constitution enacted by the King, the kuhina nui, or premier, and the chiefs, the following year, that the feudal right of controlling transfers of land was still retained in the Sovereign, in the following words: "Kamehameha I. was the founder of the kingdom, and to him belonged all the land from one end of the islands to the other, though it was not his own private property. It belonged to the chiefs and people in common,

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