708-709

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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp708-709 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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order me to fire on the town, I should not obey any such order unless I was clearly informed of the necessity.

Senator Butler. That is an extreme case.

Mr. Young. But I would obey the order of any minister or civil officer of an ordinary nature to avoid friction where it would not involve the loss of life or destruction of property.

Senator Butler. If you should receive an order from the Secretary of the Navy to fire on a town?

Mr. Young. I would fire; I would not hesitate a minute, not the slightest; but if it were sent through an improper channel I would have to see it in writing and the signature to it as well as satisfied of the necessity for so doing.

Senator Butler. That is a matter of discretion.

Senator Gray. It would be the exercise of a good deal of discretion if the President of the United States, or the Secretary of the Navy, were to give him an order and he should refuse to obey it.

Mr. Young. Of course, if the President should give me an order to organize a body guard for his protection or move a ship, etc., I would undoubtedly obey it; yet should he order me to shoot an inoffensive citizen, I would disobey, for the reason that disobeying would involve dismissal only, whereas, if I shot the man, the civil courts would try me for murder, and being adjudged guilty I might be hanged, unless the President were in office to pardon me.

Senator Gray. About this instruction from Mr. Gresham to Mr. Blount: "To enable you to fulfill this charge." This is the language of the Secretary of State in his letter of instructions to Mr. Blount.

"To enable you to fulfill this charge your authority in all matters touching the relations of this Governmont to the existing or other Government of the islands, or protection ot our citizens therein, is paramount, and in you is vested full discretion and power to determine when such forces should be landed and withdrawn."

Now, suppose as commander-in-chief of a ship you got an instruction from the Secretary of the Navy in which you informed that such an instruction were given by the President to the minister, and that you were to conform yourself thereto, and the minister should request you to land the forces—ordered you; whatever you may call it—advised you, would you consider yourself bound to obey?

Mr. Young. I would do it, for the simple reason that it would not involve any loss of life or property, and if I disobeyed it I would receive a greater punishment than if I obeyed it.

Senator Frye. You would still hold that it was in your discretion?

Senator Gray. What discretion?

Mr. Young. Whether it involved any loss of life or destruction of property which would hold me accountable for my acts.

The Chairman. Suppose the orders came through the channel spoken of by Mr. Gray, and you were ordered to fire on Honolulu, would you doit?

Mr. Young. No.

Senator Gray. That is not what I have called for.

The Chairman. I did.

Senator Gray. Whether your punishment was greater if you obeyed or if you disobeyed?

The Chairman. What we are discussing here is a question of law, as to how far the President can delegate his authority to a private citizen to take command of troops on ships in the strict military sense, and to use them for the purpose of hostility.

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Senator Gray. The question was raised not by me whether it be proper. I am anxious to find out what the opinion of representative naval officers may be. Lieut. Young is in that respect an important witness. I do not mean that this matter is to be settled by a naval officer, because it is a question of law. I did not introduce it, but I really want to know whether the lieutenant thinks, as a naval officer, that his discretion (which is a wide one under certain circumstances) extends so far as to disobey the instructions of the Secretary of the Navy where those instructions involve cooperation with a diplomatic officer on shore, or, taking the very language of these instructions to Commissioner Blount, whether he thinks he would be authorized, if he were in command of a ship, to disobey the request, order, or advice given to him after receiving notice from the Secretary of the Navy that he was to obey such instructions either to land or to withdraw troops.

Mr. Young. I would obey the order just the same as Admiral Skerrett did.

Senator Frye. And when you hauled down the flag, I suppose you would say, as Admiral Skerrett did, "I do it in obedience to Mr. Blount's orders?"

Mr. Young. That is what was done, I believe.

Senator Gray. And if you put the flag up, you would say, "I did it in obedience to Mr. Stevens' orders?"

Mr. Young. No.

Senator Gray. What did you do?

Mr. Young. We would not put it up under his orders.

Senator Gray. I understood you to say that the protectorate was established by a proclamation made by Mr. Stevens and approved by Captain Wiltse?

Mr. Young. Captain Wiltse approved and carried it out. The law requires a naval officer, immediately after arriving in a foreign port, to put himself in communication with the diplomatic representative in that port, and by intercourse, conversation, requests, or otherwise find out the absolute state of affairs and to act according to his own responsibility.

Senator Gray. That is the ordinary rule when you go into a foreign port?

Mr. Young. Yes.

Senator Gray. Where the circumstances are not exceptional, but where the commissioner is under special directions from your Government, and through the ordinary channels of communication you receive from the naval authorities, from the President through the proper naval channels, orders to conform your action to certain requests that may be made by the minister, do you not think you would be obliged to obey it?

Mr. Young. I would obey if it were an ordinary affair; but I would not consider it a legal order.

Senator Gray. Do you think your duty as a naval officer in command of a ship in a foreign port in which a United States protectorate had been established would require you to-day to obey orders conveyed to you from the Government at Washington as to the continuance or discontinuance of that protectorate?

Mr. Young. The continuance or discontinuance?

Senator Gray. Yes.

Mr. Young. Of course, I would have to obey the orders that were sent from the Department.


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