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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp826-827 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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The Chairman. State the progress that was made in the preparations for landing troops.

Mr. Swinburne. Well, on Saturday nothing was done at all; on Sunday I had the same orders from the Captain—" No men to go ashore, and officers to return on board ship on the firing of a gun." On Sunday afternoon I went on shore myself. I went to the club, and I found that there was an immense amount of feeling, that there was a very distinct race feeling grown up; the white people felt that the new constitution which the Queen was about to promulgate on Saturday afternoon had created a great deal of feeling. I did not know what that new constitution was; nobody knew exactly; but it was freely talked of there that one clause disfranchised all white people not married to native women, and also that it gave the Queen complete and entire control of the ministry—to make it and unmake it as she saw fit. Those two clauses were talked about, and the Queen's manner in talking to the natives from the balcony showed that she was ready to fan into a flame every race prejudice she could.

The Chairman. You mean that was the feeling you found among the people?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. Some gentlemen I had not known to talk much about political subjects before that said to me, "You fellows got back here entirely too soon; if you had stayed away we could have settled this matter." They seemed to think our coming back prevented them. They said, " We could have settled this matter before you came back." I regarded the situation as very grave; that is, under the circumstances, with the Queen's attitude toward the foreigners and the manner of her own people as they were turned away from the palace that morning, and her stating to them that she would not give them the constitution, but would hold it until some better opportunity. i could see that the people were afraid of outbreaks, rioting.

The Chairman. What meaning did you understand to be conveyed by that statement made by citizens, "If you had not gotten back so soon we would have settled the matter?"

Mr. Swinburne. Why, that they would have deposed the Queen and had the whole business settled before we got there, as they were capable of doing.

The Chairman. That was on Sunday?

Mr. Swinburne. On Sunday.

The Chairman. Sunday afternoon?

Mr. Swinburne. Sunday afternoon. There was a distinct feeling of tension in the town; no doubt about it. In fact I know several gentlemen who moved their families from the town to Waikiki in the event of trouble. Mr. Hopper, who is an American, I think, and who lives within a block or two of the Queen's palace, he moved his family to Waikiki.

The Chairman. How far is that?

Mr. Swinburne. Two miles and a half; in the suburbs. He told me he thought there would be some trouble, and he removed his family.

The Chairman. To a place of greater security?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. So it went on all day Sunday and Sunday night.

The Chairman. Did you remain on shore Sunday night?

Mr. Swinburne. I did not remain on shore Sunday night. Of course, there was a great deal of talk; all the white people were very much excited, and it appeared as if there was likely to be an outbreak of some kind most any time.


The Chairman. What time did you get back to the ship that evening?

Mr. Swinburne. I got back to dinner at 6 o'clock.

The Chairman. Did you have a conference with Capt. Wiltse when you got back?

Mr. Swinburne. No; Capt. Wiltse and I very rarely discussed the situation at all. In fact, if I remember aright, the only time I undertook to give any advice at all was the occasion of leaving the island, on the 4th of January.

The Chairman. Was Capt. Wiltse receiving communications on the subject from the shore?

Mr. Swinburne. Not that I am aware of. I think he was ashore himself. He used to go ashore a great deal, every afternoon. I think his custom was to go every afternoon.

The Chairman. Do you remember any messenger being sent from the U.S. legation or consulate to the ship to give information to Capt. Wiltse?

Mr. Swinburne. No; I do not think I would have known. There was no reason for me to have known if they had come. The captain was on shore on Saturday and Sunday.

The Chairman. You remained on the ship on Monday as executive officer?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. On Monday morning I laid my plans to start out and give the ship a cleaning. We had been ten days away, and the ship was very dirty, and I expected to be all day at the job. By 10 o'clock I had the spars fairly cleaned, and about 11 o'clock, when the decks were covered with sand, the captain sent for me and said, "you had better make your preparations for lauding the battalion; have them ready at a moment's notice."

The Chairman. Are you aware of any communication having been received from the shore by Capt. Wiltse on that Monday morning which determined him to put his ship and his troops in condition for hostilities?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. Just before he gave me that order—I think about 11 o'clock, as nearly as I can remember—he sent for me. There was a gentleman in the cabin; I think it was Mr. Cooper, a man I had not seen before. The captain introduced me to him. He told me that Mr. Cooper had come from the—I may have dates mixed up; my impression is that Mr. Cooper had come with a message of some kind from the committee of safety. But what was the nature of his communication to the captain I do not know.

The Chairman. During that morning, and before the orders were given you to put the ship in condition for fighting, did you know of the arrival of any message or messenger from Mr. Stevens, the minister, or from Mr. Severance, the consul-general of the United States?

Mr. Swinburne. None whatever, only this man that I saw just before lunch time.

The Chairman. Being executive officer of the ship, if any messenger of that kind had come in from the legation or the consulate would you have known it?

Mr. Swinburne. Not necessarily.

The Chairman. But do you believe you would have known it?

Mr. Swinburne. That would depend very much on the gravity of the message. An ordinary message I would not have known at all; any message connected with the landing of the battalion I would have known very quickly. No preparation was made until after 11 o'clock on Monday morning, and the captain then told me to have everything

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