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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp852-853 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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Mr. Oleson. Several. He had more stock in the Lihue company. I think sugar stock in the islands is like railway stock here.

The Chairman. Where was Mr. Bishop originally from?

Mr. Oleson. He came from New York State.

Senator Frye. Have you reduced to writing an account of the proceedings in the Hawaiian Islands during the disturbing times, to which you are willing to testify?

Mr. Oleson. I have. I thought likely I might be called upon for something of the kind.

Senator Frye. You may read it as part of your testimony.

Mr. Oleson. I have made this as personal and as specific as possible.

Senator Gray. And it includes matters within your own knowledge?

Mr. Oleson. Yes; I have said nothing here that I was not personally cognizant of, unless it may be some deductions based on what I was personally cognizant of.


Have been a resident of the Hawaiian Islands since August, 1878. Went there from Ohio. During my residence of fifteen years was engaged in educational work among Hawaiians, first as principal of the largest school on the island of Hawaii, and later as organizer and principal of the Kamehameha Manual Training School, established by bequest of Princess Panahi, the last of the Kamehameha royal line.

My fifteen years' residence brought me into close contact with Hawaiians, first at Hilo, and later at Honolulu. Have known, by personal observation, of the changes that have taken place in the political history of Hawaii since 1878, and was present in Honolulu during the revolutions of 1887, 1889, and 1893, being an eyewitness of those events.

Have never held any office or appointment under the Hawaiian Government, and never acted in an official capacity, except in 1887, when, as a member of the committee of thirteen, appointed by the mass meeting of citizens, I went with others to present the demands of the citizens to the King, Kalakaua. My evidence is that of a citizen who knew what was in the minds of the people.

Attended the prorogation of the legislature, Saturday, January 14. I had the impression that it was to be an historic event. I do not know to what I am to lay the impression, except that things were culminating. I had not been in the habit of attending the prorogation of the legislature, having been there only once prior to that time. Noted the absence of the better class of citizens, and of many of the most upright legislators. Later, met some of the legislators on the street, who said, in reply to my question, "What are we going to do?" "We have done all we could in the legislature, and we can do nothing more."

This was the common feeling. Men were disheartened at the dismissal of the Jones-Wilcox cabinet and the passage of the lottery bill, but no one thought of anything else but submission to the inevitable until the next Legislature should meet two years after. It was hoped that the supreme court might decide the lottery bill to be unconstitutional, but I know there was no thought of organized opposition to the Government.

The foreign population that had been united in 1887 in the movement for a new constitution had lost its cohesion through the operation of several causes.


Notably among these was the anti-Chinese agitation, which enlisted the mechanics and tradesmen against the planters and their sympathizers. So long as the foreigners were united they were able to guide the legislation and administration of the Government. When they became divided the leaders of the anti-Chinese agitation joined forces with the natives, and the political leadership fell into the hands of men who had little sympathy with the reform movement of 1887. I wish to state here that when I say foreigners I mean voters in the Hawaiian Islands of foreign extraction, and when I say natives I do not intend to raise any race question, but simply to show that the majority in Honolulu were natives.

The depressing effect of this division was apparent in January. Men despaired of accomplishing anything through organization, and many went to the mass meeting January 16, believing that it would accomplish nothing because of lack of unity. This fact accounts in a measure for the guarded utterances on that occasion. The speakers and the committee of safety were uncertain as to how far they would have the support of the citizens.

I know that the report about the city the forenoon the meeting was held, that Marshal Wilson had forbidden citizens to meet at the armory, created strong feeling and aroused opposition that vented itself in increasing the attendance.

I know that the speakers, with a possible exception, did not voice the indignation of the citizens. During the meeting, and afterwards on the street, men were angry that the resolutions were so tame. It was not until attention was called to the large powers voted the committee that men became satisfied that something adequate would be done to restore public confidence.

The emergencies of 1887 and 1889 had prepared the citizens for decisive action. Word went around, "Have your rifle ready."

Col. Fisher, the real, though not nominal, head of the armed forces of the Provisional Government, told me on Monday afternoon, January 16, "I can get about a hundred of my men out with rifles in ten minutes." Monday afternoon there was suppressed excitement throughout Honolulu. The marshal's antagonism to the gathering of the citizens, the manifesto issued by the cabinet, the counter-meeting to allay excitement, the determination of the citizens at the meeting at the armory, were all cumulative, indicating the certainty of collision, and emphasizing the fact that the city was nominally in the control of a government not having the respect or confidence of its influential citizens, who were at work taking steps to secure for themselves what they otherwise despaired of getting. I know that there was great apprehension of disorder and incendiarism that night.

The landing of the troops allayed this.

Tuesday, January 17, I went into Honolulu (my residence being nearly 2 miles from the city), and learned that definite action was to be taken by the committee of public safety at about 2 o'clock. This was at 1:30 p.m.

I went directly to the office of W. O. Smith, where the committee were in consultation. At the door I learned that the committee would go to the Government building at 2 o'clock to take possession, and that their supporters were to rally at the same hour at the armory. The streets were filled with groups of men earnestly canvassing the situation, and there was a general purpose to stand by the committee at any cost. Men were going home for their rifles and clerks in stores were hurrying to close up.

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