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The Chairman. Take your own course, so that you answer the questions.
Mr. Stevens. The biennial Legislature assembled in May, 1892. The body very soon asserted its constitutional prerogative in voting out a ministry that had consented to the maladministration of the Queen and her favorite at the palace, who exercised dictatorial powers and rioted in official police corruption. Instead of appointing ministers possessing the confidence of the Legislative majority and of the business men of the islands, she continued to select those of her own type of character, those whom she knew would retain her palace favorite in power. Three successive ministers of this description were voted out by the Legislature, with the warm approval of all the best men of the islands. At last the Queen appeared to yield to the pressure of public opinion and consented to the appointment of four responsible men, three of them persons of wealth, and all of them men of good financial standing, who took the official places with reluctance, all four of them sharing the public confidence.
Known as the Wilcox-Jones ministry, it was believed that they would safely carry the country through the following eighteen months to the election and assemblage of the next Legislature. Fully sharing this belief, the United States minister and naval commander left Honolulu January 4, in the U. S. cruiser Boston, for Hilo and Volcano, the distance of nearly 300 miles. It was the first time for many months I had felt it safe for the United States minister and naval commander to be away from the Hawaiian capital. We were absent ten days. When we arrived in the harbor of Honolulu on our return from Hilo, in the forenoon of January 14, there came to us the startling news that the Queen and the ring of white adventurers who surrounded her had, by intrigue and bribery, carried the lottery and opium bills through the Legislature; had forced out the Wilcox and Jones ministry, had appointed in their places four of her palace retainers, two of whom the Legislature and the responsible public had recently and repeatedly rejected, headed by the man who had carried the lottery and opium bills through the Legislature.
In spite of numerous petitions and protests from all the islands, both of whites and native Hawaiians, and the earnest remonstrance of the chamber of commerce and the principal financial men of the country, the Queen immediately signed the iniquitous bills. Both she and the ring of adventurers who surrounded her expected thus to get the money to carry on the Government by making Honolulu a fortress of gamblers and semipirates amid the ocean, from which they could, by every mail steamer to the United States, send out the poisoned billets of chance by which to rob the American people of their millions of money—a method of gaining silver and gold as wicked and audacious as that of the freebooters who once established themselves in the West Indian seas and made piratical forays on American commerce. But even this was not enough for the semibarbaric Queen and the clique of adventurers around her. To fortify themselves in their schemes of usurpation and robbery they must have a new constitution. They were afraid the supreme court would decide their lottery bill unconstitutional. The supreme court must be reconstructed, so that the Queen could reappoint the judges and give the final appeal to the Queen herself. The new constitution was to be proclaimed in a way that the existing constitution expressly prohibits. Her four new ministers were in the plot.
While the Boston was coming into the harbor of Honolulu, on the forenoon of January 14, the mob of hoodlums, at the call of the Queen and her retainers, were gathering in the palace grounds. The Legislature was prorogued at 12 a. m. The revolutionary edict of Hawaii's misguided sovereign was ready to be proclaimed, rumors of which were already in the public ear. The storm of public indignation began to gather. A few minutes before the appointed hour for the coup d'etat, immediately after my reaching the legation from the Boston, I was urged to go at once to the English minister to ask him to accompany me to the Queen and try to dissuade her from her revolutionary design. I promptly sought to comply with this request, went immediately to the English minister, who was ready to cooperate with me if there were any possibility of effecting any good. We went immediately to the foreign office to seek access to the Queen in the customary manner.
The hour of proroguing the Legislature had arrived. The ceremony concluded, the Queen went immediately to the palace, around which the mob was gathering. It was too late for the American and English ministers even to attempt to reason with the maddened, misguided woman, who had already launched the revolution which could not be arrested, though her cowardly ministers of the lottery gang became alarmed and drew back. She scorned their cowardice and pushed on to her doom. Saturday night told every intelligent man in Honolulu that the Hawaiian monarchy was forever at an end—that the responsible persons of the islands, the property holders and the friends of law and order, must thereafter take charge of public affairs. The great mass meeting of January 16—worthy of the best American towns, of the best American days, was held. It was made up of the best and chief men of the country—the owners of property, the professional and educated citizens, merchants, bankers, clerks, mechanics, teachers, clergymen.
This assemblage was a unit in opinion and purpose. It was stirred by a common sentiment, the love of country and the desire for public order and public security. It took its measures wisely and prudently. Its committee of public safety asked us to land the men of the Boston lest riot and incendiarism might burst out in the night, for no reliable police force longer existed, and whatever there was of this force was now in the control of the usurpers and the lottery gamblers who had initiated the revolution. Under the diplomatic and naval rules, which were and are imperative, the U. S. minister and naval commander would have shamefully ignored their duty had they not landed the men of the Boston for the security of American life and property and the maintenance of public order, even had the committee of public safety not requested us to do.
As American representatives, 5,000 miles from our Government, we could not have escaped our responsibilities even had we desired to do so. Fortunately the commander of the Boston and those under his command had no desire to shirk their duty. They appreciated the obligations of American patriotism and the honor of the American Navy. The allurements of a semibarbaric court and palace had not blinded their eyes to the condition of things in Honolulu. On shore in perfect order, they stepped not an inch from the line of duty. They never lifted a finger in aid of the fallen monarchy.
The Chairman. Who was then chamberlain?
Mr. Stevens. Mr. Robertson.
The Chairman. Who was prior to him?
Mr. Stevens. MacFarlane.
S. Doc 231, pt 6----56
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