|Previous Page||Next Page|
just as you do here, and the bills were published. They have three newspapers, and everything of that character comes out.
Senator Gray. Did you avail yourself of the opportunities that were presented, of correspondence with other intelligent people than those connected with the Government, in order to inform yourself?
Mr. Stevens. That is a very important point; I am glad you have asked me in regard to it. I wish to say that five islands constitute the main portion of the islands. Those islands are separate, and on them live influential men. In order to know exactly the state of affairs in Hawaii, you must know what is going on in the different islands, and who these important men are. It took me one year of careful investigation to find out who they were, and to find out the state of things— who is who and what is what. In doing that I availed myself of all the agencies in the community.
Senator Gray. And you did not decline correspondence with anybody?
Mr. Stevens. Not any. Of course I had to avoid compromising myself with anybody.
Senator Gray. I meant, for the purpose of gaining information for yourself, not imparting it to anybody. You understood that?
Mr. Stevens. Yes. In order to amend the constitution of Hawaii, the amendment must be submitted to one Legislature. Their sessions are biennial, and the amendment must be passed by one Legislature and resubmitted to the succeeding Legislature and passed.
The Chairman. By a majority vote?
Mr. Stevens. I am not sure whether it is a two-thirds vote or a majority vote; but it must be submitted to the two Legislatures. Just at this moment I can not say whether it is a two-thirds vote or a majority; my impression is that it is two thirds.
The Chairman. Before you left Honolulu on board the Boston to go to Hilo, did you have any knowledge or information of the movements of which you have just been speaking, in regard to a change of the constitution by the Queen?
Mr. Stevens. Oh, that had been a mooted matter before. I ought to give some prior facts. In the Legislature before Liliuokalani came to the throne, Kalakaua was opposed by some persons, and he wanted to get his original power back.
The Chairman. By original power you mean the power he had prior to the constitution of '87?
Mr. Stevens. Prior to that. In order to accomplish that, in the winter of '90 he had delegations of natives from the islands to demand a new constitution through a constitutional convention. That would have been revolutionary, and it alarmed the business men of the islands. They came to me and asked me to go to the King and advise him of the danger of that. I said I would provided they got those having English affiliations to have the English minister do the same. They got the English minister; he arranged the meeting.
The Chairman. Mr. Wodehouse?
Mr. Stevens. Wodehouse. He strongly urged the King not to go into it, stating that it would be fatal to him. Then I followed, and went into it elaborately, stating that in my opinion he could not have gotten up a better scheme than that to overthrow the monarchy. I said, "If it is started, you do not know where it will end." The whites had made up their minds, if Kalakaua ever attempted that, they would break down the monarchy. It was hard for Kalakaua to take that advice. I stated it very courteously and kindly, and in a day or two he came around good naturedly and accepted our advice. When he was dead, and Liliuokalani came to be the sovereign, she said to the
chief justice, "What will be the consequence if I do not take the oath to that constitution?" The chief justice, who had been a supporter of the monarchy, said in his courteous way, "You could not be Queen." With this answer of the chief justice Liliuokalani took the oath to support the constitution.
The Chairman. If I understand you, the subject of changing the constitution so as to restore to the monarchy the ancient power that it possessed before 1887 was the subject of discussion and action also on the part of Kalakaua as well as Liliuokalani?
Mr. Stevens. Certainly.
The Chairman. When you left on the Boston to go to Hilo did you know that the Queen had in contemplation, at that time or at any earlier period, to promulgate this constitution by apronuuciamento?
Mr. Stevens. I had come to the conclusion, as many men had, that so many ministries having been voted out and she accepting this Wilcox- Jones ministry, and Wilson, the marshal, being on friendly relations with the attorney-general, Mr. Brown, he thinking he was going to be kept in—putting all the facts together, the lottery bill dead, and the opium bill dead, we had made up our minds that the Queen and her favorite would abide by the ministry for eighteen months, or until the meeting of the new Legislature, and I did not dream of any revolution that the Queen had on foot.
The Chairman. Let me ask. After the Queen prorogued the Legislature would she have had authority to dismiss the ministry and reappoint another without assembling the Legislature?
Mr. Stevens. She could not remove the ministry except upon a vote of want of confidence by the Legislature. That was the constitution.
The Chairman. That is the only way in which she could do it?
Mr. Stevens. The only way—by a vote of want of confidence.
The Chairman. And, as I understand, you felt that no change of the constitution could take place?
Mr. Stevens. Certainly.
The Chairman. And that relieved your mind of any apprehension that there would be any effort made to revolutionize the Government with respect to the constitution?
Mr. Stevens. Certainly. We considered that those four ministers for the next eighteen months would be the Government—for all practical purposes.
The Chairman. Let me ask whether, if you had in contemplation anything of that kind, you would have felt authorized, as the American minister resident, to go away as you did?
Mr. Stevens. I would not. If I had thought she had that revolutionizing plan on hand, it would not have been proper for me to have gone away.
The Chairman. Why?
Mr. Stevens. Because I think I could have given her advice. I would have given her the advice that it would ruin public business and endanger life.
The Chairman. You felt at that time that the interests of the people of the United States would be exposed to danger?
Mr. Stevens. Exposed to danger.
The Chairman. And you felt---
Mr. Stevens. It would be my duty to go to her, as I had before gone to Kalakaua.
The Chairman. Ships of war of the United States had been kept in the harbor of Honolulu for some time?
Mr. Stevens. Yes.
|Previous Page||Next Page|