April Fool's Joke Proclamation
A Joke Taken Literally
On p314-315 of The Betrayal of Liliuokalani by Helena G. Allen, she says, regarding the provisional government "President Cleveland jokingly expressed his contempt in a proclamation" which she then reprints the text of. Her footnoted citation is as follows: New York Sun, February 26, 1894. The apparent title for the proclamation was "Fools' Day a Fast Day".
- To My People:
- Whereas, my good and great sister and fellow sovereign, her gracious majesty, Liliuokalani, queen of Hawai'i, has been wickedly and unlawfully dethroned by the machinations of Americans and persons of American descent in those islands, being instigated thereto by the devil, one John L. Stevens; and whereas, my well-concieved plans for the restoration of her sacred majesty have not had the result they deserved but her majesty is still defrauded of her legal rights by her refractory and rebellious subjects, and her position is a just cause of sympathy and alarm; now, therefore, I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, do hereby ordain and appoint the last day of April next as a day of solemn fasting, humiliation and prayer.
- Let my people humble themselves and repent for their injustice to me and my great and good sister, and pray, without distinction of color, for her speedy return to the throne and the discomfiture of the miserable herd of missionaries and their sons, her enemies and traducers.
- Long Live Liliuokalani, the de jure queen of Hawaii
- Done at our mansion in Washington this 25th day of February, 1894.
- Grover Cleveland
- A true copy. Attest,
- Walter Q. Gresham,
- Secretary of State
So far, this joke hasn't been well explained. If it's meant sarcastically, that would imply he believes the complete opposite of what he wrote (i.e., that the queen was in fact righteously and lawfully dethroned). If he's trying to insult Stevens through exaggeration, it implies that he believes in something much less extreme that what he wrote (i.e., that the queen was suspiciously, but lawfully dethroned).
If anyone has access to digitized images of the newspaper in question (New York Sun, February 26, 1894), please send them to the editor.
Honoring the Joke
According to this article in the Star Tribune, sovereignty activists have made a pilgrimage to Cleveland's birthplace, and plan a national day of prayer on April 30th to celebrate the Joke Proclamation.
Literal References to Joke Proclamation
Cleveland's actual messages and papers
Thanks to the Gutenberg project, we can verify that he issued no such official proclamation by examining his actual official proclamations.
- A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 8, part 3: Grover Cleveland, First Term