April Fool's Joke Proclamation

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A Joke Taken Literally

On p314-315 of The Betrayal of Liliuokalani, Helena G. Allen alleged that a proclamation of President Cleveland was printed in the New York Sun, on February 26, 1894. However, an examination of microfilm of the New York Sun, February 26, 1894, shows no such proclamation at all. She mentioned it in the context of discussing the constitution of the Republic of Hawai'i (which is odd, since the constitution of the Republic of Hawaii was not issued until 4 months after the date of the proclamation). Her exact words were as follows:

The Provisional Government even by its restrictions on
franchise came to believe that even the few thousand
voters who had approved the constitution could not be
trusted to endorse it, so the constitution became law
not by plebiscite (such as it was), but by
proclamation.  The queen had lost her throne for
trying to alter the constitution by proclamation; now
the Revolutionaries (P.G.'s) in the name of "liberty"
did substantially the same thing.[footnote 6]

In the final constitution the qualifications for
voting or holding office were so strict that
comparatively few natives and no Orientals could vote.
Fewer still could serve in either house of the
legislature.

President Cleveland jokingly expressed his contempt in
a proclamation:  

FOOLS' DAY A FAST DAY

To My People:   Whereas, my good and great sister and
fellow sovereign, her gracious majesty, Liliuokalani,
queen of Hawaii, 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 [footnote 7]

Liliuokalani even before learning of this, had spent
"three hours fasting, meditation, and prayer."

She continued hopefully planning for restoration,
appointing a cabinet, and then being met with the
surprising resistance of some of the Provisional
Government that she must prove she had royal blood. 

An incorrect citation

Clevelandmessage.png

Helena G. Allen's footnoted citation is as follows: New York Sun, February 26, 1894. The apparent title for the proclamation was "Fools' Day a Fast Day". An examination of microfilm of the February 26, 1894 edition of the New York Sun showed no trace of any such proclamation. Further investigation revealed the proclamation in the New York Sun, February 27, 1894, page 6, immediately following a fictitious "Special Message" attributed to Cleveland demanding the abolishment of the Senate. The proclamation was also incorrectly quoted by Helena G. Allen, as it referred not to the LAST day of April next (April 30), but the FIRST day of April next (April Fool's Day). Both jokes are quoted here in their entirety:

A SPECIAL MESSAGE

To the Senate and House of Representatives,

The experience of my first term as President has been corroborated and fortified by my experience thus far in my second term, leading me to believe that the powers and duties now vested by the Constitution in the Senate would be more safely and usefully vested in the Executive. Especially is this the case in reference to the confirming power, which, as now employed by the Senate is a serious obstacle to the Executive and to good government. The Senate, composed of men elected from the several States and at various times, has no unit and principle of responsibility. It is not elected, as the President is, by the people and its possession of the power to thwart the will of the people, expressed through the President, is an unconsecrated anomaly in our institutions.

I know from my own experience that the Senate commits a grave injury and wrong on every occasion when it opposes the wishes of the President. I cannot admit that the Senate should have the right to revise and undo or even to consider what I in my wisdom have determined. Furthermore, the habit of the Senate to criticise and review the foreign or domestic policy of the President is, in my judgement, a monumental evil. A careful consideration of the whole matter has convinced me and I doubt not will convince you, that the abolition of the Senate is necessary to the independence of the Executive, and the equilibrium of the Government. Even the power of impeachment should belong to the Executive.

I therefore suggest to you that a joint resolution for an omnibus constitutional amendment, striking out all references to the Senate, and conferring upon the President all the powers now possessed by that body, should be passed by you and submitted to the several States for ratification. I cannot entertain a doubt that such amendment of the Constitution is eagerly desired by the people.

I append further with full memoranda of my wishes in this matter.

Grover Cleveland

Executive Mansion, Feb. 26, 1894

A Special Proclamation.

To My People: Whereas my good and great sister and fellow sovereign, her gracious Majesty, Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii, 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-conceived plans for the restoration of her sacred Majesty have not had the result they deserved, but her Majesty is still defrauded of her regal rights by her refractory and rebelious 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 first 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 twenty-fifth day of February, 1894.

Grover Cleveland

A true copy. Attest,

Walter Q. Gresham,

Secretary of State.

Other stories on p6 of the New York Sun February 27, 1894

Liliuokalani's Double Gam

Who was responsible for the overthrow of Liliuokalani? Was it Minister Stevens, representing a passing Administration of the United States? Was it the foreign population or the business interests of the islands?

Neither! It was the premeditated and deliberate purpose of the Queen herself.

As is now universally admitted, Liliuokalani is a characterless woman, caring alone for her own material pleasure, restless and fearful under responsibility, craving for the pomp and ceremony of position and the luxuries of wealth, but shirking the duties and restraints accompanying them.

Tempted by the offer of half a million of dollars a year from the lottery and opium syndicate, she placed herself in a position to accept, thinking she would either win this enormous sum or precipitate annexation to the United States, which would retire her on a pension from this Government, under which she could live in luxury with the honors of an ex-Queen wherever she might choose, and free from all care and danger, indulge to their full her demoralized tastes.

Heads or tails, she would win!

But the whirling coin unexpectedly landed upon the edge, remained upright, and she lost.

F. A. R.

Seven to Two for Annexation

Seventotwo.png

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which has been investigating the Hawaiian question, consists of nine members, five Democrats and four Republicans.

With what was already known concerning their views on the subject of the ultimate annexation of Hawaii, the various reports submitted to the Senate yesterday from this committee show how the nine members stand on the main question.

Senator Morgan, the Chairman, has declared himself squarely for annexation.

The four Republicans, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Frye, Mr. Dolph, and Mr. Davis, are all annexationists, differing only as to the method by which Hawaii should come into the Union; Senator Sherman, for example, suggesting that the islands ought to become a part of the State of California.

Of the four Democrats besides Senator Morgan, whose views were already known, Mr. Butler and Mr. Turpie file a supplemental report, in which they say that they are "heartily in favor of the acquisition of these islands by the United States in a proper manner."

The fact that the two remaining Democrats, Senator Gray of Delaware and Senator Daniel of Virginia, did not join with Senator Turpie and Senator Butler in this supplemental report, indicates that they are opposed to annexation at any time or in any shape. That may be the case with them, or it may not: nevertheless, there is good reason to put them down as opponents of annexation.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations stands seven to two in favor of annexation by proper methods.

This should encourage our friends in the islands. It only remains to find the proper method, and the American flag will fly again and forever over these beautiful islands of the sea.

Modern Improvements in Hawaii.

From the Boston Evening Transcript.

Advanced ideas find a harbor in Honolulu. For example, a library of theosophical books has just been opened to the public. Had progress not been characteristic, the community would not now be the largest patron of the telephone known to the world. The city of Honolulu has a population of, say, 24,000, and there are about 1,300 instruments in place, being one to about eighteen inhabitants, an unexampled record. Electric lights are also in use in all public places, and there are few residences without them. Even the national vessels at anchor are connected with the shore by telephone. These are at this time the Japanese ironclad Naniwa, the American flagship Philadelphia, the British ship Champion, and the American steam bark John Adams.s

Joke on Cleveland

Although Helena G. Allen attributed it to Cleveland "jokingly", the joke doesn't seem very funny for Cleveland. 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). Certainly, if Cleveland was the author, and the proclamation was attested to by Walter Q. Gresham, it would appear in his presidential papers and messages, which it does not. And certainly, there is no conceivable reason why Cleveland would choose to issue a proclamation to a single newspaper, and not include it in his official papers and messages.

Given the context of being preceded by a message to the Senate and House of Representatives asking for the abolition of the Senate, the joke was quite obviously on Cleveland, and his loyalty to the Queen and secret attempts to reinstate her were being mocked. A president of the United States would never refer to an official (John Stevens) as the devil, or use the phrase "miserable herd of missionaries" (in fact, in all of his presidential writings, the word "devil" is only used to refer to "Devils Lake Indian Reservation"). The fact that anyone ever believed that this was actually written by Cleveland is surprising.

Honoring the Joke

According to this article in the Star Tribune, sovereignty activists in 2006 have made a pilgrimage to Cleveland's birthplace, and plan a national day of prayer on April 30th, 2006 to celebrate the Joke Proclamation. There is no indication that they understand that the proclamation they are celebrating was not written by Cleveland (and was intended to mock him), nor do they seem to understand that Cleveland reversed his position on reinstating the Queen after the completion of the Morgan Report (See: The Rest of The Rest of The Story).

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. As you can see from the list of proclamations derived from the Gutenberg data, no proclamations were issued on February 25th, 1894, as suggested by the Joke Proclamation.

  • A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 8, part 2: Grover Cleveland
    • Proclamation 4/8/1893 - warning off people from entering the Bering Sea
    • Proclamation 5/8/1893 - regarding Denmark and copyrights
    • Proclamation 6/30/1893 - convening special session of Congress
    • Proclamation 7/17/1893 - regarding Canadian vessels in distress
    • Proclamation 7/20/1893 - regarding Portugal and copyrights
    • Proclamation 8/19/1893 - regarding land acquisitions from Indians
    • Proclamation 9/28/1893 - regarding Oregon public lands
    • Proclamation 9/28/1893 - also regarding Oregon public lands
    • Proclamation 11/3/1893 - regarding thanksgiving day
    • Proclamation 4/9/1894 - regarding Tribunal of Arbitration at Paris
    • Proclamation 5/2/1894 - regarding Grenada tonngage duty
    • Proclamation 7/8/1894 - regarding using military force to suppress protests
    • Proclamation 7/9/1894 - regarding nationwide protests
    • Proclamation 7/13/1894 - regarding naval safety regulations
    • Proclamation 9/25/1894 - regarding amnesty for Mormon polygamy
    • Proclamation 11/1/1894 - regarding thanksgiving day
    • Proclamation 12/5/1894 - regarding South Dakota lands
    • Proclamation 2/18/1895 - warning off people from entering the Bering Sea
    • Proclamation 2/25/1895 - regarding delays to naval safety regulations
    • Proclamation 5/16/1895 - regarding land acquisitions from Indians
    • Proclamation 5/16/1895 - regarding land acquisitions from other Indians
    • Proclamation 5/18/1895 - regarding Oklahoma public lands
    • Proclamation 5/18/1895 - regarding the death of Walter Q. Gresham
    • Proclamation 6/12/1895 - regarding Cuba
    • Proclamation 7/10/1895 - regarding Spain and copyrights
    • Proclamation 11/4/1895 - regarding thanksgiving day
    • Proclamation 11/8/1895 - regarding cattle imports
    • Proclamation 11/8/1895 - regarding land acquisitions from Indians
    • Proclamation 1/4/1896 - regarding the State of Utah
    • Proclamation 2/27/1896 - regarding Mexico and copyrights
    • Proclamation 3/16/1896 - regarding Choctaw Nation
    • Proclamation 4/14/1896 - regarding seal killing
    • Proclamation 5/25/1896 - regarding Chile and copyrights
    • Proclamation 7/27/1896 - regarding Cuba
    • Proclamation 11/4/1896 - regarding thanksgiving day
    • Proclamation 11/14/1896 - regarding Alaska
    • Proclamation 12/3/1896 - regarding German Empire duty
    • Proclamation 12/31/1896 - regarding naval safety regulations
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Utah public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding California public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Washington public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding California public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Idaho and Montana public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Washington public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding South Dakota public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Idaho and Washington public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Washington public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Wyoming public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Montana public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Wyoming public lands
    • Proclamation 2/22/1897 - regarding Montana public lands
    • Proclamation 2/24/1897 - regarding special session for the Senate