Interviews with 3 prominent native Hawaiians who favor annexation

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Taken from pp. 1117-1120

Interview with J.A. Kawainui, the editor of the Kuakoa (described by Mr. Hoes as "the most prominent newspaper in the Kingdom").

English-language transcript of an interview with Hon. Mr. Kauhi (prominent native member of the Legislature) who does not speak English. This English-language transcript was read to Mr. Kauhi in Hawaiian by a Hawaiian-language translator, and then acknowledged by Kauhi as being accurate.

Transcript of an interview on January 27, 1893 with Robert W. Wilcox, signed by Wilcox after being read back to him, in which Wilcox strongly favors annexation and blames the Queen for her overthrow.

Senator FRYE. Did you have any conversation with any prominent Hawaiians in relation to the change of government?

Mr. HOES. I mingled a good deal during the time I was in Honolulu among the common Hawaiian people and among the prominent Hawaiian people. I was constantly studying the historical side of the question, as well as contemporary opinion, and I was persistently trying to learn the views of the people. To answer your question more exactly, I did have conversation with prominent Hawaiians.

Senator FRYE. Did you have any conversation with J. A. Kawainui?

Mr. HOES. Yes. He was the editor of the most prominent newspaper in the Kingdom—the Kuakoa.

Senator FRYE. When did you have that conversation?

Mr. HOES. Shortly after the revolution.

Senator FRYE. Will you please read it?

Mr. HOES. Yes, sir. (Reading:)

"The Kemehameha dynasty had a strong hold upon the native heart because of its noble ancestry, but Kalakaua and the late Queen, on account of their comparatively ignoble origin, did not command the respect due to genuine high chiefs. The corruption of Kalakaua and her late majesty have brought sore evils upon the Hawaiians. Then, too, certain designing foreigners have exercised a very pernicious political influence on the natives, and have sought to use them only for the accomplishment of their own ends. For my part I am tired of this state of things. What I want is good government. I do not care for a condition of affairs that is constantly shifting. We need a government that will be respected abroad and trusted at home. Either annexation to the United States or a protectorate. I prefer the former because of its greater stability. With annexation we should, of course, to a great degree enjoy the same condition of things that prevails in America. I have had enough of monarchy, and believe that the safety and prosperity of the country is dependent upon its annexation to the United States, and there are many of the intelligent native Hawaiians who agree with me in this opinion. The majority of my race are ignorant of what is really conducive to their best interests. It can not be a matter of surprise that they look with fond recollections to the throne and the old institutions. The future seems so uncertain that they can not conceive what is in store for them, but when they find that they are treated justly under the new government, as they have been from the first day of its formation, and indorsed their attempts to effect organic union with the United States, they will quickly give it their confidence."

Senator FRYE. Did you have an interview with Hon. A. Kahi? [sic, Kauhi]

Mr. HOES. Yes.

Senator FRYE. A prominent member of the last royal Hawaiian Legislature?

Mr. HOES. Yes. Shall I read it?

Senator FRYE. Yes.

"I am 53 years old. During all these years I have lived under the Hawaiian monarchy, that is, under Kamehameha III, IV, and V, Lunalilo, Kalakaua, and the late Queen Liliuokalani. I was personally acquainted with all of these rulers, but it was not until the reign of Kalakaua that I commenced to take an active part in public life. I was perfectly familiar with the whole of that monarch's career. During the first half of his reign he conducted the Government with some regard to decency, but during the latter half the native Hawaiian people strongly objected to his actions. During the whole of this period the voice of the common people was never heard or felt in the Legislature. The King's henchmen and creatures were elected through the power and influence of the Crown for the sole purpose of carrying out the wishes of the King, in utter disregard of the desires and rights of the masses of the Hawaiian people. The common people had no show whatever at the elections. The Government officials were everywhere instructed to compel the people to elect the King's favorites. During these years many self-respecting Hawaiians resisted the encroachments of absolutism and made a desperate, but unavailing, fight against overwhelming odds. Kalakaua controlled every district justice, assessor, tax-collector, sheriff, and all other Government officials, and, through them, controlled the polls and drowned the voice of the people. The rule of the late Queen has been just as rotten and corrupt as that of her brother Kalakaua. The greatest mistake of her reign was the fact that she exceeded her brother in seeking and acting upon the advice of the most unwise and corrupt counselors, and it was this mistake on her part that cost her her throne. I stand for the rights of the people and not for the rights of any privileged person.

"Monarchy is dead, and I am glad of it. I rejoice and am proud to support the Provisional Government, for it commands my perfect confidence, and I was the fifth person in the country to swear my alleigiance to it. What I desire is a firm and strong government, and I shall do everything to promote its stability. If we could have a stable republic, with President Dole at its head for four years, and his successor to hold office for the same length of time, it would be an ideal government, but if the present Provisional Government strongly advise annexation to the United States, as seems to be the fact, I shall heartily give it and the movement my support. My determination in this respect is fixed and unchangeable. There is no going backward; we must go forward. I believe that all those who will stop to think will agree with the views which I have expressed. I shall do everything in my power to show my constituents that these views are the only path to prosperity, and I believe that I shall succeed. The great mass of the Hawaiians are very poor, and some radical change must be made or they will be unable to obtain their means of livelihood. There are foreign adventurers in this country, whose names I need not mention, who are cast down because by the recent change in public affairs they have lost the government pap. They are nothing but soreheads, and have grossly deceived and misled the native Hawaiians. Again, I say, I rejoice in the new order of things. I stated on the floor of the recent Legislature that the conduct of affairs under the late monarchy was thoroughly rotten. We have had quite enough of it, and it is my firm belief that the native Hawaiians will quickly recognize the recent government changes as a great blessing."

Mr. HOES. I ought to say one word in connection with this.

Senator GRAY. Were those notes made at the time of the conversation?

Mr. HOES. That is what I was about to speak of. The fact is, Mr. Kauhi can not speak a word of English, yet this statement of his seems to read very smoothly. I had a friend with me when I called upon Mr. Kauhi, who understood the Hawaiian language as perfectly as he did the English. This friend talked to Kauhi, received his replies to his questions, and then communicated them to me in English. I took his statement home and wrote it out, and then took it to my friend and told him that I would not be satisfied with it until it was submitted to its author. I went back with my friend to Kauhi, who translated the statement to him, and Kauhi said it was correct.

Senator FRYE. You stated you were studying the people for historical purposes?

Mr. HOES. Yes; and also to learn contemporary opinion.

Senator FRYE. Do you know R.W. Wilcox?

Mr. HOES. Fairly well.

Senator FRYE. Who is he?

Mr. HOES. He is the man who figured so prominently and conspicuously in the revolution of 1887, and has mingled in politics more or less ever since, and was a member of the last Hawaiian Legislature.

Senator FRYE. Do you know whether he was a witness before Mr. Blount or not?

Mr. HOES. I do not know.

Senator FRYE. Did you have an interview with Wilcox?

Mr. HOES. Yes.

Senator FRYE. Is this the interview? [Exhibiting the paper.]

Mr. HOES. Yes.

Senator FRYE. You may state when that was.

Mr. HOES. Shortly after the revolution.


"What are your views, Mr. Wilcox, in regard to the present situation in general?

"Queen Liliuokalani brought these evils upon herself and the country both by her personal corruption, and that of her Government. She surrounded herself with bad advisers, and seemed determined to drive the nation to destruction. Good people had no influence over her whatever, for she indignantly refused to listen to them. I believe that if we can be annexed to the United States, the rights of all of our citizens, and especially those of the native Hawaiians, will be protected more carefully than they have ever been under the monarchy.

"What, in your opinion, is the personal feeling of the native Hawaiian element in this community?

"My countrymen, with the exception of the most intelligent among them, do not understand much about these things. They need to be educated. They have so often been told by designing men that the United States was their enemy that they are naturally suspicious. Politicians who have sought to use the natives simply as so many tools have deceived them. When they understand from the lips of disinterested men and patriots what annexation means, and become acquainted with the benefits that it will bring them, they will be as much in favor of the movement as any of our other classes of citizens.

"Does the present Provisional Government command the respect of the native Hawaiians?

"They are naturally somewhat prejudiced against it, as monarchy is the only form of Government with which they are familiar, but this feeling will quickly wear away as the Hawaiians are led to see that the Government is friendly to them and their interests. They already have confidence in the integrity and patriotism of President Dole.

"You advocated annexation to the United States, I believe, several months ago, in your newspaper, 'The Liberal?'

"Yes, and I have repeatedly done so in public meetings held in this city.

"How long do you think it would be after hoisting the American flag before the natives would be entirely reconciled?

"Almost immediately.

"Are you doing anything to instruct the natives so that they may have correct views in regard to these matters?

"Yes; but I am compelled to move cautiously or I shall lose my influence over them. I believe I am doing a good work by constantly conversing with them on the subject. I have told my countrymen that the monarchy is gone forever, and when they ask me what is the best thing to follow it I tell them annexation, and I firmly believe that in a very short time every Hawaiian will be in favor of that step. The great thing is to keep them from being influenced by the arguments of designing men who pretend to be their friends, but who are really their enemies---- men who will try and use them as tools to accomplish their own corrupt and selfish plans. We have had too much of this and it is high time to call for a halt.

"Have you confidence in the integrity and patriotic intentions of the commission that has just been sent to Washington by the Provisional Government?

"It is made up of good men, and I believe they will endeavor to do what is for the best interests of the country.

"The above is correctly reported. "


Senator FRYE. That is signed by Mr. Wilcox?

Mr. HOES. Signed by him personally, and read to him carefully before he signed it.

The CHAIRMAN. By whom?

Mr. HOES. By me.