Introducing the Morgan Report
Major Hawaiian Historical Document Now on Internet with Important Implications for Akaka Bill and Hawaiian Sovereignty
A commentary in the Honolulu Advertiser of Sunday January 15 announced the internet publication of the Morgan Report. However, print media have space limitations. Here's more detail.
The Morgan Report has been known to historians for 112 years, but was only available to the public in dusty archives of a few libraries. It was treated as a rare book not for borrowing. This 808 page report is now easily available on the internet, along with outlines and summaries that will be helpful to historians and students. It is the official 1894 report of the U.S. Senate regarding the U.S. role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.
It is now available at http://morganreport.org
To clearly understand how important the Morgan Report is to the current debates about the Akaka bill and Hawaiian sovereignty, we must "nana i ke kumu" ("look to the source").
The source of the Akaka bill and impetus for the Hawaiian sovereignty movement is the 1993 Apology Resolution. It is heavily cited by the Akaka Bill as the main justification for claiming the U.S. has an obligation to help create a racially exclusionary Native Hawaiian government to negotiate for money, land, and political power as reparations for U.S. alleged misbehavior in 1893. Independence activists cite the Apology Resolution as a U.S. confession of a crime it committed against the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 -- a crime whose remedy would be for the U.S. to get out of Hawai'i and restore independence.
The source of the 1993 Apology Resolution is the Blount Report of July 17, 1893, and President Cleveland's message to Congress of December 12, 1893. Both were highly critical of the U.S. landing of troops and the actions of U.S. Minister Stevens; both challenged the legitimacy of the Provisional Government. It is the words of Cleveland and Blount we hear when people claim that the U.S. engaged in an "act of war" against the Kingdom of Hawai'i. The Apology Resolution, and the Blount Report which spawned it, are the sources used to promote the view that the Kingdom of Hawai'i was victimized by the U.S. government.
The Morgan Report directly contradicts the Blount Report and Cleveland's assertions in his message to Congress. It was submitted on February 26, 1894 after months of testimony and investigation.
As a result of the Morgan Report, President Cleveland, the most stalwart proponent of the Queen, abandoned his earlier views of the revolution as stated in his strongly worded message to Congress, and subsequently acknowledged the Republic of Hawai'i as the legitimate successor government to the Kingdom of Hawaii. As a result of the Morgan Report, the world discovered in 1894 that Blount and Cleveland were wrong on the facts surrounding the overthrow.
As a result of the Morgan Report, we now know the Apology Bill and the Akaka bill are also wrong on the facts.
The Morgan Report contains 808 pages of historical documents, affidavits from eyewitnesses, and lengthy testimony given in 1894 under oath and subjected to cross examination in open hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, whose chairman was John T. Morgan, Democrat of Alabama. By contrast the Blount Report contained only unsworn statements gathered by Blount in secret with only himself and his stenographer present.
The Morgan Report includes historical documents showing the long-term close relationship between the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the U.S., and previous efforts by the Kingdom seeking to be annexed to the U.S., including full text of a detailed treaty of annexation written by Kamehameha III in 1854 but unsigned because of his untimely death. It documents the fact that the economy of the Kingdom was dominated by trade with the U.S.; and that most of the Kingdom's government leaders and bureaucrats, and many of its appointed and elected legislators, were American immigrants or their native-born descendants. It also contains detailed information about Hawai'i geography, natural features, place names, the public school system, the economy, prices and production levels of sugar, etc.
The Morgan Report includes eyewitness testimony and documents showing that the U.S. did not encourage the Committee of Safety to overthrow the monarchy, did not pledge any support ahead of time, and did not give any assistance to the revolution as it was unfolding. The Report explains that the purpose of the U.S. landing armed sailors was to protect the lives and property of Americans. Those U.S. peace keepers were also deployed to maintain order in the streets at the request of foreign nations' diplomats in the face of chaos and threatened violence against innocent civilians under circumstances where the monarchy had neither strength nor inclination to maintain order, and the other nations' diplomats had no forces available to protect their own citizens.
So why haven't we seen the Morgan Report before? What has kept this source in the dark for so long? The University of Hawaii Library has a web page containing historical documents from the 1890's including the entire 1397-page Blount Report and all the 660 photographed pages containing 21,269 signatures on an 1897 petition opposing annexation. The project that made those documents available on that web page was funded by two grants totaling $5,500 during a two-year period from UH agencies. The grants were based on the pledge, stated in the grant applications, that the Morgan Report would be included. However, the project stopped short. A footnote currently there says the Morgan Report will eventually be posted, but since 2002, no further grants have been pursued.
Perhaps the intent really was to digitize the Morgan Report. Perhaps it was not excluded on purpose in order to prevent the dissemination of information contrary to the current belief structure of the students, faculty and staff of UH. But now the point is moot - the job unfinished by the University of Hawai'i has been picked up by volunteers.
The morganreport.org website has been developed without any financial support, in the spirit of volunteerism. The editors have independently paid minor expenses for web-hosting and for secure mailing of the original book, and have spent their time fixing and formatting the digitized text without any compensation. Those who participated in the UH Library project, or anyone else, are welcome and encouraged to help finish editing Morgan in that same spirit (see below for more information). Morgan project editors believe scholars, students, and everyone interested in historical accuracy should be proud to spend time on projects like these, especially given their relevance to the politics of today.
Of course, there are detractors who dismiss the Morgan Report as racist, and seek to deny its consideration by anyone involved in the debates over sovereignty and the overthrow. But when reading the Morgan report we must remember that the year was 1894. White people in America did not hesitate to express racial prejudice toward "Negroes" and others with dark skin. White politicians sometimes regarded them as less than fully human, or childlike; or treated them with arrogance and condescension. Slavery had ended only 39 years previously; Negroes were not allowed to vote in the Southern states; and Jim Crow laws were in effect. Some of the U.S. Senators had fought for the Confederate States in the Civil War, including Brigadier General Morgan himself. Some readers may be offended by some of the racial prejudice and condescension contained in some of the testimonies. Some of the Senators also asked witnesses questions about life in Hawai'i indicating those Senators had a woeful lack of knowledge about Hawai'i's high degree of civilization. Today's readers must try to put aside our own prejudice against anyone who spoke in such a way "back in the day." The historical documents and factual eyewitness accounts must be judged on their merits rather than merely dismissing them in the same ad-himinem way that some witnesses dismissed non-whites.
In the interest of making the Morgan Report available as soon as possible, we are releasing it to the public even though substantial portions of it have not yet been given a pretty appearance. The entire report is on the internet and searchable. Hundreds of pages have been made easy to read. Other hundreds of pages are still in the raw form produced by an optical character reader, which delivers the contents of each double-page in the hard-to-read form of continuous text all run together with no paragraph breaks. About 5% of the content, scattered unpredictably throughout every page, is incorrect digitization of letters or numbers the machine "saw" in a photographed page from the original book. A capital "F" might be interpreted by the machine as an "R", especially if there's a fly speck or discoloration on the original document. Editing the individual pages is time-consuming, tedious, and also subject to occasional errors made by exhausted editors. We welcome help in completing this important job. Please contact the editor at email@example.com if you'd like to volunteer for this project or similar ones in the future.
Lives in California. Manager of programming team at Kaiser Permanente Information Technology, Southern California. Graduated USC 1995, B.S. Computer Engineering/Computer Science. Born and raised in Hawai'i. Mixed ancestry, including Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, German and Irish. Grand uncle Kiyoshi Masunaga died in WWII as part of the 442nd. Played with Punahou School Orchestra in Carnegie Hall 1990. Majority of family still live on Oahu and the Big Island. Attended Punahou School from kindergarten until 11th grade, leaving for early admission to USC Resident Honors Program. Married with two children, son 8, daughter 4 months.
B.S., M.S., Ph.D University of Illinois, Phi Beta Kappa et. al. Independent scholar and consultant on Hawaiian sovereignty. Formerly Associate Professor of Philosophy and Educational Theory, Boston University 45 publications in scholarly journals Also high school Mathematics teacher. Resident of Kane'ohe since 1992. English/Irish ancestry.
Was the first person with no native ancestry to run for OHA trustee, in 2000, placing 4th out of 20 candidates for one at-large seat (winner was Haunani Apoliona).
Taught a very controversial 12-hour course on Hawaiian Sovereignty at UH Manoa, Fall, 2002; also Mathematics courses at Windward Community College.