Morgan's Gems

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The Morgan Report is filled with valuable information.

Some of that information is of great political interest today, regarding claims that the overthrow of the monarchy was illegal or was successful only because of U.S. intervention; false statements in the apology resolution of 1993; and the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill).

Of course the main purpose of all the testimony is to provide in-depth details of what happened before and during the revolution of 1893, with a view toward finding out what role, if any, the U.S. played in encouraging or supporting the overthrow of the monarchy.

But before the testimonies are provided in the Morgan Report, there are copies of important historical documents difficult to find elsewhere. Some of those documents show the very close relationship between the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the United States -- a relationship that was mutually beneficial and mutually enthusiastic.

In addition the early part of the Morgan Report contains valuable historical information about Hawaii's geography, place names, the economy (including great detail about the politics and economics of the sugar industry and especially Claus Spreckels), the public school system and how it was financed, the names of the students who attended the Royal School, details of the steps whereby the Mahele was carried out, a timeline of Hawaiian history, a scholarly paper by Supreme Court Justice Sanford B. Dole on the subject of the history of land tenure in Hawaii which Dole read to the Hawaiian Historical Society only 6 weeks before the revolution which made him President of the Provisional Government; etc.

The best way to find precious gems in the Morgan Report is to sift slowly through the entire "Transcribed Morgan Report."

The second-best way is to carefully read the "Outline of Topics" -- there the reader will find short descriptions of each portion of the report, including links to more detailed summaries of the longer testimonies.

Another way to find gems of special interest on any particular topic is to use the internal search engine.

As time goes by there will also be essays on special topics that will provide citations to places in the Blount or Morgan reports to prove important points -- those citations will usually include direct internet links to the appropriate pages in the documents cited.

For those who lack the time even to skim the Outline of Topics or do a search, here are a few nuggets showing the sort of things available, listed in the order they appear in the Morgan Report. This list is far too short to cover what's available; but might be useful as a starting point to arouse interest in further exploration.

The Rest of The Rest of The Story

When President Grover Cleveland first took office, he immediately withdrew the treaty of annexation from the Senate and sent his special emmisary (Blount) on a secret mission to gather evidence to support his desire to restore the Queen to the throne. Based on the Blount Report, Cleveland sent a strongly worded emotionally charged message to Congress blaming the U.S. for overthrowing the monarchy. Cleveland then referred the matter to Congress for further investigation and possible action. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held hearings and produced the Morgan Report. This new report discredited the conclusions in the Blount report and the way Blount had gathered his "evidence." Because of the Morgan Report President Cleveland changed his mind. From that time forward he acknowledged the legitimacy of the Hawaiian revolution and of the Republic of Hawai'i, ordered there should be no interference by any nation in the internal affairs of Hawai'i, and negotiated with President Dole's government regarding further implementation of treaties reached with the previous (Queen's) government of the continuing independent nation of Hawai'i. This stylishly written essay provides links to both the Blount Report and Morgan Report to prove the dates and facts it contains.

Wilcox Rebellion 1889 and Dueling Palace Coup Plots

The Wilcox rebellion of 1889 resulted in 7 men killed, many injured, and the roof of Iolani Palace blown open by dynamite bombs. U.S. marines came ashore to restore order and continued patrolling the streets of Honolulu for a week before returning to their ship. During later remodeling the 8-foot-high walls around the Palace were reduced to their present height to allow events on each side of the wall to be observed by people on the other side.

Behind the scenes Liliuokalani was plotting a coup against Kalakaua, and Kalakaua was plotting a coup against the constitution of 1887.

Crown Princess Liliuokalani held secret meetings in one of her houses to oust her brother King Kalakaua so that she could become Queen. Meanwhile Kalakaua was plotting a coup to abrogate the Constitution of 1887 which had reduced him to a powerless figurehead, and proclaim the previous Constitution of 1864 (which itself had been a coup by Lot Kamehameha V against the earlier Constitution of 1852). Court testimony later indicated that Kalakaua had manipulated Liliuokalani's coup plot against him so that he would come out the winner whichever way it turned out. Indeed, evidence indicates that Kalakaua instigated or encouraged both Liliuokalani's coup plot and the Wilcox rebellion in order to strengthen his own power.

Some details of both coup plots, and details about the activities of Wilcox, obtained from court testimony and other sources, were included in the Morgan Report testimony of W.D. Alexander on pages 643-646, and in the statement of Supreme Court Chief Justice A.F. Judd on page 800. That material has been assembled here: Wilcox Rebellion 1889 and Dueling Palace Coup Plots

The Origins of DHHL

At the top of page 672, this gem of the soft bigotry of low expecations is found:

In order to save them, President Dole and his colleagues have elaborated a plan for giving the Kanakas homesteads out of the Crown lands, not transferable, on condition of occupation.

It may not be an exaggeration to state that the racist bigotry of the late 1800's and early 1900's has a legacy that lives on today in Hawaii in the form of race-based government programs. This is in comparison to the noble sentiments in the Hawaiian constitution of 1840, which states:

God has made of one blood all the nations of men, that they might alike dwell upon the earth in peace and prosperity.

Military-diplomatic interaction and chain of command -- Of special interest to military officers and to scholars studying the history of military and diplomatic chains of command and their interaction

There is a considerable amount of material in the Morgan Report that is of interest to military historians. Most of the live testimony by people appearing before the Morgan committee, and the testimony by affidavit from Honolulu, included detailed information about the deployment of the U.S. peacekeepers in Honolulu 1893: who, where, when, why, how. Much of that information also described interactions among the diplomats and military personnel of three parties: the U.S., the revolutionists (committee of safety, Honolulu Rifles, and Hawaii provisional government), and the royalists.

One topic that might be of special interest to today's military officers and students of international diplomacy is the detailed testimony about regulations governing the U.S. chain of command in 1893; especially regarding interaction between diplomats and military officers. Who has authority to give orders to whom, what are the rules of engagement in foreign ports, and what is the proper relationship between U.S. diplomats and U.S. military personnel in assessing whether, when, and how to deploy U.S. forces as peacekeepers in foreign nations during times of political unrest.

The issue for peacekeepers and diplomats is whether, when, and how it is appropriate for U.S. forces to deploy onto the streets where there are serious threats to American life and property including riot, arson, and mayhem. Also, as in Honolulu 1893, the local police/military may be totally insufficient to handle civil chaos, and the U.S. is the only nation with forces immedtately available in sufficient strength to protect lives and property of all foreigners and of local residents as well.

The Morgan Report has considerable testimony delving into the degree of latitude a military officer has in following orders, and his corresponding degree of responsibility for the consequences (and whether diplomats or civilians have the authority to give military commands). Everyone today is familiar with the Nuremberg trials after World War 2 when Nazi generals and concentration camp commanders were found guilty of war crimes despite their claims that they were merely "following orders." Likewise, we remember the same issues regarding the My Lai massacre in Viet Nam, and the more recent atrocities committed by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib detention center in Iraq. Nothing remotely like that ever happened in Honolulu 1893. But the same issues were raised concerning military chain of command, and the interaction between civilian authorities and military commanders. Documents containing the official regulations of 1893 (both military and diplomatic) were included in the Morgan Report.

For details click here: Military-diplomatic interaction and chain of command

Ex-Queen Liliuokalani negotiates with President Dole for an annuity of $25,000 in return for her abdication

Two journalists, one from New York City and the other from Troy N.Y., independently corroborate each other's testimony that ex-queen Liliuokalani was offering to abdicate all claims to the throne in return for an annuity of $25,000. Her attorney Paul Neumann was actively engaged in secret negotiations with President Dole on this matter. President Cleveland's minister plenipotentiary with paramount powers, James Blount, heard about the negotiations and intervened to scuttle them, thereby blocking a "settlement" that would have facilitated annexation and would have avoided more than a century of strife over the ceded lands and claims to reparations.

The shorter testimony on this topic is by Mr. Charles MacArthur, and is presented first. It is fairly straightforward and simple, referring only to negotiations for abdication in return for an annuity, and does not refer to Minister Blount.

The second testimony on this topic is by Dr. William S. Bowen. It is quite lengthy, involving several layers of conspiracy. This testimony specifically describes Blount's intervention to scuttle the negotiations (thus blocking an easy path to annexation) and also some lies told by Blount about Dr. Bowen and his traveling companion, Mr. Sewall, who had been U.S. consul to Samoa.

pp. 402-405

treaty of annexation made in the time of kamehameha iii, which failed of the king's signature by reason of his death, the original being on file in the office of the secretary of state -- the treaty contained ten articles plus a separate and secret article

pp. 407-409

treaty of reciprocity between the united states and hawaii, dated and signed the 20th of july, 1855, submitted to the senate for ratification by President Pierce on December 22, 1855, but which was not ratified by the senate

pp. 454-464

SANFORD B. DOLE academic paper "EVOLUTION OF HAWAIIAN LAND TENURES" read before the Hawaiian Historical Society December 5, 1892 [at this time Dole was a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Kingdom; 6 weeks later he would become President of the Provisional Government]

"A brief ten years had been sufficient for the Hawaiian nation to break down the hoary traditions and venerable customs of the past, and to climb the difficult path from a selfish feudalism to equal rights, from royal control of all the public domain to peasant proprietorship and fee-simple titles for poor and for rich. It came quickly and without bloodshed because the nation was ready for it. Foreign intercourse, hostile and friendly, and the spirit of a Christian civilization had an educating influence upon the eager nation, united by the genius of Kamehameha I, with its brave and intelligent warrior chiefs resting from the conquest of arms, their exuberant energies free for the conquest of new ideas; with rare wisdom, judgment, and patriotism they proved equal to the demands of the time upon them."

pp. 464-465

EXTRACT FROM THE REPORT OF HON. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. "It is a subject of cheering contemplation to the friends of human improvement and virtue, that by the mild and gentle influence of Christian charity, dispensed by humble missionaries of the gospel, unarmed with secular power, within the last quarter of a century, the people of this group of islands have been converted from the lowest debasement of idolatry to the blessings of the Christian gospel; united under one balanced government; rallied to the fold of civilization by a written language and constitution, providing security for the rights of persons, property, and mind, and invested with all the elements of right and power which can entitle them to be acknowledged by their brethren of the human race as a separate and independent community. To the consummation of their acknowledgment the people of the North American Union are urged by an interest of their own, deeper than that of any other portion of the inhabitants of the earth—by a virtual right of conquest, not over the freedom of their brother man by the brutal arm of physical power, but over the mind and heart by the celestial panoply of the gospel of peace and love."

pp. 465-475

Historians will be delighted to see financial and political details of the sugar industry, focusing especially on the activities of Claus Spreckels.

pp. 500-503


pp. 517-521

Timeline by C.C. Bennett

EXTRACTS FROM THE HONOLULU DIRECTORY AND HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE HAWAIIAN OR SANDWICH ISLANDS, BY C. C. BENNETT, INCLUDING A CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF NOTABLE EVENTS CONNECTED WITH HAWAIIAN HISTORY A timeline for the period 1736 to 1869. Birth and death dates of important alii. Dates and names of ship arrivals, Hawaiian battles, political events, and arrival of each company of missionaries.

pp. 530-531

List showing large American presence in hawaiian government

Summary of Emerson's Testimony

Summary of Testimony of Oliver P. Emerson -- native-born son of a missionary, fluent in Hawaiian, describes outrageous corruption in the regimes of Kalakaua and Liliuokalani, including details of cabinets being ousted.

Summary of P.C. Jones' Testimony

Summary of Testimony of Peter Cushman Jones

November 8, 1892 the Queen appointed him Minister of Finance. January 17, 1893 he took the same position in the provisional Government. Jones offered to Grover Cleveland's commissioner James Blount a detailed eyewitness account of the overthrow, but Blount refused to receive it or to interview him. Jones read into the [Morgan] record the statement he had prepared for Blount, filled with details of the events that took place during the revolution. Jones gave details of who attended various meetings of the Committee of Safety and the Provisional Government, by what route they traveled (using a map), and the times those meetings occurred. He described the corruption and instability of the Kalakaua and Liliuokalani governments.

Summary of Spalding's Testimony

Summary of Testimony of Zephaniah Swift Spalding

was in partnership with Kamehameha V when he was King, and got to know him pretty well. ... Kalakaua ... was a good-natured, indolent sort of man. He was a man of very fair education; but ... his idea of morality was not very great. ... he owned a quarter interest in my plantation at one time. ... I found it was utterly useless to depend on him. He had engaged people to do work in the fields. They would start out to do the work, then would stop and have a little talk over it, and then go fishing instead of going to work. ... I was obliged to buy Kalakaua out." Discussion of what led up to the revolution of 1887 ("Bayonet Constitution"), especially Walter Murray Gibson who was simultaneously minister of foreign affairs, ex-officio minister of the interior, ex-officio minister of finance, and ex-officio attorney-general.

Summary of Alexander's Testimony

Summary of Testimony of William DeWitt Alexander

William DeWitt Alexander was born on Kauai in 1833 [a native-born subject of the Kingdom]. Attended Yale; then taught at Beloit and Vincennes, then taught at Oahu College for 7 years and was college president for 7 more years. Wrote a 340-page book on the history of Hawaii used throughout the Kingdom as a textbook. Fluent in Hawaiian and wrote a grammar textbook. Surveyor-general of the Kingdom and Provisional Government. Member of Board of Education of the Kingdom. Discussion of Mahele, unique surveying problems for ahupuaa system; natural resources; public school system and budget; economy; details of 1889 Wilcox rebellion and of 1893 revolution; government instability and corruption under Kalakaua and Liliuokalani; great detail about events of 1893; Annexation Club had 6200 members including 1200 Kanakas when only 10,000 or 11,000 votes cast in election of 1892. U.S. troops not necessary to ensure success of revolution; but helped prevent rioting and arson. No other nation had any military ships in Honolulu then. Some detailed criticism of Blount Report errors of fact and interpretation. Lengthy details about the political history and contents of the Constitutions of the Kingdom.

Summary of Blount's Testimony

Summary of Testimony of James H. Blount

Probing the hostile relationship between Blount and Stevens (President Cleveland sent Blount to take paramount authority over all American interests in Hawaii, and to override decisions made by U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary Stevens regarding deployment of American military forces and flying the U.S. flag, even while Stevens still remained officially in office). Cross-examination of Blount regarding how he gathered evidence, and exactly what his mission was.

Summary of Stevens' Testimony

Summary of Testimony of John L. Stevens

Stevens was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison to be U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to Hawaii, arriving in 1899 while Kalakaua was King. He remained U.S. minister until May 24, 1893. He was severely cross-examined regarding the chronology of events, names, and places involved in the revolution. One item of great historical interest and generally unknown today -- Stevens testified that a Japanese ironclad warship was expected in Honolulu not long after the revolution. The Japanese minister had been demanding that the Queen extend voting rights to the Japanese plantation workers (as a way of eventually establishing Japanese power in Hawai'i), and that the same demand was made to the Provisional Government immediately after the revolution. There were strong rumors that the Japanese diplomats were conspiring with the Queen that 800 Japanese plantation workers who had formerly been in the Japanese army would support the Queen in a counter-revolution if she would give voting rights to the Japanese in Hawai'i. Stevens testified that was a major reason why he ordered the raising of the U.S. flag, to show the Japanese that Hawai'i was an American protectorate.

Sworn affidavits from 15 individuals or groups, including William R. Castle, the Committee of Safety, J.B. Atherton; and a lengthy, detailed published article by Lorrin A. Thurston. Among other important points in the Thurston statement: The same armed militia men who had led the revolution of 1887 (Bayonet Constitition), and who had also put down the Wilcox Rebellion of 1889, were leaders of the final revolution of 1893. Their previous successes made them courageous, experienced, and effective; ensuring the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 would be successful even if the Boston had not been present in Honolulu Harbor.

p. 1092

Testimony of Nicholas B. Delamater says that the royalist party is not made up of or led by natives, but largely by English residents expecting large social and financial gains if Kaiulani becomes Queen.

"As to the sentiment of the nation, Hawaiians of Hawaiian parents, the Queen is certainly not popular. There is, I believe, a much stronger feeling in favor of Princess Kaiulani. I talked with a large number of them who were decidedly in favor of annexation also.

"The royalist party there is not made up of or led by natives, but largely by English residents. The motive seems fairly clear. Mr. Davis has had complete control over Kaiulani and her education. The near approach of her reign would give him large advantages in a financial way. He would probably be in fact, if not in name, prime minister. He would have the placing of Government loans (probably) and the inside track in many contracts, etc. Then, socially, his family and that of Mr. Walker, his partner, who are the leaders of the English society, would be very close to the court social world. Mr. Cleghorn, the father of Kaiulani, is Scotch. A son of Mr. Wodehouse, the English minister, is married to a half-sister of Kaiulani. When the native women undertook to have a large mass meeting and present to Mr. Blount a petition they split on the question whether it should be Lilioukalani or Kaiulani."