Response to Op-ed of James Kawika Riley
In 1893, well-known expansionist U.S. Sen. John Tyler Morgan lobbied to give himself and his Senate committee the power to investigate the role of the United States in the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.
I would be very interested in seeing any evidence for that assertion. The matter was forwarded to Congress by Grover Cleveland on December 12, 1893, voluntarily by all accounts, given his frustration with the Queen's demands for punishment of the Committee of Safety, and subsequently by Dole's refusal to abide by his demand for her reinstatement.
In their investigation, the nine senators on the Morgan Report committee could not agree on who was to blame in the overthrow, resulting in three separate opinions.
This is a common misperception. Please see Wasn't the Morgan Report only signed by Morgan?.
Morgan's opinion was not joined by his committee, or endorsed by an act of Congress; it was just his opinion. Pretending that Morgan spoke for his committee and the U.S. Congress is inaccurate, unfair and wrong.
Morgan's opinion was joined by 4 other members of the committee, with only a difference of opinion on the blameworthiness of Blount. From the section of the 4 republicans:
"We are in entire accord with the essential findings in the exceedingly able report submitted by the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations."
Pretending that being "in entire accord with the essential findings" of Morgan does not indicate a joint opinion is inaccurate, unfair, and wrong.
The U.S. Congress also passed the Turpie Resolution on May 31, 1894, which prohibted further intervention on the part of the United States government in the affairs of the Provisional Government of Hawaii. To assert that this was not a direct result of the findings of the Morgan Report is unsustainable.
His witnesses, whom Morgan selected while working closely with the provisional government, were almost exclusively annexationists.
Given the fact that Blount had missed the testimony of this critical constituency, it made perfect sense that annexationists would be primarily called as witnesses - after all, Blount had already interviewed royalists of every stripe, and his report was entered in as evidence for the committee to consider. Blount himself testified before the committee, and seemed apologetic for his one-sided report.
It would be almost a century before Congress collectively spoke on the overthrow, passing the public law known as the Apology Resolution. Through the Apology Resolution (Public Law 103-150), passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president, the U.S. offered "an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i."
Public Law 103-150 was a symbolic law, with "whereas" clauses that cannot be taken as assertions - they are in fact conditionals which are verifiable false. Please see Doesn't the '93 Apology Resolution trump the Morgan Report?.
The Morgan Report, in comparison, is not a public law and was not passed by Congress.
Public Law 103-150 was not an investigation, nor did it examine any of the evidence available. It was a one-sided, inaccurate portrayal of events manufactured by royalists that cannot be reasonably considered either an assertion or a repudiation of previous conclusions, both with the Morgan Report in February 26, 1894 and the Native Hawaiians Study Commission Report on June 23, 1983.
We should appreciate the Morgan Report for its capacity to help our island community address, not deny, the historical wrongs that remain unresolved and affect Hawai'i today.
We need to appreciate the Morgan Report as information that must be considered when making assertions about the Hawaiian Revolution, and cannot assume that its evidence can be dismissed in order to maintain our misconceptions about the events of January 17, 1893. The greatest historical wrong done for the past 30 years has been the revisionism of royalists who refuse to acknowledge the entire body of evidence available.
The Morgan Report should help us all understand the feeble basis for the divisive notions of kanaka maoli privilege and victimization. We should not, and cannot deny the legitimacy of the State of Hawaii, and the clear, legal, and thankfully beneficial results of the Hawaiian Revolution.