Summary of Emerson's Testimony
Emerson was born in 1845 on Maui, the son of a missionary, and grew up there [a native-born subject of the Kingdom]. He himself became an ordained minister several years after his father died; and was fluent in Hawaiian and preached in that language. He held minor government posts. He was living in Honolulu in January 1893, and had always been a Royalist until the distillery, lottery, and opium bills passed during the closing week of the legislature, when it also became clear the Queen would proclaim a new constitution.
"The constitution, it is said, was destroyed by the Queen, and some have said that the constitution was one that would disfranchise the white men. Those who were not married to native women would have had the vote taken from them. It was a constitution that would have taken away the ballot from me. It would have taken from the people the power to elect the nobles and put it into the hands of the Queen. By the restricted ballot we were enabled, so far at least as the Legislature is concerned, to elect men of character who stood out against these measures of corruption." [The restricted ballot imposed property/income requirements for voting, thereby preventing voting by easily-manipulated "rabble"].
Emerson testified there was great corruption in the government and bribery in the legislature related to liquor, opium, and gambling; including Mr. Wilson, the Chief Marshall of the Kingdom, who conspired with Mr. Whalen, captain of a yacht, to smuggle opium. A new constitution would have the Queen appointing the Nobles, allowing greater corruption; and the requirements for voting being eased would allow more or the lower classes to vote who could easily be bribed.
Emerson said the Queen was not a regular communicant in any Christian church, floating from one to another; but she often consulted with pagan priests of the old religion, receiving kahunas and sorcerers in the palace. In 1868 Kamehameha V had issued government licenses to native medicine men to practice pagan healing methods, including massage accompanied by fetishism. Those practices were encouraged and more widespread under Kalakaua and Liliuokalani. There is widespread sexual immorality; and both male and female polygamy despite laws against it.
The natives are easily swayed in large masses by emotional appeals. During the Kalakaua reign, Bush and Wilcox and others tried to stir up racial animosity against whites.
The Wilcox-Jones cabinet (which resisted the distillery, opium, and lottery bills), was voted out (by the legislature) on the Friday before the revolution, and the Cornwell-Peterson cabinet (which favored those bills) was appointed by the Queen the same day. [The constitution required that at least one member of the cabinet must sign a bill along with the Queen before it can become law]
Monday January 16 at about 2 PM there was a mass meeting of between 1,000 to 1,500 opponents of the government, mostly white but some kanakas, at the skating rink in Honolulu, one and a half blocks from the barracks. Leaders included Wilder, Thurston, a German, an Englishman; and many Portuguese attended. Sentiment was strong against the Queen, not merely against recent legislation. When Baldwin said constitutional means should be used to oppose the government, he was shouted down. At the same time there was a Royalist rally at Palace square, rumored to be 500
The Queen's army had only 60-70 men, under Capt. Nowlein, headquartered at the barracks. The civil police under Mr. Wilson had perhaps 80, headquartered at the police station about a mile away. When the men from the Boston came ashore, one company went to Mr. Atherton's house, but there was no room for them to stay there. The other company went to the U.S. consul's house. The men from the Boston were quartered in an open field they called "Camp Boston." During his testimony Mr. Emerson used a map to point out where all the buildings were.
There were many U.S. flags on private homes, and also carried by people in the streets. But the U.S. flag was not raised over Aliiolani hall until about 10-14 days later. The U.S. and Hawaiian flags both flew there together, on different staffs, and it was a matter of great chatter in the community that the two governments were in partnership. Emerson not sure whether the U.S. flag also flew with the Hawaiian flag on the Palace.
In response to questions from the Senators, Mr. Emerson gave lengthy testimony regarding the Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese contract laborers, describing their religions, how they get wives, moral conduct, right to vote, living conditions, and their relationships with whites and kanaka; and the labor contract arrangements between the government of Hawaii and the governments of these other nations. "Senator GRAY. Is there the same antipathy between the white race and the Hawaiian in Hawaii as between the white and the negro in this country? Mr. EMERSON. I think not. The Hawaiian is to be amalgamated and a new race is to be formed there. ... The CHAIRMAN. Then, I understand you, it is the belief or expectation that the population in Hawaii will change, so that the Kanaka will disappear ultimately and there will be an intermingling of the native element there of the various nationalities that come from other countries. Mr. EMERSON. Yes; he will disappear, and will take on a little different personality."
"The CHAIRMAN. I will ask if it is your opinion that the native population of Hawaii, the Kanakas, in view of the facts you have stated, are liable to become so powerful in government as to be able to control the other nationalities that have come into those islands, or have they lost the power to rule them? Mr. EMERSON. I consider that they have lost that control already, and in my opinion they can never regain it."
"Mr. EMERSON. ... the natives themselves are in two camps, so to speak. There is an element there, making for righteousness and an element making for heathenism. The CHAIRMAN. Is the latter spreading? Mr. EMERSON. Spreading? It is like an ulcer eating right into the vitals. And the [Royal] court was the center of that influence. The CHAIRMAN. The influence that tends to depravity? Mr. EMERSON. That tends to depravity. Not only Kalakaua with his opium franchises, but the Queen herself with her opium bill. And the best natives in the Legislature felt that she was willing to sell the lives of her people. Senator GRAY. Do you think there are two elements among the white people? Mr. EMERSON. Yes. Senator GRAY. One bends toward gain and the other is for virtue? Mr. EMERSON. Yes. [and the men of the Provisional Government are the best sort.]"
Emerson says that the revolution of 1893 was the result of political struggle that began when Kalakaua became King, and worsened under Liliuokalani. It had been anticipated that Kalakaua would be the last monarch, and annexation to the U.S. would occur. The [native] Hawaiian people were wasting away and no longer the dominant group. Among the 13,000 who were eligible to vote, the majority were kanakas and would have supported retaining the monarchy. Before the revolution most kanakas opposed annexation, supported the concept of the monarchy, but perhaps most did not support the Queen. Now that the monarchy is finished, most probably support annexation. Among 12,000 Portuguese, of whom 1500-2000 were voters, nearly all would have voted against the monarchy; and since the monarchy has disappeared, would now be solidly in favor of annexation. Likewise the other Europeans, although some English favor the monarchy.