Summary of P.C. Jones' Testimony
Peter Cushman Jones gave a sworn deposition in Honolulu, and then appeared before the Morgan Committee where his deposition was read into the record and he was cross-examined.
Jones was born in Boston, and moved permanently to Honolulu in 1857.
November 8, 1892 the Queen appointed him Minister of Finance. He was a member of the Wilcox-Jones cabinet until January 12, 1893 [That cabinet resisted the distillery, lottery, and opium bills, and was dismissed on January 12, 1893 when a Noble of the Reform Party switched allegiance, allowing the Queen to dismiss the cabinet that was preventing her from passing those bills]
Jones met Grover Cleveland's commissioner James Blount, who agreed that Jones could prepare a statement and be interviewed. Jones prepared "a careful statement ... on the 25th day of May, A. D. 1893, from which this affidavit is taken, reciting all the important events connected with the Government from the 8th day of November, A. D. 1892, up to the 16th day of March, A. D. 1893, that period including the events of January 17, of which this affiant was fully cognizant; that the said James H. Blount never asked for this interview and this affiant never had any opportunity of presenting the statement, although he is informed and believes that other persons suggested to Mr. Blount that he secure the statement."
Jones read into the record the statement he had prepared for Blount, filled with details of the events that took place during the revolution. He accepted a position as Minister of Finance with the provisional Government just before the revolution began, and was constantly afraid he would be shot. He helped take over the government building including the treasury and financial records. All four of the Queen's cabinet ministers came to the government building and agreed to turn over the station house and barracks to the Provisional Government. The situation remained tense for several days. The PG asked the American minister to raise the U.S. flag on the government building on February 1, which then helped calm things down.
"No King ever had better prospects for a peaceful and succesful reign than did Kalakaua, and if he had made a proper use of his rights and powers might have made his reign a prosperous one. He seemed to be wholly corrupt, and his influence was one which had its effect upon the mass of the native people. Not satisfied with the appointment of the House of Nobles, he interfered in the election of representatives by using liquor which was taken from the custom-house duty free and promising offices under his patronage. He dismissed more than one cabinet for nothing, and in some instances sent messages to their houses in the middle of the night asking for their resignations, while others whom he assured had his implicit confidence he discharged a few hours after. Kalakaua surrounded himself with men of bad character and gave himself up to habits unbecoming a King. He was always in debt and resorted to measures for raising money that were wholly dishonorable for any man, much more a King. The Legislature of 1890 paid up his debts and issued bonds to the amount of $95,000 to meet his obligations, pledging the income of the Crown lands at the rate of $20,000 a year to meet these bonds, but when his sister came to the throne she repudiated the pledge given by her brother, and now this debt has to be borne by the State, only $5,000 having been received on this account."
When the Queen took power she appointed a series of cabinets of short duration, being quickly dismissed by the legislature, including one cabinet (Cornwell) that lasted only a few hours. Jones provided names and dates of bribery of legislators, including demands that Jones' cabinet should bribe several legislators to avoid having the cabinet voted out.
"There was never to my knowledge any belief or anticipation that the troops of the Boston would be landed for the purpose or would in anyway assist in the abrogation of the monarchy or the formation of the Provisional Government."
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. It took about ten minutes to read the proclamation of the Provisional Government, which was read from the steps of the government building facing the Palace. During that 10 minutes about 50-60 armed men supporting the revolution arrived. Within 30 minutes there were 150-200 armed men. The reading of the proclamation finished at 2:45 on January 17.
The Queen had attempted to proclaim a new constitution. "The Chairman. Did you ever see that new constitution? Mr. Jones. No. We offered $500 for a copy of it and could not secure it. Oh, they destroyed it after that. The Chairman. Have you any knowledge who it was prepared that instrument? Mr. Jones. It was said that the Queen prepared it herself. The Chairman. With her own hand? Mr. Jones. That is as I understand it. That is the report that came to us—that it was her own constitution; she prepared the whole of it."
"Senator Frye. Now, when you went into the Government building to take possession the Queen's ministers disappeared, as I understand? Mr. Jones. Yes. Senator Frye. And you immediately took possession of the various offices of the building, the archives, the treasury, and everything? Mr. Jones. Yes. The Chairman. Now, when you were at that mass meeting at the armory building, was not information conveyed to that meeting that the Queen was going to postpone that new constitution, and was not the question asked that meeting whether that would do? Mr. Jones. Yes. Senator Frye. What was the reply? Mr. Jones. The unanimous reply was, "No, no." They would not believe in it. Kalakaua tried the same dodge.
"Senator Frye. In Mr. Blount's report he speaks of the Queen having six or seven hundred troops and sixteen cannon, etc. Did the Queen have any such people there? Mr. Jones. No. There were about, as far as we were informed, fifty or sixty men down at the station house, and there were seventy or eighty troops at the barracks. Senator Frye. What are those Hawaiian troops—the Queen's Guard? Mr. Jones. Yes; around the palace; do palace duty, do the reviewing on state occasions, and things of that sort. Senator Frye. That Queen's Guard and the police at the police station made no attempt during all these proceedings against your meeting or toward taking possession of the Government building? Mr. Jones. No. Senator Frye. Were your people armed at the public meeting? Mr. Jones. Many of them may have had pistols on them, but not to my knowledge. I saw no arms. Senator Frye. Was any attempt made to disperse that meeting? Mr. Jones. No. The only attempt made was by getting up a counter meeting to draw people away from attending. But the house was packed.
"Senator Frye. Now, as to the landing of troops. You were there shortly after the troops were landed? You were in Honolulu? Mr. Jones. Yes, I was in Honolulu. Senator Frye. Do you know where the troops were located and why they were located and how ? Senator Gray. Of your own knowledge. Mr. Jones. Oh, yes. I know that there was a squad stationed at the American minister's, and another one at the American consul's, and the balance of them at Arion Hall. Senator Frye. And Arion Hall was off to the east or west of the Government building? Mr. Jones. West of the Government building. Senator Frye. A street between? Mr. Jones. Yes. Senator Frye. Do you know whether or not any attempt was made to obtain other locations? Mr. Jones. I think there was an attempt made to secure the Music Hall, just in front. Senator Frye. That failed? Mr. Jones. That failed. Senator Gray. Of your personal knowledge? Mr. Jones. All I know of that is, I have read the reports of it. That is the way I obtained the knowledge.
"Senator Frye. You were at the Government building frequently. Did you ever see, during this revolution, any of the American soldiers marching on the streets? Mr. Jones. No. The Chairman. Did you, as a member of the new Government, expect to receive any assistance from them? Mr. Jones. No. The Chairman. Do you know whether or not your fellows were looking for any help? Mr. Jones. I never knew that they were. Senator Frye. As a matter of fact, did they give any assistance to the revolution at all? Mr. Jones. No.
"The Chairman. Let me ask you right there, is it your belief that that revolution would have occurred if the Boston had not arrived in the harbor? Mr. Jones. I believe it would have gone on just the same if she had been away from the islands altogether."