Summary of Spalding's Testimony
Mr. Spalding was born in Ohio, September, 1837. He had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the army. He was sent to Hawaii in 1867 by Secretary Seward as a secret or confidential agent of the State Department. It was at the time the treaty of reciprocity was being talked about and advocated, and Secretary Seward wished to have all the information possible upon that subject. Seward said he did not wish to be committed by putting explicit or specific instructions upon paper, but he wished to know what effect the reciprocity treaty would have upon the future relations of the United States and Hawaii.
Spalding met his wife in Hawai'i. She was born and raised in Honolulu (a native-born subject of the Kingdom), the daughter of sea captain James McKee. During the months before the revolution of 1893, Spalding was in Hawaii putting new machinery into his sugar factory on Kauai while his family was in Paris. He owned 27,000 acres there; 12,000 in fee simple, and 15,000 acres under lease. He had spent $250,000 or $300,000 for machinery.
Discussion of Mahele, Crown lands, government lands, kuleana lands.
During his testimony before the Morgan committee, a Senator asked him whether any natives would be capable of managing his sugar plantation. "I do not think there was ever a native on the islands who could run it for five years without ruining it. I was in partnership with Kamehameha V when he was King, and got to know him pretty well. I started a sugar plantation on the island of Maui at his request. He owned an interest in the plantation. I agreed to take the management of it on certain terms. In the management of the plantation I came in contact with the governor of Maui, who was an old-fashioned native and quite smart for his times. I found there was so little business about him that we were constantly having trouble."
"Kalakaua, the last king, was a good-natured, indolent sort of man. He was a man of very fair education; but he was, of course, a thorough native, and his idea of morality was not very great. I had occasion to know him pretty well, because he owned a quarter interest in my plantation at one time. He undertook to furnish the native labor to do the work, which would have been a valuable consideration for the plantation. If that had been carried out it would have been quite consistent with business views to have furnished him the means of paying the assessments on the interest which he held. But within a very few months after he attempted to do this, 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. The result was the first crop was less than a ton of sugar to the acre on land that I have harvested since 4 to 5 tons to the acre, by good cultivation. I was obliged to buy Kalakaua out."
1887: "There was an organization gotten up for the purpose of forcing the King into a better form of government. He had rather undertaken to do the whole business himself—in this way: he had a minister of foreign affairs who was also ex-officio minister of the interior, ex-officio minister of finance, and ex-officio attorney-general." Walter Murray Gibson. The members of the House of Nobles were all appointed by the King and beholden to him, so there was no way to reform the government except by creating a revolution to take the nobles out of the King's hands and have them voted for by the people. This was not a revolution to overthrow the monarchy or to promote annexation, but to impose limitations on the King's power. However, this revolution was so powerful and had so much support that it would have been possible to overthrow the monarchy and establish a Republic at that time. "The main improvement was this. Under the constitution of 1887 the House of Nobles was abolished and made elective and the King's ministers were made responsible for the Government. ... They were the Government—the King could do no act without the ministry. ... Of course it reduced him, you can see, to a figurehead. The only thing left to him, and which afterward proved a very great trouble, was the veto. ... He could not appoint his ministers without the consent of the Legislature, of these two Houses. That was the very thing. And he could not discharge his ministry. He had been in the habit of discharging his cabinet one day and appointing a new one the next. Under the new constitution he could discharge his cabinet by the passage through the Legislature of a vote of want of confidence; and he could not appoint a Cabinet without the consent of the Legislature— the cabinet must be approved by the Legislature. It made quite a difference in that way. ... At the time of the constitution of 1887, the first election held under that constitution was without a dissenting vote, almost, and every single member—I do not know of any exceptions—was elected as a candidate or as a member of what was called the reform party. And even the members, natives and others, who had been in the previous legislatures, as you might say creatures of the King to carry out his wishes, voted the reform ticket."
1893: I was told by one of the present royalists there that $100,000 would be sufficient to upset the monarchy in case annexation could be brought about. ... that was a Frenchman, Dr. Trouseau. That was his opinion, and I thought the money could be raised; I would be willing to give a reasonable sum myself toward it. But I would not waste any money, and I have not wasted any money on this proposition because I never saw the time that the United States had given us a sufficient indication that the islands would be accepted. I had never seen any."
Mr. Spalding left Honolulu on January 4, 1893. He testified that even though he had long been known as an annexationist, none of the annexationist leaders indicated that anything was about to happen. Spalding said he would never have left Hawai'i if he thought a revolution or annexation were on the verge of happening, because he would have stayed to participate and to protect his extensive property interests. Spalding was out of Hawai'i from January 4 into October. When he returned he was shocked to learn that the Noble elected from Spalding's own district on Kauai (a white man of German ancestry) on the Reform Party ticket had switched sides and given a majority to the Queen to enable her to dismiss the former cabinet that had opposed the lottery and opium bills and replace it with a new cabinet in favor of those bills. Most people seemed to feel the Noble had been bribed; but Spalding thought maybe the Noble had been persuaded by the Queen's man Paul Neumann, a fellow German.
" ... the natives have looked more upon the United States as the father of their Government. They always speak of the American war ships as "our war ships," in contradistinction from the British war ships; and the 4th of July, has been the gala day of the country. We have the Kamehameha day. The Kamehameha day is the first; that is the 11th of June; but they have always celebrated the 4th day of July as the gala day of the country."
About 90% of the value of all property in Hawaii is owned by whites; and about 75% of that is owned by people of American parentage.
Spalding said that since he returned to Hawaii in October 1893, he has heard rumors of royalists wanting to restore the Queen (such as Wilson), and rumors that they might be hiding guns. "But it was only when they expected to have aid and assistance from the United States in doing it. I have not heard of their having any organization of their own." There would not be enough royalist arms or manpower to restore the Queen or to keep her in power without help from outside Hawaii.
Hawaii is not a good place to produce sugar. Plantation workers must be paid highly enough to be able to recruit them from abroad; therefore, labor costs are too high. Before the reciprocity treaty (1875 and 1887) all the plantations had gone bankrupt. The treaty is what made the plantations successful. The only natural advantage Hawaii has is its climate.
"The CHAIRMAN. What made you an annexationist? Mr. SPALDING. Because I believe the possession of the islands by the United States would give the United States practical possession of the Pacific Ocean. The CHAIRMAN. The commercial control? Mr. SPALDING. Yes. The CHAIRMAN. How about the military control and naval control? Mr. SPALDING. The Hawaiian Islands are so located that an American fleet could be located in Pearl River harbor and with a cable from San Francisco those ships could be sent at will to any part of the ocean by the authorities at Washington. ... The CHAIRMAN. Then your zeal as an annexationist is built on the naval and commercial value of the islands to the United States. Mr. SPALDING. If it is not desirable for the United States to hold Pearl River, if it is not desirable for the United States to have that country as an outpost, it is not worth while for them to have anything to do with the country, because as an agricultural country, mineral country, and mercantile and manufacturing country it is of small value." And the anticipated building of the Nicaragua canal would make Hawaii even more valuable.
Neither a monarchial nor a republican form of government would allow Hawaii to flourish as an independent nation without the protection of a foreign government, because there is not enough land or labor to make Hawaii self-sustaining without economic concessions or military uses. If there is a restoration of the monarchy, the preference would probably be for Kaiulani rather than Liliuokalani, because it is a choice of evils; and the evil we do not yet know seems less frightening than the evil we already know.
"Senator FRYE. Do you not think three hundred men under a good officer would exert complete control over those islands? Mr. SPALDING. Oh, very likely. We have not a very large force there now, and times have been probably as bad as they can be. What we want is to make something out of the country; make expenses out of the country. It is not a commercial, agricultural, manufacturing, or mineral producing country; it has no resources, no available resources; never has had. All this prosperity has come from this reciprocity treaty with the United States. Before that time we were making a matter of 15,000 or 20,000 tons of sugar a year. ... Senator FRYE. Have you ever thought over the question of annexation to California? Mr. SPALDING. Yes, a good deal. Senator FRYE. How would that do? Mr. SPALDING. I do not see any objection to it. Senator FRYE. You would elect your members of the house and senate, and perhaps one member of Congress? Mr. SPALDING. All these things would follow the change."