By personal request of Admiral George Seymour and Gen. Miller, in company with Mr. Wylie and the Danish consul, I sat in arbitration and settlement of a number of these British claims in 1845, and no doubt satisfactory settlements would have been made by the constituted authorities had they been permitted to take their usual course. Of one large claim, Maj. Low, of the British army, said that in traveling through the islands he had not found one respectable man who believed it to be valid. But I have said enough to show why I thought that possession of the islands has entered into the wishes and plans of both the British and French in the past. I have no comments to make upon these plans. It is the practice of nations, and no doubt will continue to be so until causes of war are removed. The plea of necessity is used to justify it. The interests of the aggressing party require it. But no injustice is intended to individuals, and the general good is enhanced by it. So large numbers of good men felt when Great Britain occupied the Fijis and many other places. It meant safety to persons, stable government, civilization, Christianity, progress, and toleration. So also when the French occupied Algiers and other places, and so I think it will be better for the United States to extend its laws over all Indians in its territory, making them citizens and treating them as they do the white citizens. The case here is a little different, for under the auspices of a highly civilized nation the Hawaiians were making rapid progress in civilization. Safety and justice were as fully secured to all as they were anywhere else. If there were any preempted rights to the islands under any circumstances, it would seem to vest in those under whose auspices and at whose expense these improvements have taken place. And this is what had been done by the labors and at the expense of citizens of the United States. The complaint had been made to the British authorities that Americans, and particularly missionaries, were getting an undue influence and playing into the hands of the United States. Gen. William Miller, the British commissioner and consul-general with whom I had a very friendly acquaintance, invited me to listen to a letter from the Earl of Aberdeen, then the British foreign minister.
He wrote that complaints had been made to him of the undue influence of the missionaries, and the reply said that upon inquiry he could not find that they had acquired or used any influence which they were not legitimately entitled to. These complaints, by whomsoever made, were no doubt made to excite national jealousy and provoke national interference. Mr. Wylie, himself, a British subject, but Hawaiian foreign minister at that time, told me that all the interests of the islands by their local position would attach them to the United States if their independence should lapse, and that upon these views being communicated to Lord Clarendon, the then British foreign secretary, he wrote to the consul that Mr. Wylie was right; that by their adjacent position their interests called for their union to the States. The political question for the States would be: "Does our interest call for any such union or the maintenance of any such paramount influence as shall serve our purpose in case of war with any maritime power?" I have quoted both British and American views from their different standpoints, and I deduce French views from their course of action, and, in an account written by myself and published in the Hawaiian Spectator in October, 1839, giving an account of the French aggressions of July, 1839, I was sustained in my views of its character by a written request that sixteen of the commissioned officers of the United States East India squadron here in October, 1839, to reprint 1,000 copies of the account at their
expense for gratuitous distribution, which I did, and an endorsement of my views by the Hon. Rufus Choate in the North American Review.
Mr. Jarves, the historian of Hawaii, says:
They hold the key of the Pacific Ocean, for no trade could prosper or even exist whilst a hostile power, possessing a powerful and active marine, should send out its cruisers to prey upon commerce; but once firmly established upon them it might put to defiance any means of attack which could be brought to bear against them. Hence the commercial countries have been jealous lest some of them should have a superior influence.
Mr. Seward, in a speech in the Senate on the subject of the commerce of the Pacific, says:
Who does not see that henceforth every year European commerce, European politics, European thought, European activities, although actually gaining greater force, and European connections, although becoming more intimate, will nevertheless ultimately sink in importance while the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands, and the vast regions beyond, will become the chief theater of events in the world's great hereafter?
President Lincoln said:
In every light in which the state of the Hawaiian Islands can be contemplated it is an object of profound interest for the United States. Virtually it was once a colony. It is now a near and immediate neighbor. It is a haven of shelter and refreshment for our merchants, fishermen, seamen, and other citizens, when on their lawful occasions they are navigating the Eastern seas and ocean. The people are free and its laws, languages, and religion are largely the fruit of our own teaching and example.
The minority report of the Committee on Ways and Means regarding the treaty says:
Much stress is laid in the report of the majority upon the importance to the United States of obtaining a foothold upon these islands in the interest of our Pacific commerce with the continent of Asia, and of our safety in case of future war with any great naval power.
The undersigned are not insensible to these considerations. No European power should be permitted to claim sovereignty of these islands or to gain such influence in them as to menace our security. To allow this would be contrary to the well established canons of American policy by nearly a century of traditions and the conceded maxims of international law. No European power can deny to us the peculiar right to exclude them from possessing what would be a standing menace of danger to us and the possession of which by us would be no menace of danger to them.
War we hope never to see, and shall bless the time, if we are permitted to see it, when the reign of peace and good will to men shall be universal everywhere. But while the state of men continues to make it wise, "In time of peace to prepare for war."
I think I have shown, by the events related as occurring within the last fifty years and quotations from competent naval, military, and civil authorities, that it is both wise and proper for the United States to seek and retain such paramount influence and control of the islands as will prevent their being used as a menace to them in case of war. It will be noted that the incidents narrated and the remarks quoted from writers and speakers were nearly all of them many years antecedent to the treaty, and could only have related to the intrinsic value of the islands for their location and capability of production, and it is now nearly seventy years, as I am informed, since President Monroe uttered his views on this subject.
I may remark that Kamehameha IV said to me, while yet heir apparent, that if the nation died out and its sovereignty passed away, as it seemed by the course of events must inevitably be the case, they should and would go to the States, and the question when was only a question of time. If the authorities could enforce neutrality against all belligerents their strategic positions would not be so important, but