- U.S.R.S. Dale, 3d Rate,
- Navy-Yard, Washington, D. C, January 19, 1894.
- Sir: (1) In compliance with your request I submit, with diffidence, my views on the Hawaiian Islands, more especially from a military standpoint, and with reference to their value to the United States in this respect.
- Contrary to the views expressed by others, I have differed with them in their conclusions thereon, as to their military value as a colonial possession, holding, that, in time of war and without a navy equal or nearly equal to that of the greatest naval power, their possession would be a source of weakness rather than strength.
- (2) In coming to this conclusion I have accepted, as a strategic fact, two conditions existing in our national life, and which will continue to exist for many years to come, which are either ignored or not accepted at their just value, by other writers, in dealing with such fact.
- (3) The first condition is, as stated before, the nonpossession of a naval force equal, or nearly so, to that of the greatest naval power; and the second is, the improbability of Congress or our people ever permitting the creation and maintenance of such force. These two conditions, therefore, are, in themselves, sufficient to establish, from a military standpoint, the fact above referred to, as being of a strategic nature, and which must be taken into consideration in dealing with this problem. Being so, we need seek therefore no further for reasons for not acquiring the islands, such as are now being discussed in the public press.
- (4) On the assumption that the wish is father to the thought, some military writers are hoping that the islands once being acquired, the United States would perforce be obliged to gradually create a large naval force; to be led into it, as it were, and thus, on the jesuitical plan that the end justifies the means, ultimately find ourselves in a position to successfully defend what we acquired, from their point of view, more for that purpose than anything else. A careful scrutiny of this has convinced me of the fallacy of their reasoning, and, if followed out, will only lead, in my opinion, to further mortification without creating the force desired. Much as I wish, and think necessary, for other just reasons, a larger Navy than that which we now possess, I yet feel convinced that not until a distant future will we have one sufficiently large to warrant our launching out on a policy of colonial acquisition with any degree of military safety.
- (5) Turning to the question (Hawaii being our colony) as to what we would do with it in case of war with a great naval power, I could only say that we would ultimately have to let it go after having wasted a lot of money.
- With Hawaii as our colony, national prudence would at least dictate that we should at once have to set about putting it in a state of defense, and that in no small way, either.
- (6) We can not presume that no great naval war will occur, but we can presume that when such does come, the side which has the greater force and is ready first, stands the better chance of winning. If, then, our first duty is to be ready to defend our colony, and the more so that it is an island, wisdom would dictate that it should be a defense not against the weakest naval power, but against the strongest; and this, as said before, requires such a force as the country is not willing to create. Without, then, we immediately prepare, and on the required scale, we would not be in that state of readiness demanded by the situation. The great time essential to the creation and mobilization of
- battle fleets with all their accessories is now too well known not to be seriously taken into account.
- (7) The last military consideration that I have to note relates to the probable results of a war between ourselves and a greater naval power, with respect to our island colonies, coupled with our non preparation and non possession of a nearly equal naval force. The breaking out of hostilities would undoubtedly witness the attempt of a fleet of battle ships to wrest the islands from us and hold them by keeping the sea. This would ultimately be done by bringing a second or third fleet to reenforce the first if necessary, nor is the point sustained, which is sometimes advanced, that a great naval power would hesitate to weaken itself elsewhere in order to do this, especially when the result to be attained absolutely requires such action.
- (8) In these days of great speeds, large coal radii, with cables and coaling stations, naval forces can quickly be massed, or moved from place to place, while the balance of power among the great nations nowadays in Europe is too precious and too carefully established to risk its disturbance simply to take advantage of each other.
- (9) The true American policy with respect to Hawaii, from a military standpoint, would seem to be their neutralization by international treaty, so that all could come to coal and refit there; in all other respects, save perhaps the sentimental side, we have already all the advantages that can ever accrue to us by actual possession.
- I am, dear sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
- E.S. Houston,
- Commander U.S. Navy, Commanding.
- Hon. George Gray, M.C,
- Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Washington, D. C.
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, February 13, 1894.
The subcommittee met pursuant to notice.
Present, the chairman (Senator Morgan) and Senators Sherman and Frye.
Absent, Senators Butler and Gray.
SWORN STATEMENT OF Z.S. SPALDING-Continued.
The Chairman. You can make any statements in explanation of your deposition, which you have just examined, with a view to its correction, that you may think necessary to make more plain your meaning.
Mr. Spalding. I find upon examination of the stenographic report of my former statement that I may be misunderstood regarding my estimate of the capacity of the Hawaiian Islands for supporting a larger population than is now to be found in the country.
I would explain that I mean to convey the idea or opinion that the country is not and never can be a manufacturing or commercial country based upon its own products. It lacks in mineral resources everything required for manufacturing, and can hardly be said to have even agricultural advantages necessary to compete with more favored countries to the point of exporting enough to pay for what necessary imports would be required from abroad. Sugar, coffee, rice, and other staples