I had the right to direct the removal of the flag and the return of the marines to the vessel, and that I had authority to protect American citizens in their persons and in their property and to see to the proper observance of treaties. 1 did not understand that I had any power beyond that.
Senator Dolph. You did not understand that it was your duty to wait until the actual destruction of the property of American citizens commenced, until their lives were in actual jeopardy, before you took steps to land the United States marines to prevent such injury to the lives and property of American citizens, did you? That was a matter resting in your discretion at the time, was it not?
Mr. Blount. That was not mentioned. My idea was that I could not anticipate. I thought it over. I could not anticipate the circumstances which might arise; but when they did I was to exercise the best judgment I had in connection with Admiral Skerrett.
Senator Dolph. You understood it rested in your judgment?
Mr. Blount. I understood that it rested in my judgment—the protection of American citizens in their lives and property in any disturbance on the islands. Any particular circumstances did not occur to my mind.
Senator Gray. You felt that it was in your judgment to act when the particular circumstances arose, when the exigency called for it?
Mr. Blount. That is it.
The Chairman. In my mind the evidence would seem to indicate that it was left to Mr. Blount to determine what was the political situation in Hawaii, and in consultation with Admiral Skerrett he was to determine what should be done in a military way—what should be done by the United States on that occasion ?
Senator Gray. Is that true?
Mr. Blount. 1 think that is true. I think, perhaps, it ought to be added, and my impression was, that if I had issued an order—and I took that not from the instructions but from the letter of the Secretary of the Navy—if I issued an order, the admiral would obey.
Senator Dolph. The Admiral was not to exercise his discretion as to whether it was proper or not?
Mr. Blount. I understood that I was to confer. That is clear in that paper. I was to confer with Admiral Skerrett, and I took it for granted that there would not be any difficulty about our differing on the question of landing troops.
Senator Dolph. Was there any chance of a difference?
Mr. Blount. Oh, there was a possible chance. But my idea was that in handling the troops on shore it would be a thing that ought to be very largely governed by Admiral Skerrett.
Senator Dolph. That Admiral Skerrett was to obey your orders?
Mr. Blount. You have the paper.
Senator Dolph. How long was it from the time you arrived in Hawaii until you published your instructions ?
Mr. Blount. That is a matter of record, and not in my mind. I want to say this: I have not seen these papers in six months; my mind has been diverted, and I can not recollect. I could tell you absolutely in a few minutes by looking at these documents.
Senator Dolph. Up until that time no one in the islands but Admiral Skerrett knew what your instructions were or what was the object of your mission in the islands?
Mr. Blount. They never knew definitely. Of course, I was conducting an examination; sometimes it would be a member of the Provisional
Government and sometimes a royalist. I had no right to compel secrecy. There is a letter there from a man by the name of Ashford. He came in early, and I thought he was a pretty intelligent man. I did not know what sort of character he was. I thought I would learn something. He was disposed to talk. I said, "Will you not write me out your views;" and he did so. Sometime afterward, Mr. Smith, one of the editors of the annexation organ, the Hawaiian Star, said, "I got hold of something going on here; some of these fellows who come before you and are examined, tell." I said, "I did not tell you anything," and after that I found Ashford's letter published in the California papers. I did not see anything wrong, so far as the character of my investigation was concerned. I communicated nothing at all; but, of course, these people talked among themselves.
Senator Butler. I understand you to say that, so far as you were concerned, you made no communication of your instructions to anybody?
Mr. Blount. No; I did not.
Senator Dolph. Where were your headquarters; where was your investigation conducted?
Mr. Blount. It was conducted in a cottage on the grounds of the Hawaiian hotel, possibly some 50 yards from the main building, where I took my meals.
Senator Dolph. Were your family and suite the only occupants of the place?
Mr. Blount. When we got there some tourists occupied a part of it. It was not private enough, and I said unless I got the cottage to myself I would leave. It was accordingly arranged.
Senator Gray. The cottage belonged to the hotel?
Mr. Blount. Yes. I went to the hotel and got my meals; but I did not want to be where anybody was.
Senator Dolph. Were your examinations held at regular hours on appointed days, and adjourned from day to day, or were they just as you could get witnesses ?
Mr. Blount. I could always get a witness. The telephone system there is the finest you ever saw. I could get anybody I wanted. The rule I adopted was this: I would send for a witness on either side. I would telephone for him or use any other means I saw fit that was most convenient. I would examine the witness in the presence of my stenographer. Sometimes it would run over to the second day. I recollect once especially, in the case of Mr. Damon, whose examination was continued at his suggestion. When asked as to whether or not the recognition by Mr. Stevens took place before he went over to the palace, he said that he thought it did; but he wanted to talk about it to the attorney-general, Mr. Smith. He went off, and came back in a day or two and the examination was continued.
Senator Dolph. You misunderstood my question. I want to know whether you treated your proceedings in the nature of a court, and held regular sessions at an appointed hour, with adjournments from day to day?
Mr. Blount. Do you mean whether it was public?
Senator Dolph. No, not whether it was public, but whether you adjourned at regular hours, or conducted it to suit your convenience?
Mr. Blount. At my convenience. I had nothing to do with social life.
Senator Dolph. Who was present at any time?
Mr. Blount. Nobody present except my stenographer, the witness,