From TheMorganReport
Jump to: navigation, search

Senator Gray. Did he say it in you presence?

Mr. Swinburne. I never heard it.

The Chairman. Your construction of the fighting order was to see that peaceful citizens were not interfered with?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes.

The Chairman. By anybody?

Mr. Swinburne. By anybody.

Senator Frye. I understand that under the rules and regulations of the U. S. Navy, naval officers in foreign ports are required to protect the lives and property of American citizens. Now, do you not understand that, so far as this order related to the preservation of order, that you were to preserve order so as to render safe the lives and property of American citizens?

Mr. Swinburne. Precisely.

Senator Frye. You would not have felt called upon to stop it if the Queen's troops had fired into the Provisional troops.

Mr. Swinburne. Oh, no.

Senator Frye. Your idea was that the order was for you to protect the lives and property of American citizens?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. The evening we landed it was reported, and the next morning Mr. Draper said the Chinese consul came to him at the consulate after the consul general had left and reported that his people were very much disturbed, and he did not know what was going to happen, and he wanted to know from Mr. Draper what they were to do. Mr. Draper said: "If your people behave themselves, go to their houses, and keep out of trouble I will see that they are protected." So that he notified me of that the next morning, and I said, "Certainly; in such a case as that there is no reason why we should not protect any man's life, when he is simply behaving himself and attending to his own business." That was the only question that ever came up. My idea was that I was to look out for American property. Of course, there was some American property there then in danger, and I was going to see that that property and the lives of the owners were looked out for.

The Chairman. By property do you mean goods?

Mr. Swinburne. Goods; yes, and houses. "What I feared was incendiary firing of houses, and that sort of thing, by an irresponsible mob.

The Chairman. Are those the orders under which you took possession of the Government Building [exhibiting paper]?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. They are laconic enough. The orders are as follows:

"U.S.S. Boston, Second-rate,
"Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, February 1, 1893.
"Lieut.-Commander W. T. Swinburne,
"Commanding Battalion, U.S.S. Boston.
"Sir: You will take possession of the Government Building, and the American flag will be hoisted over it at 9 a.m.
"Very respectfully,
"G. C. Wiltse,
"Captain, U.S. Navy, Commanding U.S.S. Boston."

The Chairman. These are the orders under which you abandoned the island and went back to the ship? [Exhibiting paper.]

Mr. Swinburne. Yes; the orders detaching me from the command, and ordering me to return to the ship.


The orders are as follows:

"U.S.S. Boston, Second Rate,
"Honolulu, H. I., March 20, 1893.
"Sir: In accordance with the instructions of Rear-Admiral J. S. Skerrett, U.S. Navy, commanding U.S. Naval Force, Pacific Station, you will, at 5:30 p.m. to-day, withdraw from shore one company of thirty-six men, with their officers, and repair on board the Boston and resume accustomed duties."
One company, with music, colors, and proper proportion of officers, will be left at 'Camp Boston,' and you will turn over the command of the same to Lieutenant Charles Laird, U. S. Navy, who will continue the duties and routine as heretofore.
"Very respectfully,
"B. F. Day,
"Captain U.S. Navy, Commanding U.S.S. Boston.
"Lieut. Comdr. Wm. T. Swinburne,
"U.S. Navy"

WASHINGTON, D. C, Friday, January 19, 1894.


The Chairman. Did you have any instructions in addition to or differing from the orders under which you started from the ship?

Mr. Swinburne. None at all.

The Chairman. Did you understand when you left the ship that you were going ashore for the purpose of sustaining the Provisional Government then in process of organization or in expectation of organization, or for the purpose of sustaining any government?

Mr. Swinburne. Not at all. I had never heard of the Provisional Government. I did not know, even, that there was such a movement on foot. I knew there was a movement of some kind on foot on the part of the citizens, and my idea was that it was to get some absolute assurances from the Queen that they could depend upon in the future.

The Chairman. Your idea was that the movement was to get some assurances from the Queen?

Mr. Swinburne. Yes. I did not expect it would ever come to the point of dethroning her. You will notice in my testimony given before that I had called Mr. Carter's attention to that part of my orders which referred to preserving order in the town. Before Mr. Carter had asked me if he could see my orders, when he told me that certain men were going to take the Government building, in calling attention to that part of my orders, I purposely exaggerated my orders, lest he should get an idea that as these men were Americans I would give them support, since I was there to protect American interests. I called his attention to the clause which directed me to assist in preserving order. I said, "My understanding of that is that l am to assist the Queen's Government in preserving order." Of course, a request from the Queen to assist in preserving order would have to come through the minister, but I thought it was proper to exaggerate that, so that he would go