Transcribed Morgan Report

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HAWAIIAN ISLANDS.


[See p. 189, Vol. VII.]

FIFTY-THIRD CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION.

February 26, 1894.
[Senate Report No. 227.]

Mr. Morgan submitted the following report from the Committee on Foreign Relations:

The following resolution of the Senate defines the limits of the authority of the committee in the investigation and report it is required to make:

"Resolved, That the Committee on Foreign Relations shall inquire and report whether any, and, if so, what irregularities have occurred in the diplomatic or other intercourse between the United States and Hawaii in relation to the recent political revolution in Hawaii, and to this end said committee is authorized to send for persons and papers and to administer oaths to witnesses."

The witnesses were examined under oath when it was possible to secure their appearance before the committee, though in some instances affidavits were taken in Hawaii and other places, and papers of a scientific and historic character will be appended to this report and presented to the Senate for its consideration.

The committee did not call the Secretary of State, or any person connected with the Hawaiian Legation, to give testimony. It was not thought to be proper to question the diplomatic authorities of either government on matters that are, or have been, the subject of negotiation between them, and no power exists to authorize the examination of the minister of a foreign government in any proceeding without his consent.

The resolutions include an inquiry only into the intercourse between the two governments, and regard the conduct of the officers of the United States as a matter for domestic consideration in which Hawaii is not concerned, unless it be that their conduct had some unjust and improper influence upon the action of the people or Government of that country in relation to the revolution.

The future policy of the two governments as to annexation, or in respect of any other matter, is excluded by the resolutions from the consideration of the committee, and such matters are alluded to only as being incidental to the investigation which was ordered by the Senate.

The inquiry as to irregularities that may have occurred in our diplomatic or other intercourse with Hawaii must relate, first, to the conduct of the Government as shown in its official acts and correspondence; and, second, the conduct of its civil and military officers while they were engaged in the discharge of their public duties and functions.

As a Government dealing with Hawaii and with any form of government in that country, whether de facto or de jure, the United States can have no separation or break in its line of policy corresponding to


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any change in the incumbency of the office of President. It is in all respects as much the same Government in every right and responsibility as if it had been under the same President during the entire period covered by the recent revolution in Hawaii and the succeeding events.

This view of the situation will enable us to examine more dispassionately the conduct of our Government, and to ascertain whether it has been such that it can be safely drawn into precedent in any future questions that may arise in our intercourse with this or other American governments.

The right of the President of the United States to change his opinions and conduct respecting a course of diplomatic correspondence with a foreign government is no more to be questioned than his right to institute such correspondence; and it can not be assumed that the opinions of one President, differing from those of his predecessor, has any other effect upon the attitude of the Government than would follow a change of opinion in the mind of the same person if there had been no change in the incumbency of the office. This is a view of the situation in which all foreign nations may have an interest, under the usages of independent powers and the international laws. But the question now under consideration is regarded as being peculiar to what we may term the American system. It may be true that Hawaii can not be considered as a separate and independent power in respect of all its relations with the United States, yet the acts of successive Presidents of the United States which affect it must be regarded as the acts of one President. But there are many good reasons and a long and consistent course of dealing between the United States and Hawaii that materially affect, if they do not entirely change, the actual relations between Hawaii and the United States and make them exceptional. When we claim the right to interfere in the domestic affairs of Hawaii, as we would not interfere with those of a European nation, we must also admit her right to whatever advantages there may be in the closeness and interdependence of our relations, and her right to question us as to any conflicts of policy between Mr. Harrison and Mr. Cleveland that may be justly said to work a disadvantage to the interests of Hawaii, if there are any.

And another principle which does not apply in our dealings with European powers comes into application in this case to influence the rights of Hawaii in her intercourse with the United States.

Hawaii is an American state, and is embraced in the American commercial and military system. This fact has been frequently and firmly stated by our Government, and is the ground on which is rested that peculiar and far-reaching declaration so often and so earnestly made, that the United States will not admit the right of any foreign government to acquire any interest or control in the Hawaiian Islands that is in any way prejudicial or even threatening toward the interests of the United States or her people. This is at least a moral suzerainty over Hawaii. In this attitude of the two Governments, Hawaii must be entitled to demand of the United States an indulgent consideration, if not an active sympathy, when she is endeavoring to accomplish what every other American state has achieved-the release of her people from the odious antirepublican regime which denies to the people the right to govern themselves, and subordinates them to the supposed divine right of a monarch, whose title to such divinity originated in the most slavish conditions of pagan barbarity.

The point at which it is alleged that there was a questionable interference

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by our minister and our Navy with the affairs of Hawaii was the landing of troops from the ship Boston in Honolulu on the 16th day of January, 1893, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. That ship, on which the minister was a passenger, had been off on a practice cruise at Hilo, a distance of nearly 100 miles, since the 4th day of January. On her return to the harbor a condition of affairs existed in Honolulu which led naturally to the apprehension that violence or civil commotion would ensue, in which the peace and security of American citizens residing in that city would be put in peril, as had been done on three or more separate occasions previously when changes occurred or were about to occur in the government of Hawaii. Whatever we may conclude were the real causes of the situation then present in Honolulu, the fact is that there was a complete paralysis of executive government in Hawaii. The action of the Queen in an effort to overturn the constitution of 1887, to which she had sworn obedience and support, had been accepted and treated by a large and powerful body of the people as a violation of her constitutional obligations, revolutionary in its character and purposes and that it amounted to an act of abdication on her part, so far as her powers and the rights of the people under the constitution of 1887 were concerned. This state of opinion and this condition of the executive head of the Hawaiian Government neutralized its power to protect American citizens and other foreigners in their treaty rights, and also their rights under the laws of Hawaii. There was not in Honolulu at that time any efficient executive power through which the rights of American citizens residing there could be protected in accordance with the local laws. It is evident that the Queen's Government at that time had no power to prevent the landing of troops from any quarter, no power to protect itself against invasion, no power to conduct civil government, so far as the executive was concerned, if the effort to exert such power was antagonized by any opposing body of people in considerable numbers. Indeed, no effort seems to have been made to exert the civil authority except through the presence of a small and inefficient body of policemen. The authority of the Queen was not respected by the people; it was opposed, and no force appeared to be used for the purpose of overcoming the opposition. It yielded to a silent but ominous opposition. Without reference to the question whether, in strict law, the action of the Queen in her effort to overturn the constitution of 1887, and to substitute one by a proclamation which she had prepared, was a revolution in government, or an effort at revolution, or amounted to an actual abdication, the result was that an interregnum existed.

If we give full effect to the contention that this interregnum occurred because of the apprehensions of the Queen that force would be used by the United States to compel her abdication, those apprehensions could not have occurred before the landing of the troops from the Boston, or, if they existed, they were idle, unfounded, and unjust toward the United States. It was her conduct, opposed by her people, or a large portion of them, that paralyzed the executive authority and left the citizens of the United States in Honolulu without the protection of any law, unless it was such as should be extended to them by the American minister, in conjunction with the arms of the United States then on board the Boston.

It will appear hereafter in this report that there is well-settled authority for the position that at the moment when the Queen made public her decision to absolve herself from her oath to support the constitution of 1887 her abdication was complete, if the people chose so to regard it. That constitution and the Queen's oath to support it was the only