Charles Edward Pearce.

Annexation of Hawaii .. Speech of Hon. Charles E. Pearce, of Missouri, in the House of representatives, June 14, 1898 online

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JUNE 14, 1898.

"WASHING 'X'o^r.





^ . _

The House having under consideration the joint resolution (H. Res. 259) to
provide for annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States-
Mr. PEARCE of Missouri said:

Mr. Speaker: 1 listened with deep and pleasnreable interest on
Friday last to the very eloquent argument of my learned friend
from Arkansas [Mr. DixsjiORii], because, however much I may
disagree with him in his views, I have come to know that he is a
fair debater, and I sought to learn from the views which he pre-
sented on the subject the gist of the contention against the reso-
lutions which are before us for consideration. He gave us much
generality over the alleged unconstitutionality of this proceeding,
but without soing into an extended discussion of the question, I
sincerelv hope that some gentleman who succeeds me in this de-
bate will take the trouble to point out one single sentence, or line,
or word of the Constitution of the United States that contravenes
the adoption of these resolutions. It is a matter of history familiar
to everybody that every square mile of territory which has becjn
annexed to the United States since the foundation of the Govern-
ment has been so annexed under the "'general welfare" clause of
the Constitution.

The Louisiana Territory, embrac"ng 1,179.931 square miles, was
annexed under that provision in ISO^J: Florida, embracing r)9.268
square mi es, was annexed under it in 1819; Te.^as, embracing
370,1:30 square miles, was annexed under it in 1845; New JMe.\ico
and California, embracing 54.'). 78dsqiiare miles, were annexed under
it in 1848: the Gadsden purchase, embracing 45.5:;5 scjuare miles,
was made in pursuance of it m 185l!; Alaska, embracing 577,o90
s;]Uare miles, was annexed under it in 18(57; and under it it is pro-
posed to annex the Territory of Hawaii, with its 7,000 square,
in this year of our Lord 1898.

The constitutional questions connected with these various trans-
actions, by which the national area has been increased from first
to last nearly ;},000,0()0 square milt'S. have been passed upun time
anil tiine again by the Supreme Court of the United States, and I
had sui)i)osed until this hour that the right of annexing foreign
teiriiory was a settled question and not open to furtlier discus-
sion excepting for a filibuster against the propo'-ed resoltitions.

My learned friend has announced an apparently unique discov-
ery, l)ttt which in point of fact is well known to everyone who
has ever studied the map of the world or has traveled upon tlie
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Pacific Ocean; he statos to us that the distance from San Fran-
cisco via Unahiska to Hon.u-kong, and of course to the Philippine
Ishmds, is shorter as a sailing route than the distance from San
Francisco to the same points via Honolulu, and therefore the ac-
quisition of the Hawaiian Islands is an unnecessary measure fov
purposes of publi<; defense.

It is true that there is a port at Unalaska: it is also true that
the nortliern route from San Francisco to Hongkong and to the
Philippine Islands is shorter than the route via Honolulu; it is
also true that the Empress Line of steamers, an English line
which sails Irom Vancouver to Yokohama and thence to Hong-
kong, crosses the Pacific Ocean within sight of the Aleutian
Islands. I mvself have been over thai route, and so has the gen-
tleman from Arkansas, and the statement which he makes in re-
gard to it is unquestionably true. But, Mr. Speaker, what does
that prove? Does it establish the conlention that the annexation
of the Hawaiian Islands is an undesirable act upon the part of
this Government? Does it establish the conteniion that those
islands are not necessary to the proper defense of the Pacific coast?
By no means.

Suppose, for instance, that the Hawaiian Islands should pass
under the control of the English Government, a contingency not
altogether improbable or remote if we do not take them in our-
selves. Now, draw a line from Vancouver or Esquimalt to the
Hawaiian Islands, a distance of a little more than 2,000 miles;
draw another line from the Havraiian Islands to the Isthmus of
Panama, a distance of a little more than 4,000 mi'es; consider the
fact that the Hawaiian Islands extend from north to south a dis-
tance of 400 miles, and take into consideration the military aspects
of that situation, with the English Government fortified at Esqui-
malt commanding the outlet of Puget Sound, fortified at Hou-
olulu and Pearl Harbor, and fortified at the western terminus of
the isthmian canal, and is it not conclusive that under this pro-
posed condition of things the entire Pacific coast will be at the
mercy of the British Government in the contingency of war? Let
me inform you. gentlemen, that the English Government has
already acquired an exclusive franchise upon Lake Nicaragua,
and has been seeking an isthmian route across the narrow neck
of land that separates North and South America. For this rea-
son, Mr. Speaker, if for no other, the acquisition of the Hawaiian
Islands at this time seems to me to be not only a desirable but a
necessary measure on the part of the people of the United States.
But, say my learned friend from Arkansas [Mr. Dinsmoke] and
also my learned friend from Tennessee [Mr, RiciiardsonI, the
acquisition of the Hawaiian Islands will mark a new era in the
history of our country, and that by it we will enter upon a great
expansive colonial policv, the end of which no man can measure.
Mr. Speaker, not one intimation of a colonial policy has ever been
connected with the acqirisition of the Hawaiian Islands. This
question has occupied the thought of our country for over fifty
years. There never has been and is not now advanced any jtropo-
sition to annex Hawaii as a colonial possession of the United
States, and there is no point whatsoever in the contention that
this annexation, in any form, manner, or shape, commits either
Congress or any gentleman who votes for annexation to a colonial

I am myself at the present time opposed to such a policy, not as
a question of legal and constitutional right, but simply and solely
as a question of wisdom; and unless the exigencies of the future


shall lead lue to modify my judgment in that regard, I shall
remain in opposition to such a policy. What may become neces-
sary lor us to do in settling the details of a future treaty of peace
wth iSpain no man can tell. No one would be reckless enough
to commit himself upon that subject. Let me call your attention
to the treaty itself, made by the present Administration and the
Government of Hawaii in 18'J7. 1 quote the language of the
treaty: "'And it is a2;reed that all the territory of and appertaining
to the Republic ot Hawaii is hereby annexed to the United States
of America under the name of the Territory of Hawaii." So that
u]ion the consummation of this transac ion the relation of the
United States Government to Hawaii will become exactly the
same as the relation of the United States Government to Alasi^a
at the prespnt time.

Mr. DINSMORE. Will it interrupt my friend if I ask him a
question in this connection?

Mr. PEARi:E of Missouri. By no means; not at all.

Mr. DlNSMOlxE. I should like my friend to state to the House
whether he can trace any relation between that detuuct treaty
and these resolutions.

Mr. PEARC'E of Missouri, It has not yet transpired that the
treaty referred to by my friend is in any sense defunct. It stands
before the Senate to-day as an open question. But irrespective of
whether it is or not defunct, these resolutions if adopted by Con-
gress will be carried out upon the lines of that treaty, and the
honor and good faith of the people of the United Slates require
and will demand that they shall be carried out upon those lines.
When the Hawaiian Islands are taken in under the sovereignty of
the United States Government, they will come to us as the Terri-
tory of Hawaii, and in no other form, and there are ample provi-
sions in these resolutions for such a consummation.

This leads me, Mr. Speaker, to answer another qaestion pro-
pounded during this debate by nearly every gentieman who has
occupied a position of antagonism to the pending measiire, and
that is, "What are you going to do with these islands? How
are you going to govern them?" This question seems to be a great
obstacle in the way of very many of my friends who have taken
part m this discussion. Of course I can not tell, nor can any
other man tell, what the Congress of the United States will do in
reference to this question, or what provision of government it will
legislate into existence. I can only express my own opinion upon
that subject, and whether it be worth much or little, if 1 should
happen to be in Congress when the subject comes to be dealt with,
1 can tell you without any hesitation what I will do. I will vote
for a Territorial government in Hawaii. In my opiiiion it will
have a Territorial governor, it will have a Territorial legislature
and judicial officers, a government, in short, of the same or s:milar
character as that which exists in Arizona, in New Mexico, in
Oklahoma, and in Alaska, with such modifications, of course, as
may be suitable to the present or future condition of things.
Peop'O who imagine that the constitutional electors of Hawaii are
incap'able of self-government, or are lacking in intelligence, or
are unlettered or illiterate are very much mistaken. I have my-
self no trouble upon that subject, and it does not constitute the
slightest obstacle in my judgment. I greatly wonder why any
gentleman on this floor shoiilJ have any trouble upon this subject.
But, says my good friend from Arkansas [Mr. Dinsmore], the
people of Hawaii were not consulted, and therefore we should not


take them into our system of government. Let my honorablo
friend from Arkansas, or any otlier gentleman on this floor, tell
me when in the history of our country, during all the proceedings
by which we annexed and incorporated nearly ;j,UU0,00l> square
miles of additional territory, the question of annexation was ever
submitted to the people of either the territory annexed or of the
United States to be acted upon by a direct vote?

Mr. DINSMORE, I will suggest to the gentleman the case of
Texas. , ^ ,

Mr. PEAROE of Missouri. My friend says Texas. I expected
that suggestion. Of course we all know the details of the history
of the annexation of Texas, and it is needless to relate them here.
But perhaps you all do not know one fact in connection with that
transaction. The annexation of Texas was first sought by a treaty
which failed of passage through the United States Senate, but it
was the basis of another and subsequent treaty, and the endeavor
to secure the result finally terminated in resolutions which passed
the House of Representatives and afterwards the Senate and be-
came a law by the approval of the Executive. After those reso-
lutions were passed the legislature of Texas was convened, and a
convention of the people was summoned to consider the then
pending propositions. , , , .

A constitution was drafted and was adopted by both the legis-
lature and the convention, and later the people were called upon
to vote upon the ratification of the acts which had been done by
those bodies. The main (luestiou at this time was the adoption of
the constitution, and the question of annexation was merely inci-
dental. Yet, Mr. Speaker, although the population of Texas at
that time, exclusive of Indians, was over 130,U00, only about 4,100
votes were cast for ratification. Only 4,000 votes out of a popu-
lation of more than 100,000. Now, I invite you to compare that
vote with the present case. The people of the Hawaiian Islands
for more than fifty years have been living under a constitution
granted to them by the third Kamehameha, and that constitii-
tion from the outset has prescribed the qualifications of electors.

The provisions of this instrument, although changed at various
times by the Hawaiian Legislatiire, has never taken away the right
of suffrage from the people. It existed in the time of Kalakaua,
and it was one of the prominent reasons which led the late Queen
Liliuokalani to attempt the overthrow of the constitutional rights
of the people and to bring about a return to the absolutism of the
early kings. The present constitution also prescribes the qualifi-
cations of electors, and the qualified electors of Hawaii who have
spoken upon this subject, directly or indirectly, constitute as large
a percentage of the population of Hawaii as did the votes cast
upon the ratification oi: the annexation of Texas taken in compar-
ison with the population of that State.

I was exceedingly glad to learn from the speech of my good
friend from Arkansas [Mr. Dinsmore] that amid all the reasons
why the Hawaiian Islands should not be annexed to the United
States he freely and frankly admitted that there was one po-wer-
fal consideration in favor of these resolutions. He says that the
possession of the Hawaiian Islands by the United States would
greatly increase the power of the American Government to keep
foreign nations off our shores. In (iod's name, what else do we
want them for, looking at the subject from a military point of
view? We are not seeking the ac(iuisition of the Hawaiian
Islands to make aggressive war upon the rest of mankind.

The possession of the islands lor purposes of public defens? is


the exact point, and the only point, for which I am arguing and
contending. One of the great reasons why we want and must
have those islands is to make it aiisolii ely impossible forafot-eign
goveiTiment to assail us, and especially to render it impossible for
an Asiatic power, with an Asiatic religion, to seat iiseif w.thin
2,000 mle^ of our Pacific coast. In my judgment no admiss.on
could be made that would constitute a stronger argument for the
alopt on or these resolutions tlian the fair and honest statement
of my honorable fr;end from Arkansas (Mr. D^xsmore].

Another pomt of difficulty which troubles my friends who op-
pose this measure is question of tne cost o:' maintenance.
Upon that queition the records of the Hawaiian (J-A-eram-'nt
fm'n sh us valuable information. Aggregating the pnhlic reve-
nues from 1878 to I49i. and decucting from the aggregate the ex-
penditures during the same period of time, we find that for a
period of fourteen years the expenditure over revenue is only
§;0.>.")34. notwithstanding the fact that during that period the
islands suifered two revolutions, with all the extraordinary ex-
penses incident thereto. In ]8'J6 thepublic revenues were §1,997, -
818 and the aggregate expenditures were $1,901,190, leaving a bal-
ance to the credit of the Government on December ol, i80o, of
$9o.G27. Under any reasonable administration of affairs by an
intelligent territorial government tne Hawaiian Islands can be
made fully self-supporting.

Now, Mr. Speaker, whatever views people may have heretofore
had upon th^s subject, whether those views have been upon general
political lines or whether they have proc;eeded upon commercial
lines, we are to-day confronted with the condition of war. and we
are compe led to consider this question from a standpoint which
the oi^ponents of annexation have always heretofore scouted as a
possibility too remote to constitute a reasonable argument.
Whether we will or no, we are compelled to look at this subject
from that standpoint and legislate with reference to it.

With a voice almost unanimous the people of the United States
have declared at the polls and through us, their representatives,
that the island of Cuba shall be hereafter free from the sovei -
eignty of Spain. To make that declaration good and to compel
a recognition of that independence by Spain we have declared
war up<m that Government. By our unanimous voice we have
authorized and directed the President of the United St ites to em-
ploy the entire military and naval power of the country, and also
its matoriiil resources, and have charged him with the tremendous
responsibility of conducting that war to a successful issue. Hav-
ing done that, having charged him with this great and solemn
res])onsibiiity. we can not, wiihout stultifjing ourselve-, with-
hold from him any measure which he thinks is necessary to bring
that consummation about.

In the performance of the duties laid upon him by the people
and by Congress, he has aright to ask for any provision, no matter
what it may be. that will either contribute to the power of attack
or w.ll fortify our own country against every contingency that
can p )ssibly arise out of a state of war. We are not playing a
- game of politics or diplomacy to-day. It is war. and in it is bound
up not only the freedom of Cuba but the national honor of our
own counti-y. That which a few months ago was thought to be
too remote for serious consideration is to-day a stern and una'ter-
ablo fact. I care not what your views or my views upon this sub-
joft might be under ordinary circnmstances. It is today a meas-
ure of war, and as such it stands before this Congress, and I envy


not the man who, after havhig laid upon the Presitlent the duty of
aggressive attack and also of providing a complete system of har-
bor and coast-line defense, stops now to split hairs over historical
precedents or judicial interpretations of constitutional law.

1 envy not the man who in these days of armed conflict wnll
withhold from the President any measure of legislation which in
his judgment or in the judgment of his war council is deemed
necessary to make his efforts effective. No amount of caviling
as to whether the recommendations of the President or the action
of Congress were right or wrong, justifiable or unjustiiiai)le; no
philanthropic feelings over the sacrifices already made or which
shall be made in the future; no protest over the expenditure of
money which has been or shall become necessary; no measuring
of cause or effect: no predictions as to whether this conflict shall
be fought out by Spain and the United States, or whether all the
nations of Europe will be involved before the end shall be reached,
can avail one jot or tittle to change the grim unalterable fact that
we are in a state of war.

Already the field of operations embraces one-third of the water
area of the world. Where its limitations will be three months
hence no man can tell. Ninety days ago not a man in this House
would have ventured the prediction that the first scene of the great
drama would open upon the coast of Asia. We thought we were
going straightway to Cuba. We never dreamed that the first
victory of American arms would be in the far-oijf archipelago of
the Philippines.

Who will venture to predict what the next scene of this swift-
moving drama will reveal? Will it be the intervention of the
powers to compel Spain to surrender Cuba ? Will it be a protest
by France against the impairment of her bonded security in
Spanish domains, or will it be a German demand for joint occu-
pancy or division of the conquered territory? Will the United
States settle this business by force of arms, as she has started to
settle it, with Spain alone, or will the next shifting of the scenes
reveal an European alliance to protect Spain from destruction, or
to play the role of Russia in the late war between China and
Japan? No man can tell what lies in the future, and in the early
future. , . ^. ,

While the purposes of the United States m this conflict are di-
rected to freeing the Western Hemisphere from a despotism which
for four centuries has been a blight upon civilization and a curse
to downtrodden millions of the human race, no man in this pres-
ence will dare to say that the American flag, once planted in a just
and holy w^ar. at home or abroad, shall ever be removed except by
the free act of the American Government.

But, Mr. Speaker and gentlemen, while this is unquestionably the
high resolve of the American people, it is yoixr duty and the duty of
ns all as legislators, as citizens, as patriotic lovers of our country, to
discard all our preconceived notions about the desirability or non-
desirability of the Hawaiian Islands, and to do that which will
strengthen our Army and our Navy, and to see to it that every pre-
paration which statesmanship and human ingenuity can devise
shall be made, to meet not only the exigencies of the war with Spain ,
but also every possibleexigency that may folio waEuropean alliance
created to take from the hands of the United States Government the
settlement of the questions which may logically arise out of this

I do not know that such an alliance will come to iiass. ■ It is
enough for me to Imow that it is or.e of the possibilities of tin


future, a possibility which has some threatening: aspects at the
present time. Notwithstanding the bold and remarkable state-
ment of Mr, Chamberlain, I do not beiieve in re.ymg upon the
sympathetic interference of Great Britain, or of Japan, or of any
other co'.intxy. I woual rather rely upon the physical stren.ufth
and resourceful power of our own 7'o.OJL>,U0a liberty-loving people
than upon the sympathy of any foreign nation, however friendly,
or upon all Europe combined.' God helps those who help them-

Mr. Sp^a'ker, we have had a rude awakening since this crisis
began. Fortunately for us. and perhaps fortuuate for the world,
we have had to deal with a nation intinitely weaker than ourselves
in material resources, and as illy prepared to meet the exigencies
of a great war. Less than five years ago nearly 1,000 cities and
towns located upon open ports and upon tributary streams along
and contigu: ms to our 5,00J miles of coast were absolutely de ense-
less against foreign attack. Five years ago the Navy of the United
States was the weakest of the first-class powers and. for lack of mu-
nitions and crews practiced m the service of modern ordnance, was
comparatively useless for offensive or defensive war; and yet, Mr.
Speaker, we were asserting against every nation in Europe a doc-
trine of exclusion from the Western Hemisphere, never recognized
as a tenet of mternat'.onal law. and depending alone for its main-
tenance upon the moral influence of this Republic. However just
and nec&^sary the Monroe doctrine may be from our standpoint of
view, and however deep-rooted it may be in the conscience of the
American people, it is unquestionably an affront to every nation
in Europe, and is to-day acknowledged with illy concealed reluc-
tance by Japan in her relations with the Hawaiian Islands.

I warn gentlemen on this floor that we have seen enough in the
last twelve mouths to satisfy any reflecting man, that the perpetu-
ation of the Monroe doctrme can only be made possible by the
speedy development of the naval power of the United States up
to a degree of efficiency that will enable us at all times to suc-
cessfully resist the encroachments of any government on earth.
What does this involve, Mr. Speaker? Shall we rely upon the in-
tegrity of foreign alliances? Why, sir, no such convention was
ever made anywhere or at any time but it was torn into shreds at
the dictation of sell-interest or by the shitting demands of on-
coming exigencies.

I venture the assertion that if Congress had given heed twenty
years ago to the warnings which have been iterated and reter-
ated over and over again on this floor, every American port would
to-day be impregnable against assault, our Navy won d be peer-
less upon the seas, no war with Spaia would ever have occurred,
three hundred millions of money would have been saved, Cuba
would l>e free, her people, wasted by starvation and savagery,
would be on the high road of progress, and the Maine, instead of
rotting i encath the loathsome waters of Havana Harbor with her
murdered crew, would be riding the waves.

1 ask auain. Mr. Speaker, what does the maintenance of the
Monroe doctrine involve? We are not so wise, our rights and
responsibilities are not so small, our statesmanship is not so far-
seeing, but that we can learn a lesson of wisdom from our com-
petitors in the race for nalionil development. Witn the advent
of steam as a motive power Great Britain, without halting for the
evolution of the future, began iunnediately to reconstruct her

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