Henry Alvin Brown.

A Brief statement of the political value of the Hawaiian treaty to the United States online

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At this late stage of the debate on the Hawaiian Keci-
procity Treaty of 1875, it is unnecessary to enter into any
statistical details respecting its operation as a commercial
convention. The subject has been fully discussed, and it is
conceded by its advocates that the advantages, in a financial
point of view, have been and still are with the Hawaiian
Kingdom, even after the most liberal concessions have been
granted by its opponents. It is therefore necessary to refe r
now to its political value to the United States, and ask the


During the past few years there has been an extraordinary
and growing desire on the part of European Powers to ac-
quire territorial possessions in the Pacific Ocean, which may
be plainly termed an "annexation fever," and this desire ap-
pears to be increasing rather than subsiding. The recent
contention for the possession of the Island of New Guinea,
lying near Australia, raised by the Australian Colonies and
England with Germany will not be forgotten. Though th e
question is not yet definitely settled, it will probably be done
amicably by a partition of the Island among the claimants.
France, already possessed of the Society Islands and New
Caledonia, now lays claim to one or two of the Hebrides
Islands, and some of the still more important islands of the


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group west of Tahiti, known as the Leeward Isles, to say
nothing of the large island of Madagascar in the Indian
Ocean, peopled with four millions of natives.

The recent half -suppressed emeute between Spain and
Germany, relative to the ownership of the Caroline Islands
in the Central Pacific, which excited an angry war-like spirit
on the part of the Spanish people, and was settled by the ar-
bitration of the Pope, will be remembered by all. The Caro-
lines were awarded to Spain, while the German flag will pro-
tect the Marshall Islands. Both these groups lie about 2000
miles west of Hawaii, in the North Pacific. Germany is also
understood to have taken the initial steps, which will result
in a "protectorate" of Samoa.

The outline map of the Pacific Ocean which accompanies
this pamplet will illustrate better than anything else the re-
lative position of the various harbors and islands now in the
possession of European Naval Powers, and also show the
central and wonderfully strategic position occupied by
Hawaii, which is the nearest land to the American coast.

The possessions of Great Britain are the following : the
continent of Australia, including the magnificent harbors of
Sydney and Melbourne ; New Zealand, with its fine harbor
of Auckland, part of New Guinea, and the Fiji Group, with
its cluster of 200 islands, all the foregoing being in the
South Pacific. She also holds Hongkong and Singapore on
the Asiatic coast, and Victoria on the American coast in all
at least eight or ten naval stations of great natural strength
and importance. The acquisition by her of Hawaii would
render almost impregnable her cordon of naval stations
stretching in a straight line from Melbourne on the South to
Vancouver's Island on the North.

France holds the Society Islands, with their fine harbor
of Tahiti, the Marquesas Group lying North of Tahiti, some
of the Leeward Islands, New Caledonia near Australia, one or
two of the New Hebrides Islands, and Hue on the Cochin-
China Coast.

Germany lays protectoral claim to the Marshall Islands,
Samoa, part of New Guinea, and one or two islands near the

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Russia holds undisputed possession of the Asiatic coast,
from Bhering's Straits and Kamschatka to Cor^a and

Spain owns the Phillipine Islands with the spacious
harbor of Manilla, and about one hundred islands of the
Caroline Group.

The Dutch Netherlands have long held naval or trading
stations in Java, Sumatra, Borneo and New Guinea.

Portugal owns the Ladrone Inlands with the commodious
harbor of Guam, a well known resort for American whale-

Thus it will be seen that the principal European nations
have already secured the strongest strategic points in the
Pacific Ocean, where trading, coaling and naval stations have
been or can be located; while the United States does not
possess a solitary coaling station beyond her coast line, and
is already flanked by strong French, German and English
stations, where in case of war SHE WOULD BE COMPELLED TO


The termination of the existing treaty may have a more
important bearing on the future status of Hawaii than any
one can now anticipate. Who can predict what secret rivalry
for territorial acquisition in the Pacific may accomplish dur-
ing the next twenty years? It is more than a mere probability
that the relation now sustained by the United States to
Hawaii may very soon be filled by the progressive Dominion
of Canada, which may be said to be only waiting her op-
poitunity. Or if we turn to the westward, it should not be
overlooked that both China and Japan are becoming largely
interested in the domestic policy of Hawaii, by reason of the
rapid migration of their people thither. It may not be an
idle conjecture that the time will soon come when either of
these powers, which posses navies of thirty to forty vessels
each, some of them ironclads, will make demands on Hawaii
which cannot be refused by her except at the peril of losing
her independence, backed as these demands can be by a naval
force more powerful than that maintained by any other nation
in the Pacific. Japan or China will soon be able to plant

colonial outposts in the Central Pacific, as readily as England,
France or Germany, and people them far more readily.

Whatever may be said to the contrary, the influence of
\ the treaty has been to steadily encourage the growth of
American commerce in the Pacific Ocean, and with it to
strengthen American prestige and influence. The recently
published statistics of the Hawaiian Custom-house show most
conclusively that of the foreign commerce of Hawaii, over 92
per cent, has been with the United States; while of its carry-
ing trade about the same percentage was done by American
vessels. This is not a mere accident attending the Eeciprocity
Treaty, but the legitimate result of a well-matured measure,
designed to foster American commerce, and which is accom-
plishing the design to a greater extent than is generally

From a paper prepared by the writer, and published in
1882, having a direct bearing on the treaty, the following ex-
tracts are inserted, as equally appropriate now :

"Having referred to the treaty in its commercial aspects,
it must not be forgotten that it possesses a political feature
as important as its commercial. When it was under discus-
sion in Congress in 1875, its supporters made no claim that
the pecuniary advantages would be equally shared by both
nations, but frankly conceded that they would preponderate
in favor of Hawaii. Nor was the treaty granted by the United
States so much for any supposed commercial advantages to
her as for national purposes. Her chief design and purpose
were to encourage a nation in the Central Pacific that might
become a sugar-growing field for her Pacific States and Ter-
ritories a nation regarded as almost a kin to her that
it might become an independent people, free from foreign
complications or control, and still attracted to her by the
natural ties of kinship and protector. Secretary Elaine, in
his letter to Gen. Comly, late American Minister, Eesident
at Honolulu, briefly and clearly states the whole case in the
following extracts :

"The situation of the Hawaiian Islands, giving them
strategic control of the North Pacific, brings their possession
within the range of questions of purely American policy, as

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much so as thai of the Isthmus of Panama. Hence the necessity,
as recognized in our existing relations, of drawing ties of inti-
mate relationship between the United States and the Hawaiian
Islands, so as to make them practically part of the American
system, without derogation of the absolute independence " * * *
"In a word, Hawaii is, by the wise and beneficent provisions of
the treaty, brought within the circle of the domestic trade of the
United States, and our interest in its friendly neutrality is the
same that we feel in the guaranteed independence of the Isthmus
of Panama. On the other hand, Hawaiian interests must in-
evitably turn towards the United States in the future as the
present, as their natural and sole ally in conserving the dominion
of both in the Pacific trade. This government has on previous
occasions been brought face to face with the question of a pro-
tectorate over the Hawaiian groups. It has, as often as it arose,
been set aside in the interest of such commercial union and such
reciprocity benefits as would give Hawaii the highest advantages,
and at the same time strengthen its independent existence as a
sovereign State. In this I have summed up the whole disposi-
tion of the United States toward Hawaii in its proper condition."

When the discussion of the treaty in the Senate turned
on the pecuniary advantages that would be derived from it
by the Hawaiian Islands, that body sought and obtained a
political concession, in the shape of a pledge, as an offset
to any pecuniary loss, and the following stipulation was in-
serted in Article IV :

" that so long as this treaty shall remain in force, he

" (His Majesty the king) will not lease or otherwise dispose of,
' or create any lien in any port, harbor or other territory in his
' dominions, or grant any special privileges or rights of use
' therein to any other power, state or government, nor make any
1 other treaty, by which any other nation shall obtain the same
' privileges relative to the admission of any articles free of duty
' hereby secured to the United States."

The astute and far-sighted statesmanship which secured
such extraordinary political advantages as these, amounting
almost to a pre-emption right in Hawaii which some Ha-
waiians have thought should never have been asked or
granted cannot reasonably consent to the abrogation of the
treaty on account of a pecuniary advantage gained in the
bargain, by her insular neighbor. The higher aims of na-
tional policy and not any claims of sectional interest were
consulted in granting it ; and the clamor of sectional or pri-
vate interests will not set it aside. Little Hawaii has kept

r e ]

faith with her great benefactor, even enacting laws to pro-
tect the interests of the Treaty and preserve its faith, and it
stands before the world for honorable treatment and the
maintenance of a carefully-considered Treaty. Can a few
partisans, spurred on by an interested hostile discussion, or
yielding to other influences, compromise the interests of the
great Eepublic towards this little State ? We will not be-
lieve it !

ABROGATE THE TREATY and some other nation may
hasten to secure the extraordinary concessions made by it,
and thus acquire a claim in, and power over our archipelago,
which from its position is the key to the future commerce of
the Pacific, which may steam fiom the Atlantic via the Pa-
nama Isthmus, to oriental ports, and to the numberless
groups scattered over this ocean. PRESERVE THE TREATY and
so long as it lasts no nation will violate its provisions, or
meddle with Hawaii's independence. While it remains in
force, it is a standing notice to all that Hawaii shall be inde-
pendent and free from foreign control. Where is the Ameri-
can, who, when he considers the vast wealth of his country,
with her treasury overflowing with an annual surplus of one
hundred millions can begrudge the comparatively small loss
under the treaty, or who can show a bettor way to maintain
her supremacy in this ocean, or, perhaps more strictly speak-
ing, to prevent the supremacy of every other power ?

American ideas and the spirit o American institutions
are spreading over the world, silently but powerfully influenc-
ing every European and Asiatic government and people.
They have taken root in Hawaii and raised her to her pre-
sent condition of unexampled prosperity. And from this
central group of the Pacific, which under the Treaty is
practically an American Colony, the seeds of American en-
terprise, American industry, American civilization, with all
the ennobling influence of her political and religious institu-
tions, are being scattered over this ocean, permeating the
masses that people its continents and islands. With such a
record of the past, and a grander future before her, Ameri-
can statesmen should hesitate before surrendering the pre-
cedence which this Treaty secured to her in this group and

throughout this ocean ; especially at a time when her in-
dustries are calling so loudly for the opening of new avenues
for the disbursement of the surplus products and manu-
factures from her Western prairies and her Eastern and
Southern workshops. The extraordinary growth in the de-
mand for these products in this group, will soon extend to
those lying beyond us, till the millions of Polynesia and
Oceanica will learn to rely on America for subsistence, to be
fed and clothed by American industry, as Hawaii now is.

Stockton, Calif.
T. M. Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.

M152377 ^



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Online LibraryHenry Alvin BrownA Brief statement of the political value of the Hawaiian treaty to the United States → online text (page 1 of 1)