James Henry Davidson.

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Tuesday, June 14, 1898.







y r E E G n



The House Laving iiiidev consideration the ,ioint resolution (H. Res. 'i50) to
lirovide for annexing tlie Hawaiian Islands to the United States-
Mr. DAVIDSON of Wisconsin said:

Mr. Speaker: The subject under discussion, the annexation of
Hawaii, is not a new one. For fifty years it has been before our
people in one form or another, and during this time the leading
statesmen and the best military and naval authorities of our
country have expressed themselves in favor of the proposition.
In 18o3 Secretary of State Marcy said:

It seems to he inevitable that they [the Sandwich Islands] must come un-
der the control of this Government.

Prior to that time Webster, Buchanan, and Clayton had each
expressed similar sentiments, while in later years Seward, Fish,
and Blaine were of the same opinion. President Harrison was
strongly in favor of annexation, and there is no question concern-
ing the views of our present Chief Magistrate on this subiect.
Captain Mahan, the well-known authority in naval affairs, says:
From a military point of view, the possession of Hawaii will strengthen
the United States. It is not practicable for any trans-Pacific country to in-
vest our Pacific coast without first occupying Hawaii as a base.

Chief Engineer Melville, of the Navy, says:

Pearl Harbor is the sole key to the full defense of our western shore, anO
that key should lie in our grasp only.

Admiral Dupont said:

It is impossible to estimate too highly the value and importance of the
Sandwich Islands, whether in a commercial or military point of view. Should
circumstances ever place them iu our hands, they would prove the most im-
]3ortant acquisition Vv-e could make in the whole Pacific Ocean, an acqui-si-
tion intimately connected with our commercial and naval supremacy m those

General Schofield, of the Army, says:

It constitutes the only natural outpost to the defenses on the Pacific coast.
I have likened that harbor to a commanding po.sition in front of a defensive
line which an army in the field is compelled to occupy. The army must oc-
cupy that advanced position and hold it at whatever cost, or else the enemy
will occupy it with his artillery and thus dominate the main line. If wo do
not occupy Pearl Harbor, our enemy will occupy it as a base from which to
conduct operations against our Pacific coast. One of the greatest advan-
tages of Pearl Harbor to us consists in the fact that no navy would bo re-
quired to defend it. It is a deep, land-locked arm of the sea, easily defended
by fortifications placed near its entrance, with its anchorage beyond the
reach of guns from the ocean. The value of such a place of refuge and sup-
plies for merchant marine and cruisers in time of war can hardly be over-
estimated, yet the greatest value to us of that wonderful harbor consists lu
the fact that its possession and adequate defense by us prevents the possibil-
ity of any enemy using it against us.

3530 3

The logic of these statements is apparent when we remember
that tliere is iu the Pacific Ocean, from the equator to Alaska and
from the coasts of China and Japan to the American continent,
but one place where a passing vessel can obtain supplies or enter
for repairs, and that place is Hawaii.

The expressions which I have quoted were made not when we
were in the midst of a conflict with a foreign nation, but in a time
of peace, when these eminent naval and military authorities and
patriotic statesmen were looking to the perfection of our national
defense, at which time they realized the importance of these
islands as a strategic point from which the whole Pacific coast
could be controlled.

The events of the last few weeks have demonstrated the wisdom
of their .iudgment and shown the necessity of our having control
of these islands.

No ship has j-et been constructed which can cross the Pacific
Ocean and engage in actual combat and still be in a position to
return to its original port for supplies. No hostile fleet can pos-
sibly menace our Pacific coast without first obtaining control of
Pearl Harbor, and we have found that the converse of this propo-
sition is true— that it is impossible for us to send a fleet to the
relief of Dewey at Manila. 7,000 miles from San Francisco, with-
out having some place midway in that broad waste of waters
where our vessels can enter for supplies and repairs and where
our soldiers being thus transported may be permitted to land and
be refreshed.

Through the kindness of the people of that little Republic our
soldiers have been granted this privilege, and our vessels have
been able to make use of this harbor.

That this is in violation of the laws of neutrality may be con-
ceded, but there is a law higher than that of nations; it is the law
of humanity, the law of God.

It is the observance of this higher law which has prompted the
people of that Republic to jeopardize their own interests and
endanger even the very existence of their Grovernment in order
that a favor might be extended to us.

In our present difficulty with Spain the Republic of Hawaii
stands alone, a single exception among the nations of the earth,
the only one that has extended a helping hand to us. And why is
this? Because for years the people of those islands were crushed
beneath the despotism of a rotten kingdom, but now they are
enjoying the blessings of freedom, and they appreciate, as do not
the crowned kingdoms of the earth, how high and noble is our
purpose in this war with Spain. They see in the Stars and Stripes
a harbinger of freedom, a refuge and strength to suffering human-
ity, and they gladly bid us enter.

You who fail to see the necessity of the annexation of those is-
lands at this time think what might have been the result had
Dewey's attack at Manila resulted disastrously, and he been com-
pelled" to turn back and traverse a distance of 7,000 miles before
he could reach a harbor for repairs or for supplies. Had such
l^een the result, instead of having a fleet, the pride of our nation,
floating so majestically and victoriously in the harbor of Manila,
those ships would ere this have been but broken hulks, dead, de-
serted derelicts, drifting aimlessly in that broad sea.

The principal argument of the gentlemen who ai'e opposed to
this proposition is that it is unconstitutional. There are cer-

tain geutleinen in this Chamber before whose ej'es the Constitu-
tion ever stands an impassable barrier to everything which looks
to the advancement of civilization or to the progress of our country.

Some of these gentlemen years ago failed to understand aright
the terms of the Constitution, and it seems the passing years have
not added wisdom to their understanding. Sufficient answer to
the objection is that the same question has been raised five times
during our national history. It has been brought forward every
time a proposition for the acquisition of territory has been pre-
sented and as often has it been passed upon and overruled, so that
it now has no standing in court.

The people and the Government of Hawaii have offered these
islands to us. To accept their offer will not take from the Treas-
ury of the United States one dollar nor from the American people
one drop of blood. Failing to accept their offer, we are forever
estopped from objecting if a like offer should at some future time
be made to and accepted by some other nation.

We can not be heard to say that we will not annex these islands
ourselves and in the same breath that we' will not permit any
other nation to annex them.

It is well known that within a century these islands have at four
different times been possessed by other nations, and their present
independence has only been attained after a heroic struggle. The
future stability of this little Republic is uncertain. Standing
alone, without wealth, without population, it can hardly hold its
own against more powerful nations, and should we fail to control
or protect it, it will undoubtedly soon be acquired, peacefully or
otherwise, by some of the great powers.

I am opposed to maintaining a protectorate over any country.
Our nation should never assume the responsibilities of another
nation except under such conditions as will enable us to dictate
the laws of that nation and compel their observance.

I do not profess to be versed in military affairs. Whether the
annexation of these islands is a militarj' necessity at this time is
a question, however, upon which I am willing to accept the opin-
ion of military authorities, and when we know tliat not only the
best military authorities have expressed themselves in favor of
annexation, but that our present Chief Magistrate believes that
in order to successfully prosecute the present war it is necessary
to secure these islands as a base of supplies, I for one am j)repared.
to accept their judgment and vote accordingly.

I propose to support the President in everything which he be-
lieves is necessary for the successful prosecution of this war, and
I know that in so doing I represent the united sentiment of the
lieople of my district.

This question of aimexation has for fiftj' years been an open and
debatable one; but it seeuis to me that when Admiral Dewey's
guns awoke the echoes in Manila Harbor on the morning of the 1st
of May, they ' ' moved the previous question '" upon this proposition,
and from that time debate has not been in order.

Prior to that date our peoi^le undoubtedly were divided upon
this proposition, but I believe they are no longer divided. They
realize Uie necessity of the acquisition of these islands at the pres-
ent time, in order that the boys who have gone from your town
and from mine, from every hamlet over this broad land, to defend
the honor and the integrity of the nation and to bring relief to
suffering humanity may find within that broad expanse of water


Bome place where their feet may touch mother earth, where they
can breathe the pure air, and where the vessels bearing them may
be supplied with coal and bread and water, to the end that their
expedition may result successfully and to the honor of the Amer-
ican people.

But there is another reason why these resolutions should be
adopted. Year after year there has come to us from across the
seas rumors of trouble in those Eastern countries. Year after
year there have been indications that the great powers might be-
come involved in a war over their Eastern possessions. Japan,
which lately surprised the world by its defeat of China, is one of
the coming nations of the world, and with its magnificent navy
and with the energy and progress of its citizens it will soon be-
come a strong competitor of England, of Russia, and of Germany.

China as a nation has been dead for years. It has not kept pace
with the advancement of the nations around it. It may revive
and progress. Failing to do this, however, this great Empire will
soon be a thing of the past. Its territory will be divided among
the great powers, each portion being subject in all its trade rela-
tions to the power which controls it.

Ours is a nation of peace and progression. Its broad acres are
now all under cultivation. Its cities are black with the smoke of
furnaces, its workmen busily employed in the manufacture of
every article capable of construction. To continue this condition
of things oxir people, our manufacturers, our farmers must seek a
foreign market. If we are to furnish employment for the brain and
brawn and muscle of our mechanics, we must find a market for
the waresthey construct. If those engagedin agricultural pursuits
are to prosper, a market must be found for their surplus grain.

The Latin- American countries and the great Eastern coimtries
offer the best opportunities for acquiring such a market. Our
competitors will be England, Germany, Austria, and Russia. To
successfully compete with them we must take advantage of every
opportunity wliich offers. Within the next few years our people
will awake to the necessity of the construction of the Nicaragua
Canal and its control by this Government. That canal, when
completed, will become the gateway through which will pass the
commerce of the world. Then Cuba and Puerto Rico will stand
as sentinels guarding its eastern approach, while on the west will
be the impregnable fortress of Pearl Harbor, a strong factor in
shaping and controlling the commerce of the Western Continent.
Being a part of oiir possessions, Hawaii's trade will be entirely
subject to our control. Not only this, but every vessel passing in
either direction across the Pacific must touch at this point before
reaching its destination.

With these islands under our control, our trade relations will
be established and our commercial interests in the East forever

It can not be said that the policy of oiir nation has been one of
territorial acquisition. We have not aspired to the attainment
of colonial possessions. The islands of the seas have not been to
us prizes toward which we have looked with longing eyes, but we
have, from time to time, acquired such territory as seemed to be
necessary for the best interests of our nation; and should these
resolutions prevail and Hawaii be annexed, it does not necessarily
follow, nor is it possible, that such action will have any influence
upon the future. It stands a single and independent proposition,

to be cletevmined upon its merits and in such a manner as will bo
for the best interests of our country.

t^ome gentlemen are loud in their declarations that the war in
which we are engaged has now become one of conquest and that
the policj' of our nation from now will be one of territorial acqui-
sition. These statements have been made with i-eckless disregard
for acciiracy and truth, and there is absolutely nothing to sub-
stantiate th(?m. The possession of the Philippines, the possession
of Puerto Rico, the possession of Cuba, yea, even the possession of
Madrid itself, if these should finally be possessed by American
armies, will be but incidents of a war commenced for the cause of
humanity and prosecuted only for that purpose.

A war can not be successfully prosecuted and every movement
confined ta the immediate scene of action. In order tiiat this war
may be successfully waged, the power of the enemy must be weak-
ened and destroyed. Her fleets must be driven from the seas, her
forts must be destroyed, her armies captured, her territory ac-
quired. These are the lines along which the war must be waged,
and these are the lines along which the present Administration
will prosecute, vigorously and effectively, the present war until
the Kingdom of Spain is ready to cry, '-Hold, enough!"

The question as to what will be done with the territory acquired
by our armies during the present war is no part of the subject
now under discussion. The disposition of all such territory will
be determined when the war is over. The Philippines are now,
or soon will be, entirely under the control of the American Army,
The flag of freedom, the Stars and Stripes, will float where once
floated the red and yellow of the Spanish Kingdom. Whether
the Stars and Stripes shall come down and the flag of despotism,
of tyranny, and of treachery be again restored is a question which
can safely be left to the American people for disposition at the
proper time, without fear but what it will be settled right— right
in the eyes of humanity, right in the eyes of God.

The gentlemen upon the other side of this Chamber need have
no fear of the future of this Republic. It is safe in the hands of
the people, safe in the hands of those chosen by the people to ad-
minister its affairs.

Mr. Speaker, I am in favor of the adoption of these resolutions.
Aside from the question of their commercial importance, it is
sufBcient that the acquisition of these islands at this time is a war
necessity. This being true, I believe we should acquire them.

Our hearts, our hopes are with the boys who have gone to the
front, and, whether their destiny be Cuba. Puerto Rico, or Manila,
our every action should be for their best interests. Let us not
hesitate, let us not put aside this opportunity of establishing a
base of supplies midway between our own coast and the future
battlefield whereon our soldiers will soon be engaged in actual
conflict— a battlefield a portion of which will undoubtedly become
for all time a sacred spot to which the longing eyes of many a
mother will turn as she remembers that in that far distant land
her son lies sleeping, his life given for the cause of humanity and
for the preservation of his nations honor. [Applause.]

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013 744 613 3

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Online LibraryJames Henry DavidsonAnnexation of Hawaii → online text (page 1 of 1)