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of the United States forces. " On 'receipt of this letter Mr. Stev-
ens requested Captain Wiltse, commander of the U. S. S. Boston,
to land a force for the protection of the United States legation,


United States consulate, and to secure the safety of American life
and property. The well-armed troops, accompanied by two
gatling guns, were promptly landed and marched through the
quiet streets of Honolulu to a public hall, previously secured by
Mr. Stevens for their accommodation. This hall was just across
the street from the government building, and in plain view of
the queen's palace. The reason for thus locating the military
will presently appear. The governor of the island immediately
addressed to Mr. Stevens a communication protesting against
the act as an unwarranted invasion of Hawaiian soil and remind-
ing him that the proper authorities had never denied permission
to the naval forces of the United States to land for drill or any
other proper purpose.

About the same time the queen's Minister of Foreign Affairs
sent a note to Mr. Stevens asking why the troops had been landed
and informing him that the proper authorities were able and will-
ing to afford full protection to the American legation and all
American interests in Honolulu. Only evasive replies were sent
to these communications.

While there were no manifestations of excitement or alarm
in the city, and the people were ignorant of the contemplated
movement, the committee entered the government building,
after first ascertaining that it was unguarded, and read a proc-
lamation declaring that the existing government was overthrown
and a provisional government established in its place, to exist
until terms of union with the United States of America have
been negotiated and agreed upon. No audience was present
when the proclamation was read, but during the reading forty
or fifty men, some of them indifferently armed, entered the room.
The executive and advisory councils mentioned in the proclama-
tion at once addressed a communication to Mr. Stevens, inform-
ing him that the monarchy had been abrogated and a provisional
government established. This communication concluded:

"Such provisional government has been proclaimed, is now
in possession of the government department buildings, the ar-
chives, and the treasury, and is in control of the city. We hereby
request that you will, on behalf of the United States, recognize
it as the existing dc facto government of the Hawaiian Islands
and afford to it the moral support of the government, and, if


necessary, the support of American troops to assist in preserving
the public peace."

On account of this communication, Mr. Stevens immediately
recognized the new government, and, in a letter addressed to
vSanford B. Dole, the President, informed him that he had done
so. Mr. Dole replied:

"Government Building, Honolulu,

"January ij, i8gj.
"Sir: — I acknowledge receipt of your valued communications
of this day, recognizing the Hawaiian provisional government,
and express deep appreciation of the same.

"We have conferred with the ministers of the late government,
and have made demand upon the marshal to surrender the station
house. We are not actually yet in possession of the station house
but as night is approaching and our forces may be insufficient to
maintain order, we request the immediate support of the United
States forces and would request that the commander of the United
States forces take command of our military forces, so that they
may act together for the protection of the city.
"Respectfully yours,

" Sandford B. Dole,
His Excellency John L . Stevens , ' ' Chairman Executive Council . ' '
United States Minister Resident.

Note of Mr. Stevens at the end of the above communication :
"The above request not complied with. Stevens."

The station house was occupied by a well-armed force, under
the command of a resolute, capable officer. The same afternoon
the queen, her ministers, representatives of the provisional govern-
ment, and others held a conference at the palace. Refusing to
recognize the new authority or surrender to it, she was informed
that the provisional government had the support of the American
minister, a'nd, if necessary, would be maintained by the military
force of the United States then present; that any demonstration
on her part would precipitate a conflict with that force; that she
could not, with hope of success, engage in war with the United
States, and that resistance would result in a useless sacrifice of
life. Mr. Damon, one of the chief leaders of the movement, and
afterwards vice-president of the provisional government, informed


the queen that she could surrender under protest and her case
would be considered later at Washington. Believing that, under
the circumstances, submission was duty, and that her case would
be fairly considered by the President of the United States, the
queen finally jdelded and sent to the provisional government
the paper, which reads:

"I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the consti-
tution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly
protest against any and all acts done against myself and the
constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain
persons claiming to have established a provisional government
of and for this kingdom.

"That I yield to the superior force of the United States of
America, whose minister plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L.
Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu
and declared that he would support the provisional government.

"Now to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the
loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said forces,
yield my authority until such time as the government of the
United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo
the action of its representative and reinstate me and the authority
which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian

When this paper was prepared at the conclusion of the con-
ference, and signed by the queen and her ministers, a number of
persons, including one or more representatives of the provisional
government, who were still present and understood its contents,
by their silence at least acquiesced in its statements, and, when it
was carried to President Dole, he indorsed upon it, "Received
from the hands of the late cabinet this 17th day of January, 1893,"
without challenging the truth of any of its assertions. Indeed,
it was not claimed on the 17th day of January, or for some time
thereafter, by any of the designated officers of the provisional
government or any annexationist that the queen surrendered
otherwise than as stated in her protest.

In his dispatch to Mr. Foster of January 18, describing the
so-called revolution, Mr. Stevens says:

"The Committee of Public Safety forthwith took possession
of the government buildings, archives, and treasury, and installed


the provisional government at the head of the respective depart-
ments. This being accomphshed fact, I promptly recognized the
provisional government as the de facto government of the Hawaiian

In Secretary Foster's communication of February 15 to the
President, laying before him the treaty of annexation with a view
to obtaining the advice and consent of the Senate thereto, he says:

"At the time the provisional government took possession of
the government building no troops or officers of the United States
were present or took any part whatever in the proceedings. No
public recognition was accorded to the provisional government
by the United States minister until after the queen's abdication,
and when they were in effective possession of the government
building, the archives, the treasury, the barracks, the police
station, and all the potential machinery of the government."

Similar language is found in an official letter addressed to
Secretary Foster on February 3 by the special commissioners
sent to Washington by the provisional government to negotiate
a treaty of annexation.

These statements are utterly at variance with the evidence,
documentary and oral, contained in Mr. Blount's reports. They
are contradicted by declarations and letters of President Dole
and other annexationists and by Mr. Stevens's own verbal admis-
sions to Mr. Blount. The provisional government was recognized
when it had little other than a paper existence, and when the
legitimate government was in full possession and control of the
palace, the barracks, and the police station. Mr. Stevens's well-
known hostility and the threatening presence of the force landed
from the Boston was all that could then have excited serious
apprehension in the minds of the queen, her officers, and loyal

It is fair to say that Secretary Foster's statements were based
upon information which he had received from Mr. Stevens and
the special commissioners, but I am unable to see that they were
deceived. The troops were landed, not to protect American life
and property, but to aid in overthrowing the existing government.
Their very presence implied coercive measures against it.

In a statement given to Mr. Blount by Admiral Skerrett, the
ranking naval officer at Honolulu, he says:


" If the troops were landed simply to protect American citizens
and interests, they were badly stationed in Arion Hall, but if
the intention was to aid the provisional government they were
wisely stationed."

This hall was so situated that the troops in it easily com-
manded the government building, and the proclamation was
read under the protection of American guns. At an early stage
of the movement, if not at the beginning, Mr. Stevens promised
the annexationists that as soon as they obtained possession of
the government building and there read a proclamation of the
character above referred to, he would at once recognize them as
the de facto government, and support them by landing a force from
our warship then in the harbor, and he kept the promise. This
assurance was the inspiration of the movement, and without it
the annexationists would not have exposed themselves to the con-
sequences of failure. They relied upon no military force of their
own, for they had none worthy of the name. The provisional
government was established by the action of the American min-
ister and the presence of the troops landed from the Boston and
its continued existence is due to the belief of the Hawaiians that
if they made an effort to overthrow it, they would encounter the
armed forces of the United States.

The earnest appeals to the American minister for military
protection by the officers of that government, after it had been
recognized, show the utter absurdity of the claim that it was
established by a successful revolution of the people of the Islands.
Those appeals were a confession by the men who made them of
their weakness and timidity. Courageous men, conscious of
their strength and the justice of their cause, do not thus act. It
is not now claimed that a majority of the people, having the right
to vote under the constitution of 1887, ever favored the existing
authority or annexation to this or any other country. They
earnestly desire that the government of their choice shall be
restored and its independence respected.

Mr. Blount states that while at Honolulu he did not meet a
single annexationist who expressed willingness to submit the
question to a vote of the people, nor did he talk with one on that
subject who did not insist that if the Islands were annexed suffrage
should be so restricted as to give complete control to foreigners



or whites. Representative annexationists have repeatedly made
similar statements to the undersigned.

The government of Hawaii surrendered its authority under a
threat of war, until such time only as the government of the
United States, upon the facts being presented to it, should rein-
state the constitutional sovereign, and the provisional govern-
ment was created, to exist until terms of union with the United
States of America have been negotiated and agreed upon. A
careful consideration of the facts will, I think, convince you
that the treaty which was withdrawn from the Senate for
further consideration should not be resubmitted for its action

Should not the great wrong done to a feeble but independent
State by an abuse of the authority of the United States be undone
by restoring the legitimate government? Anything short of that
will not, I respectfully submit, satisfy the demands of justice.

Can the United States consistently insist that other nations
shall respect the independence of Hawaii while not respecting it
themselves? Our government was the first to recognize the
independence of the Islands and it should be the last to acquire
sovereignty over them by force and fraud.

Respectfully submitted,

W. 0. Gresham.

The instructions to Albert S. Willis — our minister to
Honolulu, who was just starting — Judge Landis, who was
then private secretary to the Secretary of State, says were
dictated without a break, and, when transcribed in long-
hand, did not require a verbal change. They were drawn
immediately following a cabinet meeting at which it had
been decided to make public the preceding letter of the
Secretary of State to the President. The instructions to
Minister Willis did not come out until later.

Department of State, Washington, D. C.

October i8, 1893.
Sir: — Supplementing the general instructions which you have
received with regard to your official duties, it is necessary to


communicate to you, in confidence, special instructions for your
}:^idance in so far as concerns the relation of the government of
the United States toward the de facto government of the Hawaiian

The President deemed it his duty to withdraw from the Senate
the treaty of annexation which has been signed by the Secretary
of State and the agents of the provisional government, and to
dispatch a trusted representative to Hawaii to investigate impar-
tially the causes of the so-called revolution and ascertain and
report the true situation in those islands. This information was
needed the better to enable the President to discharge a delicate
and important public duty.

The instructions given to Mr. Blount, of which you are fur-
nished with a copy, point out a line of conduct to be observed by
him in his official and personal relations on the Islands, by which
you will be guided so far as the}^ are applicable and not incon-
sistent with*what is herein contained.

It remains to acquaint you with the President's conclusions
upon the facts embodied in Mr. Blount's reports and to direct
your course in accordance therewith.

The provisional government was not established by the Ha-
waiian people, or with their consent or acquiescence, nor has it
since existed with their consent. The queen refused to surrender
her powers to the provisional government until convinced that
the minister of the United States had recognized it as the de facto
authority, and would support and defend it with the military
force of the United States, and that resistance would precipitate
a bloody conflict with that force. She was advised and assured
by her ministers and by leaders of the movement for the over-
throw of her government, that if she surrendered under protest
her case would afterwards be fairly considered by the President
of the United States. The queen finally wisely yielded to the
armed forces of the United States then quartered in Honolulu,
relying upon the good faith and honor of the President, when
infomied of what had occurred, to undo the action of the minister
and reinstate her and the authority which she claimed as the
constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

After the patient examination of Mr. Blount's reports, the
President is satisfied that the movement against the queen, if


not instigated, was encouraged and supported by the represen-
tative of this government at Honolulu; that he promised in ad-
vance to aid her enemies in an effort to overthrow the Hawaiian
government and set up by force a new government in its place;
and that he kept his promise by causing a detachment of troops
to be landed from the Boston on the i6th of January, and by
recognizing the provisional government the next day when it
was too feeble to defend itself and while the constitutional govern-
ment was able successfully to maintain its authority against any
threatening force other than that of the United States already

The President has therefore determined that he will not send
back to the Senate for its action thereon the treaty which he
withdrew from that body for further consideration on the gth
day of March last.

On your arrival at Honolulu you will take advantage of an
early opportunity to inform the queen of this determination,
making known to her the President's sincere regret that the
reprehensible conduct of the American minister and the un-
authorized presence on land of a military force of the United
States obliged her to surrender her sovereignty, for the time
being, and rely on the justice of this government to undo the
flagrant wrong.

You will, however, at the same time inform the queen that,
when reinstated, the President expects that she will pursue a
magnanimous course by granting full amnesty to all who partici-
pated in the movement against her, including persons who are,
or have been, officially or otherwise, connected with the pro-
visional government, depriving them of no right or privilege which
they enjoyed before the so-called revolution. All obligations
created by the provisional government in due course of adminis-
tration should be assumed.

Having secured the queen's agreement to pursue this wise
and humane policy, which it is believed you will speedily obtain,
you will then advise the executive of the provisional government
and his ministers of the President's determination of the question
which their action and that of the queen devolved upon him, and
that they are expected promptly to relinquish to her her constitu-
tional authoritv.


Should the queen decline to pursue the Hberal course sug-
gested, or should the provisional government refuse to abide by
the President's decision, you will report the facts and await further

In carrying out these general instructions you will be guided
largely by your own good judgment in dealing with the delicate

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant,
Hon. Albert S. Willis. W. 0. Gresham.

The publication of the letter of October i8, as outlining
the policy of the administration — for it was anticipated
that Mr. Cleveland would approve it, as he did in his special
message to Congress two months later — riveted the atten-
tion of the entire country on Hawaii. The criticisms broke
forth afresh. Again my husband enjoyed the saying, that
"Judge Gresham is no diplomat." " His letter to the Presi-
dent is not a State paper but that of a judge of a court
after hearing a cause between two parties." It was thus
he intended it and he believed there was such a thing as
public morality, that "right and justice" should govern
the conduct of nations the same as that of individuals,
although there was no machinery except force known to
international law to control the former. The fear was
abroad in the land that the Secretary of State would use
the army and navy to put the queen back on her throne.
It would not have been an act of war to restore the
queen under the circumstances. And had she promptly
responded to his advice, the report to Congress would have
been that she had been restored. Her hesitancy to agree
to amnesty, "bloodthirstiness" it was called, made Mr.
Cleveland timid about acting, — instead, he referred the
matter to Congress. To restore her by force, it was argued,
would be an act of war that Congress alone could authorize,
but if so, this power, the Secretary of State believed and
argued. Congress should use.


From his home in Augusta, Maine, ex-Minister John
L. Stevens undertook to answer the statement and con-
clusions of the letter of October i8. He showed his base-
ness when he asserted that the queen was immoral, as a
reason for dethroning her. The report of Mr. Blount
asserted that this was not true. No reference would be
made here to Liliuokalani's private character but for the
fact that men of long diplomatic training, like Robert R.
Hitt of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of
Representatives, Senator Lodge, and others, used these
assertions of Minister Stevens to prejudice her case before
the American people.

One day at luncheon in the Arlington Hotel, former
Senator Edmunds joined my husband and myself. In the
Arthur administration my husband had advised President
Arthur, when it seemed that he could not be nominated, to
take his forces to Senator Edmunds. He and Senator
Edmunds had always been friends. Edmunds came to Mr.
Gresham as a friend, and said< that when he was in the
Senate and on the Foreign ^^taii^s Committee, if there was
any information in the possession of the State Department
which it would not be advisable to make public, upon the
representations of the Secretary of State to that effect to
the Committee on Foreign Relations, the request for the
information would not be pressed, that the information, if
of a confidential nature, could be disclosed to the com-
mittee and that that confidence would be observed.
"Now," said ex-Senator Edmunds, "if you will take the
Foreign Affairs Committee into your confidence and there
is anything that should not be made public, you can rely
upon its members observing confidence."

After the luncheon was over and Senator Edmunds had
left, Mr. Gresham said, "Senator Edmunds may be advising
me in good faith, but he is a most bitter partisan, and the
fact is, the telegrams that Senator Lodge and others de-
sire, as they well know, contain statements reflecting on the


character of the Hawaiian queen as a woman. The pur-
pose of the men in the Senate who are pressing for the
production of these telegrams is unfairly to influence the
public mind by statements that Minister Stevens should
never have put in his telegrams, statements that Blount's
report shows there was no basis for making." Then, after
a pause, "They will never get these telegrams." The
pressure continued great, but the telegrams never were
produced. Afraid of nothing but sin, as Henry Watterson
said, my husband did not believe that the weakness and
frailties of a woman, even if they existed, should be made
the basis for dethroning her, and he was willing to stand
all the odium and abuse that could be heaped upon him,
even by many whose own private morals were not above

Before Congress met, my husband believed that the
best thought and conscience of the nation were with him,
for he had the support of publicists like Henry Watterson,
Horace White, Carl Schurz, then editor of Harper s Weekly,
and men like ex-Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H.
Bristow and Honorable John E. Lamb, of Terre Haute,
Indiana, still a young man who had served in Congress
as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and
had been Senator Voorhees' law partner. Up on public
questions with the best of them, and against imperialism
from the beginning. Lamb's influence with Senator Voor-
hees and the other Indiana senator, Turpie, was — to use
one of Mr. Lincoln's phrases — "most helpful." Senator
Turpie was a member of the Committee on Foreign-Affairs,
and while he was for annexation, he had scruples. The
letters from the common people voiced their approval.

It was after the Blount report had been received, and
analyzed as only a man long trained in marshaling appar-
ently conflicting testimony can do, that on the 24th day
of September, 1893, Carl Schurz, after stating he had
opened up against the new policy of imperialism, wrote:


I thank you very much for the confidential communication
you make to me in your letter of the 14th inst. and appreciate
it highly. You can of course depend on my discretion. The
position you indicate as yours with regard to the Hawaiian busi-
ness is unquestionably the correct one. It will, however, be a
very delicate task completely to undo the mischief that has been

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 26 of 38)