Matilda Gresham.

Life of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) online

. (page 27 of 38)
Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

done. You are no doubt aware of the demagogic outcry bound
to assail every act of justice and good policy in this matter, but
I am glad to know that nothing of the kind will frighten you.

At this time the venerable Judge M. J. Bundy, one of
the founders of the Republican party, my husband's friend
and counselor in the Indiana legislature in 1861, wrote from
Newcastle, Indiana, the warning that "the Democratic
party has always been a party of annexation and grab, and
has never had any scruples as to how they got it." But
there was a new order of men and measures. The Secre-
tary of State had the practical politician — the man of the
machine — behind him as well as the sentimentalist, the
publicist, and the statesman.

At this time, before Congress met, Thomas Taggart,
who had already won his spurs in many "local affairs" and
who subsequently became a United States senator and then
chairman of the Indiana Democratic State Central Com-
mittee, sent word to Judge Gresham that he approved of
the proposed Hawaiian policy, and that he believed in a
great and pow^erful nation protecting instead of pulling
down a weak and helpless one. Mr. Taggart was speaking
from his heart, and that disposition of his to aid the weak
and helpless, and, what is more, deriving pleasure in grati-
fying it, has rightly contributed to his power and influence.

And there were men like Attorney- General Olney who
questioned the policy of the course to be pursued. Major
Bluford Wilson, through whom Secretary of State Gresham
had made public his purpose to vote for Graver Cleveland,
came to Washington to urge that the acquisition of the
Hawaiian Islands be accepted as an accomplished fact.


regardless of what had happened and how it had been
brought about.

Instead of Mr. Cleveland regarding and treating his
cabinet ministers as mere clerks, as it was charged, the
contrary was true. He gave a man his confidence and gen-
erally went with him to the logic of his conclusions. It was
Mr. Cleveland who first yielded to my husband's argument
that nothing short of the restoration of the queen — immoral
though she might be, as the Republicans claimed — would
be in keeping with justice and international morality, and
then up to a certain point he supported it with all his
personal force and official power.

John T. Morgan, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs
Committee of the United States Senate, was an imperialist,
an annexationist, a high protectionist, and an enemy of
the Cleveland administration from start to finish. Senator
George F. Gray, the next ranking member on the committee,
was an administration man of the finest ability and at-
tainments, but, to use Ambassador Bayard's expression, he
would not press the contest. The Secretary of State early
threw out his lines for Senator George G. Vest of Missouri,
who answered : ' ' While I am persona non grata at the White
House, / will come to the State Department. I am your friend
now as I have always been." He came and was primed
especially for Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts.
Missouri never entirely got out of the Union, but as far as
it went George G. Vest went with it and represented it in
the Confederate Congress. At this time, 1893, long a mem-
ber of the United States Senate, and one of its ablest de-
baters, he was always ready for Senator Hoar. He would
know in advance what Senator Hoar's position would be
and would write by special messenger to my husband for
data if he or some other Senator needed it. The forces
of the State Department never failed to supply him with
the data or precedents he wanted. Professor John Bassett
Moore was a mine of information, and whatever mav be


said about some of the judicial judgments of Kenesaw M.
Landis, his energy and abiHty to work and mix was pro-
digious, and with Secretary Gresham to guide, he made
no mistakes. Senator Vest's hatred of Grover Cleveland
was only equaled by the delight he took in exposing and
ridiculing some of the pretensions of New England to supe-
rior solicitude for the inferior races. "The Pilgrims fell
on their knees and then on the Aborigines."

But it was Senator Roger Q. Mills of Texas who lived up
to the sound morality of the situation to which Attorney-
General Olney would not go. Had Wendell Phillips^ been
alive he could have truthfully declared, "I would rather
have been born in Texas than Massachusetts." To Mr.
Mills my husband talked and wrote his views.

Finally the heat of the debate and the position of the
provisional government wearied Senator Hoar of the con-
flict. He had a good heart. Privately he sent my husband
word he would quit and he did. Afterwards he made him-
self famous by his speeches in opposition to the purchase
of the Philippines. And the pressing home of the morals
of the position of the Cleveland administration in the
Hawaiian debate to men of conscience like George F. Hoar,
determined his position and that of many others when it
came to the adoption of a permanent colonial policy in the

It won back the support and confidence of men like
William E. Mason of Illinois, who was one of Walter Q.
Gresham's most loyal and efficient supporters in the 1888
Convention, and who had most bitterly resented the vote
for Grover Cleveland. To United States Senator Mason it
was due, more than any other man, that the United States
kept faith with Cuba.

November 16, Mr. Willis had an interview alone with
the queen in which he acquainted her with his instructions
to restore her provided she would accord complete amnesty
to the members of the provisional government and accept

iSee Introduction; also pages 53 and 103.


the validity of all its official acts. This she refused to do,
because she said the constitution required the death penalty
in all cases of treason.

That day he made a full report of the interview, includ-
ing a stenographic copy, and sent the following telegram:
"Views of the first party so extreme as to require further
instructions. "

This telegram was received in Washington on Novem-
ber 24. The letter had not yet arrived and did not arrive
until December 16. At this time there was no cable be-
tween Honolulu and San Francisco. Mr. Willis was able
to get his telegram on the steamer leaving the i6th, but
not his letter. The telegram reached Washington the 24th,
and was answered briefly that day as follows:

The brevity and uncertainty of your telegrams are embar-
rassing. You will insist upon amnesty and recognition of the
obligations of the provisional government as essential conditions
of restoration. All interests will be promoted by prompt action.

Then, on December 3, the following dispatch was sent
to Mr. Willis :

Your dispatch which was answered by steamer of the 25th
of November seems to call for additional instructions. Should
the queen refuse assent to the written conditions, you will at once
inform her that the President will cease interposition in her behalf,
and that while he deems it his duty to endeavor to restore to the
sovereign the constitutional government of the Islands, his further
efforts in that direction will depend upon the queen's unqualified
agreement that all obligations created by the provisional govern-
ment in a proper course of administration shall be assumed and
upon such pledges by her as will prevent the adoption of any
measures of prescription or punishment for what has been done in
the past by those setting up or supporting the provisional govern-

Should the queen ask whether if she accedes to these conditions
active steps will be taken by the United States to effect her resto-
ration or to maintain her authority thereafter, you will say the
President cannot use force without the authority of Congress.


Should the queen accept conditions and the provisional govern-
ment refuse to surrender, you will be governed by previous instruc-
tions. If the provisional government asks whether the United
States will hold the queen to a fulfillment of the stipulated con-
ditions, you will say, the President acting under the dictates of
honor and duty as he has done in endeavoring to effect restoration,
will do all in his constitutional power to cause the observance of
the conditions he has imposed.

In his annual message of December 4, 1893, Mr. Cleve-
land promised he would send to Congress later a special
message on the situation in Hawaii. Meanwhile Mr. Willis's
letter of Novem.ber 16 arrived, and on December 18 this
special message w^ent to Congress:

Though I am not able now to report a definite change in the
actual situation, I am convinced that the difficulties lately
created both here and in Hawaii are now standing in the way
of solution through executive action of the problem presented,
and render it proper and expedient that the matter should be
referred to the broader authority and discretion of Congress, with
a full explanation of the endeavor thus far made to deal with the
emergency and a statement of the considerations which have
governed my action.

The conditions suggested, as the instructions show, contem-
plate a general amnesty to those concerned in setting up the
provisional government, and a recognition of all its bona fide
acts and obligations. In short, they require that the past should
be buried, and that the restored government should resume its
authority as if its continuity had not been interrupted. These
conditions have not proved acceptable to the queen, and though
she had been informed that they will be insisted upon, and that
unless acceded to, the efforts of the President to aid in the resto-
ration of her government will cease, I have not thus far learned
that she is willing to yield them her acquiescence. The check
which my plans have encountered has prevented their presenta-
tion to the members of the provisional government, while unfor-
tunate public misrepresentation of the situation and exaggerated
statements of the sentiments of our people have obviously injured
the prospects of .successful executive mediation.


In the next place, upon the face of the papers submitted with
the treaty, it clearly appeared that there was an open and unde-
termined issue of facts of the most vital importance. The message
of the President (Febmary 15, 1893) accompanying the treaty
declared that the "overthrow of the monarchy was not in any
way promoted by this government." But a protest also accom-
panied this treaty signed by the queen and her ministers at the
time she made way for the provisiotial government, which explic-
itly stated that she yielded to the superior force of the United
States, whose minister had caused United States troops to be
landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support such
provisional government.

The truth or falsity of this protest was surely of the first
importance, yet the truth or falsity of the protest had not been

In the midst of the so-called revolution the Committee of
Public Safety addressed. Minister Stevens a note in which they
said, "We are unable to protect ourselves without aid and there-
fore pray for the protection of the United States forces." When
this note was written, the committee, so far as it appears, had
neither a man or a gun at their command.

A little further along he said: "Indeed, the representatives
of that government say that the people of Hawaii are unfit for
popular government and frankly avow that they can best be
ruled by arbitrary or despotic power."

Expressions or sentences like the following in the mes-
sage, it was said at the time, were the utterances of a judge
or chancellor:

Our country was in danger of occupying the position of hav-
ing actually set up a temporary government on foreign soil for
the purpose of acquiring through that agency territory which we
had wrongfully put in its possession. The control of both sides
of a bargain acquired in such a manner is called by a familiar
and unpleasant name when found in private transactions.

I mistake the American people if they favor the odious doctrine
that there is no such thing as international morality.

The law of nations is founded upon reason and justice, and the
rules of conduct governing individual relations between citizens


or subjects of a civilized State are equally applicable as between
enlightened nations. The consideration that international law
is without a court for its enforcement, and that obedience to its
commands practically depends upon good faith instead of upon
the mandate of a superior tribunal, only gives additional sanction
to the law itself and brands any deliberate infraction of it not
merely as a wrong but as a disgrace. .4 man of true honor protects
the unwritten word which binds his conscience more scrupulously,
if possible, than he does the bond, a breach of which subjects him
to legal liabilities: and the United States in aiming to maintain
itself as one of the most enlightened of nations would do its citi-
zens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any
other than a high standard of honor and morality. On that
ground the United States cannot be properly put in the position
of countenancing a wrong after its commission any more than in
that of consenting to it in advance. On that ground it cannot
allow itself to refuse to redress an injury inflicted through an
abuse of power by offlcers clothed with its authority and wearing
its uniforms: and on the same ground, if a feeble but friendly
State is in danger of being robbed of its independence and sover-
eignty by a misuse of the name and power of the United States,
the United States cannot fail to vindicate its honor and its sense
of justice by an earnest effort to make all possible reparation.

Intense was the interest when this message was read,
and bitter the opposition of the Democrats in the Senate
to the request of Senator W. E. Chandler of New Hamp-
shire for the immediate reading of the Secretary of State's
instructions to Mr. WilHs, those of October 18, November
25, and December 3, 1893. For a half day the debate went
on. Finally Senator Voorhees threw his weight against the
attempt to gain a partisan advantage, contrary to the uni-
form custom of the Senate, by allowing only part of the
public documents that accompanied a message to be read.
Then Senator Chandler, who, we have already shown, had
revealed to my husband his sympathy for the course of the
administration and who actually knew what was in these
dispatches, declared that he was no partisan and proved


it by reminding the Senate that he had served all through
the special session of the summer before, under the leader-
ship of that distinguished financier, the chairman of the
Finance Committee, the Senator from Indiana, in support-
ing a Democratic administration in repealing the purchasing
clause of the Sherman Act. The humor of the situation
dawned on them. Unanimous consent was given, the in-
structions were read, and one of the criticisms of the critics
was silenced, namely, that it had been the purpose of the
Secretary of State and of the President, without the con-
sent of Congress, to use force in restoring the queen.

Still the criticism was made that the Secretary of State
had all but threatened to make war on the provisional
government; and that instead of answering the inquiry of
the representative of the provisional government when the
latter called at the State Department (prefacing the question
that that government could not and would not undertake
to resist the forces of the United States) , as to whether the
executive branch of the government of the United States
proposed to use the army and navy to restore the queen,
the Secretary of State replied, "I commend to you a study
of the Constitution and laws of the United States." The
connection was manifested when Senator Morgan of Ala-
bama supported the resolution (which did not pass) of
Senator Fry of Maine that, pending the investigation of
the situation in Hawaii, there should be no interference on
the part of the government of the United States by moral or
physical force for the restoration of Liliuokalani. Indeed,
as Senator Mills remarked in the Senate, "Politics makes
strange bedfellows." Senator Morgan was virulent and vin-
dictive toward Mr. Cleveland and the Secretary of State,
and on one occasion, it was said, a meeting of the Foreign
Affairs Committee of the Senate was suddenly adjourned
to prevent the chairman of that committee from coming to
blows with the Secretary of State.

Little progress did Senator Morgan ever make with his


bill for the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal. vSenator
Turpie made an elaborate argument against it and the
administration went to the people of Alabama and brought
him to his knees.

On December 19, 1893, Mr. Willis secured the queen's
written assent to the required conditions and called on the
provisional government and made known his instructions,
acquainted it that he had the queen's written guaranty of
amnesty and assumption of all the acts of the provisional
government in the ordinary course of administration, and
requested it to relinquish to 'the queen her government.

It was through one of her former ministers and the
British minister to Hawaii that the queen was prevailed
on to agree to the terms our government demanded be-
fore restoring her. The action of the British minister in
this affair shows the absurdity of the claim of the jingoists
that Great Britain was scheming to secure the Islands.
Afterwards Liliuokalani complained that her mistake in
refusing the conditions offered in the first instance was that
she was without any competent adviser, and that her long
silence was due to the fact that Minister Willis had cautioned
her to keep inviolably secret the proposition he had made
to her, which she had done until he advised her to take
counsel of some one or two of her friends. This action was
after Mr. Willis received the telegrams of November 25
and December 3. Mr. Willis cautioned silence on her part
because he said he feared that a premature publication of
his plans might result in Liliuokalani 's assassination. Cer-
tain it is that she showed a man's ability to keep a secret,
also courage both moral and physical of the highest order,
even if her first impulses, which my husband did not think
should have been counted against her, were not humane.

Afterwards she complained that the men who were
waging the unequal contest against her were given every
opportunity to counsel and advise before making an answer.
She refused to be bought off by her enemies in Hawaii or

H AW All 767

in the United States; that is, to accept any of the crown
lands in Hawaii or any money compensation from the United
States. So she made good her protest to the last.

The answer of the provisional government was handed
to Mr. Willis December 23, 1893. It reached Washington
January 12, 1894, was answered that day, and was sent
to the Senate and House January 13, together with all
correspondence between Mr. Willis and the queen and the
provisional government from November 16, 1893. The
only document withheld was Mr. Stevens's dispatch No. 70
to Mr. Blaine, and that never was produced.

And now for the position of the provisional government
through its president, who signed himself, "Sanford B. Dole,
Minister of Foreign Affairs."

My position is briefly this: If the American forces illegally
assisted the revolutionists in the provisional government, that
government is not responsible for their wrong-doing. It was
purel}' a private matter for discipline between the United States
government and its own officers. There is, I submit, no prece _
dent in international law for the theory that such action of the
American troops has conferred upon the United States authority
over the officials of this government. Should it be true, as you
have suggested, that the American government made itself re-
sponsible to the queen, who, it is alleged, lost her throne through
such action, that is not a matter for me to discuss, except to submit
that if such be the case, it is a matter for the American govern-
ment and her to settle between them. This government, a recog-
nized sovereign power, equal in authority with the United States
government and enjoying domestic relations with it, cannot be
destroyed by it for the sake of discharging its obligations to
the ex-queen. . . .

Upon these grounds [the foregoing, and the denial that the pro-
visional government had agreed that the President of the United
States should arbitrate the differences between it and the queen],
Mr. Minister, in behalf of my government, I respectfully pro-
test against the usurpation of its authority as suggested by the
language of your communication.




Such ingenuous language from the son of a missionary
born in Honolulu but educated at Williams College, and
his legal education acquired in a Boston law office, while it
might, as it did, receive the sanction of the narrow technical
lawyer, shocked the judicial conscience. From the chan-
cery side swift work would have been made of such '' pre-
tenses ^ But the question then was before Congress, whose
power was complete and duty plain in the premises, as both
President Cleveland and the Secretary of State stated in
their answer to Mr. Willis, which was then sent to Congress
along with Mr. Dole's communication to Mr. Willis.

The President entertains a different view of his responsibility
and duty limited to dealing with our own unfaithful officials and
that he can take no steps looking to the correction of the wrong
done. The subversion of the Hawaiian government by an abuse of
the authority of the United States was in plain violation of inter-
national law. It required the President to disavow and condemn
the act of our offending officials, and within the limits of his con-
stitutional power to endeavor to restore the lawful authority.

It was this language and conduct in keeping with it that
silenced the criticisms of the senior Senator from Massa-
chusetts on the Cleveland administration, although it then
failed to elevate him to the support of its honorable and
high moral position, a position which Senator Hoar took
five years later, and a position which I venture will be the
position of the American people and this government in
the future.

This language and subsequent conduct explains why
Hawaii, instead of being a State, as was originally con-
templated, is now not even under a territorial government
popular in form; that is, that it never can be a State of
this Union. Its government is like that of the District of
Columbia, under a governor appointed by the President
of the United States. In this governor is centered all
executive and much of legislative power. The judges are
appointed by the President.


June 16, 1897, a treaty of annexation between the United
States and the Repubhc was sent to the Senate. The oH-
garchy after its failure to secure annexation under President
Cleveland's administration, changed its form and name to
that of the Republic of Hawaii. But the treaty failing to
receive the constitutional two-thirds vote of the Senate,
annexation was brought about by a joint resolution of
both Houses which only required a majority vote — not the
way contemplated by the framers of the constitution for
the annexation. Senator Hoar was not enthusiastic in the
acquisition for he foresaw it meant the taking over of the
Philippines and imperialism.

To show the intensity of the feeling, Isador Raynor,
a member of Congress from Mar^dand, from his home in
Baltimore January i, 1894, wrote to the Secretary of State
for certain data, and requesting that he ask the Speaker to
recognize him immediately following James B. McCreary,
chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. "We will,"
said Mr. Raynor, "set aside the debate on the tariff and
debate and sustain the report of the Foreign Affairs Com-
mittee, approving the action of the administration and con-
demning that of Minister Stevens." The debate began in
the House February 2 and lasted until February 7, with a
Sunday intervening.

McCreary of Kentucky, Raynor of Maryland, Money of
Mississippi, Patterson of Tennessee, General "Joe" Wheeler
of Alabama, Gates of Alabama, McDonald of Illinois, Gen-
eral Black of Illinois, Hall of Minnesota, Outhwaite of Ohio,

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 38)