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

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Everett and Hooker of Mississippi, sustained the admin-
istration, while Robert R. Hitt led oif against it, followed
by these Republicans : Blair of New Hampshire, Draper and
Morse of Massachusetts, Boutelle of Maine, Van Voorhis
of New York, Post of Illinois, Lacy of Michigan, Storer
of Ohio, and Hepburn of Iowa.

The queen's first refusal to grant amnesty lost her the


support of Congress, but the critics of the administration
were not spared. Said DeSota Money, "I also heartily
endorse his [Hitt's] proposition that the white race shall
and ought to be dominant wherever on the face of the
globe they assert their ascendency." But Mississippi chi-
valry was above even wantonly attacking a colored woman's
character, so he condemned the attack of Messrs. Stevens
and Hitt on the queen's personal character and put this
question to Mr. Hitt: "With how many courts of Europe
would we have diplomatic relations if we were to go into
the private character of their rulers?"

Then by a vote of 177 yeas to 78 nays, 96 present but not
voting, the resolution as reported by Mr. McCreary of the
Foreign Affairs Committee was adopted, — that the action
of the United States minister in employing the United
States naval forces, and in illegally aiding in overthrowing
the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Islands and
setting up in its place a provisional government, not repub-
lican in form and in opposition to the will of the majority
of the people, was contrary to the traditions of our Republic
and the spirit of our Constitution, and should be and is

In the Senate the administration did not fare quite so
well, for Senator Morgan did all he could to embarrass it,
but in the end he was forced to indorse its action.

The debate continued in the Senate until February,
1895. And in the meantime "that free trade measure,"
th«. Wilson Bill, which the Sugar Trust and the New Eng-
land Senators, led by Senator Aldrich, had such a hand in
revamping in the Senate, had passed.

Senator Mills of Texas did not need any coaching from
start to finish, but many of his facts and arguments were
furnished him by the Secretary of State. I still hold the
copies of the letters that were written to the Texas Senator.

He read from the Republican party platform of 1856:


Resolved, That the highwayman's plea that "might makes right;"
embodied in the Ostend circular, was in every respect unworthy
of American diplomacy, and would bring shame and dishonor up-
on any government or people that gave it their sanction.

The Republicans declared that the proposal to seize
Cuba was the doctrine of the highwayman, and yet, when
the armed forces of the United States seized the Hawaiian
Islands, put the United States flag over them and declared
a protectorate over them, making the United States respon-
sible for them, asserted that that was a wise policy, a highly
moral and highly Christian policy.

Senators Lodge and Hoar had made much of the letter
of credence of Mr. Willis in which President Dole of the
provisional republic was addressed by President Cleveland
as his "Great and Good Friend." Senator Mills rung the
changes on President Harrison's letter to his "Great and
Good Friend" Liliuokalani, accrediting Minister Stevens to
her and commending him to her "confidence."

I have intrusted this gentleman to present to you this expres-
sion of my wishes and commend him to your confidence as the
trusted agent of the government of the United States in Hawaii.

In the full belief he will deserve the confidence and that his
mission will serve to draw still closer, if possible, the friendly
relations of the two countries, I pray God to have Your Majesty
in His wise keeping. Your Good Friend,

Benjamin Harrison.

The queen did confide in him, and he as the ambassador
and representative of the government of the United States
used the armed power of this country to destroy an innocent
and helpless people in order that New England corpora-
tions (forty of them) might get possession of their property,
own their sugar plantations, and wring out of the pockets
of the American people a bounty which the sugar corpo-
rations have received to the amount of more than $51,000,-
000 since the treaty was made. This was done by New


England and other corporations of the United States —
mostly from the section of the country where its great
capital is massed.

The Queen's crime (Mr. Mills said) was wanting the land for
her own people. Mr. President, that poor woman was told in
her agonies and while surrounded by a cordon of bayonets, that
Great Britain once restored that government when an unauthor-
ized naval officer had torn down the flag and hoisted the British
flag. She was asked, "Why not rely on your good friend Ben-
jamin Harrison? Can you not rely upon the President of the
United States to do you justice and restore you?"

Of course, Senator Mills was for restoring the status quo.

The Queen of the Hawaiian Islands was the representative
of the people of the Hawaiian Islands. Among all the barbaric,
half-civilized, and savage people no such thing as popular govern-
ment is known. Popular government can exist only in the domain
of high and exalted civilization; there must be public virtue and
public intelligence to support a representative government spring-
ing from the consent of the governed. Rude people have what they
call a chief, a king, and to whom they give other titles. These
rulers represent them, and they are the choice of their people.

But whether the old government of Hawaii was right or wrong
in form is not for us to discuss; it was the government of the
Hawaiian Islands, and it was overthrown by the armed power of
the United States.

Place us back again where you found us. We are disarmed
and you have disarmed us.

There was no reason, Mr. Mills contended, why the Re-
publicans should not do this. At the behest of the Sugar
Trust they united with England and Germany in "selecting,
appointing, and maintaining" Malietoa as king of the
Samoan Islands, while they deposed and kept in jail the
native chieftain Mataafa in the Marshall Islands, which
belong to Germany. This joint protectorate over Samoa,
Secretary of State Gresham was saying, should be dis-
solved, and Senator Teller said that it should never have
been entered into.

Continuing, Senator Mills said:

HAWAII • 773

I was a member of the House when Speaker Blaine, a Repub-
lican Congress, and a Republican President received the Hawaiian
king, the predecessor of Liliuokalani. There was nothing said
then against his being king. They wanted to negotiate the sugar
treaty. New England capitalists wanted to get the sugar lands
of the king. They have them now. Now royal rule is in the
way. The poor painted queen had sympathy for her people : she
wanted homes for them, not on top of the mountains, on some of
which Mr. Thurston says one can sit astride. She wanted some
portion of the land which had belonged to her people centuries
ago, but the sugar trust wanted it also and they were more
powerful than the queen. Over $30,000,000 of the $75,000,000
of the sugar trust stock is held in New England.

Mr. Mills criticized Mr. Cleveland for not receiving the
Hawaiian commissioners, who on August 11, 1894, called
on the Secretary of State and requested in writing an
audience with the President. "He should have received
them and told them that he sympathized with their people
and regretted the wrongs done them; that he had reported
their case to Congress; that Congress had turned away
from them, as they turn away sometimes from the best
interests of their own people, and he was powerless to grant
their request."

Instead of "Access to the Conscience of the American
People," the history of their wrongs must stop in the waste
basket of the diplomatic representative of the government
which our troops helped to establish, and against which
they complain.

Senators Aldrich, Hale, and Fry were hurt to the quick
by Senator Mills adverting to the unjust stories the New
York Evening Post and other papers were publishing about
their connection with the Sugar Trust and Hawaiian bonds
that could be bought for twenty-five cents on the dollar.

Only the queen's own words defeated her restoration.
Her "bloodthirstiness," as it was called, made Mr. Cleve-
land and many of the leading Democratic Senators timid
about acting, that is, restoring the status quo, or the queen


to the throne, and reporting her restoration as an accom-
plished fact. The only way to preserve society and govern-
ment, as we understand it, my husband said, was to do
justice in the particular case, and he believed he could do
it in Lilioukalani's case, and save the lives of every one of
her rebellious subjects. As Lord Mansfield said in the
Negro Case, "We will do justice though the Heavens fall."^
Annexation was rejected but the provisional government
was not recognized. The resolutions of the Foreign Affairs
Committee — there were several sets and many introduced
by various Senators not members of that committee —
were redrafted on the floor of the Senate (in which Senator
Vest took the lead) and were passed in the following form,
February 28, 1894:

Resolved: That of right it belongs wholly to the people of the
Hawaiian Islands to establish and maintain their own form of
government and domestic policy: that the United States ought
in no wise to interfere therewith, and that any intervention in
the political affairs of their Islands by any other government will
be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States.

The population of the Hawaiian Islands at this time was
89,990: 15,301 Chinese, 12,360 Japanese, 8,602 Portuguese
(very few of whom could read and write), 1,344 British,
1,298 Americans, 1,034 Germans, 588 Polynesians, 227 Nor-
wegians, 70 French, 419 scattering, and 40,622 Hawaiians and
half-castes. Of the Hawaiians and half-castes, 12,721 could
read and write. Unfitted for a popular government, they
were happy and contented under the government of their
choice, their queen, asserted Senator Mills. And certainly
an oligarchy was no better than a constitutional monarchy.

January 26, 1895, the Senate declared for a policy of
non-intervention and approved President Cleveland's acts
in carrying it out. During the month of January, 1895, a
feeble and unsuccessful attempt was made to overthrow the
Hawaiian Republic.

1 See page 38.


On February 9, a message came via steamer as far as
San Francisco, from Minister Willis, saying that thirty-eight
of the rebels had been tried by a court-martial, a number
condemned to death, others banished, while two hundred
remained to be tried. Notwithstanding the declaration of
non-intervention that the Senate had passed a few days
before. Secretary Gresham, without waiting even to consult
President Cleveland, cabled Minister Willis to call on the
officers of the Republic of Hawaii and demand a suspension
of the execution of the condemned. A report as to the
evidence on which the judgments were based was imme-
diately transmitted to Congress.

In the Senate, Senator Morgan said we had adopted a
policy of non-intervention in Hawaii, to which he was
opposed, and in view of it we had no concern with their
affairs. For himself he said he would have more respect
for Hawaii if she shot a traitor than if she forgave him.
"But the best thing for the United States to do is to keep
out of this new phase of the subject."

But Republican Senators like Hawley and Hale vigor-
ously dissented from Mr. Morgan's policy and said that
"while the American people have thus far sympathized
with the efforts to establish a republican form of govern-
ment in Hawaii, there will be a speedy change if this bar-
barous course is pursued."

Mr. Willis reported that it was Secretary Gresham's
cable that saved the lives of all the condemned.

If the Hawaiian policy was unpopular with the jingoists,
it was not with the representatives of Mexico, of the Cen-
tral and South American Republics, and with China and
Japan. The representative European countries marveled
at the moderation of our government and of its declining
to take Hawaii under the circumstances, although it was
recognized that in the face of the opinion of the court, as
was contemptuously said, there was no other conclusion
than that arrived at. The representatives of Mexico, the


Central American and South American States, and China
took it as conclusive, as Minister Romero of Mexico said,
"that there was no design on the part of the American
•nation to aggrandize itself at the expense of its weaker
neighbors. Every one regards the United States as our
friend, and the letter of October i8, 1893, the greatest
State paper from America on foreign relations."^

After my husband's death there was a mass meeting
of Hawaiians at which they expressed their sympathy in
a set of resolutions which I copy :

Whereas, Mr. Gresham, as Secretary of State, was called
upon to inquire into the affairs of Hawaii, owing to the wrongs
done to our sovereign and people by representatives of the United
States of America : and

Whereas, after a full and patient examination Mr. Gresham
decided that our sovereign and the true people of Hawaii had been
wrongfully treated, and that the President and people of the
United States ought to repair the wrongs done by the servants
of that great people: and

Whereas, in all his acts in our behalf Mr. Gresham showed a
high sense of justice and mercy and great courage : and

Whereas, Mr. Gresham was in no way responsible for the
continuance of the wrongs under which we still suffer:

Therefore, we, in the hour of their bereavement, extend
our sincere sympathy to Mrs Gresham and her children.

1 Mr. Gresham's course in the case of Hawaii is in my opinion the most creditable act
to himself and to his country of the long list of distinguished public services rendered by him
during his incumbency of the Department of State.

It is useless to discuss whether Mr. Gresham or President Cleveland was the originator
of that policy. It throws plenty of high honor on both of them. And from the light of
subsequent events Mr. Gresham deserves a great deal of credit. It is in my opinion, more
than enough to stamp Mr. Gresham as one of the greatest statesmen of this country even
if he had done nothing else.

From the records it appears that Mr. Gresham originated it in his report of October
18, 1893, to the President, just mentioned, although it met with the most cordial approval
from the President in his message to Congress December 18, 1893, the date of Mr. Gresham's




OF GREAT Britain's claims upon Nicaragua — investiga-



'T^HE part that our government played in overcoming the
-^ insurrection which had for its object the restoration
of the monarchy in Brazil, perhaps because of the stirring
events that were contemporaneous with and succeeded
that incident, seems to have attracted little attention from
historians. We heard much of it at the time. Almost
daily the Brazilian minister, Salvador de Mendonga, called
at our apartments. He was a very able man and was a
firm believer in the Monroe Doctrine. At my husband's
instance Seflor Mendonga wrote an exposition of the
Monroe Doctrine for the newspapers. Whatever its ori-
gin — English, Henry Watterson claims, at the instance
of Lord Canning to resist the aggression of the Holy
Alliance — Sefior Mendonga, a Roman Catholic, and his
countrymen, converts to a popular form of government
as opposed to monarchy and imperialism, were in favor
of the powerful republic to the north standing as guardian
of all the struggling peoples to the south, that no European
nation might permanently occupy any part of the Western
Hemisphere, Canada excepted.



November 15, 1889, the monarchy in Brazil was over-
thrown and a repubhc was estabHshed. The republic went
along well until September 7, 1893, when most of the Bra-
zilian navy, under the leadership of Admiral De Mello,
revolted. On land the republic retained its ascendancy
under the leadership of Marshal Peixoto. The insurgents
undertook to blockade the harbor at Rio Janeiro. Admiral
Da Gama joined them with more ships for the avowed
purpose of restoring the monarchy. The sympathy of the
British shipping interests at Rio, the activity of the mon-
archists in Lisbon, London, and Paris, and the large sums
of money spent by the Due de Montpensier of Spain, the
head of the Bourbon family and immensely rich, made it
a question of much concern to our government. Ambassa-
dor Bayard was in constant private correspondence as well
as official correspondence with the Secretary of State.

While the insurgents had not been accorded belligerent
rights by any of the governments of Europe, when the
captains of eight American merchantmen of Rio appealed
to the Secretary of the Navy for protection to enable them
to land their cargoes, they received answer that he was
without authority to instruct Captain Pickering, the Ameri-
can naval commander, in the premises. Then complaints
came to the State Department from W. S. Grossman &
Brother of New York, and Isadore Strauss wrote to the head
of the State Department vouching for Grossman & Brother
and furnishing indisputable proof of the activities of the
Brazilian insiirgents and of their attempts to purchase a
Grecian ironclad.

In the answer to Mr. Strauss, Secretary Gresham wrote :

The administration has not neglected anything necessary
for the protection of American interests at Rio, and I can say
to you in confidence, that should European powers attempt to
reestablish the monarchy in Brazil, the Monroe Doctrine will
not only be asserted by the administration but maintained. I
will not risk repeating here the instructions which have been sent


to Mr. Bayard upon this subject. Of course, you will understand
the importance of not letting this be made public.

When Rear-Admiral Stanton saluted the insurgent flag,
he was recalled and Rear-Admiral Benham was sent in his
stead. Admiral Benham reached Rio January 15, 1894.
He had his flagship, the San Francisco, also the Newark,
Charleston, and Detroit, all new cruisers. What Admiral
Benham's instructions were will be revealed by what he
did. Meanwhile the American merchantmen at Rio were
advised through their owners to apply to Admiral Benham
for protection.

With his long legislative experience and his four years at
the head of the State Department, Thomas F. Bayard was
one of the most efficient representatives the United States
ever had at the Court of St. James. In Parliament Mr.
Gladstone stated that the English government was doing
all within international usage to protect British interests
at Rio. And in Washington, Sir Julian Pauncefote was
induced to make the announcement that the British ships
at Rio were not to be used to sustain the revolting Brazilian
war vessels.

Soon after his arrival, on January 18, Admiral Benham
sent word to Marshal Peixoto, president of the Brazilian
Republic, that he would be willing, as an individual, to
intervene to bring the naval revolt to an honorable termi-
nation. Before an answer came from the Brazilian presi-
dent, American ship captains complained that they were
being fired on by Admiral Da Gama. The captain of the
Amy from Baltimore, loaded with flour, reported to Admiral
Benham that it was necessary for him to get to the wharf
soon, as the flour would spoil in that hot climate. The
Amy and the other American ship were being held in the
offing by the insurgent ships. Copies of these written
complaints Admiral Benham sent to Admiral Da Gama
with a written communication in which he said the firing
on American vessels must cease, and that on the following


day, January 28, he would convoy the schooner Amy to the
wharf of the consignee and would sink any vessel that op-
posed the Amy's progress to the quay. As the inhabitants
had not been accorded belligerent rights, Admiral Benham
said in this communication to Admiral Da Gama that the
insurgents would be pirates if they fired on the Amy.

Then, in plain view of the Brazilian fleet, Admiral Ben-
ham "stripped his ships for action." On the morning of
the 29th the Amy, with the Detroit on her right, in order to
be between her and the insurgent ships, and with the other
American war vessels following, started for the quay.
Soon the Liberdade, Da Gama's flagship, fired a blank shot
as a signal to the Amy to stop. The Detroit answered with
a musket, the ball of which struck the Guanabara; then,
seizing his speaking trumpet. Captain Bronson of the
Detroit hailed Admiral Da Gama and said, "I have fired
and struck your ship. If you fire again, I will sink you."
Da Gama answered, 'T surrender." The Amy soon reached
the quay, and it was no longer necessary for the president
of the Brazilian Republic to consider the good offices of
the American admiral. The insurrection was ended. This
was the last attempt on the Western Hemisphere to estab-
lish a monarchy. The Brazilians wanted Da Gama turned
over to them, but this was not done and he went to Eu-
rope. Although there was not much in the papers about
the part Secretary Gresham took in this affair, every South
American diplomat knew what he did. It was one of the
things that gave him the confidence of that class.

But the Monroe Doctrine, as Secretary Gresham inter-
preted it, could not be made the cloak for oppression by any
American nation or the pretext to escape its international

Kenesaw Mountain Landis, named after the mountain
before which his father was wounded during the Civil War,
explains why Da Gama was so ready to surrender to Cap-
tain Bronson. When it became apparent that the effort to


restore the monarchy would fail, Mendonga, the Brazilian
minister, informed Secretary Gresham that the Brazilian
government had reason to believe it was arranged that the
British fleet should give asylum to the revolutionary com-
mander, Admiral Da Gama. Thereupon Secretary Gres-
ham had an interview with Sir Julian Pauncefote and it
was agreed that that should not be done. Shortly there-
after, a cablegram reached Secretary Gresham at midnight
from Brazil, informing him that the British flagship had
taken the revolutionary commander Da Gama aboard un-
der cover of darkness. "Get a carriage, Landis. We must
go and see Sir Julian." At two o'clock in the morn-
ing, the darkness of the British Embassy was broken by
lights from cellar to garret, as excited lackeys and secre-
taries hastily gathered in answer to the summons of their
chief. Greeting the Secretary of State Sir Julian desired
to know, "To what am I indebted for the favor of this
call? " Secretary Gresham replied, "Sir JuHan, I have word
from Brazil that your flagship has taken Da Gama aboard.
Of course that is not true. You and I know it is not true,
but I must be able to tell the President and Cabinet when
we meet this morning that it is not true. Good morning,
Sir Julian." Before the Cabinet met at 11 o'clock that
morning. Sir Julian had called at the State Department and
informed the Secretary of State that he had cabled the
British Foreign Offlce, which, through the British Admir-
alty, had communicated with the flagship in the harbor of
Rio, and Da Gama had been put back on his own ship.

For almost fifty years, notwithstanding the Clayton-
Bulwer treaty, which provided for the neutralization of a
canal at or near the Isthmus and the independence of Cen-
tral America, Great Britain had claimed sovereignty in the
Bluefield Reservation of Nicaragua through the Mosquito
Indians. By the treaty of Mandgua of January 28, i860,
between Great Britain and Nicaragua, Great Britain had
asserted the independence of the Indians and her right to


protect them. In construing this treaty of Mandgua, the

Online LibraryMatilda GreshamLife of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 38)