An Annexation Time-Line
Sometimes its easier to understand the weight of duplicity by seeing the sequence of events unfold and in this way appreciate the larger scheme of history. Here, we present a time-line of the events which swept Hawai`i into annexation by the United States during that crucial period 1897-98.
March 1897: Grover Cleveland leaves office having served two terms. William McKinley, having won over William Jennings Bryan, becomes President.
A McKinley campaign plank:“The Hawaiian Islands should be controlled by the United States and no foreign power should be permitted to interfere with them.”
– Stolen Kingdom, Budnick, at p. 170
June 16, 1897: Treaty of Annexation of Hawai`i to the United States signed and forwarded to U.S. Senate for ratification,
where it was rejected. See page 6342 of the Congressional Record – Senate (See Queen Liliuokalani’s protest June 17, 1897)
September 9, 1897: The Provincial Government (occupying force) Senate Ratifies
September 14: U.S. Senator John T. Morgan of Alabama, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, appeared in Hawai`i, leading a contingent of fellow annexationist of the U.S. Congress (Congressmen Joseph G. Cannon of Illinois, James A. Tawney of Minnesota, Henry C. Loudenslager of New Jersey, and Albert S. Berry of Kentucky). Morgan was author of the Morgan report of early 1894 – an attempt to refute the findings of President Cleveland’s Special Commissioner to Hawai`i, James Blount. Special Commissioner Blount (see Blount Report- it’s 1500+ pages I’ve not gotten it all in readable form but I can tell you were to get it.) had uncovered a multitude of violations of international law and of American foreign policy in the U.S. conduct in Hawai`i during the events of the overthrow. Morgan insisted that the U.S. conduct was appropriate. Now for the first time in Hawai`i, Morgan was trying to boost the annexation attempt on-going in the Congress. Arriving on September 14, he engaged in public speeches and newspaper interviews. He tried persuading native Hawaiians that their status as American citizens would be an improvement in their condition, assuring them that the Americans wanted only to “secure you from aggression from foreign powers.” He promised protection from the Chinese and told the people that a Hawaiian could become President of the United States! (A blantent Lie The U.S. Constitution requires, however, that a President must be born an American.) He further promised that Hawai`i would be annexed as a State, that the public lands would go to the people, and that there was no need to submit the question of annexation to a popular vote.
Hawaiian loyalists were just as vocal and were unafraid to go “brain to brain” against Morgan. James Kaulia is a prime example. Kaulia, President of the Hawaiian Patriotic League (Hui Aloha `_ina) declared, “The destiny of Hawaii, situated in the mid-Pacific as she is, should be that of an independent nation and so she would be were it not for the policy of greed which pervades the American Legislators and the spirit of cowardice which is in the breasts of those who first consummated the theft of Hawaiian prestige.”
In the style of Shakespear’s Mark Anthony, Kaulia honors the Senator as an honorable representative of that great Government of the U.S., “a good and faithful servant” with the seeming love for God in his heart, who should be the last man to aid, ever so little, in the consummation of a wrong. He than calls upon Morgan, “let us reason together.”
Kaulia points to dispatches from ex-American Minister Stevens to his superiors confessing to conspiring with American citizens to overthrow the Hawaiian Government and asking for “wise and bold action” to accomplish the overthrow.
Kaulia asks, “Can the United States in consistency with past principles annex these islands until she has made herself right before the world by undoing everything that this Minister has done?” He reminds Morgan that the protest of Her Majesty Lili`uokalani to the U.S. had still remained unanswered.
“And why this greed for the Hawaiian Islands?” Kaulia writes. “Is it a naval station that is needed? For that it would seem that American home ports are much in need of such protection. Is it a coaling station that is desired? That is obtainable by treaty. Or is it the islands’ wealth that America desires? If so, then America will desire to annex the earth.”
Kaulia closes in saying, “Ask for the voice of Hawaii on this subject – Mr. Senator, and you will hear it with no uncertain tones ring out from Niihau to Hawaii – ‘Independence now and forever.'”
October 8, 1897: Hawaiian loyalists gathered by the thousands to protest the expected annexation to the United States. The gathering was held at Palace Square, today, the area fronting the U.S. Main Post Office and the old Federal Building, directly opposite the coronation stand on `Iolani Palace grounds. This mass meeting was the largest organized protest by Hawaiians against the activities of the Republic of Hawai`i and the United States in taking Hawai`i.
The mass meeting adopted a Memorial addressed to the President, the congress and the American People. In it, Hawaiian citizens, both aboriginal and foreign born, pointed out they were “held in subjection by the armed forces of the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands, and of its successor, the Republic of Hawaii; and have never yielded,”
that neither governments had the allegiance or support of the people. Those governments’ very existence were challenged – the Memorial stating, “the Government of the Republic of Hawaii has no warrant for its existence in the support of the people of these Islands; that it was proclaimed and instituted and has hitherto existed and now exists, without considering the rights and wishes of a great majority of the residents, native and foreign born, of the Hawaiian Islands; and especially that said Government exists and maintains itself solely by force of arms, against the rights and wishes of almost the entire aboriginal population of these Islands.”
Cleveland, in his December 18, 1893 message to the joint houses of Congress pointed out that the established practice of the U.S. was to recognize revolutionary government after it became apparent that they were supported by the people, conceding to people of foreign countries the same freedom and independence in the management of their domestic affairs that the U.S. had always claimed for themselves.
The Memorial continued to detail the contradictions of the Republic of Hawai`i with basic principles of governance. It said, for example, that the Republic was not founded upon a basis of popular government, that its constitution had never been submitted to a vote of the people, and that it was that very government with which the U.S. was engaged in agreeing to extinguish the Hawaiian nation’s sovereignty.
The Memorial continued that Hawai`i’s people had a history of democratic participation in government, accustomed to participate in the Constitutional forms of Government, in the election of Legislatures, in the administration of justice through regularly constituted magistrates, courts and juries, and in the representative administration of public affairs, in which the principle of government by majorities had been acknowledged and firmly established.
Contained within this protest was an “appeal to the President, the Congress and the People of the United States, to refrain from further participating in the wrong” and invoked the spirit of “the Declaration of American Independence; and especially the truth therein expressed, that Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The Memorial declared that the consent of the people of the Hawaiian Islands to the forms of Government imposed by the so-called Republic of Hawaii, and to said proposed Treaty of Annexation, has never been asked by and is not accorded, either to said Government or to said project of Annexation. Annexation would be “subversive of the personal and political rights of these memorialists, and of the Hawaiian people and Nation, and would be a negation of the rights and principles proclaimed in the Declaration of American Independence, in the Constitution of the United States, and in the schemes of government of all other civilized and representative Governments.” 20 November 1897: Hawaiian loyalists send 4 emissaries to Washington, Colonel John Richardson, representing especially the people of Maui, confidant to Queen Lili`uokalani, former Kuhina nui and member of the House of Nobles and House of Representatives, William Auld, high priest of Hale Naua, the secret society of Kal_kaua, who also officiated at the King’s funeral and led the burial procession to Mauna`ala, James Kaulia, President of Hui Aloha`aina and David Kalauokalani, President of Hui Kalai`aina. They gained entrance to the Senate floor through the good offices of Senator R. F. Pettigrew.
U.S. Senate debated the treaty in secret. The Senate was not open to the public or the press! U.S. House of Representatives also debated the treaty although they had no authority in the matter.
By early December, it was obvious that the treaty was stalled in the Senate.
December 1897, the U.S. Battleship Maine was sent to Havana Harbor to “protect U.S. citizens and property.”
By February, 1898, a head count showed that the Senate was not able to pass the Hawai`i annexation treaty. Discussion now moves to a joint resolution of Congress, which brought Texas into the union as a State, [new tactic] might be a way to bring Hawai`i in!
15 February 1898, the battleship Maine explodes and sinks, killing 260 aboard. Sabotage by the Spanish is suggested. The American public is inflamed by the yellow journalism of the William Randolph Hearst newspaper chain. (In 1969, the U.S. Navy determines that the Maine was sunk by a defective boiler exploding.) The U.S. demands immediate withdrawal of Spain from Cuba. Congress affirms Cuba’s independence and states that the U.S. was not acting to secure an empire.
March 1898: McKinley tells Spain to get out of Cuba or else! Spain agrees to U.S. major demands.
20 April 1898: U.S. goes to war with Spain. Adopts joint resolution declaring the recognition of independence of Cuba.
The resolution states in part:
– the Government of the United States does hereby demand, that the Government of Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in the Island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters.
– the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, directed and empowered to use the entire land and naval forces of the United States, and to call into the actual service of the United States, the militia of the several States, to such extent as may be necessary to carry these resolutions into effect.
– the United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Islands except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the Island to its people.
1 May 1898: Captain George Dewey sinks Spanish fleet in Manila Harbor, Philippines.
4 May 1898: Representative Frances Newlands introduces joint resolution of annexation in House of Representatives. The resolution says in part:
Whereas, the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution, (This was an outright lie and was in direct violation of the US Constitution which requires two-thirds majority of both parties [ Hawaii and the US] they had neither!) to cede absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America, all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States, the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining: Therefore, Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That said cession is accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and that the said Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies be, and they are hereby, annexed as a part of the territory of the United States and are subject to the sovereign dominion thereof, and that all and singular the property and rights herein before mentioned are vested in the United States of America.
1 June 1898 : U.S. troops to Philippines lands in Hawai`i and provision government welcomes them. It also sides with the U.S. in their war with Spain.
15 June 1898: House passed joint resolution 209-91. Sends to the Senate 6 July 1898: A filibuster is attempted by the opponents to annexation but the country is caught in a fervor of war. The Senate passes the joint resolution by mere majority, 42 for, 21 against, 6 abstain-others present but not voting. Even at these numbers, the U.S. Constitution is violated for it calls for two/thirds of the Senators present (by US law they needed a passage of 46 for [42+21+6=69x.667(66%)=46.023], to be legal to annex a territory according to US Constitution).
7 July 1898: McKinley signs the joint resolution
12 August 1898: Ceremony to pretend the transfer of Sovereignty of Hawai`i to the United States of America. (Note, there may not have been a reciprocal action on the part of the Republic of Hawai`i for annexation via the joint resolution. Remember, it was a treaty of annexation adopted by the Republic of Hawai`i.)
December 1898: Treaty of Paris signed. Peace between Spain and the United States. U.S. subsequently takes Guam, Puerto Rico, Wake Island and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. They claim not to have taken all of Cuba, but in reality, they shut out the Cuban rebel forces which had brought the fight against the Spaniards there, and brought in U.S. business interests, thus creating a double occupation of military and commercial interests. The required the new Cuban Constitution to permit the U.S. special rights of intervention and a coaling and naval stations in Cuban territory. (Howard Zinn’s A people’s History of the United States (1990) at p. 302-303
For a nation which declared it was not trying to secure an empire before the Spanish American War, by the end of that short 3 month war, the U.S. emerged a major world power with additional territories making up its empire. In the Pacific, it had Hawai`i, Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines. In the Caribbean, it had Puerto Rico and for all practical purposes, Cuba.
Cleveland writes: Hawai`i is ours. As I look back upon the first steps in this miserable business, and as I contemplate the means used to complete the outrage, I am ashamed of the whole affair.
Sources: Gavan Daw’s Shoal of Time; Rich Budnick, Stolen Kingdom, William Russ, Jr.: The Hawaiian Republic (1894-98), Congressional Records, Howard Zinn’s A people’s History of the United States (1990), Helena G. Allen, The Betrayal of LILI`UOKALANI, 1982 [ Used without permission but very grateful to use this, important to see what was going on.]