Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Thursday, July 9, 2015

U.S. vs Hawaii War of 1894 -- Part Three


To America's surprise, Hawaii did not bow down to President Cleveland's threats and demands. 

Instead Hawaii's President Dole called up more than 1,000 men of military age in Honolulu and armed them to make ready to go to war with the United States.

When Willis saw that the Provisional Government was arming, Willis ordered Rear Admiral John Irwin to organize a landing operation using troops on the two American ships -- making no attempt to conceal preparations of the operation, as men readied equipment on deck.

The next shipment of mail, news, and other correspondence and information from the U.S. was yet to arrive aboard the USS Alameda. Until then, the public was uninformed of the relations between Hawaii and the United States.

Though war was in the air, Sanford B. Dole, who was president of Hawaii attempted to quell the anxiety by assuring the public there would be no invasion.

On January 3rd, 1894, public anxiety became critical which gave the incident its name, "The Black Week".

As the anticipation of a conflict between the United States and Hawaii intensified in Honolulu, Admiral Irwin became concerned for American citizens and property in the city, considering he may actually have to land troops to protect them if violence erupted in retaliation for the crisis.

The Commanders of the Japanese HIJMS Naniwa and the British HMS Champion asked to join the landing operation, like Irwin, to protect lives and property of their respective nationalities.

Finally, on January 11th, 1894, seeing that his ploy was not working and only had the effect of putting Hawaii on a war footing, Willis revealed to Dole that the invasion was just a ploy, actually a hoax, conducted in an effort to get the Provisional Hawaiian government to reinstate the Queen.

It is said that though Willis did not restore the Monarchy, he was able to incite doubt in the Hawaiian public over the Provisional Government and communicate to the people there that the United States was capable of going to war with them if they did not make things right.

Adding to the concerns over war with the United States over reinstating the Queen, this was one of the factors that pushed the Provisional Government to call for a Constitutional Convention in Hawaii.

The Constitutional Convention in Hawaii was called and began on May 30, 1894. Out of this, the Republic of Hawaii was established on July 4th, 1894, which of course just so happens is America's Independence Day.

Also out of their Constitutional Convention, Sanford B. Dole was voted the first and only President of the Republic of Hawaii. Later he would be appointed as the first territorial governor of the U.S. Territory of Hawaii.

The Republic of Hawaii was Constituted as an independent Republic.

How did this change President Cleveland's policy toward Hawaii? It didn't. Cleveland insisted that the Queen should be reinstated and Hawaii should never be part of the United States.

Since he tried to pressure the Republic of Hawaii into handing power back to Queen Liliuokalani to the point of threatening war with the new Republic, and seeing that the American sugar planters threatened to resist an American invasion by arms. and the fact that the defiant Queen refused to grant amnesty to the revolutionary leaders -- she wanted them all beheaded -- President Cleveland washed his hands of the affair in frustration.

In a final act of indignation toward the whole situation of annexation which he strongly opposed, he handed the problem to Congress which he knew was against annexation as well.

And yes, the issue sat there for years until President McKinley affirmed a joint congressional resolution that made Hawaii an American territory in 1898.

Some say President Cleveland rationalized his anti-annexation stance as a way of potentially restoring the Hawaiian monarchy. Other say, President Cleveland simply did not want Hawaii as part of the United States because it seemed more trouble than it was worth -- especially with a reciprocity treaty being already recognized.

Fact is that neither President Harrison or Cleveland was behind the overthrow of the Queen.

While Harrison simply didn't want anything to do with Hawaii or it's internal strife, Cleveland wanted Hawaii to remain an sovereign nation.

But even after the Republic of  Hawaii was established, Cleveland supposedly rationalized that if the Hawaii monarchy was truly abolished, then he saw having Hawaii an independent nation a lot more favorable than having Hawaii as a territory of the United States. And yes, Cleveland certainly did not want Hawaii to become a state of the Union.

And yes, there is another reason that some speculate as the reason for Cleveland being so determined to stop Hawaii annexation. It is speculated that Cleveland did not want "Hawaiians" to be Americans because he saw Hawaiians as "no better than Indians." Some speculate that he saw Hawaiians as "children."

Remember that when Cleveland took office during his first term, America had 204,000 Native Americans scattered among 171 reservations on 135 million acres of land. They were seen as an "Indian problem."

In Cleveland's view, Native American Indians were simply wards of the state, the nation. It is said he saw Native Americans as "wayward but promising children in need of a guardian."

Remember that it was also during his first term that Cleveland signed the Dawes Severalty Act of  1887 which proved a very effective tool for taking lands from Native American Indians.  The Dawes Severalty Act promised benefits to the Indians, but in reality deprived the Indians of the strengths of tribal ownership while severely limiting the economic viability of individual land ownership.

The Dawes Severalty Act of  1887 is still seen by many tribes as the Federal government’s heavy-handed attempt to destroy their traditional cultures.

And yes, Cleveland sought to persuade Native Americans to forego their old tribal ways. He sought to assimilate them into society by means of education, private land ownership, and "parental guidance from the Federal government."

Some speculate that he saw Hawaiians in the same light. There is speculation that he believed the United States simply did not need "another Indian problem" in the middle of the Pacific.

He may have also saw Hawaii as a hornets net best left to those there to deal with. He may have been reassured of that after the attempted coup which took place in January of 1895.

As a result of that attempted coup, the Republic of Hawaii may have strengthened his position of letting the Hawaiian Islands work out their own problems.

The coup Hawaii in 1895 was an attempt to restore the monarchy included battles between Republic of Hawaii troops and Royalists. But of course, like in most poitical rebellions, those loud mouths who said that they would fight to the death are usually the first to turn and run -- and those who talked the bravest are the ones who ran and hid when they saw that they had failed.

Since a weapons cache was found in a flowerbed on the grounds of Iolani Palace where only the Queen was permitted, Liliuokalani admitted her part in the attempted coup to regain her throne.

From this Queen Liliuokalani was placed under house arrest, tried by a tribunal of the Republic of Hawaii, convicted of treason and imprisoned in her own home.

This all lead to confirming Cleveland's views of Hawaii.

U.S. vs Hawaii War of 1894 -- Part Four

Tom Correa

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