Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The United States Didn't Want Hawaii -- Part Two

Ever wonder what Texas and Hawaii have in common when it comes to joining the United States?

Could it be that so-called "American expansionists" didn't want Texas or Hawaii? It's true, but we'll look at that in a few moments.

If you didn't know that the United States threatened to go to war with Hawaii in 1894, and invade the island nation of Hawaii, if those who overthrew the Queen did not but her back on the throne? That really happened!

The rest of the story regarding why the United States didn't want Hawaii has to do with United States President Grover Cleveland wanting absolutely nothing to do with Hawaii as a territory or a state or anything.  He wanted the Provisional Government, and then the Republic of Hawaii, to simply give the government back to the Queen.

As for the Queen, she was all for regaining her throne. But also, it is said that she wanted to behead all involved in her overthrow. At least, that was her position at first.

In the last days of President Benjamin Harrison's administration, the new government of Hawaii led by Sanford Dole petitioned for annexation by the United States. The United States consul in Hawaii John L. Stevens to it upon himself to recognize the new government on February 1, 1893 and forwarded their proposals to Washington D.C..

With just one month left before leaving office, the Harrison administration signed a treaty on February 14th and submitted it to the Senate the next day with President Harrison's lackadaisical recommendation for annexation. President Harrison may have realized that Americans did not want Hawaii as part of the United States the same way Americans didn't want Texas in the 1840s.
Since the U.S. Senate was against Hawaii Annexation, they refused to vote on it. Since in-coming President Grover Cleveland was against it, he withdrew the treaty shortly after taking office.

In late 1893, James H. Blount, Cleveland's newly appointed American minister to Hawaii arrived in Hawaii and expressed President Cleveland's desire to give Hawaii back to the Queen. It is a fact that Blount spoke with the Queen and all interested parties -- which included the Annexationists in power and the Restorationists who wanted to put the Queen back on the throne.

President Cleveland agreed with Minister Blount in that Queen should be restored. Albert S. Willis replace James Blount as President Cleveland's next American minister to Hawaii. He too set out to negotiate with all parties and even offered the crown back to the Queen on the condition that she pardon and grant general amnesty to those who had dethroned her.

She initially refused and wanted to behead all involved in her overthrow, but soon changed her mind and offered clemency. The problem was that this delay is said to have compromised her political position, and by then President Cleveland wanted nothing more to do with Hawaii or its request for annexation. He in fact released the entire issue of the Hawaiian revolution and possible annexation to the United States Congress for debate. He knew full well that there were many anti-annexationists in Congress, especially the Senate, that it would linger there for years without any action being taken.

People can say that Hawaii was part of some supposedly American expansionist policy, a supposed American Imperialism of some sort, but from what I can see -- they are wrong.

Fact is President Cleveland saw Hawaiians no differently than he saw the American Indian, which he saw as being nothing but a problem. He saw them aw being possible wards to be taken cared of like the way he saw the tribes of the American Indians. For this and a few other reasons, including his belief that America should not be like the European Imperialists who wanted their flags planted in every piece of foreign soil they could, President Cleveland was totally against having Hawaii join the United States.

Remember, between 1865 and 1898, America had military involvement in Panama, China, Mexico, Nicaragua, Formosa, Japan, Uruguay, Colombia, Hawaii, Egypt, Argentina, Chili, Korea, Haiti, and even Samoa. None of which became American colonies.

In fact, if the United States wanted to take over Hawaii, why did the United States give it back to the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1874 when United States Marines took over all of the government there? Instead of just reinstating order and handing it over to the Hawaiian monarchy, America was in the perfect position to declare it their own -- but didn't.

President Cleveland did not want Hawaii to be part of the United States and said so in many letters. His fervent objections to allowing Hawaii to become part of the United States proves that the United States government was not behind the overthrow. And yes, besides President Cleveland, the U.S. Senate at the time did not want Hawaii to become part of the United States. These fact alone shoots down the claim that the United States was behind the Queen's overthrow. But no, those facts don't serve the anti-American attitude in Hawaii by some today.

Frankly, let's be honest here and look at what took place. If the United States was behind the overthrow, then they had a strange way of showing it. For instance, if the United States was behind the coup, why be against taking over Hawaii once the coup was successful?

Why be against annexation? Why even go so far as to threaten the Hawaiian Republic with war if those involved in the Queen's overthrow don't put her back on the throne?

Does that make any sense if the United States was really behind the overthrow? Why threaten war and demand that people reinstate the Queen if you supported the people who overthrew the Queen?

Fact is, since the United States didn't want to annex Hawaii, for the United States to annex Hawaii -- believe it or not, Annexationsists in Hawaii had to actually go to Washington D.C., and bypass the President to lobby Congress for annexation.

Friends, while the lobbying paid off in the House, it did not work in the Senate which was staunchly against annexation of Hawaii..

On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii with Sanford B. Dole as president was proclaimed. It was recognized immediately by the United States, Great Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, and other governments.

Upon the inauguration of William McKinley as President of the United States on March 4, 1897, the Republic of Hawaii resumed pushing for annexation with the United States with the hopes of finding a more receptive president in the White House. They already had two American presidents who passed the buck and didn't want Hawaii to join the United States, so their prayers were answered in President McKinley.

By 1898, President McKinley saw the islands as having gained a strategic relevance in the wake of the Spanish-American War. But frankly, it was a lot more than just the Spanish-American War which made President McKinley give serious consideration to Hawaii.

Although the United States was secure in knowing that it had a good relationship built on trade and military assistance, which included a treaty with Hawaii, at the time, Britain, France, Germany, the Dutch, and Japan had shown interest in annexing the islands for themselves.

Great Britain, Germany, France, the Dutch, and the Japanese all had holding in the Pacific, and all were interested in Hawaii's ports. While some wanted Great Britain over the Japanese and the French, there were those in Hawaii who wanted Hawaii to be part of the Japanese Empire because Japan's Empire stretched far into the Pacific. And yes, Hawaii had already started to recognize a growing Japanese population in Hawaii.

After researching this over the years, I truly believe that a number of factors had to come together to enable a new treaty of annexation to be signed with the United States on June 16th, 1898. But even then, there was no guarantee that it would take place.

Was it a sure thing to be ratified by Congress? Absolutely not. And frankly, it was because the United States really didn't want it.

Two facts that people should understand about the times. First, while many make it sound as if the United States was an Imperialist power out planting the American flag everywhere in the world, that simply was not the case. And second, while Americans could have done so very easily, most Americans didn't because they saw Hawaii as being a foreign land.

So where does Texas fit in to this story? 

Well, while people make all sorts of claims about how American expansionism was in full gear to cobble up territory, most people do not realize that Americans were against the annexation of Texas in the 1840s. Yes, this was the case. In fact, the people in Texas took the American refusal of annexation to heart and actually looked into alternatives to joining the United States. One alternative, believe it or not, included negotiating a return to Mexico at one point. Yes, it's true.

Yes, a treaty regarding the annexation of Texas could not be passed until some political maneuvering took place. Some even called it manipulating the U.S. Constitution. And my point is this, if this is how Americans felt about Texas, I really don't think it mattered to most Americans if Hawaii was returned to the Hawaiian monarchy.

As for what took place with the problems and reluctance of the U.S. Senate to approve the annexation of Texas, the success of the joint Congress vote on Texas annexation did in fact set a precedent, known as the "Tyler Precedent," that would be applied to how the United States dealt with a vote on Hawaii's annexation.

Yes, since annexation of Texas could not be approved in the Senate, both houses of Congress met in a Joint Session to vote on Texas annexation. That's how Texas annexation got around the Senate denying them entry. This same ploy was used to get Hawaii admitted to the United States. Trickery or not, it worked in favor of those who wanted Texas and later Hawaii as parts of the U.S..

I know it is hard to believe that Americans were not the "expansionists" which History Revisionists want us to believe. But evidence shows that Washington D.C. was against annexation of Hawaii in the exact same way as they were against American expansion and the annexation of Texas in the 1840s.

Yes, it is a matter of historical fact that Americans were not in favor of the annexation of Texas or Hawaii, and only political maneuvering and a vote by a Joint Session of Congress allowed them to join the United States. Frankly, reading everything that I have on the annexation of Texas and Hawaii, as unbelievable as it sounds, it is very easy for anyone to conclude that the United States may have been for expanding West but really did not want both Texas or Hawaii.

So why all of the trickery to get Hawaii admitted? 

Well, remember that for most of the 1800s, there were many in Washington who were concerned that Hawaii might become part of a European nation's empire -- like say that of Great Britain, France, or Germany. This belief was spurred on during the 1830s when Britain and France forced the Hawaiian monarchy to accept treaties giving Britain and France economic privileges. 

In 1842, Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent a letter affirming U.S. interests in Hawaii and opposing annexation by any other nation. He stated that no nation should seek special privileges or engage in further colonization of the islands.

In 1849, the United States and Hawaii concluded a treaty of friendship that served as the basis of official relations between the two nations. But in the 1850s, the Hawaiian monarchy requested annexation with the United States. It was then that Hawaii set about plans to join the United States. And yes, part of the reason was that Hawaii's economy became increasingly integrated with the United States. 

The 1875 trade reciprocity treaty was a "free-trade" treaty which benefited the economies of both Hawaii and the United States. This resulted in closer ties, but that treaty would be void if Hawaii was annexed by a European power. And yes, by 1897, that possibility became real and of concern to the McKinley administration.

Remember, in 1893 out-going Republican President Benjamin Harrison attempted to annex Hawaii through a Senate treaty but failed. When that failed, President Harrison was asked to consider the "Texas Precedent," also known as the "Tyler Precedent," for a Joint Session of Congress vote for annexation of Hawaii but he declined.
Since Democrat President Grover Cleveland did not want anything to do with the annexation of Hawaii, he actually tried to kill the question. Then when President William McKinley took office in 1897, he resubmitted legislation to acquire Hawaii.

President McKinley knowing that the two-thirds of the Senate support was not going to take place, he invoked the "Tyler Precedent" for the Joint Session of Congress resolution. That was how President McKinley successfully applied the same means of annexing Texas in the 1840s to annexing Hawaii in July of 1898.

As the Senate appeared against the idea of ratifying the new treaty, its supporters took extreme measures by passing the Newlands Resolution. That made the "Tyler Precedent" of the Joint Session of Congress accepted, and the Senate subsequently ratified and confirmed the Newlands Resolution by a vote of 42 to 21. The House of Representatives accepted the Newlands Resolution by a vote of 209 to 91.

With that, President McKinley signed the annexation bill on July 7th, 1898.

So there you have it. After 5 years of negotiations to give it back to the Queen, with even the threat of going to war, annexation of Hawaii was like that of Texas in that it was passed from one president to another for three administrations almost like an unwanted stepchild until it was finally passed using the same political maneuvering that brought Texas into the Union.
The formal claim of transfer of sovereignty took place on August 12th, 1898 with the hoisting of the flag of the United States over Iolani Palace.

This is all history. And no, I don't have make it up. It's all there for anyone to find. If one wants to know the truth about what took place, the truth is out there. But frankly, people are not going to find out what took place by being narrow minded and only accept what those with an anti-American agenda want us to think.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.
Tom Correa

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