The Mission Of Commissioner Blount
As already shown, President Cleveland was deeply impressed by the
statements contained in the Queen's protest and in the precis, (drawn up
by the same hand), to the effect that she had yielded only to the
superior force of the United States, and now appealed to his sense of
justice to "undo a great wrong," in which he probably imagined that he
saw the far reaching hand of his former rival for the Presidency.
His suspicions were -also excited by the haste with which the treaty had
been negotiated during the last month of the preceding administration.
Accordingly he determined to send a special commissioner to investigate
all the circumstances attending the. late revolution, and to report on
the expediency of annexation. For this important duty he chose the Hon.
James H. Blount of Macon, Georgia, who had commanded a regiment in the
confederate army during the civil war. For eighteen years he had served
as a member of the House of Representatives, and during the 52nd
Congress had been Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in that
Mr. Blount received his written instructions March 11, just one week
after President Cleveland's inauguration. The Secretary of State also
verbally instructed him to remove the American flag which had been
hoisted over the Government building in Honolulu. His instructions were
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
WASHINGTON, March 11th, 1895
HON. JAMES H. BLOUNT, etc.
Sir: The situation created in the Hawaiian Islands by
the recent deposition of Queen Liliuokalani and the erection of a
Provisional Government demands the fullest consideration of the
President, and in order to obtain trustworthy information on the
subject, as well as for the discharge of other duties herein
specified, he has decided to dispatch you to the Hawaiian Islands as
his special commissioner, in which capacity you will herewith
receive a commission and also a letter, whereby the President
accredits you to the president of the executive and advisory
councils of the Hawaiian Islands.
The comprehensive, delicate and confidential
character of your mission can now only be briefly outlined, the
details of its execution being necessarily left, in a great measure,
to your good judgment and wise discretion.
You will investigate and fully report to the
President all the facts you can learn respecting the condition of
affairs in the Hawaiian Islands, the causes of the revolution by
which the Queen's Government was overthrown, the sentiment of the
people toward existing authority, and, in general, all that can
fully enlighten the President touching the subjects of your mission.
To enable you to fulfill this charge, your authority
in all matters touching the relations of this Government to the
existing or other government of the Islands, and the protection of
our citizens therein, is paramount, and in you alone, acting in
co-operation with the commander of the naval forces, is vested full
discretion and power to determine when such forces should be landed
You are, however, authorized to avail yourself of
such aid and information as you may desire from the present Minister
of the United States at Honolulu, Mr. John L. Stevens, who will
continue until further notice to perform the usual functions
attaching to his office not inconsistent with the powers entrusted
to you. An instruction will be sent to Mr. Stevens, directing him to
facilitate your presentation to the head of the Government upon your
arrival, and to render you all needed assistance.
The withdrawal from the Senate of the recently sinned
treaty of annexation, for re-examination by the President, leaves
its subject-matter in abeyance, and you are not charged with any
duty in respect thereto. It may be well, however, for you to dispel
any misapprehension which its withdrawal may have excited touching
the entire friendliness of the President and the Government of the
United States toward the people of the Hawaiian Islands or the
earnest solicitude here felt for their welfare, tranquility and
Historical precedents and the general course of the
United States authorize the employment of its armed force in foreign
territory for the security of the lives and property of American
citizens, and for the repression of lawless and tumultuous acts
threatening them; and the powers conferred to that end upon the
representatives of the United States are both necessary and proper,
subject always to the exercise of a sound discretion in their
In the judgment of the President, your authority, as
well as that of the commander of the naval forces in Hawaiian
waters, should be, and is, limited in the use of physical force to
such measures as are necessary to protect the persons and property
of our citizens; and while abstaining from any manner of
interference with the domestic concerns of the Islands, you should
indicate your willingness to intervene with your friendly offices in
the interest of a peaceful settlement of troubles within the limits
of sound discretion.
Should it be necessary to land an armed force upon
Hawaiian territory on occasion of popular disturbance, when the
local authority may be unable to afford adequate protection to the
life and property of citizens of the United States, the assent of
such authority should first be obtained, if it can be done without
prejudice to the interests involved.
Your power in this regard should not, however, be
claimed to the exclusion of similar measures by the representatives
of other powers for the protection of the lives and property of
their citizens or subjects residing in the Islands.
While the United States claim no right to interfere
in the political or domestic affairs or in the internal conflicts of
the Hawaiian Islands otherwise than as herein stated, or for the
purpose of maintaining any treaty or other rights which they
possess, this Government will adhere to its consistent and
established policy in relation to them, and it will not acquiesce in
domestic interference by other powers.
The foregoing general exposition of the President's
views will indicate the safe courses within which your action should
be shaped, and mark the limits of your discretion in calling upon
the naval commander for co-operation.
The United States revenue cutter Rush is under orders
to await you at San Francisco and convey you to Honolulu.
It is expected that you will use all convenient
dispatch for the fulfillment of your mission, as it is the
President's wish to have the results before him at the earliest
possible day. Besides the connected report you are expected to
furnish, you will from time to time, as occasion may offer,
correspond with the Secretary of State, communicating information or
soliciting special instruction on such points as you may deem
necessary. In case of urgency you may telegraph, either in plain
text or in the cipher of the Navy Department, through the kind
offices of the admiral commanding, which may be sent to Mr. W. A.
Cooper, United States dispatch agent at San Francisco, to be
Reposing the amplest confidence in your ability and
zeal for the realization of the trust thus confided to you. I am,
sir, your obedient servant,
(Signed) W. Q.
No previous intimation was given to the Hawaiian Commissioners that the
President intended to withdraw the treaty from the Senate, nor of the
appointment or objects of Mr. Blount's mission.
In reply to repeated inquiries upon this point Mr. Gresham positively
refused to deny or admit even that Mr. Blount had gone to Hawaii.
Mr. Blount left Washington on the 14th, and tarrying only four hours in
San Francisco, embarked March 20th on the revenue cutter Richard Rush,
which lay there awaiting his orders, and landed in Honolulu on the
morning of March 29th.
The royalists believed that he was coming in their interest, and formed
a procession of native women with flags to meet him. The Queen's
ex-chamberlain offered him her carriage to ride up in, which he properly
declined. On the other hand, the annexationists had decorated the
principal, business streets with American flags. A committee of
Americans tendered him a welcome, and offered him the use of a
convenient residence. He declined to accept any favors from either
party, and established himself at the so-called "Snow Cottage," attached
to the Hawaiian Hotel, where he remained with his wife and secretary
during the four months of his stay in Honolulu. He was probably not
aware that this hotel was leased and managed in the interest of the
Queen's party, for whom it was a favorite resort. On the day after his
arrival, the 30th, he was introduced by Minister Stevens to President
Dole, to whom he presented President Cleveland's letter accrediting him
in the following language:
“Great And Good Friend
I have made choice of James H. Blount, one of our
distinguished citizens, as my special commissioner to visit the
Hawaiian Wands, and make report to me concerning the present status
of affairs in that country. He is well in^ formed of our sincere
desire to cultivate and maintain to the fullest extent the
friendship which has so long subsisted between the two countries,
and in all matters affecting relations with the Government of the
Hawaiian Islands, his authority is paramount. My knowledge of bin
high character and ability gives me entire confidence that he will
use every endeavor to advance the interest and propriety of both
governments and to render himself acceptable to your excellency.
"I therefore request your excellency to receive him
favorably and to give full credence to what he shall say on the part
of the United States and the assurances which 1 have charged him to
convey to you of the best wishes of this Government for the
prosperity of the Hawaiian Islands. " May God have your excellency
in His wise keeping.
''Written at Washington, this 11th day of March, in
the year 1893.
By the President:
W. Q. GRESHAM,
Secretary of State."
In a letter to Minister Stevens of the same date, Secretary Gresham
informed him also that "in all matters pertaining to the existing or
other Government of the Islands the authority of Mr. Blount is
paramount." A letter of the same date from the Secretary of the Navy to
Rear Admiral Skerrett contains the following passage: " You will consult
freely with Mr. Blount and will obey any instructions you may receive
from him' regarding the course to be pursued at said islands by the
force under your command."
The question whether the President had a constitutional right to clothe
his private agent, appointed without the knowledge or confirmation of
the Senate, with these extraordinary powers, has since been fully
debated in Congress.
Hauling Down Of The American Flag
On the afternoon of the 31st, Mr. Blount notified President Dole that he
would order the ensign of the United States to be hauled down, and send
the American troops on board of their respective vessels. At President
Dole's request, he postponed action until next morning. The following
peremptory order was then addressed to Hear Admiral Skerrett:
"Sir: You are directed to haul down the United States
ensign from the Government building and to embark the troops now on
shore to the ships to which they belong. This will be executed at 11
o'clock on the 1st day of April.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
(Signed) JAS. H.
BLOUNT, Special Commissioner of the United States
As the hour of 11 approached, a company of regular troops under Capt.
Good and a company of volunteers, together with a detachment of
artillery, marched over from the barracks and were drawn up in front of
the Government building. At the same time a large concourse both of
natives and foreigners had gathered in the adjoining streets.
As the hand of the clock in the tower reached the appointed hour, at a
sign from Lieut. Draper, the bugle sounded, on which the Stars and
Stripes came down and the Hawaiian flag was raised in their place over
the tower, amid dead silence. The troops of the Provisional Government
presented arms, but no salute was fired, nor was any public declaration
as to the import of this transaction read or published.
The U S. sailors and marines then marched out of the Government building
and of their own quarters at "Camp Boston," and returned to their ships,
while the troops of the Provisional Government marched in and took their
places in the Legislative hall. The feeling of the spectators on both
sides was intense but suppressed. The royalists knew that the change of
flags did not of itself mean restoration, and they saw that the
Provisional Government was still master of the situation. But they hoped
that this act was only the first step on the way to restoration, and
were therefore elated, while the annexationists were correspondingly
In the United States this incident touched the popular heart, and
kindled a feeling of indignation, which no subsequent explanation has
been able to allay.
The same day Mr. Blount wrote to the Secretary of State, "The American
Minister and Consul-General seem to be intense partisans for annexation.
I do not yet see how they will embarrass me in the purposes of my
Mr. Blount's Reception of Royalist Committees, etc.
On the afternoon of April 1, Mr. Blount received a committee of nineteen
half-whites headed by Mr. John E. Bush, formerly envoy to Samoa under
Kalakaua. who presented resolutions against annexation, praying "that
the great wrong committed against us may be righted by the restoration
of the independent autonomy and constitutional government of our Kingdom
under our beloved Queen, Liliuokalani, in whom we have the utmost
confidence as a conscientious and popular ruler."
Mr. Blount replied that he could only communicate the resolutions to the
President; he could not discuss with them the objects of his mission or
the purposes of his government.
Soon afterwards Mr. Blount gave audience to a committee of the Hui
Kalaiaina, (Hawaiian Political Association) composed of native
Hawaiians, who presented a memorial asking for the restoration of the
Mr. Blount's comment on it was:
" There is no aspiration in it for the advancement of
the right of the masses to participate in the control of public
affairs, but an eager, trustful devotion to the crown as an absolute
On the 16th of April, Mr. Blount received similar
resolutions presented by twelve Hawaiian ladies, representing the
Hui Aloha Aina (Patriotic League).
"These," he says, "are strongly suggestive of blind
devotion to arbitrary power vested in the crown, worn by a person of
native blood. They seem to go very far in the matter of the capacity
of these people for self government."
On the 7th of April, Messrs. Paul Neumann, David Kawananakoa and E. C.
Macfarlane returned to Honolulu from their mission to Washington, and a
grand feast was made in their honor. An unfounded report was immediately
circulated that Mr. Blount would soon receive orders to restore the
Among their fellow passengers were Mr. Harold M. Sewell, Dr. Wm. Shaw
Bowen, one of the editorial staff of the New York World and Mr. Chas.
Nordhoff, correspondent of the New York Herald.
The Bowen-Sewell Episode
For several weeks after the hauling down of the American flag, Honolulu
was a hot-bed of intrigues of all kinds. About the middle of April, both
Commissioner Blount and the Administration at Washington were greatly
disturbed by certain alleged proceedings on the part of Dr- Bowen.
It appears from his own testimony that Dr. Bowen, believing on the one
hand that annexation was impracticable, and on the other that the
restoration of the Queen would never be sanctioned by Congress, urged
Mr. Paul Neumann to bring about a compromise between the Queen and the
Provisional Government. The proposition was that the Queen should
receive a liberal pension in consideration of her abdication of the
throne in favor of the Provisional Government. Several conferences took
place between Messrs. Bowen and Neumann on one side and President Dole
on the other. The result was that President Dole informed Mr. Neumann
that any proposition of the kind, duly authorized by the Queen, would
receive respectful attention. On the 16th, Dr. Bowen explained the plan
to Mr. Blount, who declined to express any opinion on it. The next
morning Mr. Blount called on President Dole to ascertain how far the
affair had gone, and told him that neither Dr. Bowen nor any one else
except himself (Blount) was authorized to speak for the President of the
Col. Claus Spreckels, having arrived on the 18th, called on the Queen on
20th, and encouraged her to hope for his support. The next day he
informed Mr. Blount "that he suspected there was an effort at
negotiation between the Queen and the Provisional Government, and that
he had urged the Queen to withdraw her power of attorney from Paul
Neumann." On the 24th, after informing President Dole of his intention,
Mr. Blount called on the Queen and questioned her in regard to the
alleged negotiations with the Provisional Government, plainly showing
-his disapprobation of them. She promised him that "she would not enter
into any negotiations until the Government at Washington had taken
action on the information derived through his report."
Mr. Blount told her that " one of the objects of his visit was to get
all the facts connected with her dethronement and the disposition of the
people of the Islands in relation to the present Government." She then
remarked that much depended on Mr. Spreckels as to the future, and that
if he should refuse to loan any money to the Government, it would go to
pieces. At Mr. Blount's request, she told Wm. Aldrich to furnish him a
list of those annexationists who had signed petitions for the lottery. A
copy of this list is embodied in Mr. Nordhoff's letter to the New York
Herald of April 25th, and much is made of it in Blount's report. The
same day the Queen told Mr. Neumann that nothing would be done until the
Government of the United States gave its decision, and asked him to
return to her his power of attorney and his commission, which he did the
Dr. Bowen left on the Australia, April 26th. In consequence of Mr.
Blount's dispatch No. 6, the following telegram was sent from
Washington, dated May 9th, and received May 17th:
"To JAMES H. BLOUNT, American Commissioner, Honolulu.
Your report of April 26th received. The views therein
expressed and the steps taken by you have the President's approval.
The President, having determined to recall Mr. Stevens, dispatch is
forwarded to him to-day, directing him to turn over the Legation to
You are hereby appointed Envoy Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary to the Hawaiian Islands. Your commission
bears date May 9th. You may take oath before Consul-General, and
thereupon announce your appointment. While your acceptance
permanently would greatly gratify the President, your wishes will
A new Consul-General will speedily be appointed. The
representations of Bowen and Sewell are wholly unauthorized and
repudiated by the President, who repeats that you alone are
authorized to represent him in all matters embodied in the
instructions given you before your departure for Hawaii.
(Signed) W. Q.
GRESHAM, Secretary of State
It should lie stated here that both Mr. Bowen and Mr. Sewell positively
deny having made any such false representations as implied above.
Mr. Stevens having tendered his resignation March 7th, had already
notified Mr. Gresham that he should return to the United States on the
24th of May, which he did. On leaving the country he received the
highest testimonials of esteem from his fellow citizens and from the
"Americans Not Participating"
On the 18th of April, Mr. Blount forbade the landing of troops from the
Boston for the purpose of drilling, probably fearing that it might
create an impression favorable to the Provisional Government. In his
dispatch of April 26th, he used the following language:
"The white race, or what may be termed the Reform
Party, constitute the intelligence and own most of the property in
these islands, and are desperately eager to be a part of the United
States on any terms rather than take the chances of being subjected
to the control of the natives. With them we can dictate any terms."
On the 16th of May, Mr. Blount saw fit to publish in the Honolulu
papers, his instructions of March 11th, as given above. To these he
appended the following notice:
" While I shall abstain from interference with
conflicting forces of whatever nationality, I will protect American
citizens not participating in such conflict."
Under the circumstances the language was naturally interpreted by both
parties as a plain intimation that an uprising of the royalists to
overturn the existing government would be viewed with indifference by
Nordhoff Libel Case
Mr. Chas. Nordhoff ably executed the errand upon which he had been sent
to the Islands. In comparison with him the Queen's adherents were but
tyros in the art of misrepresentation. At the same time his intimate
relations with Commissioner Blount became a subject of general remark.
At length the indignation aroused among the supporters of the Government
was such that threats of personal violence were made by some rash
individuals against Mr. Nordhoff. On being informed of it, the
authorities at once took precautions for his protection. A letter of his
to the N. Y. Herald having been republished in a Honolulu paper, he was
threatened with several libel suits, and summoned May 22d, to appear
before the Provisional Assembly to answer for the false statement that
"most of the members" of that Assembly had signed petitions for the
The source of Mr. Nordhoff's information on this point has been
indicated above. Upon this Mr. Blount called upon President Dole and
protested against the action of the Council, saying that "Whatever
information Mr. Nordhoff may have obtained carried with it an obligation
of privacy, which I do not believe he would violate."
He further sent President Dole a letter in which he took the ground that
an American citizen cannot be called to account in any foreign country
for a libel published in the United States, and cited as a precedent,
the case of Mr. Cutting, who was arrested at Juarez, Mexico, for a
publication in Texas, in 1885, but was set free at the demand of the
American Government. Mr. Nordhoff then made a written declaration that
the republication in the Honolulu Bulletin of his letters to the N. Y.
Herald was without his knowledge and consent.
He also published a retraction and apology for untrue statements made in
regard to Messrs. T. F. Lansing and F. W. McChesney, members of the
Advisory Council, as well as to Mr. W. H. Hoogs. President Dole's reply
to Commissioner Blount was in part as follows:
'Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of
your letter of the 22nd inst., relating to Mr. Nordhoff, and to
state in reply that upon full consideration of the questions
involved this Government has decided to take no criminal proceedings
against Mr. Nordhoff for what was considered as contempt against the
Advisory Council of this Government.
"In respect to the matters referred to in the
Attorney-General's letter to Mr. Nordhoff, this Goveinment does not
propose to take any proceedings in- contravention of the view of
international law expressed by the United States Government in the
Cutting case; but there is apparently this distinction to be noted
in the two cases, viz., that Mr. Cutting was in the United States
when he made the publication objected to by the Mexican Government,
whereas Mr. Nordhoff, while in the Hawaiian Islands and under the
jurisdiction of its courts, has written articles defamatory of this
Government, which were published in the United States in a newspaper
which is freely circulated in the Hawaiian Islands, and which
articles have been republished here."
In a letter dated May 29, Mr. Blount writes: "I suggested to President
Dole and the Attorney-General, in conversation with them, that if Mr.
Nordhoff was so obnoxious, they might possibly require him to leave the
country." The Government, however, was not simple enough to step into
any such trap.
Indeed," he adds, "the whole proceeding in relation to him (Nordhoff)
seems to have been animated by the spirit of crushing out all opposing
opinions by forceful methods." To this charge the files of certain
royalist papers for that year, filled as they are with the foulest
abuse, are a sufficient reply. In hardly any other country would such
publications have been tolerated.
On the 21st of June, Mr. Nordhoff left the Islands for his home in
Coronado, California, where he continued his newspaper war against the
Provisional Government. Early in the following November, while Mr.
Blount's report was still locked up in the State Department, Mr.
Nordhoff published portions of the testimony filed with Mr. Blount in
the preceding May and June, by Messrs. C. T. Gulick and G. Trousseau,
pretending that these were extracts from letters recently received by
him from Honolulu.
Claus Spreckels' Demand
During this period, Mr. Nordhoff was believed, to be the secret
mouth-piece of Col. Spreckels. After having labored in vain to persuade
the leading sugar planters to join with him in opposing annexation and
to establish an independent oligarchy, Col. Spreckels decided in the
latter part of May, 1893, that the time had come to strike a decisive
blow for the restoration of the Queen.
The government treasury was very low when the revolution took place,
military expenses since then had been very heavy, and the taxes would
not begin to come in before July. The Wilcox Cabinet had been obliged in
December, 1892, to borrow $95,000 from Spreckels' Bank to meet
withdrawals from the Postal Savings Bank, the notes for which became due
June 1st. Besides this, the semi-annual interest on the London loan,
amounting to $30,000, which became due in July, had to be provided for.
In this situation Col. Spreckels saw his opportunity, and although in
February he had given the -Cabinet to understand that he would not call
for the principal as long as the interest was promptly paid, he made a
sudden demand for the whole amount a few days before it became due.
On the 29th of May he had a conference with the Queen, in which he told
her that the Provisional Government would fall to pieces in consequence
of his demand, so that arms would not be required. He advised her to
form a new cabinet, proclaim a new constitution, and declare martial
law. There is no proof that Mr. Blount was in the secret.
On the afternoon of May 31st, Mr. P. C. Jones went out on the street and
raised the $95,000 for the government in half an hour. Not only was Mr.
Spreckels paid in full to his intense disgust, but the $30,000 of
interest on the London debt was remitted by the mail of June 6th. On the
5th of June the lolani Palace was formally occupied, with appropriate
ceremonies, for the executive offices of the government and named the
"Executive Building." The former government building became known as the
J. A. King, W. O. Smith
About this time the air was full of rumors of conspiracies which now
appear to have been well founded. On June 21st, Messrs. Crick, Sinclair
and Walker were arrested and held for trial. Although the authorities
failed to obtain sufficient evidence to convict them of conspiracy, it
is now known by Mr. Walker's own confession, that a number of dynamite
bombs were then manufactured which were concealed at the Queen's place,
and it seems to be certain that she was accessory to the fact.
In view of this state of things, the Government took measures to put
itself into an efficient state of defense. Four companies of volunteer
soldiers were thoroughly organized, equipped and drilled, while a
citizens' guard, numbering 700, was organized as a reserved force.
The continual agitation and disquiet led some of the supporters of the
Government to demand the banishment of the Queen. President Dole,
however, assured Mr. Blount " that it was the purpose of the Government
to take no extreme steps against any parties here, unless it should be
to meet a forcible attack upon the Government."
Mr. Blount's Investigations
The main object of Mr. Blount's mission was carefully concealed from the
Provisional Government and from Mr. Stevens. It was generally supposed
by the Government and its friends that he had been sent to investigate
and report upon their offer of annexation to the United States. Under
this impression the Provisional Government afforded the Commissioner
every facility in its power for obtaining information, and spared
neither time nor expense in furnishing him with details on every subject
bearing on that question.
They never suspected his real object, which seems to have been to make
out a case both against their title to govern and against the character
of the former representative of his own government. They never dreamed
that his investigations would be treated by President Cleveland as
having been of the nature of a full and impartial trial of a supposed
case between the Provisional Government and the deposed Queen, as
submitted by both parties to the arbitration of the President of the
All the essential elements of such a trial were lacking, in that the
parties were not both notified that any case between them was being
adjudicated, in that the subject-matter of the inquiry was not
communicated to them, unless secretly to the Queen's side, as seemed to
be the case, and in that all the evidence was privately taken, giving no
opportunity for either party to cross-examine witnesses or bring in
There was nothing judicial either in the methods employed or in the
animus evinced by the correspondence and report of the Commissioner.
Both are pervaded from beginning to end by a strange hostility to the
American colony residing in the Islands.
In a letter to Secretary Gresham dated April 8th, after condemning
American residents for "participating in affairs of the islands," while
expecting to be protected by the United States, he continues, '' My
present impression is that the existing government owes its being and
its maintenance to this perverted influence." This sounds the key-note
to the whole report that follows, and shows that he had already, only a
few days after landing, made up his mind on the subject which he was to
investigate. In fact, he seems to have so completely prejudged the case
as to be impervious to any evidence opposed to his predilections.
The Commissioner possessed some special qualifications for the difficult
part which he had to play. Naturally reticent, he had an uncommon power
of concealing his private sentiments and intentions, which has caused
him to be accused of dissimulation. While the Queen's friends well knew
that he was on their side, the supporters of the Provisional Government
believed that, even if he was opposed to annexation, he appreciated the
character and motives of the leaders in the late revolution.
He also showed no little shrewdness and adroitness as a prosecuting
attorney, in his choice of witnesses, and in the preparation of
questions, etc., to make out his case. His method was to hold private
interviews with individuals, who were examined by him in his private
office, the questions and answers being taken down by his stenographer,
Mr. Ellis Mills, and kept strictly secret. It is the general testimony
of those whom he questioned that he carefully shut off any voluntary
statements beyond the simplest replies to his leading questions. If any
reply did not suit him, he would cross-examine the witness at great
length, in order to modify or break the force of his first statement. He
also received and filed numerous written statements, mostly from
royalists, in some of which Mr. Nordhoff had a hand, and fifteen
affidavits, all made by royalists.
The complaint is justly made that the Commissioner did not seek evidence
from the leading members of the Committee of Safety, from the members of
the Wilcox Cabinet or from Lieut. Swinburne and other officers of the U.
S. S. Boston. It was with much difficulty and apparent reluctance on his
part that any hearing could be obtained for those honest and patriotic
natives who had opposed the lottery bill, and their evidence was not
Nor was Minister Stevens informed of the charges against him or given
any opportunity to reply to them. Much of this suppressed evidence was
afterwards brought out by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
It was with great reluctance that Mr. Blount accepted his appointment as
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, which, as before
stated, reached him May 17. The nature of his report, however, was kept
a profound secret until the middle of November. Weary of the false
position in which he found himself, and for other private reasons, Mr.
Blount embarked for the United States on the 8th of August. Before
leaving he wrote to Secretary Gresham, July 31, in part as follows:
" Dear Sir: The condition of parties in the Islands is one of
quiescence. The action of the United States is awaited by all as a
necessity. The present government can only rest on the use of military
force, possessed of most of the arms in the Islands, with a small white
population to draw from to strengthen it. Ultimately it will fall
without fail. It may preserve its existence for a year or two, but no
longer." In this "the wish," no doubt, "was father to the thought."
The United States continued to be represented by Rear-Admiral Skerrett
Mr. Blount's report, as might be expected, instead of being the
dispassionate summing up of an impartial arbitrator, is a piece of
special pleading, supported by a mass of purely ex parte evidence.
This is not the place to review this document, and to point out its
extraordinary perversions of history, and its bitter hostility to the
party of civilization and progress in these islands. His sentiments in
regard to the American colony in Hawaii are the same as those expressed
by Governor McDuffie in regard to the Texans in 1836, viz., that "having
emigrated to that country, they had forfeited all claim to fraternal
regard," and that "having left a land of despotism with their eyes open,
they deserved their fate."
On the future destiny of
the Hawaiian Islands Mr. Blount does not vouchsafe a ray of light,
except his remark that they are and must be, "overwhelmingly Asiatic."