|The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement:
Roles of and Impacts on Non-Hawaiians
By Anthony Castanha, August 1996
ACKNOWLEDGING THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OVERTHROW OF THE KINGDOM OF HAWAII
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the Senate joint resolution (S.J. Res. 19) to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and to offer an apology to native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
The Clerk read as follows: S.J. RES. 19
Whereas, prior to the arrival of the first Europeans in 1778, the Native Hawaiian people lived in a highly organized, self-sufficient, subsistent social system based on communal land tenure with a sophisticated language, culture, and religion;
Whereas a unified monarchical government of the Hawaiian Islands was established in 1810 under Kamehameha I, the first King of Hawaii;
Whereas, from 1826 until 1893, the United States recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii, extended full and complete diplomatic recognition to the Hawaiian Government, and entered into treaties and conventions with the Hawaiian monarchs to govern commerce and navigation in 1826, 1842, 1849, 1875, and 1887;
Whereas the Congregational Church (now known as the United Church of Christ), through its American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, sponsored and sent more than 100 missionaries to the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1820 and 1850;
Whereas, on January 14, 1893, John L. Stevens (hereafter referred to in this Resolution as the 'United States Minister'), the United States Minister assigned to the sovereign and independent Kingdom of Hawaii conspired with a small group of non-Hawaiian residents of the Kingdom of Hawaii, including citizens of the United States, to overthrow the indigenous and lawful Government of Hawaii;
Whereas, in pursuance of the conspiracy to overthrow the Government of Hawaii, the United States Minister and the naval forces of the United States caused armed naval forces of the United States to invade the sovereign Hawaiian nation on January 16, 1893, and to position themselves near the Hawaiian Government buildings and the Iolani Palace to intimidate Queen Liliuokalani and her Government;
Whereas, on the afternoon of January 17, 1893, a Committee of Safety that represented the American and European sugar planters, descendants of missionaries, and financiers deposed the Hawaiian monarchy and proclaimed the establishment of a Provisional Government;
Whereas, the United States Minister thereupon extended diplomatic recognition to the Provisional Government that was formed by the conspirators without the consent of the Native Hawaiian people or the lawful Government of Hawaii and in violation of treaties between the two nations and of international law;
Whereas, soon thereafter, when informed of the risk of bloodshed with resistance, Queen Liliuokalani issued the following statement yielding her authority to the United States Government rather than to the Provisional Government:
'I Liliuokalani, by the Grace of God and under the Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the Constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this kingdom.
'That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the Provisional Government.
'Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.'.
Done at Honolulu this 17th day of January, A.D. 1893.; Whereas, without the active support and intervention by the United States diplomatic and military representatives, the insurrection against the Government of Queen Liliuokalani would have failed for lack of popular support and insufficient arms;
Whereas, on February 1, 1893, the United States Minister raised the American flag and proclaimed Hawaii to be a protectorate of the United States;
Whereas the report of a Presidentially established investigation conducted by former Congressman James Blount into the events surrounding the insurrection and overthrow of January 17, 1893, concluded that the United States diplomatic and military representatives had abused their authority and were responsible for the change in government;
Whereas, as a result of this investigation, the United States Minister to Hawaii was recalled from his diplomatic post and the military commander of the United States armed forces stationed in Hawaii was disciplined and forced to resign his commission;
Whereas, in a message to Congress on December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland reported fully and accurately on the illegal acts of the conspirators, described such acts as an 'act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress', and acknowledged that by such acts the government of a peaceful and friendly people was overthrown;
Whereas President Cleveland further concluded that a 'substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair' and called for the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy;
Whereas the Provisional government protested President Cleveland's call for the restoration of the monarchy and continued to hold state power and pursue annexation to the United States;
Whereas the Provisional Government successfully lobbied the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate (hereafter referred to in this Resolution as the 'Committee') to conduct a new investigation into the events surrounding the overthrow of the monarchy;
Whereas the Committee and its chairman, Senator John Morgan, conducted hearings in Washington, DC., from December 27, 1893, through February 26, 1894, in which members of the Provisional Government justified and condoned the actions of the United States Minister and recommended annexation of Hawaii:
Whereas, although the Provisional Government was able to obscure the role of the United States in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, it was unable to rally the support from two-thirds of the Senate needed to ratify a treaty of annexation;
Whereas, on July 4, 1894, the Provisional Government declared itself to be the Republic of Hawaii;
Whereas, on January 24, 1895, while imprisoned in Iolani Palace, Queen Liliuokalani was forced by representatives of the Republic of Hawaii to officially abdicate her throne;
Whereas, in the 1896 United States Presidential election, William McKinley replaced Grover Cleveland;
Whereas, on July 7, 1898, as a consequence of the Spanish-American War, President McKinley signed the Newlands Joint Resolution that provided for the annexation of Hawaii;
Whereas, through the Newlands Resolution, the self-declared Republic of Hawaii ceded sovereignty over the Hawaiian Islands to the United States;
Whereas the Republic of Hawaii also ceded 1,800,000 acres of crown, government and public lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii, without the consent of or compensation to the Native Hawaiian people of Hawaii or their sovereign government;
Whereas the Congress, through the Newlands Resolution, ratified the cession, annexed Hawaii as part of the United States, and vested title to the lands in Hawaii in the United States;
Whereas the Newlands Resolution also specified that treaties existing between Hawaii and foreign nations were to immediately cease and be replaced by United States treaties with such nations;
Whereas the Newlands Resolution effected the transaction between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States Government;
Whereas the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum;
Whereas, on April 30, 1900, President McKinley signed the Organic Act that provided a government for the territory of Hawaii and defined the political structure and powers of the newly established Territorial Government and its relationship to the United States;
Whereas, on August 21, 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State of the United States;
Whereas the health and well-being of the Native Hawaiian people is intrinsically tied to their deep feelings and attachment to the land;
Whereas the long-range economic and social changes in Hawaii over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been devastating to the population and to the health and well-being of the Hawaiian people;
Whereas the Native Hawaiian people are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territory, and their cultural identity in accordance with their own spiritual and traditional beliefs, customs, practices, language, and social institutions;
Whereas, in order to promote racial harmony and cultural understanding, the Legislature of the State of Hawaii has determine that the year 1993 should serve Hawaii as a year of special reflection on the rights and dignities of the Native Hawaiians in the Hawaiian and the American societies;
Whereas the Eighteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ in recognition of the denomination's historical complicity in the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii of 1893 directed the Office of the President of the United Church of Christ to offer a public apology to the Native Hawaiian people and to initiate the process of reconciliation between the United Church of Christ and the Native Hawaiians; and
Whereas it is proper and timely for the Congress on the occasion of the impending one hundredth anniversary of the event, to acknowledge the historic significance of the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to express its deep regret to the Native Hawaiian people, and to support the reconciliaton efforts of the State of Hawaii and the United Chuch of Christ with Native Hawaiians; Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND APOLOGY.
The Congress -
(1) on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893, acknowledges the historical significance of this event which resulted in the suppression of the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people;
(2) recognizes and commends efforts of reconciliation initiated by the State of Hawaii and the United Church of Christ with Native Hawaiians;
(3) apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893 with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination;
(4) expresses its comments to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, in order to provide a proper foundation for reconciliation between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people; and
(5) urges the President of the United States to also acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people.
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS
As used in this Joint Resolution, the term 'Native Hawaiian' means any individual who is a descendent of the aboriginal people who, prior to 1778, occupied and exercised sovereignty in the area that now constitutes the State of Hawaii.
SEC. 3. DISCLAIMER.
Nothing in this Joint Resolution is intended to serve as a settlement of any claims against the United States.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink) will be recognized for 20 minutes, and the gentleman from Wyoming (Mr. Thomas) will be recognized for 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink). GENERAL LEAVE
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on the Senate joint resolution under consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Hawaii?
There was no objection.
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, this resolution is of enormous significance to the people of Hawaii and, more particularly, the native Hawaiians. I want to commend the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Miller, and the ranking Republican member for allowing this bill to come directly to the floor. This is a matter of commemorating an event that occurred 100 years ago in Hawaii which has very dramatically changed and altered the course of a people who occupied those lands 100 years ago.
Mr. Speaker, 100 years ago the people of Hawaii were a kingdom to themselves and they were recognized by the United States as an independent nation and extended full and complete diplomatic recognition.
Only as a result of events surrounding the overthrow and the failure of the U.S. Congress to recognize the illegality of the overthrow subsequently that the people of Hawaii lost not only their republic and their right to self-governance but that the lands of the kingdom of Hawaii were also transferred without compensation and without consent to the United States.
This has remained a very difficult issue for the State of Hawaii and the people of Hawaii. I believe the adoption of this resolution today will go a long way toward providing that kind of recognition that the natives in Hawaii have sought all these years.
Mr. Speaker, the United Church of Christ was the first movers to bring about a reconciliation because, as we know, the missionaries who first came to Hawaii were very much a part of the movement that finally led to the overthrow.
So the United Church of Christ meeting recently adopted a resolution of reconciliation, urging their members to find ways in which to reflect upon what happened and to bring the people together, and have initiated this process. So one of the important points in the resolution is to acknowledge not only the 100th anniversary but also the fact that the United Church of Christ in its own initiative has taken steps to initiate this process of reconciliation.
I think the most important function that this body and this Congress and the American Government can do is to acknowledge what happened, the serious error that occurred, and to participate in this effort of reconciliation and by so doing adopt this resolution and in it convey an apology for what occurred 100 years ago.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. THOMAS of Wyoming. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Senate Joint Resolution 19. The gentlewoman from Hawaii has already explained the provisions of the resolution, so I will be brief.
I find it highly fitting that we consider this legislation this year before we adjourn; 1993 marks the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii with the assistance of U.S. military forces.
That overthrow brought to an ignoble end this country's recognition of the Kingdom of Hawaii as a sovereign independent nation, a status we repeatedly recognized in treaty and international agreement.
Treaty relations between the United States and the Hawaiian government began with the signing of a bilateral agreement between the parties in 1826 by a Capt. Thomas Jones on behalf of the United States and the Regent Ka'ahumanu on behalf of the Hawaiian King Kau'ikea'ouli. After that date, the United States concluded a series of treaties with the sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii: the 1849 Treaty of Commerce, Friendship, and Navigation; the 1855 Treaty Concerning Rights of Neutrals at Sea; the 1870 Postal Convention; an 1875 Treaty of Reciprocity; the 1883 Convention for the Exchange of Money Orders; the 1884 Treaty of Commercial Reciprocity; and the 1888 Parcel Post Convention.
Because the increased number of rights granted to Americans that accompanied this treaty process and accompanying increase in trade greatly swelled the numbers of whites on the islands, native Hawaiians became a minority in their own land. From a population of approximately 300,000 in 1778, by 1890 the Hawaiian people were reduced to a population of 41,000 that owned a little under one-quarter of the land.
In response to the growing commercial power of the whites and their demands, King Kamehameha III introduced land reforms in 1848 called the Great Mahele in which Hawaiian lands became alienable for the first time. By 1852, thousands of acres were owned by a few westerners - the early land barons - while native Hawaiians owned only a tiny fraction. The white 9 percent of the population owned 67 percent of the taxable land in the Kingdom.
Having asserted economic dominance over the Kingdom by the late 1880's, the westerners turned to establish complete political control as well. The principal white landowners founded the Hawaiian League in 1887 to increase their power at the expense of the monarchy. In consequence, they staged a coup d'etat on July 6, 1887, and forced the King to promulgate a new constitution, the Bayonet Constitution of 1887, which supplanted the power of the monarch with that of the white landowners. Under the constitution, the voting class was limited to landowners, a move which disenfranchised 75 percent of the native population.
In 1893, the American merchant community, dissatisfied with its lack of total political control and fearing a diminution of the control it did possess, organized to overthrow the constitutional monarchy that ruled the kingdom. The merchants formed a committee on public safety made up entirely of non-Hawaiians. The fact that the revolt was led solely by nonnative mercantile interests was evident even on the mainland at the time; a contemporary article in the Fresno Daily Evening Expositor noted that the uprising was 'formulated by the sugar producing elements of the Islands.'
The U.S. Minister in Hawaii, John L. Stevens, was openly hostile to the monarchy. as one historian has put it: 'He desired that the monarchy should fall, and that the Islands should be annexed to the United States.' Stevens conspired with the merchants, and sent a letter to the State Department stating that 'the Hawaiian pear is now fully ripe, and this is the golden hour for the United States to pluck it.' His letter outlining his intentions would not reach the State Department until several months after the revolt.
On the day the merchants planned their revolt, Stevens unilaterally ordered 162 marines from the U.S.S. Boston to land in Honolulu to lend support to the merchants. He had already informed the rebels of his plans, and that diplomatic recognition of their cause would be quickly forthcoming: 'the troops * * * would be ready to land any moment * * * and would recognize the existing government whatever it might be.'
The rebels overthrew the monarchy and proclaimed a provisional government which Stevens was quick to recognize in the name of the United States, even though he had no authority to do so. The reigning monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani, was forced to surrender her authority in a document stating that she 'yield(ed) to the superior force of the United States, whose minister * * * has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said provisional government.'
The Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed soon thereafter in 1894, and among its official acts was the expropriation of all lands belonging to the crown without compensation to the Queen, Lili'uokalani, or the Hawaiian people. The lands were immediately made available to westerners for purchase.
In 1898, the United States unilaterally annexed the kingdom as a territory, thereby abrogating the independent status of the kingdom that we had recognized in treaty over the preceding 70 years. With that annexation, the United States, without paying any compensation to the native Hawaiian people, took title to the crown and government lands previously expropriated by the Republic.
Mr. Speaker, the responsibility of instrumentalities of the U.S. Government for the overthrow and subjugation of the native Hawaiian government and people is clear. In a report to Congress in 1893, the President stated:
But for the notorious predilections of the United States Minister for annexation, the Committee of Safety would never have existed. But for the landing of United States forces upon false pretexts respecting the danger to life and property, the Committee would never have exposed themselves to the pains and penalties of treason by undertaking the subversion of the Queen's Government. But for the presence of the United States forces in the immediate vicinity and in position to afford all needed protection and support, the American merchants would not have proclaimed the provisional government. But for the lawless occupation of Honolulu under false pretexts by United States forces the Queen and her government would never have yielded.
Mr. Speaker, in closing let me address some of the arguments made by opponents of this legislation. Some have said that passage of this resolution would be divisive; that it sets part of the Hawaiian population apart from the rest. This contention, however, is nothing more than a canard. I believe that it would have exactly the opposite effect. Senate Joint Resolution 19 is an important first step in closing an unfortunate period in our relations with the Hawaiian people and in commencing a reconciliation between them and the United States. The goal is to bring together, not to divide.
Second, there are some who are worried that the resolution will form the genesis of a call for reparations or a civil lawsuit against the United States. However, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the history of this issue knows full well that a substantial basis for such a suit already clearly exists. This resolution does nothing to tip the scales in favor of the proponents of litigation; if I thought it did, I would not support it.
Mr. Speaker, it is high time that the United States acknowledge its role in this regrettable affair. I urge my colleagues to support passage of Senate Joint Resolution 19 - it is the right thing to do, and the right time to do it.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to my colleague, the gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Abercrombie).
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding this time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the ranking member, the gentleman from Wyoming (Mr. Thomas), our good friend and colleague on the Committee on Natural Resources.
Educating Members of Congress is the key to securing justice for native Hawaiians. Understanding has to precede action. That is why this resolution is so important. That is why we are particularly grateful to our friends and colleagues here for their support.
The resolution lays out in graphic detail what happened to Hawaiians and sounds a compelling call for justice.
So I rise in support of the resolution to acknowledge and apologize to the native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for its involvement in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
I think it is especially appropriate that we take up this resolution in the centennial year of the overthrow.
To native Hawaiians, this act of dispossession is something that has rankled for over 100 years. Native Hawaiians are acutely conscious of their history, and today's action is an important step toward healing a wound which has festered for far too long.
Mr. Speaker, as the resolution says in expressing its commitment to acknowledging the ramifications of the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii, this provides a proper foundation for a reconciliation between the United States and the native people of Hawaii.
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to my colleague, the gentleman from the American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega).
(Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I would certainly like to commend the distinguished gentlewoman from the State of Hawaii (Mrs. Mink) and also our colleague, the gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Abercrombie) for bringing this legislation out to the floor.
Certainly I want to commend the gentleman from Wyoming (Mr. Thomas) for his support of this piece of legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of Senate Joint Resolution 19 to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the January 17, 1893, overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and to offer an apology to native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Before the illegal overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893, the Kingdom of Hawaii was a highly organized, civilized sovereign nation which entered into treaties and conventions with many nations, including the United States. Few Americans know that for nearly 70 years, the United States recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii and extended full and complete diplomatic recognition to the Hawaiian government.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that without the active support and intervention by U.S. diplomatic and military representatives, the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani on January 17, 1893, would have failed for lack of popular support and insufficient arms.
On December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland, in a message to Congress described the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii as 'an act of war committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States without the authority of Congress,' and he acknowledged that by such acts, the government of a peaceful and friendly people was overthrown.
To this day, no official apology has ever been made to native Hawaiians, nor has there ever been an attempt at a federal policy addressing their rights.
U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii has said, 'the deprivation of Hawaiian sovereignty, which began a century ago, has had devastating effects on the health, culture, and social conditions of native Hawaiians, with consequences that are evident throughout the islands today.'
Senator Akaka, a native Hawaiian whose grandparents were present during the overthrow of the Hawaiian government is absolutely correct when he says that, too often, when American policymakers think about native Americans, they mistakenly consider only native American Indians and Alaska Natives as native peoples of the United States.
Mr. Speaker, native Hawaiians are, indeed, native Americans. While they are culturally Polynesian, they are descendants of the aboriginal people who occupied and exercised sovereignty in the area that now constitutes our 50th State of Hawaii. In addition to a formal apology to the people of Hawaii, it is also time for the Federal Government to develop a comprehensive Federal policy that addresses the needs of the native American people of Hawaii.
Mr. Speaker, to conclude, I would like to close with a plea from Queen Liliuokalani to the American people 100 years ago in which she lamented the plight of her people.
Oh, honest Americans, as Christians, hear me for my downtrodden people. Do not covet the little vineyard of Naboth's, so far from your shores, lest the instrument of Ahab fall upon you, if not on your day in that of your children.
The children to whom our fathers told of the living God . . . are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.
Mr. Speaker, after 100 years, it is time for the U.S. Congress to offer a formal apolgy to the noble people of Hawaii for the overthrow of their legitimate government - it is the least we can do. While this apology will not bring back their land which we stole; bring back their culture which we destroyed; or, bring back their spirit which we broke; Senate Joint Resolve 19 will begin the process of reconciliation with my brothers and sisters of Hawaii.
I ask my colleagues to do the right thing today and support Senate Joint Resolution 19.
Mr. THOMAS of Wyoming. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the honorable gentleman from California (Mr. Miller).
Mr. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink) for yielding this time to me, and I just want to take this time to commend my colleagues, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink), and the gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Abercrombie) for their work on behalf of this resolution.
One of the testimonies to the strength of this country is that every now and then we can go back and set the record straight and recognize our errors, recognize our mistakes and recognize our faults, and in this country's long history of dealing with native peoples, native Americans, native Hawaiians, we have had to do that from time to time. I recognize that as an element of strength, of recognition that our Government is not infallible, that men and women in government, in high places, from time to time make mistakes, and clearly, with the overthrow of this sovereign Hawaiian government we made such a mistake and then attempted to later obscure that mistake with formal government actions. This resolution today takes a long and difficult step in educating this Nation as to the true history of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It puts the American people on notice as to the correctness. it does not infer any new rights to native Hawaiians. But it clearly also invokes the name of the U.S. Government in an apology to native Hawaiians for those actions that were taken.
Mr. Speaker, this is long overdue, and I will hope that our colleagues would support this, and I would hope that they would recognize the tireless effort on behalf of this resolution by the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink) and the gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Abercrombie), and I would urge my colleagues to support this measure.
Mrs. MINK. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of honor and humility that I accepted the honor of serving as the manager of this bill that means so much to the people of Hawaii, and I want to especially thank the subcommittee chairman, the honorable gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Richardson), for giving me this opportunity to record my presence on the floor managing this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution calling for the Government of the United States to issue a formal apology to native Hawaiians for its role in overthrowing the legal Government of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.
During the nearly 1,200 years preceding the European discovery of Hawaii in 1778, native Hawaiians were the only inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii. In those 12 centuries, native Hawaiians developed a self-sufficient and highly structured communal land tenure-based society characterized by a language and culture of great subtlety and a religion of great complexity. While the native Hawaiians were no more able than others at creating a perfect society, they did develop the enduring patterns of relationships and interactions between social groups that are the hallmarks of a successful society.
Although native Hawaiians shared a common language, culture and religion, they did not share a common government until 1810 when the Island of Kauai joined the Kingdom of Hawaii. Established in 1795 by King Kamehameha I after he conquered most of the Hawaiian islands, the Kingdom of Hawaii was accorded full and complete diplomatic recognition by the United States from 1826 to 1893.
Christian missionaries first arrived in Hawaii from New England in the early 19th century and succeeded in transforming the kingdom into a Christian nation within a generation. The sons and grandsons of the missionaries established successful businesses which grew to form the economic backbone of the kingdom. In addition to wielding economic influence, these missionary-descended businessmen, together with American and European-born businessmen, exerted great political influence.
The committee of public safety, an association comprised of these Western businessmen, gained enough political power by 1877 to force Hawaii's seventh monarch, King David Kalakaua, to sign a new Constitution which diminished his power and ousted his Cabinet appointees. The new Constitution also established a ministry responsible to the legislature and not the King.
In concert with this new Constitution, the committee of public safety influenced the legislature into passing a bill which restricted the vote to persons who earned at least $600 a year or owned at least $3,000 worth of property. In this way, the franchise was transferred from native Hawaiians to a small minority of American and European-descended businessmen.
When King David Kalakaua died in 1891, he was succeeded by his sister, Liliuokalani. Intent on reversing the decline of native Hawaiian influence over the affairs of the kingdom, Queen Liliuokalani aligned herself with a group of Hawaiian politicians and activists working to restore the power of the monarchy. Queen Liliuokalani felt a powerful monarchy was the only way native Hawaiians could be given a voice in their government.
On January 13, 1893, Hawaiian members of the legislature succeeded in garnering enough votes to oust the members of the Cabinet. Queen Liliuokalani followed this action by quickly appointing her own Cabinet and drawing up a new Constitution which provided for a strong monarchy.
Just as quickly, the committee of public safety began to plan for the abolition of the monarchy and the formation of a provisional government. Mr. John L. Stevens, the United States Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii, joined the committee of public safety in planning the overthrow of the Hawaii Government. U.S. Minister Stevens directed armed personnel aboard the U.S.S. Boston to enter Honolulu on January 16, 1893, and station themselves near Iolani Palace, the royal residence, and other Hawaiian Government buildings to intimidate Queen Liliuokalani and members of her government.
On January 17, 1893, the committee of public safety proclaimed the abolition of the monarchy, the creation of a provisional government, and its intention to seek the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. U.S. Minister Stevens extended diplomatic recognition to the provisional government without the consent of the native Hawaiian people or the lawful Government of Hawaii.
Faced with armed U.S. military forces and unwilling to place her supporters in danger, Queen Liliuokalani yielded her authority under protest to the provisional government. U.S. Minister Stevens raised the American flag and proclaimed Hawaii to be a protectorate of the United States on February 1, 1893.
It must be noted that when Queen Liliuokalani yielded her authority, she indicated she believed the U.S. Government would return Hawaii to the Hawaiian people once it learned of the actions of its representative, John Stevens, and the injustices committed by the committee of public safety.
An investigation, initiated by President Grover Cleveland and conducted by former Congressman James Blount, concluded that the United States diplomatic and military representatives to the Kingdom of Hawaii had abused their authority and were responsible for the change in government. Minister Stevens was recalled from his diplomatic post and the commander of the U.S. military forces stationed in Hawaii was disciplined and forced to resign his commission.
President Cleveland delivered a message to Congress on December 18, 1893 in which he described the illegal acts of those who participated in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Government as an 'act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without the authority of Congress.' He went on to call for the restoration of the Hawaiian Monarchy by noting that a 'substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires that we should endeavor to repair.'
However, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, rejected the Blount Report and President Cleveland's call for the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy after being lobbied by the Provisional Government of Hawaii. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee then announced its intention to conduct its own investigation into the events surrounding the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard from members of the Provisional Government of Hawaii who justified the actions of U.S. Minister Stevens and the need to annex Hawaii. Because of the investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, no action was taken to restore the Hawaiian Monarchy. At the same time, however, supporters of Hawaiian annexation in the Congress failed to round up the needed two-thirds majority.
As the stalemate over the issue of restoring the Hawaiian Monarchy continued, Queen Liliuokalani was forced to sign a formal statement of abdication and swear allegiance to the Republic of Hawaii on January 24, 1895 while under house arrest in Iolani Palace. And, President William McKinley, President Cleveland's successor, signed the Newlands Joint Resolution, by which the self-declared Republic of Hawaii ceded sovereignty over the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, on July 7, 1898.
As part of the Newlands Joint Resolution, the Republic of Hawaii also ceded to the United States 1,800,000 acres of crown, government, and public lands of the Kindgom of Hawaii, without the consent of or compensation to the native Hawaiian people or their sovereign government. And, through the enactment of the Organic Act by the Congress of the United States, Hawaii became a U.S. territory on April 30, 1900
The loss of sovereignty came at the close of a 100-year period during which the native Hawaiian population had declined precipitously. Because native Hawaiians had lived in virtual isolation for nearly 12 centuries, they had built up no immunity to a variety of Old and New World diseases. As a result, native Hawaiians succumbed to measles and other usually nonfatal illnesses brought to the islands by Americans, Asians, and Europeans. Between the European discovery of Hawaii by Capt. James Cook in 1778 and the late 1800's, the numbers of native Hawaiians declined from an estimated 500,000 to fewer than 50,000. The scale of this population decline was extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented.
Over the course of the 19th century, native Hawaiians witnessed the suppression of their language and culture, their near extermination, and, finally, the loss of their sovereignty. Disenfranchised from their land, culture, and ability to self-govern, the indigenous people of Hawaii suffered a fate shared by other displaced indigenous peoples. Like the aborigines in Australia and native Americans in this country, native Hawaiians are now among the most impoverished and dispossessed people in the State of Hawaii.
Over 100 years ago, representatives of the U.S. government and military abused their authority by helping a small yet privileged and powerful group of American and European businessmen overthrow the government of a sovereign nation, the Kingdom of Hawaii. The U.S. Government subsequently gave its mantle of approval to this illegal action by accepting lands ceded to the United States by the self-proclaimed Republic of Hawaii and by annexing the Hawaiian Islands as a territory.
In spite of the passage of 100 years, the fact that Hawaii is now an integral part of the United States, and the argument that the illegal 1893 takeover of the Kingdom of Hawaii eventually provided citizens of Hawaii with full citizenship in the world's most enduring democracy, none of this erases the fact that the takeover of the Kingdom of Hawaii was an illegal act which transformed native Hawaiians into strangers in their own land.
While history cannot be rewritten, it can - and must - be acknowledged. As such, the United States should - and must - acknowledge its role in overthrowing the legal Government of the Kingdom of Hawaii by issuing an official apology.
Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Senate Joint Resolution 19, a bill to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and to offer an apology to native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Islands were unified under one government in 1810 under King Kamehameha I. It was an independent, sovereign monarchy which traded and had treaties with several nations including the United States between 1826-1893.
Western businessmen concerned that the monarchy might not look as favorably on them in the future, began a successful campaign which spread back to the United States the word that the safety of U.S. citizens might be in jeopardy. With the assistance of the U.S. Minister, who was our Government's representative in the islands, U.S. Armed Forces invaded Hawaii in January 1893.
A provisional government was quickly established and, under protest, the Queen stepped down from power.
She believed that once the United States conducted an inquiry of the recent actions, she would be reinstated to her proper role.
President Grover Cleveland did conduct an investigation and described the actions in Hawaii as an 'act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress.' He called for the reinstatement of the Hawaiian monarchy. The provisional government, however, fought this request and remained in power.
In 1898 President William McKinley signed the resolution annexing the Hawaiian Islands and some 1.8 million acres of land to the United States.
Mr. Speaker, without the assistance of the diplomatic representative of the United States to the sovereign Hawaiian Islands, the overthrow would not have happened.
The purpose of Senate Joint Resolution 19 is to spell out the events which led to the overthrow of the government of Hawaii, annexation, and finally to statehood in 1959. It is foremost an educational document. It is also meant to finally apologize to the people of Hawaii for the improper actions taken by a representative of this government.
I want to thank my colleagues from Hawaii, Mrs. Mink and Mr. Abercrombie, for the work they have done to bring this resolution to the floor today. They have worked tirelessly on behalf of their constituents to educate the Congress as to the history of Hawaii. This resolution is another step in that direction.
Senate Joint Resolution 19 does not infer any new rights to native Hawaiians. It is an apology that is long overdue and I urge my colleagues to support it.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink) that the House suspend the rules and pass the Senate joint resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 19.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended, and the Senate joint resolution was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
Congressional Record - Senate, October 27, 1993
|The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement:
Roles of and Impacts on Non-Hawaiians
By Anthony Castanha, August 1996