History of Later
Years of the Hawaiian Monarchy, and the Revolution of 1893
By Prof. W. D.
Alexander, Published by The Hawaiian Gazette Company, 1896
Inquiries are continually being made for a brief, clear and
dispassionate history of the Revolution of 1893 and of the events that
led up to it. The lapse of time has already moderated the bitterness of
party spirit, and made it possible to form a juster estimate of the
chief actors on both sides of that controversy.
A brief sketch of the salient political events of 1887, was written for
Col. J. H. Blount at his own request, and afterwards republished by the
Hawaiian Gazette Co. At their request the writer reluctantly consented
to continue his sketch through Kalakaua's reign and that of Liliuokalani
until the eve of the Revolution of 1893, and afterwards to draw up a
more detailed account of the revolution and of the subsequent events of
that year. The testimony of the principal witnesses on both sides has
been carefully sifted and compared, and no pains has been spared to
arrive at the truth.
The writer, while
not professing to be a neutral, has honestly striven not "to extenuate
aught or set down aught in malice," but to state the facts as nearly as
possible, in their true relations and in their just proportions. The
official documents on both sides bearing on the case are given in full,
including the report of Col. J. H. Blount to the President of the United
States, and the report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,
drawn up by Senator Morgan of Alabama.
Part 1 The Decadence
of the Hawaiian Monarchy
Chapter 1 Personal
Chapter 2 Under the Constitution of 1887
Revolution of 1893
Part 2 Under the
Negotiations at Washington
Chapter 5 The
Mission of Commissioner Blount
President Cleveland's Attempt to Restore the Queen
Supplement A. Report of Col. J. H.
Blount by Rev. S. B. Bishop
Part 3 History of the
Insurrection of January 1895, by Mr. W. R, Farrington
Chapter 1 Rise and
Fall of the Insurrection
Chapter 2 Trial of
Abdication and Trial of Liliuokalani
Chapter 4 Landing
of Arms and General Scheme of the Rebellion
Deportation of Political Exiles.
Chapter 6 Pardon
of Political Prisoners.
Commercial Enterprises of Honolulu
PART 1, CHAPTER 1
Reigns of Kalakaua and Liliuokalani
It is true that the
germs of many of the evils of Kalakaua's reign may be traced to the
reign of Kamehameha V. The reactionary policy of that monarch is well
known. Under him the "recrudescence" of heathenism commenced, as evinced
by the Pagan orgies at the funeral of his sister, Victoria Kamamalu, in
June, 1866, and by his encouragement of the lascivious hulahula dancers
and of the pernicious class of Kahunas or sorcerers. Closely connected
with this reaction was a growing jealousy and hatred of foreigners.
During Lunalilo's brief reign, 1873-74, this feeling was fanned into a
flame by several causes, viz., the execution of the law for the
segregation of lepers, the agitation caused by the proposal to cede the
use of Pearl Harbor to the United States, and the famous mutiny at the
barracks. This disaffection was made the most of by Kalakaua, who was
smarting under his defeat in the election of January, 8, 1873. Indeed,
his manifesto previous to that election appealed to this race prejudice.
Thus he promised, if elected, "to repeal the poll tax," "to put native
Hawaiians into the Government offices," "to amend the Constitution of
1864," etc. "Beware," he said, "of the Constitution of 1852, and the
false teaching of the foreigners, who are now seeking to obtain the
direction of the Government, if Lunalilo ascends the throne." Walter
Murray Gibson, formerly Mormon apostle and shepherd of Lanai, then
professional politician and editor of that scurrilous paper the Nuhou,
was bitterly disappointed that he had been ignored in the formation of
Lunalilo's cabinet. Accordingly he took the role of an agitator and
attached himself to Kalakaua's party. They were both disappointed at the
result of the barracks mutiny, which had undoubtedly been fomented by
Election Of Kalakaua
Upon Lunalilo's untimely death, February 3, 1874. as no successor to the
throne had been appointed, the Legislature was summoned to meet on the
12th, only nine days after his death. The popular choice lay between
Kalakaua and the Queen-Dowager Emma. The Cabinet and the American party
used all their influence in favor of the former, while the English
favored Emma, who was devoted to their interest. At the same time
Kalakaua's true character was not generally understood.
The natives knew that his family had always been an idolatrous one. His
reputed grandfather, Kamanawa, had been hanged, October 20, 1840, for
poisoning his wife, Kamokuiki.
Under Kamehameha V., he had always been an advocate of absolutism, and
also of legalizing the furnishing of alcoholic liquors to natives. While
he was postmaster a defalcation occurred, which was covered up, while
his friends made good the loss to the Government. Like Wilkins Micawber,
he was impecunious all his life, whatever the amount of his income might
be. He was characterized by a fondness for decorations and military show
long before he was thought of as a possible candidate for the throne.
It was believed, however, that if Queen Emma should be elected there
would be no hope of our obtaining a reciprocity treaty with the United
States. The movement in favor of Queen Emma carried the day with the
natives on Oahu, but had not time to spread to the other islands. It was
charged, and generally believed that bribery was used by Kalakaua's
friends to secure his election. Be that as it may, the Legislature was
convened in the old court-house (now occupied by Hackfeld & Co.) and
elected Kalakaua King by 39 votes to 6.
A howling mob, composed of Queen Emma's partizans, had surrounded the
court-house during the election, after which they battered down the
back-doors, sacked the building, and assaulted the representatives with
clubs. Messrs. C. C. Harris and S. B. Dole held the main door against
them for considerable time. The mob, with one exception, refrained from
violence to foreigners, from fear of intervention by the men-of-war in
port. The cabinet and the marshal had been warned of the danger, but had
made light of it. The police appeared to be in sympathy with the
populace, and the volunteers, for the same reason, would not turn out.
Mr. H. A. Pierce, the American Minister, however, had anticipated the
riot, and had agreed with Commander Belknap, of the U. S. S. Tuscarora,
and Commander Skerrett, of the Portsmouth, upon a signal for landing the
troops under their command. At last Mr. C. R. Bishop, Minister of
Foreign Affairs, formally applied to him and to Major Wodehouse, H. B.
M.'s Commissioner, for assistance in putting down the riot.
A body of 150 marines immediately landed from the two American
men-of-war, and in a few minutes was joined by seventy men from H. B.
M.'s corvette Tenedos, Capt. Ray. They quickly dispersed the mob and
arrested a number of them without any bloodshed. The British troops
first occupied Queen Emma's grounds, arresting several of the
ringleaders there, and afterwards guarded the palace and barracks. The
other Government buildings, the prison, etc., were guarded by American
troops until the 20th.
The Late King, David Kalakaua
Inauguration Of Kalakaua
The next day at noon Kalakaua was sworn in as King, under the protection
of the United States troops. By an irony of fate the late leader of the
anti-American agitation owed his life and his throne to American
intervention, and for several years he depended upon the support of the
foreign community. In these circumstances he did not venture to proclaim
a new constitution ( as in his inaugural speech he had said he intended
to do), nor to disregard public opinion in his appointments. His first
Minister of Foreign Affairs was the late Hon. W. L. Green, an
Englishman, universally respected for his integrity and ability, who
held this office for nearly three years, and carried through the treaty
of reciprocity in the teeth of bitter opposition.
The following October Messrs. E. H. Allen and H. A. P. Carter were sent
to Washington to negotiate a treaty of reciprocity. The Government of
the United States having extended an invitation to the King, and placed
the U. S. S. Benicia at his disposal, he embarked November 17, 1874,
accompanied by Mr. H. A. Pierce and several other gentlemen. They were
most cordially received and treated as guests of the nation. After a
tour through the Northern States the royal party returned to Honolulu
February 15, 1875, in the U. S. S. Pensacola. The treaty of reciprocity
was concluded January 30, 1875, and the ratifications were exchanged at
Washington June 3, 1875.
The act necessary to carry it into effect was not, however, passed by
the Hawaiian Legislature till July 18, 1876, after the most stubborn
opposition, chiefly from the English members of the house and the
partisans of Queen Emma, who denounced it as a step toward annexation.
It finally went into effect September 9, 1876.
The Advent Of Spreckels
The first effect of the reciprocity treaty was to cause a "boom" in
sugar, which turned the heads of some of our shrewdest men and nearly
caused a financial crash. Among other enterprises the Haiku irrigation
ditch, twenty miles in length, which taps certain streams flowing down
the northern slopes of East Maui and waters three plantations, was
planned and carried out by Mr. S. T. Alexander, in 1877. About that time
he pointed out to Col. Claus Spreckels the fertile plain of Central
Maui, then lying waste, which only needed irrigation to produce immense
crops. Accordingly, in 1878, Mr. Spreckels applied to the cabinet for a
lease of the surplus waters of the streams on the northeast side of Maui
as far as Honomanu. They flow through a rugged district at present
The then Attorney-General. Judge Hartwell, and the Minister of the
Interior, J. Mott Smith, refused to grant him a perpetual monopoly of
this water, as they state it. Up to this time the changes in the cabinet
had been caused by disagreements between its members, and had no
In the mean time, Mr. Gibson, after many months of preparation, had
brought in before the Legislature a motion of want of confidence in the
ministry, which was defeated June 24, by a vote of 26 to 19. On the
night of July 1, Messrs. Claus Spreckels and G. W. Macfarlane had a long
conference with Kalakaua at the Hawaiian Hotel on the subject of the
water privilege, and adjourned to the palace about midnight.
It is not necessary to give the details here, but the result was that
letters were drawn up and signed by the King, addressed to each member
of the cabinet, requesting his resignation, without stating any reason
for his dismissal. These letters were delivered by a messenger between 1
and 2 o'clock in the morning. Such an arbitrary and despotic act was
without precedent in Hawaiian history.
The next day a new cabinet was appointed, consisting of S. G. Wilder,
Minister of the Interior; E. Preston, Attorney-General; Simon Kaai,
Minister of Finance; and John Kapena, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The
last two positions were sinecures, but Kaai as a speaker and politician
had great influence with his countrymen. The new cabinet granted Mr.
Spreckels the desired water privilege for thirty years at $500 per
annum. The opium license and free liquor bills were killed. The actual
premier, Mr. Wilder, was probably the ablest administrator that this
country has ever had. He infused new vigor into every department of the
Government, promoted immigration, carried out extensive public
improvements, and at the legislative session of 1880 was able to show
cash in the treasury sufficient to pay off the existing national debt.
But his determination to administer his own department in accordance
with business methods did not suit the King.
Meanwhile Gibson spared no pains to make himself conspicuous as the
soi-disant champion of the aboriginal race. He even tried to capture the
"missionaries," "experienced religion," held forth at sundry prayer
meetings, and spoke in favor of temperance.
Celso Caesar Moreno
The professional lobbyist, Celso Caesar Moreno, well known at Sacramento
and Washington, arrived in Honolulu November 14, 1879, on the China
Merchants' Steam Navigation Company's steamer Ho-chung, with the view of
establishing a line of steamers between Honolulu and China. Soon
afterwards he presented a memorial to the Hawaiian Government asking for
a subsidy to the proposed line. He remained in Honolulu about ten
months, during which time he gained unbounded influence over the King by
servile flattery and by encouraging all his pet hobbies. He told him
that he ought to be his own prime minister, and to fill all Government
offices with native Hawaiians. He encouraged his craze for a ten-million
loan, to be spent chiefly for military purposes, and told him that China
was the "treasure house of the world," where he could borrow all the
money he wanted. The King was always an active politician, and he left
no stone unturned to carry the election of 1880. His candidates
advocated a ten-million loan and unlimited Chinese immigration. With
Moreno's assistance he produced a pamphlet in support of these views,
entitled "A reply to ministerial utterances."
Session Of 1880
In the Legislature of 1880 was seen the strange spectacle of the King
working with a pair of unscrupulous adventurers to oust his own
constitutional advisers, and introducing through his creatures a series
of bills, which were generally defeated by the ministry.
Gibson had now thrown off the mask, and voted for everyone of the King
and Moreno's measures. Among their bills which failed were the
ten-million loan bill, the opium-license bill, the free-liquor bill, and
especially the bill guaranteeing a bonus of $1,000,000 in gold to
Moreno's Trans Pacific Cable Company.
The subsidy to the China line of steamers was carried by the lavish use
of money; but it was never paid. Appropriations were passed for the
education of Hawaiian youths abroad, and for the coronation of the King
At last on the 4th of August, Gibson brought in a motion of "want of
confidence," which, after a lengthy debate, was defeated by the decisive
vote of 32 to 10. On the 14th, the King prorogued the Legislature at
noon, and about an hour later dismissed his ministers without a word of
explanation, and appointed Moreno, Premier and Minister of Foreign
Affairs; J. E. Bush, Minister of the Interior; W. C. Jones,
Attorney-General; and Rev. M. Kuaea, Minister of Finance.
Of The Moreno Ministry
Moreno was generally detested by the foreign community, and the
announcement of his appointment created intense excitement.
For the first time the discordant elements of the foreign community were
united, and they were supported by a large proportion of the natives.
The three highest and most influential chiefs Queen Dowager Emma, Ruth
Keelikolani and Bernice Pauahi Bishop joined in condemning the King's
Two mass meetings were held at the Kaumakapili church, and a smaller one
of foreigners at the old Bethel church, to protest against the coup
d'ιtat. The diplomatic representatives of the United States, England and
France General Comly, Major Wodehouse and M. Ratard raised their
respective flags over their legations, and declared that they would hold
no further official intercourse with the Hawaiian Government as long as
Moreno should be premier. On the side of the King, R. W. Wilcox, Nawahi
and others harangued the natives, appealing to their jealousy of
foreigners. The following manifesto is a sample :
"Way-Up Celso Moreno."
"To all true-born citizens of the country, greeting:
We have with us one Celso Caesar Moreno, a naturalized and true
Hawaiian. His great desire is the advancement of this country in
wealth, and the salvation of this people, by placing the leading
positions of Government in the hands of the Hawaiians for
administration. The great desire of Moreno is to cast down
foreigners from official positions and to put true Hawaiians in
their places, because to them belongs the country.
They should hold the Government and not strangers.
Positions have been taken from Hawaiians and given to strangers. C.
C. Moreno desires to throw down these foreigners and to elevate to
high positions the people to whom belongs the land, i.e., the red
skins. This is the real cause of jealousy on the part of foreigners,
viz., that Hawaiians shall be placed above them in all things in
this well-beloved country. C. C. Moreno is the heart from whence
will issue life to the real Hawaiians."
After four days of intense excitement, the King yielded to the storm.
Moreno's resignation was announced on the 19th, and his place filled ad
interim by J. E. Bush. On the 30th, Moreno left for Europe, with three
Hawaiian "youths" under his charge, viz., R. W. Wilcox, a member of the
late Legislature, 26 years of age, Robert Boyd and James K. Booth.
It was afterwards ascertained that he bore a secret commission as
minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary to all the great
powers, as well as letters addressed to the Governments of the United
States, England and France, demanding the recall of their
representatives. A violent quarrel had broken out between him and his
disappointed rival, Gibson who purchased the P. C. Advertiser printing
office with Government money. September 1, and conducted that paper
thenceforth as the King's organ.
Mr. W. L. Green was persuaded to accept the vacant place of minister of
foreign affairs September 22. In a few days, he discovered what had been
done, and immediately notified the representatives of the three powers
concerned of the insult that had been offered them.
A meeting was held at his office between the foreign representatives on
the one side and himself and J. E. Bush on the other, at which the
letters in question were read. The result was that Mr. Green resigned
and compelled the resignation of his colleagues.
Mr. Claus Spreckels, who arrived September 5, took an active part in
these events and in the formation of the new ministry, which consisted
of W. L. Green, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H. A. P. Carter, Minister
of the Interior; J. S. Walker, Minister of Finance, and W. N. Armstrong,
Their first act was to annul Moreno's commission, and to send
dispatches, which were telegraphed from San Francisco to Washington,
London and Paris, disavowing the demands which he had sent. Moreno,
however, proceeded on his journey and finally placed the Hawaiian
youths, one in a military and two in a naval school in Italy.
King's Tour Around The World
The King immediately began to agitate his project of a trip around the
world. As it was known that he was corresponding with Moreno, it was
arranged that Mr. C. H. Judd should accompany him as Chamberlain, and
Mr. W. N. Armstrong as Commissioner of Immigration. He was received with
royal honors in Japan, Siam, and Johore. On the King's arrival in
Naples. Moreno made an audacious attempt to take possession of His
Majesty and dispense with his companions, but he met with more than his
match in Armstrong. The royal party visited nearly all the capitals of
Europe, where the King added a large number of decorations to his
collection, and took particular note of military matters and court
etiquette. An Austrian field battery which took his eye, afterwards cost
this country nearly $120,000. During the King's absence his sister, Mrs.
Dominis, styled Liliuokalani, acted as regent. He returned to Honolulu,
October 29, 1881, where he had a magnificent reception, triumphal
arches, torches blazing at noonday, and extravagant adulation of every
Triumph Of Gibson
During the King's absence he had kept up a correspondence with his
political workers at home, and after his return he produced another
pamphlet in Hawaiian, advocating a ten-million loan. Gibson's paper had
been filled with gross flattery of the King and of the natives, and had
made the most of the smallpox epidemic of 1881 to excite the populace
against the ministry.
Just before the election of 1882, a pamphlet appeared, containing a
scathing exposure of his past career (especially in connection with the
Mormon Church), backed by a mass of documentary evidence. Gibson's only
reply was to point to his subsequent election by a large majority of the
native voters of Honolulu. Only two other white men were elected on the
islands that year. It was the first time that the race issue had
superseded all other considerations with the native electorate.
Session Of 1882
The Legislature of 1882 was one of the weakest and most corrupt that
ever sat in Honolulu. At the opening of the session Minister Carter was
absent in Portugal, negotiating a treaty with the Government of that
country. It was soon evident that the Ministry did not control a
majority of the House, but the King did. After an ineffectual attempt to
quiet Gibson by offering him the Presidency of the Board of Health with
a salary of $4000, they resigned May 19th, and Gibson became Premier.
His colleagues were J. E. Bush, lately of Moreno's cabinet; Simon Kaai,
who drank himself to death; and Edward Preston, Attorney-General, who
was really the mainstay of the Cabinet.
One of their first measures was an act to convey to Claus Spreckels the
crown lands of Wailuku, containing some 24,000 acres, in order to
compromise a claim which he held to an undivided share of the crown
lands. He had purchased from Ruth Keelikolani, for the sum of $10,000,
all the interest which she might have had in the crown lands as being
the half-sister of Kamehameha IV., who died intestate. Her claim had
been ignored in the decision of the Supreme Court and the Act of 1865,
which constituted the crown lands. Instead of testing her right by a
suit before the Supreme Court, the Ministry thought it best to accept
the above compromise, and carried it through the Legislature.
The prohibition against furnishing intoxicating liquor to natives was
repealed at this session, and the consequences to the race have been
disastrous. The ten-million loan bill was again introduced, but was
shelved in committee and a two-million loan act substituted for it. The
appropriation bill was swelled to double the estimated receipts of the
Government, including $30,000 for coronation expenses, $30,000 for
Hawaiian youths in foreign countries, $10,000 for a Board of Genealogy,
besides large sums for the military, foreign embassies, the palace, etc.
At the last moment a bill was rushed through, giving the King sole power
to appoint district justices, through his creatures, the governors,
which had formerly been done only "by and with the advice of the
Justices of the Supreme Court." This was another step toward absolutism.
Meanwhile Gibson defended the King's right to be an active politician,
and called him "the first Hawaiian King with the brains and heart of a
statesman." At the same time it was understood that Claus Spreckels
backed the Gibson ministry and made them advances under the Loan Act.
Kalakaua had always felt dissatisfied with the manner in which he had
been sworn in as a King. He was also tired of being reminded that he was
not a King by birth, but only by election. To remedy this defect he
determined to have the ceremony performed over again in as imposing a
manner as possible. Three years were spent in preparations for the great
event, and invitations were sent to all rulers and potentates on earth
to be present in person or by proxy on the occasion. Japan sent a
commissioner, while England, France and the United States were
represented by ships of war. The ceremony took place February 12, 1883,
nine years after Kalakaua's inauguration. Most of the regalia had been
ordered from London, viz., two crowns, a scepter, ring and sword, while
the royal feather mantle, tabu stick and kahili or plumed staff, were
native insignia of rank.
A pavilion was built for the occasion, as well as a temporary
amphitheatre for the spectators. The Chief Justice administered the oath
of office and invested the King with the various insignia This ceremony
was boycotted by the high chiefs, Queen Emma, Ruth Keelikolani and Mrs.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, and by a large part of the foreign community, as
an expensive and useless pageant intended to aid the King's political
schemes to make himself an absolute monarch, The coronation was followed
by feasts, a regatta and races, and by a series of nightly hula hulas,
i.e., heathen dances, accompanied by appropriate songs. The printer of
the coronation hula programme, which contained the subjects and first
lines of these songs, was prosecuted and fined by the court on account
of their gross and incredible obscenity.
During this year Mr. J. M. Kapena was sent as Envoy Extraordinary to
Japan, while Mr. C. P. laukea, with H. Poor as secretary, was sent to
attend the coronation of the Czar Alexander III. at Moscow, and
afterwards on a mission to Paris, Rome, Belgrade, Calcutta and Japan, on
his way around the world.
Kalakaua was no longer satisfied with being merely a King of Hawaii, but
aspired to what Gibson termed the "Primacy of the Pacific." Captain
Tripp and F. L. Clarke were sent as royal commissioners to the Gilbert
Islands and New Hebrides to prepare the way for a Hawaiian protectorate;
and a parody on the "Monroe Doctrine" was put forth in a grandiloquent
protest addressed to all the great powers by Mr. Gibson, warning them
against any further annexation of the islands in the Pacific Ocean, and
claiming for Hawaii the exclusive right ''to assist them in improving
their political and social condition," i, e., a virtual protectorate of
the other groups.
The King was now impatient to have his "image and superscription" on the
coinage of the realm, to add to his dignity as an independent monarch.
As no appropriation had been made for this purpose, recourse was had to
the recognized "power behind the throne." Mr. Claus Spreckels purchased
the bullion, and arrangements were made with the San Francisco mint for
the coinage of silver dollars and fractions of a dollar, to the amount
of one million dollars' worth, to be of identical weight and fineness
with the like coins of the United States. The intrinsic value of the
silver dollar at that time was about 84 cents. It was intended, however,
to exchange this silver for gold bonds at par under the Loan Act of
On the arrival of the first installment of the coin the matter was
brought before the Supreme Court by Messrs. Dole, Castle and W. 0.
Smith. After a full hearing of the case, the court decided that these
bonds could not legally be placed except for par value in gold coin of
the United States, and issued an injunction to that effect on the
Minister of Finance, December 14, 1883. The Privy Council was then
convened, and declared these coins to be of the legal value expressed on
their face, subject to the legal-tender act, and they were gradually put
into circulation. A profit of $150,000 is said to have been made on this
First Reconstruction of The Gibson Cabinet, 1883
Mr. Gibson's first Cabinet went to pieces in little over a year. Simon
Kaai was compelled to resign in February, 1883, from "chronic
inebriety," and was succeeded by J. M. Kapena. Mr. Peterson resigned the
following May from disgust at the King's personal intermeddling with the
administration, and in July Mr. Bush resigned in consequence of a
falling out with Mr. Gibson. For some time "the secretary stood alone,"
being at once Minister of Foreign Affairs, Attorney-General and Minister
of the Interior ad interim; besides being a President of the Board of
Health, President of the Board of Education and member of the Board of
Immigration, with nearly the whole foreign community opposed to him. The
price of Government bonds had fallen to 75 per cent, with no takers, and
the treasury was nearly empty. At this juncture (August 6) when a change
of Ministry was looked for, Mr. C. T. Gulick was persuaded to take the
portfolio of the Interior, and a small loan was obtained from his
friends. Then to the surprise of the public, Colonel Claus Spreckels
decided to support the Gibson Cabinet, which was soon after completed by
the accession of Mr. Paul Neumann.
Legislature of 1884
Since 1882 a considerable reaction had taken place among the natives,
who resented the cession of Wailuku to Spreckels, and felt a profound
distrust of Gibson. In spite of the war cry "Hawaii for Hawaiians," and
'the lavish use of Government patronage, the Palace party was defeated
in the elections generally, although it held Honolulu, its stronghold.
Among the Reform members that session were Messrs. Dole, Rowell, Smith,
Hitchcock, the three brothers, Godfrey, Cecil and Frank Brown, Kauhane,
Kalua, Nawahi, and the late Pilipo, of honored memory.
At the opening of the session the Reform party elected the speaker of
the house, and controlled the organization of the committees.
The report of the Finance committee was the most damaging exposure ever
made to a Hawaiian Legislature. A resolution of "want of confidence" was
barely defeated (June 28) by the four Ministers themselves voting on it.
Spreckels' Bank Charter
An act to establish a national bank had been drawn up for Colonel
Spreckels by a well-known law firm in San Francisco, and brought down to
Honolulu by ex-Governor Lowe. After "seeing" the King, and the usual
methods in vogue at Sacramento, the ex-Governor returned to San
Francisco, boasting that " he had the Hawaiian Legislature in his
pocket." But as soon as the bill had been printed and carefully
examined, a storm of opposition broke out. It provided for the issue of
a million dollars worth of paper money, backed by an equal amount of
Government bonds deposited as security. The notes might be redeemed in
either silver or gold. There was no clause requiring quarterly or
semi-annual reports of the state of the bank. Nor was a minimum fixed of
the amount of cash to be reserved in the bank. In fact, most of the
safeguards of the American national banking system were omitted. Its
notes were to be legal tender except for customs dues. It was empowered
to own steamship lines and railroads, and carry on mercantile business,
without paying license fees. It was no doubt intended to monopolize or
control all transportation within the Kingdom, as well as the importing
business from the United States.
The charter was riddled both in the house and in the chamber of
commerce, and indignation meetings of citizens were held until the King
was alarmed, and finally it was killed on the second reading by an
On hearing of the result, the sugar king took the first steamer for
Honolulu, and on his arrival "the air was blue full of strange oaths,
and many fresh and new." On second thought, however, and after friendly
discussion, he accepted the situation, and a fair general banking law
was passed, providing for banks of deposit and exchange, but not of
Lottery Bill, Etc.
At the same session a lottery bill was introduced by certain agents of
the Louisiana company. It offered to pay all the expenses of the leper
settlement for a license to carry on its nefarious business, besides
offering private inducements to venal legislators. In defiance of the
public indignation, shown by mass meetings, petitions, etc., the bill
was forced through its second reading, but was stopped at that stage and
withdrawn, as is claimed, by Col. Spreckels' personal influence with the
Kalakaua's famous "Report of the Board of Genealogy" was published at
this session. An opium-license bill was killed, as well as an
eight-million dollar loan bill, while a number of excellent laws were
passed. Among these were the currency act and Dole's homestead law. The
true friends of the native race had reason to rejoice that so much evil
had been prevented.
Practical Politics Under Gibson
During the next few years the country suffered from a peculiarly
degrading kind of despotism. I do not refer to the King's personal
immorality, nor to his systematic efforts to debauch and heathenize the
natives to further his political ends.
The coalition in power defied public opinion and persistently endeavored
to crush out or disarm all opposition, and to turn the Government into a
political machine for the perpetuation of their power. For the first
time in Hawaiian history faithful officers who held commissions from the
Kamehamehas were summarily removed on suspicion of "not being in accord"
with the cabinet, and their places generally filled by pliant tools. A
marked preference was given to unknown adventurers and defaulters over
natives and old residents. Even contracts (for building bridges, for
instance) were given to firms in foreign countries.
The various branches of the civil service were made political machines,
and even the Board of Education and Government Survey came near being
sacrificed to "practical politics." All who would not bow the knee
received the honorable sobriquet of " missionaries." The demoralizing
effects of this regime, the sycophancy, hypocrisy and venality produced
by it have been a curse to the country ever since. The Legislature of
1884 was half composed of office-holders, and wires were skillfully laid
to carry the next election. Grog shops were now licensed in the country
districts, to serve as rallying points for the "National party." The
Gibsonian papers constantly labored to foment race hatred among the
natives and class jealousy among the whites.
Fortunately, one branch of the Government, the Supreme Court, still
remained independent and outlived the Gibson regime.
Election Of 1886
The election of 1886 was the most corrupt one ever held in this Kingdom,
and the last one held under the old regime.
During the canvass the
country districts were flooded with cheap gin, chiefly furnished by the
King, who paid for it by franking other liquor through the Custom House
free of duty, and thereby defrauding the Government of revenue amounting
to $4749.35. Out of twenty-seven Government candidates twenty-three were
office-holders, one a last year's tax assessor and one the Queen's
secretary. There was only one white man on the Government ticket, viz.,
the premier's son-in-law.
An opium-license bill was introduced towards the end of the session by
Kaunamano, one of the King's tools, and after a long debate carried over
the votes of the Ministry by a bare majority. It provided that a license
for four years should be granted to "some one applying therefor" by the
Minister of the Interior, with the consent of the King, for $30,000 per
annum. The object of this provision was plainly seen at the time, and
its after consequences were destined to be disastrous to its author. Mr.
Dole proposed an amendment that the license be sold at public auction at
an upset price of $30,000, which, however, was defeated by a majority of
one, only one white man, F. H. Hayselden, voting with the majority.
Another act was passed to create a so-called "Hawaiian Board of Health,"
consisting of five kahunas, appointed by the King, with power to issue
certificates to native kahunas to practice " native medicine."
The King had been convinced that, for the present, he must forego his
pet scheme of a ten-million loan. A two-million loan bill, however, was
brought in early in the session, with the view of obtaining the money in
San Francisco. The subject was dropped for a time, then revived again,
and the bill finally passed September 1.
Meanwhile, the idea of obtaining a loan in London was suggested to the
King by Mr. A. Hoffnung, of that city, whose firm had carried on the
Portuguese immigration. The proposal pleased the King, who considered
that' creditors at so great a distance would not be likely to trouble
themselves much about the internal politics of this little Kingdom. Mr.
H. R. Armstrong, of the firm of Skinner & Co., London, visited Honolulu
to further the project, which was engineered by Mr. G. W. Macfarlane in
Two parties were now developed in that body, viz., the Spreckels' party,
led by the Ministry, and the King's party, which favored the London
loan. The small knot of independent members held the balance of power.
The two contending parties brought in two sets of conflicting amendments
to the loan act, of which it is not necessary to give the details. As
Kaulukou put it, "the amendment of the Attorney-General provides that if
they want to borrow any money they must pay up Mr. Spreckels first. He
understood that the Government owed Mr. Spreckels $600,000 or $700,000.
He has lent them money in the past, and were they prepared to say to
him, "We have found new friends in England to give him a slap in the
On the other side, Mr. J. T. Baker " was tired of hearing a certain
gentleman spoken of as a second King. As this amendment was in the
interest of that gentleman he voted against it." Allusions were also
made to the reports that the waterworks were going to be pledged to him.
When the decisive moment arrived, the independents cast their votes with
the King's party, defeating the ministry by 23 votes to 14.
The result was that the cabinet resigned that night, after which Gibson
went on his knees to the King and begged to be reappointed.
The next morning, October 14, to the surprise of every one and to the
disgust of his late allies, Gibson reappeared in the house as premier,
with three native colleagues, viz., Aholo, Kanoa and Kaulukou. But from
this time on he had no real power, as he had neither moral nor financial
backing. The helm of state had slipped from his hands. Mr. Spreckels
called on the King, returned all his decorations, and shook off the dust
from his feet. The Legislature appropriated $100,000 for a gunboat and
$15,000 to celebrate the King's fiftieth birthday.
In this brief sketch it is impossible to give any idea of the utter want
of honor and decency that characterized the proceedings of the
Legislature of 1886. The appropriation bill footed up $3,856,755.50,
while the estimated receipts were $2,336,870.42.
Sequel Of The London Loan
From the report of the Minister of Finance for 1888 we learn that Mr. H.
R. Armstrong, who had come to Honolulu as the agent of the London
syndicate, was appointed agent of the Hawaiian Government to float the
loan. He was also appointed Hawaiian Consul-General for Great Britain,
while Mr.A. Hoffnung, previously referred to, was made Charge d'Affaires.
In the same report we find that the amount borrowed under the loan act
of 1886 in Honolulu was $771,800 and in London $980,000. Of the former
amount $630,000 was used to extinguish the debt owed to Col. Spreckels.
By the terms of the loan act the London syndicate was entitled to 5 per
cent, of the proceeds of the bonds which they disposed of, as their
commission for guaranteeing them at 98 per cent. But it appears that in
addition to this amount 15,000, or about $75,000, was illegally detained
by them and has never been accounted for. The Legislature of 1888
appropriated the sum of $5,000 to defray the expenses of a lawsuit
against the financial agents, to recover the $75,000 thus fraudulently
retained. The matter was placed in the hands of Col. J. T. Griffin, who
advised the Government that it was not expedient to prosecute the case.
The $75,000 has therefore been entered on the books of the treasury
department as a dead loss. Since then Mr. H. R. Armstrong's name has
ceased to appear in the Government directory among those of the
As before stated, the King now acted as his own prime minister,
employing Gibson to execute his schemes and defend his follies. For the
next eight months he rapidly went from bad to worse. After remaining one
month in the cabinet Mr. Kaulukou was transferred to the Marshal's
office, while Mr. Antone Rosa was appointed Attorney-General in his
place and J. M. Kapena made Collector-General. The limits of this brief
sketch forbid any attempt to recount the political grievances of this
period. Among the lesser scandals were the sale of offices, the
defrauding of the customs revenue by abuse of the royal privilege, the
illegal leasing of lands in Kona and Kau to the King without putting
them up to auction, the sale of exemptions to lepers, the gross neglect
of the roads, and misapplication of road money, particularly of the
Queen street appropriation.
Efforts to revive heathenism were now redoubled under the pretense of
cultivating "national" feeling. Kahunas were assembled from the other
islands as the King's birthday approached, and "night was made hideous"
with the sound of the hula drum and the blowing of conchs in the palace
yard. A foreign fortune teller by the name of Rosenberg acquired great
influence with the King.
Hale Naua, Alias Temple Of Science, Alias Ball Of Twine Society
This was founded September 24, 1886. A charter for it was obtained by
the King from the Privy Council, not without difficulty, on account of
the suspicion that was felt in regard to its character and objects.
According to its constitution it was founded forty quadrillions of years
after the foundation of the world, and twenty-four thousand seven
hundred and fifty years from Lailai, the first woman.
Its by-laws are a travesty of Masonry, mingled with pagan rites. The
Sovereign is styled Iku Hai; the secretary, Iku Lani; the treasurer, Iku
Nuu. Besides these were the keeper of the sacred fire, the anointer with
oil, the almoner, etc.
Every candidate had to provide an "oracle," a kauwila wand, a ball of
olona twine, a dried fish, a taro root, etc. Every member or "mamo" was
invested with a yellow malo or pau (apron) and a feather cape. The
furniture of the hall comprised three drums, two kahilis or feathered
staffs, and two puloulous or tabu sticks.
So far as the secret proceedings and objects of the society have
transpired, it appears to have been intended partly as an agency for the
revival of heathenism, partly to pander to vice, and indirectly to serve
as a political machine. Enough leaked out to intensify the general
disgust that was felt at the debasing influence of the palace.
The sum of $15,000 had been appropriated by the Legislature of 1886
towards the expenses of the celebration of His Majesty's fiftieth
birthday, which occurred November 16, 1886.
Extensive preparations were made to celebrate this memorable occasion,
and all office holders were given to understand that every one of them
was expected to "hookupu" or make a present corresponding to his
station. At midnight preceding the auspicious day a salute was fired and
bonfires were lighted on Punchbowl Hill, rockets were sent up, and all
the bells in the city set ringing.
The reception began at 6 A. M. Premier Gibson had already presented the
King with a pair of elephant tusks mounted on a koa stand with the
inscription: "The horns of the righteous shall be exalted." The Honolulu
police marched in and presented the King with a book on a velvet cushion
containing a bank check for $570. The Government physicians, headed by
F. H. Hayselden, Secretary of the Board of Health, presented a silver
box containing $1,000 in twenty-dollar gold pieces. The Custom House
clerks offered a costly gold-headed cane. All officials paid tribute in
some shape. Several native benevolent societies marched in procession,
for the most part bearing koa calabashes. The school children, the
fishermen and many other natives marched through the throne room,
dropping their contributions into a box. It is estimated that the
presents amounted in value to $8,000 or $10,000.
In consequence of the Hale Naua scandal, scarcely any white ladies were
seen at this reception. In the evening the Palace was illuminated with
electric lights, and a torchlight parade of the Fire Department took
place, followed by fireworks at the Palace.
On the 20th, the public were amused by a so-called historical
procession, consisting chiefly of canoes and boats carried on drays,
containing natives in ancient costume, personating warriors and
fishermen, mermaids draped with sea moss, hula dancers, etc., which
passed through the streets to the Palace.
Here the notorious Hale Naua or "Kilokilo" society had mustered, wearing
yellow malos and pans or aprons over their clothes, and marched around
the Palace, over which the yellow flag of their order was flying.
On the 23d a luau or native feast was served in an extensive lanai or
shed in the Palace grounds, where 1500 people are said to have been
entertained. This was followed by a jubilee ball in the Palace on the
25th. The series of entertainments was closed by the exhibition of a set
of "historical tableaux" of the olden time at the Opera House,
concluding with a hulahula dance, which gave offense to most of the
audience. No programme was published this time of the nightly hulahulas
performed at the Palace.
In pursuance of the policy announced in Gibson's famous protest to the
other great powers, and in order to advance Hawaii's claim to the
"primacy of the Pacific," Hon. J. E. Bush was commissioned on the 23d of
December, 1886, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to
the King of Samoa and the King of Tonga, and High Commissioner to the
other independent chiefs and peoples of Polynesia. He was accompanied by
Mr. H. Poor, as Secretary of Legation, and J. D. Strong, as artist and
collector for the Government museum. They arrived at Apia, January 3d,
1887, and were cordially received by King Malietoa on the 7th, when they
drank kava with him and presented him with the Grand Cross of the Order
of Oceania. Afterwards, at a more private interview, Bush intimated to
Malietoa that he might expect a salary of $5,000 or $6,000 under a
Hawaiian protectorate. A house was built for the Legation at the expense
of the Hawaiian Government.
A convention was concluded February 17th, between King Malietoa and the
Hawaiian Envoy, by which both parties bound themselves "to enter into a
political confederation," which was duly ratified by Kalakaua and
Gibson, "subject to the existing treaty obligations of Samoa," March
20th, 1887. "The signature was celebrated," says Robert Louis Stevenson,
"in the new house of the Hawaiian Embassy with some original ceremonies.
Malietoa came attended by his ministers, several hundred chiefs ( Bush
says 60 ), two guards and six policemen. Laupepa (Malietoa), always
decent, withdrew at an early hour; by those that remained all decency
appears to have been forgotten, and day found the house carpeted with
slumbering grandees, who had to be roused, doctored with coffee and sent
Laupepa remarked to one of the Embassy, "If you come here to teach my
people to drink, I wish you had stayed away." The rebuke was without
effect, for still worse stories are told of the drunken orgies that
afterwards disgraced the Hawaiian Embassy.
About this time Mr. J. T. Arundel, an Englishman, engaged in the copra
trade, visited Honolulu in his steamer, the Explorer, a vessel of 170
tons, which had been employed in plying between his trading stations.
The King who was impatient to start his new navy, to maintain "Hawaiian
primacy," had put the Reformatory School under the charge of Captain G.
E. Jackson, a retired navigating lieutenant in the British navy, with
the view of turning that institution into a naval training school. The
old Explorer was purchased for $20.000, and renamed the Kaimiloa. She
was then altered and fitted out as a man-of-war at an expense of about
$50,000, put into commission March 28th, and placed under the command of
Captain Jackson. The crew was mainly composed of boys from the
Reformatory School, whose conduct, as well as that of their officers,
was disgraceful in the extreme.
The Kaimiloa sailed for Samoa, May 18th, 1887. On the preceding evening
a drunken row had taken place on board, for which three of the officers
were summarily dismissed. The after history of the expedition was in
keeping with its beginning. As Stevenson relates: "The Kaimiloa was from
the first a scene of disaster and dilapidation, the stores were sold;
the crew revolted; for a great part of a night she was in the hands of
mutineers, and the Secretary lay bound upon the deck."
On one occasion the Kaimiloa was employed to carry the Hawaiian Embassy
to Atua, for a conference with Mataafa, who had remained neutral, but
she was followed and watched by the German corvette Adler. "Mataafa was
no sooner set down with the Embassy than he was summoned and ordered on
board by two German officers."
Another well-laid plan to detach the rebel leader, Tamasese, from his
German "protectors" was foiled by the vigilance of Captain Brandeis. At
length Bismarck himself was incensed, and caused a warning to be sent
from Washington to Gibson, in consequence of which Minister Bush was
recalled July 7th, 1887. Mr. Poor was instructed to dispose of the
Legation property as soon as possible, and to send home the attaches,
the Government curios, etc., by the Kaimiloa, which arrived in Honolulu,
September 23d. She was promptly dismantled, and afterwards sold at
auction, bringing the paltry sum of $2,800.
Her new owners found her a failure as an inter-island steamer, and she
is now laid up in the "naval row."
Aki Case Or Opium Scandal
The facts of this case were stated in the affidavit of Aki, published
May 31st, 1887, and those of Wong Leong, J. S. Walker and Nahora Hipa,
published June 28th, 1887, as well as in the decision of Judge Preston
in the case of Loo Ngawk et at., executors of the will of T. Aki vs. A.
J. Cartwright et al., trustees of the King. I have already spoken of the
opium license law, which was carried by the royalist party in the
Legislature of 1886, and signed by the King in spite of the vigorous
protests from all classes of the community. As this law had been saddled
with amendments, which rendered it nearly unworkable, a set of
regulations was published October 15th, 188fi, providing for the issue
of permits to purchase or use opium by the Marshal, who was to retain
half the fee and the Government the other half.
The main facts of the case, as proved before the court, are as follows:
Early in November, 1886, one, Junius Kaae, a palace parasite, informed a
Chinese rice-planter named Tong Kee, alias Aki, that he could have the
opium license granted to him if he would pay the sum of $60,000 to the
King's private purse, but that he must be in haste because other parties
were bidding for the privilege. With some difficulty Aki raised the
money, and secretly paid it to Kaae and the King in three instalments
between December 3d and December 8th, 1888. Soon afterwards Kaae called
on Aki and informed him that one, Kwong Sam Kee, had offered the King
$75,000 for the license, and would certainly get it, unless Aki paid
$15,000 more. Accordingly Aki borrowed the amount and gave it to the
King personally on the llth.
Shortly after this another Chinese syndicate, headed by Chung Lung, paid
the King $80,000 for the same object, but took the precaution to secure
the license before handing over the money. Thereupon Aki, finding that
he had lost both his money and his license, divulged the whole affair,
which was published in the Honolulu papers. He stopped the payment of a
note at the bank for $4,000, making his loss $71,000.
Meanwhile Junius Kaae was appointed to the responsible office of
Registrar of Conveyances, which had become vacant by the death of the
lamented Thomas Brown.
As was afterwards ascertained, the King had ordered a $100,000 gunboat
from England, through Mr. G. W. Macfarlane, but the negotiations for it
were broken off by the revolution. On the 12th of April, 1887, Queen
Kapiolani and the Princess Liliuokalani, accompanied by Messrs. C. P.
laukea, J. H. Boyd, and J. O. Dominis, left for England to attend the
celebration of the jubilee held upon the fiftieth anniversary of the
accession of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. They returned on the 26th of
Revolution Of 1887
The exposure of the two opium bribes and the appointment of the King's
accomplice in the crime as Registrar of Conveyances helped to bring
matters to a crisis, and united nearly all tax-payers not merely against
the King but against the system of government under which such
iniquities could be perpetrated.
In the spring of 1887, a secret league had been formed in Honolulu, with
branches on the other islands, for the purpose of putting an end to the
prevailing misrule and extravagance, and of establishing a civilized
government, responsible to the people through their representatives.
Arms were imported, and rifle clubs sprang up all over the islands. In
Honolulu a volunteer organization, known as the " Rifles," wag increased
in numbers, and brought to a high state of efficiency under the command
of Col. V. V. Ashford. It is supposed that the league now numbered from
800 to 1,000 men, while its objects had the sympathy of the great
majority of the community. It was at first expected that monarchy would
then be abolished, and a republican constitution was drawn up.
As the time for action approached, the resident citizens of the United
Slates, Great Britain and Germany addressed memorials to their
respective governments, through their representatives, declaring the
condition of affairs to be intolerable.
As is the case in all such movements, the league was composed of average
men, actuated by a variety of motives, but all agreed in their main
object. Fortunately, the "spoils wing" of the party failed eventually to
capture either branch of the Government, upon which a number of them
joined the old Gibsonian party and became bitter enemies of reform.
Some members of the league, including Col. Ashford, were in favor of a
sudden attack upon the Palace, but this advice was overruled, and it was
decided to first hold a public mass meeting, to state their grievances,
and to present specific demands to the King. Accordingly, on the
afternoon of the 30th of June, 1887, all business in Honolulu was
suspended, and an immense meeting was held in the armory, on Beretania
street, composed of all classes, creeds, and nationalities, but united
in sentiment as never before or since. The meeting was guarded by a
battalion of the Rifles fully armed. A set of resolutions was passed
unanimously, declaring that the Government had " ceased through
incompetency and corruption to perform the functions and to afford the
protection to personal and property rights for which all governments
exist," and demanding of the King the dismissal of his cabinet, the
restitution of the $71,000 received as a bribe from Aki, the dismissal
of Junius Kaae from the land office, and a pledge that the King would no
longer interfere in politics.
A committee of thirteen was sent to wait on His Majesty with these
demands. His troops had mostly deserted him, and the native populace
seemed quite indifferent to his fate.
He called in the representatives of the United States, Grent Britain,
Prance, and Portugal, to whom he offered to transfer his powers as King.
This they refused, but advised him to lose no time in forming a new
cabinet and signing a new constitution.
Accordingly he sent a written reply the next day, which virtually
conceded every point demanded. The new cabinet, consisting of Godfrey
Brown, Minister of Foreign Affairs ; L. A. Thurston, Minister of the
Interior ; W. L. Green, Minister of Finance ; and C. \V. Ashford,
Attorney-General, was sworn in on the same day, July 1st, 1887.
Constitution Of 1887
As the King had yielded, the republican constitution was dropped, and
the constitution of 1864 revised in such a way as to secure two
principal objects, viz., to put an end to autocratic rule by making the
Ministers responsible only to the people through the Legislature and to
widen the suffrage by extending it to foreigners, who till then had been
practically debarred from naturalization. I have given the details in
Mr. Gibson was arrested July 1st, but was allowed to leave on the 5th by
a sailing vessel for San Francisco. Threats of lynching had been made by
some young hot heads, but fortunately no acts of violence or revenge
tarnished the revolution of 1887.
An election for members of the Legislature was ordered to he held
September 12th, and regulations were issued by the new ministry, which
did away with many abuses, and secured the fairest election that had
been held in the islands for twenty years. The result was an
overwhelming victory for the Reform^party, which was a virtual
ratification of the new constitution.
During the next three years, in spite of the bitter hostility and
intrigues of the King, the continual agitation by demagogues, and
repeated conspiracies, the country prospered under the most efficient
administration that it had ever known.
Settlement Of The Aki Case
It has been seen that on
the 30th of June, 1887, Kalakaua promised in writing that he would
"cause restitution to be made" of the $71,000 which he had obtained from
Aki, under a promise that he ( Aki ) should receive the license to sell
opium, as provided by the Act of 1886.
The Reform cabinet urged the King to settle this claim before the
meeting of the Legislature, and it was arranged that the revenues from
the Crown lands should be appropriated to that object. When, however,
they ascertained that his debts amounted to more than $250,000 they
advised the King to make an assignment in trust for the payment of all
claims pro rata. Accordingly, a trust deed was executed November 21,
1887, assigning all the Crown land revenues and most of the King's
private estate to three trustees for the said purpose, on condition that
the complainant would bring no petition or bills before the Legislature,
then in session.
Some three months later these trustees refused to approve or pay the Aki
claim, on which Aki's executors brought suit against them in the Supreme
After a full hearing of
the evidence, Judge Preston decided that the plea of the defendants that
the transaction between Aki and the King was illegal could not be
entertained, as by the constitution the King "could do no wrong," and
"could not be sued or held to account in any court of the Kingdom.''
Furthermore, as the claimants had agreed to forbear presenting their
claim before the Legislature in consideration of the execution of the
trust deed, the full court ordered their claim to be paid pro rata with
the other approved claims.