The Senator From Alabama Answers J. K. Kaulia’s Open Letter.
He Defends the Position of Himself and the Annexationists.
Honolulu, Oct. 12, 1897.
Mr. James K. Kaulia,
Dear Sir,—A pressure of engagements has necessarily delayed an answer to your open letter.
Having no disposition to interfere in Hawaiian affairs or to attempt to influence the opinions of the Hawaiians on the subject of annexation to the United States, or to any country, I do not wish to enter upon a discussion, which you invite, as to any views I have heretofore expressed on that subject.
A preference is quite a different matter from an alternative, when the latter is forced upon us by circumstances beyond our control. As my government has not submitted to a vote of our people, the question of our willingness to accept the annexation of Hawaii, and has not a proceeding so unusual and so idle, I have not thought it necessary, or fair, that this question should be submitted to a popular vote in Hawaii, Your Constitution provides for annexation without such a vote. But I would regret to have you feel that I am indifferent to the wishes of your people on this subject; I wish them to feel that our motives are honorable; that our sentiments are only those of sincere regard for their happiness, and that our course towards them will be wise and just.
I have said in the Senate that if I was a Hawaiian citizen I would not prefer annexation to any country. If I were a Cuban I would have the same preference for a separate and independent Republic, won by Cuban blood. This is in the sense of national pride, which must always yield to national safety.
But the present condition of Cuba and of Hawaii does not admit of such a preference.
Cuba has found that she must be a republic in order to escape the terrors of foreign monarchial rule, and Hawaii must also remain a republic to avoid sinking into a like condition.
If Hawaii relapses into monarchy she will be cut off from any reliance on the protection of the United States. In that event we could not accept her into our Union, nor could we, in any event, accept Hawaii as a dependency, or colony. We have no such powers under our Constitution.
When the alternative is presented as it is, whether I would prefer annexation to the United States rather than have Hawaii sink into a petty monarchy, to be ruled by some foreign country, I would prefer to save the liberties of the people, through annexation, to a tawdry show of royalty by a few persons set in authority over them, who would be compelled to do the bidding of some monarch. In the American Union Hawaii would be really independent, and would be forever safe against any foreign interference. She would not be smothered with Asiatic immigrants, nor would she ever become a sugar colony of a monarch, as Cuba is, to be robbed and oppressed by non-resident nabobs, and then flayed alive on the first utterance of a plea or protest in the name of humanity. Finding that it is necessary to act in order to meet the clandestine movements of some citizens and others who are subjects of foreign monarchies, for the destruction of republican government in Hawaii, I would prefer annexation to the United States, rather than risk the danger of having to fight for the life of the country, as Cuba is forced to do.
When Japau wished to annex Formosa to her Empire, she did not consult the Chinese there, to ascertain their wishes. When by a process of emigration Japan has filled these islands with her people, who still owe allegiance to the Emperor, she will ask no questions of the Hawaiians whether they wish to become Japanese subjects; nor will your people be able to resist this quiet process of absorption, you will sink, as the rains sink into the thirsty soil.
If your people were all united in their preference for republican government, I would, if I were a citizen of Hawaii, now prefer her separate independence, as a matter of pride, yet I remember how costly, to Ireland, a like feeling has been, and how it has lost to her people all hope of separate national independence, but the Hawaiian Islands are not independent of fate, however much their native people may desire a separate government. If I belonged to that race I would sacrifice any preference, either of pride or convenience, rather than be suffocated with people who have nothing in common with them in religion, or in their ideas of government. I would unite with the American people in their support of free, constitutional government rather than see any republic relapse into a monarchy, in this Western Hemisphere.
John T. Morgan.
(Independent, 10/16/1897, p. 3)