A MEMORABLE DAY
Admiral Thomas Declines the Provisional Cession of the Islands.
Professor Alexander’ Brief But Graphic Description of the Important Events of 1843
On the 10th of February 1843, the British frigate Carysfort, commanded by Lord George Paulet, arrived at Honolulu, and showed displeasure by withholding the usual salutes. The commander seems to have placed himself completely under the direction of Mr Alexander Simpson. The United States sloop-of-war Boston, Captain Long, arrived on the 13th.
The king who had been sent for at Lord Paulet’s request, arrived from Lahaiua on the 16th. Lord Paulet refused to treat with him through Dr. Judd, his agent, and late in the evening of the 17th sent him a peremptory letter, inclosing six demands with the threat that if they were not complied with by four o’clock p. m. the next day, “immediate coercive steps would be taken.” The substance of these demands was as follows:
1st. That an attachment laid on Charlton’s property, at the suit of an English firm for an old debt, be removed, that the land claimed by him be “restored,” and reparation to his representatives for the losses which they had suffered through the alleged injustice of the government.
2d. The immediate recognition of Mr. Simpson as British Consul, and a salute of twenty-one guns to the British flag.
3d. A guarantee that no British subject should be put in irons, unless for a felony.
4th. That a new trial should be held in the case of Skinner vs. Dominis.
5th. That all disputes between British subjects and others be referred to mixed juries, one half of whom should be British subjects approved by the consul.
6th. A direct communication between the king and the Acting British Consul for the immediate settlement of all complaints on the part of British subjects.
The next morning, February 18th, the frigate was cleared for action and her battery brought to bear on the town. Some English families went on board of the brig Julia, lying outside of the harbor while Americans and other foreigners placed their funds and valuable papers on board of the Boston.
The first impulse of the king and chiefs was to resist but wiser counsels finally prevailed and before the hour set for hostilities had arrived a letter was sent on board of the Carysfort informing Lord Paulet that ambassadors had been sent to England with full power to settle these very difficulties; that some of these demands were “calculated to seriously embarrass this feeble government by contravening the laws established for the benefit of all.” but that nevertheless the king would comply with them under protest, and appeal for justice to the British Government.
At 2 p. m. salutes were interchanged between the fort and the frigate, and Monday, the 20th, was appointed for the reception of Mr. Simpson as Vice Consul. The attachment on Charlton’s property was removed by public advertisement. At the same time the king and premier published their solemn protest against the proceedings of Lord Paulet and their appeal to the justice and magnanimity of the Queen of England for redress.
THE PROVISIONAL CESSION.
On the 20th the king visited the Carysfort, where he was received with royal honors, and the next day was fixed for a private interview with Lord Paulet and Mr. Simpson. At this and another interview on the 23d, the most extravagant and unjust demands were pressed upon the king who was treated with insolence and not allowed any opportunity of consulting with his advisers.
Under the first demand, the king was intimidated into signing the pretended deed from Kalaimoku to Mr. Charlton. He was also forced to sign a note for $3,000, to Henry Skinner, a nephew of Charlton, for “indirect damages” caused by the attachment. Under the fourth demand, it was shown that the case had been settled a year before by the arbitration of Sir George Simpson, and a receipt given in full of all demands, but this was of no avail. Under the sixth head, Simpson demanded the arbitrary reversal of several decisions of the courts, and brought in a new list of claims for damages, so that a “mushroom debt of $80,000 had grown up in a few hours.
Under these circumstances, the king resolved to bear it no longer. “I will not die piecemeal,” said he; “they may cut off my head at once. Let them take what they please; I will give no more.”
Dr. Judd advised him to forestall the intended seizure of the islands by a temporary cession to Lord Paulet, pending an appeal to the British Government. The event proved the wisdom of this advice.
At the same time, the king was strongly urged by the leading foreign residents to cede his kingdom to Franco and tho United States jointly, until his difficulties could be settled by the mediation of these two powers, and such an act of cession was offered him to sign, which he declined to do.
On the next day the subject was discussed by the king and his council, and preliminaries were arranged with Lord Paulet for the cession. On the morning of the 25th the king and premier signed a provisional cession of the islands to Lord George Paulet, “subject to the decision of the British Government after the receipt of full information from both parties.”
At e o’clock p. m. February 25th, the king, standing on the ramparts of the fort read a brief and eloquent address to his people. The following is a translation of the address: “Where are you chiefs, people and commons from my ancestors and people from foreign lands! Hear ye! I make known to you that I am in perplexity by reason of difficulties into which I have been brought without cause; therefore I have given away the life of our land, hear ye! But my rule over you my people, and your privileges will continue, for I have hope that the life of the land will be restored when my conduct shall be justified.”
The act of cession was then publicly read and a proclamation by Lord Paulet, after which the Hawaiian flag was lowered by natives. The British colors were then hoisted over the fort by a lieutenant from the “Carysfort,” and saluted by the ship and the fort. At the same time the flag over tho British Consulate was struck. It chanced that the day was the forty-ninth anniversary of Kamehameha’s cession to Vancouver.
(Independent, 7/31/1896, p. 1)
THE BRITISH COMMISSION.
The proclamation issued by Lord Paulet declared that the Government should be carried on, as far as natives were concerned, by the native king and chiefs and their officers; and in all that concerned foreigners by a commission consisting of a deputy appointed by the King, Lord George Paulet, D. F. Mackay, Esq. and Lieutenant Frere of the “Carysfort.” All laws enacted by the Legislature and all bona fide engagements of the late Government were to remain in force. The king and premier appointed Dr. Judd as their deputy in the commission, and left for Maui on the 27th.
Nothing more was heard of the claims brought against the late Government. The commission now proceeded as if it had been settled that the islands should permanently remain a British colony. Every Hawaiian flag that could be found was destroyed. All foreigners holding land in any way were notified to send in their claims to the commission before June 1st, 1813 and now registers were given to vessels owned at the island, putting them under the British flag. The Government vessels were taken as “tenders for H. B. M.’s ‘Carysfort,'” the name of the “Hooikaika” being changed to “Albert,” and that of the “Paalua” to “Adelaide.” An additional duty of one percent. was added to the three percent. required by law, to pay the expenses of the commission. Tho principal business of the commission was of the nature of a Police Court. No jury trials were held during its existence.
Without investigation or trial by any Court, Lord Paulet had already seized the land claimed by Mr. Charlton, and had it cleared of its occupants, twenty three-houses being demolished and one hundred and fifty-six persons expelled from their homes.
On the 11th of March the “Albert” was dispatched to San Blas, Mexico, to carry Mr. Alexander Simpson with letters for the British Foreign Office. As the firm of Ladd & Co. had previously chartered this vessel they reserved the right to send a commercial agent by her.
It was of vital importance to the king that he should be represented in London at this critical juncture. Accordingly Mr. J. F. B. Marshall (who acted as Ladd & Co.’s messenger was secretly commissioned as His Majesty’s envoy, and took passage in the same vessel with Mr. Simpson without exciting any suspicion on his part.
A canoe had been sent beforehand with a picked crew from a distant part of Oahu to notify the king and premier, who came down in a schooner, landed at Waikiki by night, read and signed the prepared documents and immediately returned to Wailuku. The “Victoria” sailed March 17th for Valparaiso with letters for Admiral Thomas.
During the month of April the legislative body held a session at Lahaina. At this session a complete register was made for the first time of all the lands in the kingdom, with the names of their respective holders. This work occupied about ten weeks. It proved that no large tract of land was unoccupied. During this session, April 26th, the first anniversary of the Lahaina Temperance Society was celebrated and a large quantity of liquor which had lain for a year untouched in the kings cellar, was emptied into the sea.
The commissioners having been informed that there was gross corruption in the management of the prison in the fort, made it a pretext for abrogating certain laws against licentiousness. Orders to this effect were issued April 27th, and sent to the governors of the other islands and all prisoners under arrest were set free. The effect on public morals was disastrous. Vice became open and shameless as in the days of Liholiho.
In consequence of this action, Dr. Judd presented his resignation May 10th, withdrawing the king from any further responsibility for the acts of the commision. Mr. Mackay had previously reigned on account of ill-health so that the commission was now reduced to two persons, viz., Lord Paulet and
Meanwhile a secret correspondence was kept up between the king at Lahaina and his officers at Honolulu by means of canoes manned by trusty retainers.
A small standing army of natives had been enlisted by the commission under tho name of the “Queen’s Regiment,” who were made to swear allegiance to the Queen of England, and were commanded and drilled by British officers.
Heavy drafts were made on the government treasury for their support. On the 12th of June Dr. Judd received directions from the king not to pay any more money for the support of the army. On the 20th the commissioners demanded $713 for the “Queen’s Guard” and the police, and threatened to put another person in the treasury office if he refused. Accordingly, on the 24th, the king and premier published a manifesto, charging the commission with having broken the terms agreed upon at the cession, by abrogating some of the laws and by draining the treasury for the support of a useless standing army.
Fearing imprisonment and the seizure of the national archives, Dr. Judd removed these from the government house and concealed them in the royal tomb. “In this abode of death,” says Jarves surrounded by the former sovereigns of Hawaii and using the coffin of Kaahumanu for a table, for many weeks he nightly found an unsuspected asylum for his labors in behalf of the kingdom.
On the 1st of July the “Carysfort” sailed for Lahaina and Hilo, returning on the 16th. The next day the British sloop-of-war “Hazard,” Captain Bell, arrived from Tahiti. On the 6th the U. S. frigate “Constellation,” Commodore Kearney, arrived from China. On the 11th the commodore issued a protest against the cession and the proceedings of the British Commission. The young chiefs and Governor Kekuanaoa, on visiting the “Constellation,” were saluted under the Hawaiian flag at which Lord Paulet took great umbrage. Tho king returned from Lahaina on the 25th, and on the next day the British flag-ship “Dublin” arrived from Valparaiso, bearing the pennant of Rear-Admiral Thomas of H. B. M.’s naval forces in the Pacific Ocean.
Hardly had the “Dublin” come to anchor before the admiral, in the most courteous terms, solicited a personal interview with the king, and in a few hours it became known that he had come to restore the independence of the islands. On the following day the terms of the restoration were agreed upon, and arrangements were made for the ceremonies to take place on Monday,
A proclamation was issued by Admiral Thomas, in which he declared in the name of his sovereign that he did not accept of the Provision Cession of the Hawaiian Islands and that “Her Majesty sincerely desires King Kamehameha III to be treated as an independent sovereign, leaving the administration of justice in his own hands.” A convention of ten articles was signed by the king and Admiral Thomas which stringently guarded British interests although it fully recognized the king’s rights. The king also published an “Act of Grace,” pardoning all offenses committed during the interregnum, and granting ten days of rejoicing during which all government work was to be suspended.
The 31st of July, a day memorable in Hawaiian history, was clear and cloudless. An open space on the plain east of the town, since called “Thomas Square,” had been selected for the ceremonies of the day, two pavilions having been erected and a flag-staff planted. Thither poured the entire population of Honolulu, to witness the restoration of the flag. At 10 o’clock a. m., the marines of the “Dublin,” “Carysfort,” and “Hazard” being drawn up in line, with a battery of field-pieces on their right, the king, escorted by his own troops, arrived on the ground. As the Hawaiian royal standard was hoisted a salute of twenty-one guns was fired by the field battery, after which the national colors were raised over the fort and on Punchbowl Hill, and saluted by both forts and the four in port, followed by loud and long cheering from the assembled multitude. After the saluting various evolutions were performed by the marines after which the king was escorted to his residence, where the natives belonging to the late “Queen’s Regiment” came before him to sue for pardon, and to swear allegiance to their rightful sovereign.
At one o’clock p. m. the king attended a thanksgiving service in the Kawaiahao Church where he addressed the people, informing them that, as he had hoped, “the life of the land had been restored, using the words which have since been adopted as the national motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono”—the life of the land is perpetuated by righteousness. The admirals declaration was then interpreted, after which John Ii addressed the assembly announcing the general amnesty and a festival of ten days.
Before the festival was over, the American frigate “United States,” Commodore Jones, arrived (August 3d), and soon afterwards the “Cyane,” Captain Stribling, bringing news of the success of the kings envoys in Europe.
Admiral Thomas took up his residence on shore while awaiting the approval of his own government. In the meantime he gave his assistance in establishing order and morality, and in harmonizing the conflicting parties. His noble act of justice was fully approved by the home government, as, in the words of Lord Canning, “marked by great propriety and admirable judgment throughout, and as calculated to raise the character of the British authorities for justice, moderation, and courtesy of demeanor, in the estimation of the natives of those remote countries, and of the world.”
(Indepedent, 7/31/1896, p. 4)