Reply by the Ministers, 1876.

The Ministerial Reply.

To the Hon. Godfrey Rhodes, the Hon. A. S. Cleghorn, Walter Murray Gibson, Esq., the Hon. Henry A. P. Carter, P. C. Jones, Jnr., Esq., J. C. Glade, Esq., F. A. Schaefer, Esq., H. M. Whitney, Esq., and to the other gentlemen who signed the address to His Majesty, dated February 25th, 1876.


His Majesty in Privy Council, having appointed the undersigned a Committee to reply to the address which you presented to him on the 29th ult., on the subject of the repopulation of these Islands, they hasten to inform you, that His Majesty feels the deepest interest in this all important question, and is equally gratified with the zeal and the spirit of loyalty which you exhibit in approaching the subject, and he is satisfied that this combined action on the part of so large and influential a portion of the community as have attached their names to the said address cannot but result in good and in a sounder knowledge of the means requisite to advance the great object which we all have in view.

As you are well aware, gentlemen, this subject is not a new one; it is one that has anxiously occupied the thoughts and the time of every Hawaiian King and Cabinet during the last quarter of a century; and if failure instead of success has so far been the result of most of the schemes which have been inaugurated for repeopling this kingdom, that is no reason why renewed efforts should not continue to be made. Nothing would have been easier than for the present Government to have spent another $10,000 or $15,000 of the public money in abortive attempts to introduce a permanent and useful population, but the history of past efforts in this direction teaches that it is much easier to fit out expeditions for bringing immigrants to our shores, than to obtain people such as will, in the words of your address, “be well suited for complete assimilation with the race that peoples this archipelago.”

For gentlemen, we understand and His Majesty understands your address to mean, that it is not only men that may be required for the immediate wants of our agriculturists that you desire should be introduced, but men and women of “kindred race” to the Hawaiians, by which they may “gain an infusion of fresh blood,” and so be preserved. This may truly be part of the great problem to be solved, but the undersigned in the name of His Majesty’s Ministers would feel much diffidence about holding out any very confident hopes that they will be able soon to accomplish such a very important and desirable result, although it is encouraging to learn from you, that in your opinion “the vast hive of Asia invites us to recuperate our Asiatic and tropical population from its teeming millions.” * * “and we shall find the consanguineous affinities we need in the overpeopled plains of British India, in the swarming Isles of the great Malay Archipelago, in the noble Empire of Japan, so youthful in its civilization, and in other countless hordes of the industrious and prolific races of the great and parent continent of the world.”

The difficulty would seem to be then in your opinion, gentlemen, to select out of a profusion of choice from the kindred people of Asia, the population which we require to recuperate the Hawaiian race. It cannot however afford any real assistance to the object we have at heart to take a too sanguine view of the position. Let us glance at the Continent of Asia, and its great archipelagoes. First and nearest to us lies Japan, inhabited by a people who are generally considered akin to the Hawaiians, and whom we all agree would be very desirable immigrants. Efforts have been made by former Governments to bring them—some were brought—but as you all know most of them had to be sent back again at the request of the Japanese Government. Notwithstanding this failure, the different Governments since then, have been persistent in their enquiries of our Charge d’Affaires there, as to whether any prospect appeared of our being able to bring Japanese immigrants. The answer has been as persistently—No! The Minister of Foreign Affairs published in the newspapers of this city, only a few weeks ago, the latest reply to his enquiries on this subject from our Charge in Japan, and in which he positively stated, that at present there was no hope whatever of obtaining immigrants from there. One of our Charges, Mr. De Long, in 1873, resigned that position in Japan on account of the efforts of the Hawaiian Government to obtain Japanese laborers through his influence and aid. Notwithstanding these rebuffs, the opportunity may arise of obtaining Japanese, and if it does, it will not be neglected by His Majesty’s Government. But gentlemen, when in our address you refer to the noble Empire of Japan as the source for recuperating our population, you must be understood to mean that the Japanese are, as we also believe, desirable immigrants, not that it has been hitherto, or that it appears to be in the near future, practicable to get them, for the circumstances of the difficulties connected with the Japanese immigrants are too recent for you to have forgotten them. What might have been accomplished in this case by the exercise of a more “faithful and intelligent diplomacy,” which you seem to infer may have been ignored or neglected, the undersigned cannot undertake to say;—and although no doubt there may readily be found amongst us men possessed of more persuasive ability than His Majesty’s Ministers can pretend to, some amongst you will perhaps be prepared to admit, as the result of dear bought experience, that is is an easier task to persuade immigrants to come to these Islands than to persuade them to stop, when you get them here.

But to continue our review of Asia. We need only glance at the map to see that the shores of that great continent nearest to us are occupied almost entirely by China—that astonishing Empire whose people have not only maintained their existence, may we not say, as a civilized nation from long before the time when our ancestors were covering their bodies with war paint, but who are now by far the most numerous separate people on the face of the earth, and who are to0day overflowing, not only into all the neighboring Archipelago of Malaysia, but are holding their own as an industrious people amongst and in spite of the “hoodlums” of California, and the “roughs” of Australia. It is Chinese who constructed the railroads of Peru, have dug the coal mines of Borneo; nay, they have been in request to build the railroads in Bengal, the very home of the cheap Hindoo [Hindu] laborer. It seems, to say the least, unfortunate for His Majesty’s Government that of all “the vast hive of Asia, of all the industrious and prolific races of the great and parent continent of the world,” the Chinese, who are the only people which the government has found it practicable to induce to migrate to these islands, should be the only Asiatics which you, gentlemen, should especially object to. All the other “countless hordes” of Asiatics you seem prepared to welcome, and in view of the highly respectable character of the signatures to the address now under reply, the members of His Majesty’s Cabinet feel grieved that their efforts to do what they best could under the circumstances, should have so signally failed to be satisfactory to those for whose benefit they considered they were more especially taking this responsibility. But what they still more regret, is to find that you consider that the introduction of Chinese must, from their unchaste character, aggravate the sterility of Hawaiian women. If this be true, the introduction of Chinese should be stopped instanter. It is no doubt true that the disproportion of the sexes is an evil in any country, but it is a period of trial which many countries have of necessity to pass through, and from which they recover in due time. In remembering the evil doings of some of the worst of the Chinese however, we should bear in mind that an outcry would probably be made when a low Chinese is discovered sinning, when the same crime would hardly call for a remark amongst a similar class of natives. We should also bear in mind the fact that some of the largest families which have been borne to Hawaiian women have been by Chinese fathers, and that even the lower orders of Chinese, and we say this with regret, are, we believe, reckoned by the Hawaiian women to make more faithful and attentive husbands than the similar class of Hawaiians. The progeny also of these two races seems so far to confirm your view that the mingling of Hawaiians and Asiatic blood may prove a success, so far at least as the Chinese are concerned. Of the result of a union with other Asiatics, of the less robust Hindoo for instance, with an Hawaiian woman, we have little experience; it is to be hoped that such an experience may be soon afforded.

The next portion of Asia which presents itself is, as you justly term them, “the swarming isles of the great Malay Archipelago.” The attention of all the different Hawaiian Cabinets has been repeatedly called to this part of the globe as a region from whence to draw our much desired population, and the records of the correspondence of our Foreign Office show that as repeatedly, enquiries for definite information on the subject have been made by the government. The undersigned may also state that they have taken some pains to ascertain what were the chances of success in this quarter, and the result of their enquiries agrees with the experience of the Hawaiian Cabinets before them, that the idea of obtaining our population from thence is entirely visionary. The latest letters from our Charge d’affaires in London, Mr. Manly Hopkins, confirm those previously received from Mr. Varigny, Dr. Hillebrand and other who have been especially directed to make evvery inquiry on this subject; and all leads to the conclusion that the Malay Archipelago cannot be looked to as a source of population for Hawaii. The broad fact that the Dutch in Sumatra and Java, and the English in Queensland and the Fijis, which are comparatively close by, cannot, notwithstanding their great anxiety to do so, make those Malaysian populations available, is an evidence that we at this great distance would probably meet with no better success. His Majesty’s Government consider that after all the enquiries which have been made by previous Cabinets and by the Board of Immigration on this subject, only to learn again and again that it is impracticable to obtain people from thence, it is now time that this “Will o’ the Wisp” should be finally removed from before the eyes of this community.

The next portion  of Asia which we approach, at least from which any population suitable for Hawaii may be hoped for, is “the over-peopled plains of British India,” as you, to some extent, correctly term them. In 1866 Dr. Hillebrand was commissioned by the Hawaiian Government to proceed to Asia for the express purpose of gathering information respecting those regions as a source of supply for our laboring population. The undersigned cannot do better than make a few extracts from the Doctor’s report to the Board of Immigration on his return. In connection with the subject of our entering into a Convention with the British Government to allow us to supply ourselves with population from British India, the Doctor says, page 33: “I do not apprehend that this Government would meet with great obstacles in the conclusion of a treaty; but there is no doubt, that on the part of the European element in India, a strong feeling is gaining ground, in opposition to the emigration of coolies. The extensive net of railroads still in progress of being built, so as to intersect every important part of that country, the many agricultural enterprises which have started into existence since the mutiny, by private individuals and stock companies, particularly the tea and cotton cultivation, make large demands on the labor capacity of the country, which increase from year to year. People at these islands will find it strange that fears of dear labor are entertained in a country, where wages still average only five rupees a month, and famines are yearly occurrences; but I could bring numerous vouchers to the truth of my statement, and these feelings are even shared to some extent by the Indian Government.” On page 35 the Doctor refers to the great loss of life which often takes place in transporting the celebrated Hill Coolies, altho’ in many respects they are far the best of the East Indians. He observes: “A mortality of twenty to twenty-five per cent has occurred on journeys to the tea districts; and it has even risen as high as thirty per cent, on a voyage to the Mauritius.” Again on pages 38–39, the Doctor observes: “The two medical gentlemen confirmed what I had already heard about the great mortality of the Hill Coolies during the first week of the sea voyage. It is cholera that causes this awful loss of life, and it is ascribed to the sudden and great change of diet which these poor famished people undergo.” * * “One of the informants expresses himself thus: ‘They seem to carry the cholera in their blood!'” Notwithstanding these alarming statements and the difficulty of bringing these people so far, the Doctor seems inclined to recommend a trial of “a few hundred Indian Coolies composed of the different races mentioned above, to try and test the various resources available to us.” The most that can be inferred from this report is that in the pressing deman for laborers, the Doctor suggested that an experiment might be tried, the result of which however he cautions us, may be doubtful with respect to the East Indians themselves, and not without danger to our own people. His Majesty’s Government hope that British India may offer a field for an effort to recruit our population and they will continue enquiries in this direction in the expectation that when the proper time arrives something practicably may appear. We have the advantage of the experienced Daniel Smith who has on several occasions been engaged in transporting these people to the British Colonies. It is evident however that extreme caution has to be exercised in all attempts at repopulation from British India, and that grave responsibility would be incurred by any Ministry who in too hastily yielding to demands for more people, might introduce diseases which this country through God’s mercy has hitherto escaped.

The undersigned do not propose to occupy your time further on the present occasion by discussing the various comprehensive and general suggestions contained in your address, for a radical reform and change in the policy and in the government of this country, especially as those suggestions embrace an extremely wide field, and would indeed require more consideration and elucidation than is consistent with or expected in a reply of this nature. They would however most respectfully state their belief that the majority of the signers of this address in their anxiety to see something developed on the main question, repopulation, did not fully appreciate that the wording of the address conveyed the impression that some new and great danger to the prosperity and to the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom is imminent, an impression which the undersigned cannot think that most of you intended to convey, inasmuch as there does not appear in any of the aspects of the commercial or political state of this kingdom to-day, anything which calls for the very strong expressions of alarm used in many parts of your address; not anything more, certainly than has existed for the last quarter of a century.

The undersigned regret also that a misapprehension in one part of your address, to which one of your number calls attention, had not been earlier noticed by many of you, they refer to what you truly call the solemn appeal and invocation of His Majesty Kamehameha IV to his legislature, and which you quote, but which as the Hon. S. N. Castle truly remarks, referred specially to saving the Hawaiian race, not to introducing a foreign one, a distinction which Hawaiians cannot fail to appreciate at its true value; and as this solemn appeal of one of the most enlightened of our sovereigns is brought forward by you to aggravate what you seem to consider the failure of the present government to take certain measures for the repopulation of this kingdom from abroad, candour would have no doubt induced you, had your attention been earlier called to it, to recommend a remodelling of this part of your address, as Mr. Castle evidently saw was desirable for it was surely not your intention to make use of the invocation of Kamehameha IV to his legislature to try and effect one object, in order to urge upon his present majesty’s government the carrying out of a different one, for the repopulation of Hawaii from the teeming millions of Asia is clearly the burden of your address. It is true that you make references to a “recuperation” of the Hawaiian race “by the infusion of new blood” and from this point of view the term repopulation may bear meanings which are of widely different import, but which should be clearly understood. We, and you, gentlemen, are told that Asia will furnish the “consanguineous affinities” which shall effect this recuperation of the Hawaiian race. God grant that it may prove so, but He alone knows what races outside of Polynesia have the affinity to the Hawaiian that may be neccesary for this purpose! man does not know, science does not certainly inform him, it merely conjectures. It may be encouraging to be assured that dillegence and address will introduce races into this group, which shall by intermingling with them, “recuperate” the Hawaiian people although those who have though most on these subjects tell us how delicate and difficult such problems are, and a calm and careful consideration of this whole matter must impress us all strongly with the appropriateness of the remark appended in your address to the signature of the very Reverend the Bishop Louis Maigret, where he says, “calling to mind the words of David,” “unless the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.”

But His Majesty’s government are not desirous of laying too much stress on the points in this address to which they respectfully submit they may justly take exception, and of which they have only referred to a part; they are anxious on the contrary to consider it in the spirit in which they believe the large majority signed it, and they would gladly receive from you now, or as early as may be convenient, and after you thus learn their general views, further, more definite and practical suggestions, not only for repeopling the Hawaiian Islands from abroad, but for saving the lives of the people we have. You well know what large sums of money are regularly appropriated and spent with the latter object in view, and that what is to be done in future, to be of any effect, must be by legislation, and the appropriation of the requisite funds. The Legislature meets next month and the present therefore appears a most suitable time for His Majesty’s government to receivved from you practicable suggestions for legislation which may assist in staying the decrease of our native population, but in which effort, as we are all only too  well aware, every Legislature and every Cabinet has so far unfortunately failed.

The government and people of this country have had offers and promises from those who have professed to be able to cure our lepers, others lead us to infer that they could stop the decline of our population, or readily introduce a people that by amalgamation would recuperate the Hawaiian race; it is for you, gentlemen, to assist the government and the Legislature of this country in the somewhat difficult task of discriminating amongst these schemes, so that the resources of this kingdom may not be wasted by yielding to the tempation to invest the public money in those which are put forward with the most confidence and boldness only, and without dueregard to their soundness or feasibility.

(Signed.)  W. L. Green,

J. S. Walker.

Aliiolani Hale, Honolulu, March 3d, 1876.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 3/4/1876, p. 3)

The Ministerial Reply.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XX, Number 6, Page 3. March 4, 1876.

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