STEVENS AND HAWAII.
The Ex-Minister Points Out the Advantage of Annexation.
AMERICAN INTEREST LEAD
An Address Before San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Which Passes Resolution Favoring Annexation.
San Francisco, June 1.—Hon. John L. Stevens, ex-United States minister at Hawaii, addressed the Chamber of Commerce of this city to-day on the subject of “Hawaiian Affairs and Their Relation to the Interest of the United States.” A large number of businessmen were present and gave the speaker an appreciative reception. At the close of the address a resolution was adopted favoring the speedy annexation of the islands. Mr. Stevens, in relating his first impressions upon the islands, said he had not been long in Honolulu before he perceived how thoroughly an American city it was and how predominating were all American interests on the islands. Continuing he said:
He had found an intelligent body of citizens of American and European origin supporting a semi-barbaric monarchy, dead in everything but its vices; coarsely luxuriant in its tastes and wishes and spreading social and political demoralization througout the island.
The speaker then related several incidents in the career of the deposed queen, and charges her not only with personal immorality, but also with having by unconstitutional and arbitrary methods, secured the adoption of certain measures, such as the opium and lottery bills, and recited her attempt to promulgate a new constitution, which finally aroused the respectable element of the community to action. Mr. Stevens then reviewed in detail the circumstances of the revolution and overthrow of the queen last January, and the subsequent establishment of the provisional government. He spoke of the danger of riot and incendiarism at the time of the revolution, the fact that there was no adequate police power in Honolulu, and that an appeal was accordingly made for the landing of men from the United States ship Boston. In this connection, Mr. Stevens said in part:
Under the diplomatic and naval rules, the United States minister and naval commander would have shamefully ignored their duty had they not landed men from the Boston for the security of American life and property and the maintenance of public order, even had the committee of public safety not requested the United States to do so. The Boston’s men stepped not an inch from the line of duty; they never lifted a finger in aid of the fallen monarchy on the rising of the provisional government and all assertions to the contrary, by whomsoever uttered, are audacious falsehoods.
The remainder of Mr. Stevens’ address was an appeal for the annexation of the islands by the United States. In speaking of the desire of the provisional government in this matter, he said that without the expenditure of a single American dollar they offer this rich prize, this splendid possession of the Pacific to the American government in trust for the American people. He continued, in part:
These islands for seventy years have been carefully watched by American statesmen and nursed by American patriotism. American merchants and the American government have fostered their prosperity, and by contiguity of interests, of water, and of the necessary laws of intercommunication they belong to the American system of states. For strategical and commercial purposes they are more valuable to the United States than are Cyprus, Malta and Bermuda to Great Britain. So Adams, Webster, Clayton and Marcy saw many years ago; so Seward and Blaine clearly perceived at more recent dates; so Bayard and Cleveland must have understood when they issued their instructions on July 12, 1887, to Minister Merrill and the naval commander, holding them responsible for American life and property and American predominance at Honolulu, and so clearly President Harrison and the foreign relations committee of the United States senate saw the great value of Hawaii when they gave their signatures to the treaty of annexation. On those islands is established an American colony with a solid basis of American civilization.
Speaking of the attitude of native Hawaiians on the subject of annexation, Mr. Stevens said:
The question at issue is not one of race—of the white man against the native Hawaiians, as it has been represented. The supporters of annexation are the more responsible of the whites and the best of the native Hawaiians, while the opponents of annexation are chiefly the less responsible of the native Hawaiians, led by white adventurers.
In closing, Mr. Stevens said:
I do not believe that the administration of President Cleveland will neglect this great American opportunity, though careful and cautious, as it is its duty to be. But in due time and at an early date I believe it will not fail in its great duty to the American people. It will not postpone that which cannot be long postponed without danger and without putting loyal American friends in the Hawaiian islands to grave anxiety and grave perils. These islands will be accepted and placed among the jewels of America’s future crown of empire and glory. Failing to accept this valuable prize would surely bring our statesmen to the bar of history with the indictment of blundering criminality, from which there could be no escape.
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/2/1893, p. 2)