AMERICA’S OPPORTUNITY IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN.
Shall the Key to the Pacific Ocean Pass Into British Hands?
[From the Daily Kennebec Journal.]
It is an accepted truism that nations, as well as individuals, have their opportunities and duties, and that the neglect of them, through indolence or cowardice, surely brings retribution in one form or another.
The States and Territories which outlet on the vast Western ocean will some day have a population of one hundred and fifty millions of souls. This Pacific side of the American republic, stretching from north Alaska to south California, a coast line of four thousand miles, without including the seventeen hundred miles of shore line of Puget Sound, is to have a development of agricultural, lumber, fisheries, and mineral riches, out of which will flow streams of commerce, which neither the imagination nor cold figures can well cover at the present time.
In the front of these vast Pacific States extends the immense ocean of the Pacific. Across this vast Pacific plain must be for all time the water roads along which will move the commerce of many hundreds of millions of people. Anchored firmly between the two great oceans, America divides with Europe the commerce of the Atlantic, Europe having the advantage by numbers, position, and prestige. But on the great Western ocean America can easily take the lead and hold it securely against all competitors. To do this she must improve her opportunities. Sloth and cowardice never win anything worth having. Time waits neither for individuals nor nations. Success is for those who dare.
In this immense area of water between America and Asia a reinnumerable islands, so needful to the future commerce between the two great continents. The most of these islands are now possessed by England, France, and Spain. Germany but recently forcing her grasping hand into the arena. Owing to the patriotic fidelity of the American Missionary Board and its faithful agents, and to the watchfulness of American statesmen, from Daniel Webster to those of the present time, the Hawaiian Islands have not passed under a European flag. Greedy, grasping, and sometimes insulting as have been our rivals as to American interests in these islands, they are not yet lost to us, and their business necessities and the sympathies of their citizens are still with their American neighbors. It needs not the naval and military expert to tell the importance of these islands to the United States. They front our coasts. They are sufficiently near the gateways of our rapidly rising Pacific cities to feel the pulses of American enterprise and to contribute to American prosperity and power. It is to repeat the opinion of the most intelligent commercial, naval, and military men to say that the Hawaiian Islands are the key to the North Pacific. Coaling stations, feeding places, are indispensable to American commerce on great oceans. It is the veriest folly to think or to talk otherwise.
The time is near when we must decide who shall hold these islands as part of their national territory. It is not possible for them much longer to remain alone. their people and the United States will soon be compelled by circumstances and events to decide whether the Hawaiian Islands will have unity, liberty, and autonomy with the United States, or become a colonial possession of a European power. What Webster, Clayton, and Marcy saw forty years ago, and Seward, Fish, and Blaine, and the Administrations they represented clearly perceived, may now well be considered by the American people.
The entire area of the islands is about 6000 square miles. In addition to sugar, which is now much the larges product, the soil and climate are admirably adapted to raising rice, bananas, oranges, coffee, grapes, and other crops. Well governed and properly developed, they are capable of sustaining a population of 300,000 to 400,000. There are extensive ranches for the raising of sheep and cattle, so as to be capable of supplying steamers and other vessels both in peace and war. The two harbors of Honolulu and Pearl City, about six miles apart, are entered by narrow channels, are closely backed by mountains, so as to be made impregnably defensible at not large expense. Their ultimate possession by the United States is of the utmost importance to American commerce in the Pacific, which promises vast development, if wisely cared for and without too much delay. Shall Americans sleep while others are awake to take from them these natural advantages? Time and tide wait neither for men nor nations.
[The Daily Kennebec Journal was edited by John L. Stevens. In it a month before the overthrow Stevens proclaims, “The time is near when we must decide who shall hold these islands as part of their national territory. It is not possible for them much longer to remain alone. their people and the United States will soon be compelled by circumstances and events to decide whether the Hawaiian Islands will have unity, liberty, and autonomy with the United States, or become a colonial possession of a European power.”]
(Daily Bulletin, 10/19/1892, p. 4)