Mrs. William Hall Tells of the Arrival of Commissioner Blount.
Disappointment Created by the Taking Down of Old Glory.
How Annexation is Viewed by the People of the Sandwich Islands.
The Daily Rumors Which Alternately Buoy the Annexationists and Royalists.
The following letter from Honolulu was written to Minneapolis friends by Mrs. William Hall, daughter of Mrs. C. O. Van Cleve, the wife of a missionary to the Sandwich islands, and has resided on the islands for the past 30 years. Mrs. Hall’s husband is also a son of a missionary. The story of the courtship and marriage is romantic, for Mr. Hall was visiting Minneapolis when he met Miss Van Cleve, and he fell in love with her at sight. He had only a short time to remain, and as Gen. Van Cleve was then out with a command,the impatient young lover made the journey to the general’s station to tell him he had laid siege to the the daughter’s heart, and that she would surrender if the father gave his consent. Miss Van Cleve afterwards went out to the Sandwich islands, where she was married and began missionary labors with her husband. The letter was written early in April, just after the lowering of the American flag on the islands.
Honolulu, April 5, 1893.
Just as we were in the midst of writing for the mail by the Australia last Wednesday, the telephone announced a United States steamer off Koko Head, supposed to be the revenue cutter Richard Rush, bringing commissioners from Washington to the Hawaiian government. This proved to be correct, and hurrying our letters, we repaired to the water front to see what was to be seen.
The streets were full of people and full of flags. Chicago will hardly fly more bunting to the square yard at the opening of the Columbian Exposition. Everyone hung out a flag of some kind, mostly American, though I noticed “The harp that once through Tara’s halls the soul of music shed,” is hanging “mute” on a green field between two brick buildings on the corner of Fort and Hotel streets, and I think likely, if the trade wind continues as vigorous as at present a few days longer, the cord (chord) will “indignant break.” But to return to our muttons, otherwise streets.
One feature of the display was a procession of native women dressed in white and bearing Hawaiian and American flags, marching down to the wharf to receive and welcome the commissioners.
The Rush entered the harbor and took her place in the naval row. The American minister, the consul, and a committee of three gentlemen boarded her from a steam launch just before she entered the harbor.
It soon became noised abroad that only one commissioner had arrived, and he would not land for an hour or two. There was some disappointment among the natives when they heard that Admiral Brown had not been sent; others did not quite know whether to be glad or sorry that only one man had been entrusted with this mission.
Soon after the cutter anchored, Maj. Robertson, the ex-queen’s chamberlain, went on board and, presenting the queen’s compliments, offered the commission her carriage in which to ride to the hotel. The offer was declined with thanks, the commissioner had already declined several offers of the kind, preferring to ride in his private carriage.
The commissioner, as you know, is Hon. James H. Blount, of Georgia. He is accompanied by his wife and his private secretary, Ellice Mills.
Soon after noon the party landed.
The native women were on hand with leis )garlands of flowers), which they proceeded to throw over the commissioner and his wife, Mr. Blount was too busy to stop for floral decorations,and the aim of the flowers queens was too uncertain, and so only two caught him on the fly. They were more successful in the case of Mrs. Blount.
The Rush brought a letter from President Cleveland to Minister Stevens, approving his course and requesting him to remain here. This is a compliment which all Americans feel.
IS WELL DESERVED.
Mr. Stevens feels obliged to decline on account of the feeble health of his family. The dreadful shock of his eldest daughter’s death has been almost more than they could bear.
Knowing that Mr. Stevens’ course had been officially approved, it was a great shock to us to learn Friday night, that on Saturday morning, April 1, the American flag was to be lowered and the marines sent back on their ship. It was hard to reconcile ourselves to the lowering of the flag; we could not believe it was necessary, and we wanted terribly to know why it was done. We finally concluded that Harrison being a Republican and Cleveland a Democrat, Cleveland must undo the work of Harrison’s administration as much as possible and begin over again. It has now been made known to us that it was deemed wiser to place this government on an independent basis before entering into negotiations therewith.
Promptly at 10:45 a. m., Saturday, April 1, people gathered in Palace Square, I went with the rest, for, though it cuts like a knife to haul down the American flag, I mean to
SEE ALL THE HISTORY
visible to the naked eye. At 11 o’clock, sharp the order was given and “Old Glory” came fluttering down. A dead silence prevailed; then came the salute to the Hawaiian flag, which rose to its old place and flung its folds out to the breeze. We fully expected that the air would ring with cheers, but the silence was positively oppressive, not a cheer was heard.
A strong guard of regulars of the provisional government marched into the capitol, and the marines, marching out, were escorted to the boat landing by government troops.
A gentleman who knows the natives well asked one why he supposed the flag came down.
The answer was, “Because of the offerings of black pigs and white chickens, and the prayers of the kahunas.”
Another Hawaiian said to a native minister, “Great is the power of the kahunas!”
You see the tendency toward barbarism is quite pronounced.
A kahuna is a native “medicine man;” if people doubt his skill he proceeds to pray them to death. the Hawaiian who is not afraid of the anana, being prayed to death, is a rara avis.
The streets are full of rumors, some sensational to the last degree, some funny enough to make one lie awake nights to laugh. In a walk of a mile, or a chat of an hour, a thousand tales could be heard.One is of the attitude of Japan. It is said that the ex-queen appealed to the Japanese for aid and her request was granted. On Monday it was expected by many natives that troops would be landed from H. I. J. M. S. Naniwa to restore the queen under a Japanese protectorate. The hotel grounds were filled with natives before noon, looking for some demonstration in the direction of the palace. Kahunas had predicted the queen would be
RESTORED AT NOON,
but as the afternoon wore away the hour was changed to 6 o’clock.
It is something like setting a day for the world to come to an end, the time has to be changed so often that it partakes to the nature of a “movable feast.”
The British minister and the Anglican bishops have both distinguished themselves by dissertations on flags.
The bishop expressed pleasure at the rumors of raising the Japanese flag. An English lady asked him if he would really like to see the islands under the Japanese flag, and he said he would much prefer it to the American flag. On being reminded that the Japanese were idolaters, he replied that then there would be plenty of good work to do. The bishop is evidently looking for a job.
The British minister on the day the flag was lowered told a clerk in the Hawaiian News Company’s establishment he had better “put those flags (American) in a bag.” This go into the evening paper, and it did not look so funny in print, so Maj. Wodehouse denied it to one or two Americans, when he was told that the less he said the better for two young men in the store were ready to say under oath that he did say so in their hearing.
There is a sore feeling among many Americans about this pulling down of the flag, and they are anxiously waiting to see how the news is received in America.
Minister Stevens feels it keenly. Perhaps he would have felt differently had he received any official notice of such intention, but it has been positively stated to me that no such notice had been given him as late as Monday night; two days after the flag came down. Americans feel that common courtesy would have prompted such notice and patient soul, and not a murmur is heard from him.
The Japanese have been offish towards the provisional government, and followed the lead of the British minister, not recognizing the new government till after the Claudine sailed, though all the other consuls had done so. The officers of the British ship Garnet did not call upon the president of the provisional government, and the Japanese officers have followed their lead. The captain of the Garnet called on Minister Stevens as an old acquaintance, not officially. I have never heard whether the Japanese officers have called upon him or not.
Our dear friend Paul Neumann has been working upon the sympathies, or chivalry, of the American people by a pitiful tale of how the wicked provisional government chartered the only steamer there was to send their commissioners to Washington, and refused passage to the queen’s commissioner. Is it customary for a general, when he is transporting his army over a river, to furnish transportation for the enemy? It might be exceedingly polite, but it would not be good generalship.
There are two local steamship companies here, each owning several steamers. If the queen wanted to send her envoy in haste or America why did she not charter a steamer herself?
The provisional government has dealt generously with her in paying her her full salary as if she were still queen. It is a large salary and she might have used some of it in that way. I fail to see why the provisional government should
CHARTER A STEAMER
for her envoy or accept such envoy’s company in a steamer chartered for their own envoys. It might have been polite, but not good generalship.
The ex-queen’s salary has, during the past week, been stopped. It was not deemed necessary to furnish her with funds to subsidize papers to oppose the government any longer. Hereafter she will subsist on the income from her private property. She will not need to go hungry.
the latest joke is a story of a visit of Sam Parker to Mr. Blount. Sam is said to have asked the commissioner to restore the queen to the throne under an American protectorate, whereupon the commissioner exclaimed: “A queen under an American protectorate!” Tableau.
Annexation clubs have been started and many natives are joining. More than half the voting population of this island alone is already enrolled. Mr. Davies’ prediction of only 4,000 out of a voting population of 14,000 who would favor annexation is likely to fall short. He believes the Bible right through, even that text which reads, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished;” but he makes one exception to this, just to prove the rule, and that exception is in favor of royalty, “The king can do no wrong” is the chief article in Mr. Davies’ creed. You or I would be ostracised for a tithe of the wickedness of which the ex-queen is guilty, but in her it is merely the eccentricity of royalty. I should not say that exactly, either, for Mr. Davies is not anxious for the restoration of the queen, but for the establishment of her niece on the broken down throne of Hawaii. This is only a proof of my first statement as to his adoration of royalty. You see Mr. Davies dearly loves position. To be known as a favorite adviser of the queen would be balm to heal all wounds, past present and future, for him. In England he is only an intelligent, and perhaps, obsequious tradesman. In Hawaii, with Kaiulani as queen, he would expect to be the
POWER BEHIND THE THRONE,
and his expectations would doubtless be fulfilled.
There are a very few Americans here who do not favor annexation. They are men born here of American parents. As a general thing often they and their families are especially friendly with the ex-queen, and have been so from youth. I don’t believe there are more than half a dozen of them in the whole group. My personal knowledge embraces less than that number. These people claim as their excuse that they are Hawaiians. I wonder if to be born of American parents in Constantinople would make a man a Turk. The Ethiopian born in America does not change his skin. Nor does the leopard born in the New York Zoological Garden change his spots and become the American wildcat, at least no such transformation has ever been announced to the public. therefore the curious attitude of these American sons and daughters is astonishing to most of us. It is even the source of a large amount of fun for the community. That a man in America should oppose annexation is nothing surprising at all, but it is a little surprising that a man born and brought up here, and seeing the trend of things for the last 25 years, should be unable to see that for the general betterment of the Hawaiian people this is the best thing that could come to them, considering the matter from that one point alone, with improved business conditions. We would have more funds and more industrial schools could be provided, where the mental, moral and physical life would be for the uplifting of the Hawaiian youth. This single item, one would think, would have an influence on these Hawaiian patriots.
The last sensation is the robbing of the crown jewels. Nothing definite has yet come to light beyond the fact that the gems are missing. By another mail I may be able to tell you more.
Letter No. 2.
Honolulu, April 8, 1893.
The China is in from the Orient and sails tomorrow at 10 a. m. I send you just a few lines in addition to my last letter, though it has been so quiet for several days that we begin to sigh for something to happen. We have been living at such high pressure of late that we feel as if Othello were out of a job in these quiet times.
The Almeda came in yesterday and left for the colonies at 2 o’clock this morning. She brought no special news for Hawaii. Commissioner Castle, of the annexation committee, returned, also Paul Neumann, the ex-queen’s envoy, with “Prince” David and Ed Macfarlane. Paul says he brought the ex-queen “no assurances.” The gold lace in which the ex-royalty indulged on this occasion was astonishing. The state coach, with driver and footmen in livery, was called out and went to the O. S. S. wharf to meet the conquering heroes. A crowd of natives congregated in front of “Washington Place,” the ex-queen’s private residence, making a stir which was quite distracting to the school children next door, at Punakon Preparatory School. There were the usual number of rumors of restoration flying about, but the day wore away without accident or incident.
Mr. Harold Sewall, ex-consul to Samoa, was a passenger by the Almeida, and there is a report that he was bearer of special dispatches to President Dole, but I have not heard this verified.
I send you a clip from the Hawaiian Star, a new evening paper published in Honolulu in the interests of annexation. This clip shows the Japanese attitude. Evidently the Japanese yarns had more in them than many people believed at first. The figures in this article are wrong, in one instance at least, for the Hawaiians number about 45,000 by the last census, so the Japs cannot claim the right to “be dominant,” and they are not the “most important element in these islands,” though they doubtless consider themselves so. To say that a Japanese is as conceited as a Hawaiian, may be severe, but it is certainly true. Nay, I believe that he is more conceited than the pure Hawaiian, but neck and neck with the half-caste. This article will show that
Japan is Alive
to the importance of these islands if the United States is not. There are a few intelligent, educated Japanese in the islands, but the most of them are field laborers. The intelligent class is certainly not 6,000 strong, though the document here mentioned claims that number of signatures.
Not a little amusement was caused by the publication in the local papers of an account of the discovery of a dispatch of T. H. Davies to A. S. Cleghorn. It is quite characteristic of Davies, and if he will only do a few more funny things he will hep to while away the time while we are waiting for a settlement of the main question.
The bishop of Honolulu has again distinguished himself, this time by a letter to the Bulletin, the Royalists’ organ. The Star reviews his remarks editorially. The bishop is a very tall, slim man physically, and mentally he had to be built to match his physical frame, so he is about as wide as a fine cambric needle.
The New York World and Herald have both sent correspondents by the Alameda. W. B. Bowen for the World and Charles Nordhoff for the Herald. Both papers have been, so far, anti-annexation. Nordhoff was here years ago with his wife and children. He is accompanied now by his daughter. Probably if Cleveland declares himself in favor of annexation these papers will jump the fence, or it may be that Cleveland feels he cannot afford to lose the support of two such powerful journals, so he is slow about expressing himself until he can win them over in a degree to favor that course.
In the meanwhile poor Hawaii is kept in a state of wretched uncertainty, which, of course, has a bad influence on business, but the people of Hawaii will have fine opportunity to practice the grace of patience. Alas! they have been practicing a long while. Can any one tell how long before patience “ceases to be a virtue?”
I hope you do not think my remarks on industrial schools in my last letter were intended as a convincing argument in favor of annexation. I was only joking a little with the handful of anti-annexation Americans, who call themselves Hawaiians and claim so much affection for the Hawaiians race. It seems strange to most of us that they cannot see that it is the best thing for the natives.
We don’t want a sugar bounty, nor have we asked anything of the kind.
The revolution was not the action of the sugar planters as I have said before, the only sugar planter at the mass meeting threw cold water on it at that time, though he has since come to feel in sympathy with the provisional government and favors annexation even if it stops contract labor, and gives no bounty.
The crying want of Hawaii is good government.
Help us to that and we will risk the rest.
With a solid government, in which no foreign power, not even Japan and England, will be allowed to interfere, our values will right themselves.
[This article makes its way back to Hawaii and gets reprinted in the Daily Bulletin, 6/10/1893, pp. 1, 4.]
(Minneapolis Tribune, 5/15/1893, p. 3)