Kahikina Kelekona, John G. M. Sheldon, editor of the Hawaii Holomua, arrested for speaking, 1893.


Has Anybody Any Rights Under the Provisional Government?

Argument of the Question in the Circuit Court.

John G. M. Sheldon, editor of the Holomua, who is deprived of his liberty under a warrant issued by the President of the Provisional Government, was produced in the First Circuit Court before Judge Frear, at 11 o’clock this forenoon, under a writ of habeas corpus. Attorney-General Smith and F. M. Hatch appeared for the Government, and C. W. Ashford, C. Creighton, A. Rosa and J. L. Kaulukou for the prisoner.

Mr. C. W. Ashford argued for the discharge of the prisoner, speaking to the following effect: There was no authority vested in the Executive and Advisory Councils to issue warrants of arrest. President Dole had no right in the Proclamation of the Provisional Government to issue a warrant of arrest. The Government could not go behind that proclamation, he presumed. “We the People of the Hawaiian Islands” gave him no such power. If “We the People of the Hawaiian Islands” had intended to exercise that power they would have given it to him. The Proclamation stated that the President’s duties were to preside over the meetings of the Executive Council. Mr. Dole now holds no judicial position in these islands. He did hold such position before, but resigned it to become President of the Provisional Government. If that warrant, of President Dole was valid, then there was no security of liberty for any man, woman or child under these tropic skies. There was then nothing to prevent any resident of this country being consigned to a dungeon or bound in irons. It should be known whether the Provisional Government had such tremendous powers. He was not making a covert attack on the late revolution. He believed in the sacred right of revolution, and he considered the late revolution was a good thing. But it might not be good if the Provisional Government introduced anarchy and despotism. Some persons were led by their philosophy to believe that a beneficent despotism was the best form of government, and he believed that members of this school of philosophy had seats in the Advisory Council. Continue reading


San Francisco Call and the military trials, 1895.


{Colonel Whiting sits at the head of the table as President. Captain Kinney, Judge Advocate, is at the foot. On one side are Captain Zeigler, Captain Pratt and Lieutenant Jones. Facing them are Lieutenant-Colonel Fisher, Captain Camara and Captain Wilder. From a sketch made in Honolulu expressly for the “Call.”}

[The San Francisco Call had strong ties with Hawaii, and it is interesting to see the articles printed within its pages and how it saw the situation in Hawaii. See for instance the famous story printed a couple of years later: “Strangling Hands upon a Nation’s Throat,” by Miriam Michelson.

…So many unthinkable things took place in the Throne Room of Iolani Palace.]

(San Francisco Call, 2/7/1895, p. 1)


San Francisco Call, Volume LXXVI, Number 52, Page 1. February 7, 1895.

In the Queen’s words, 1895 / 1898.

Proceedings against me, personally, were not modified. Every day thereafter papers were brought to me from the office of President Dole, a legal service, I suppose it is called, being made on me by Major George C. Potter, an aide-de-camp of the president’s staff. In the first of these I found myself charged with the crime of “treason.” After about a week had gone by, the accusation was changed to “misprision of treason.” The substance of my crime was that I knew my people were conspiring to re-establish the constitutional government, to throw off the yoke of the stranger and oppressor; and I had not conveyed this knowledge to the persons I had never recognized except as unlawful usurpers of authority, and had not informed against my own nation and against their friends who were also my long-time friends.

The names of those who had informed, and by whose testimony I was to be convicted, were Captain Samuel Nowlein, Charles H. Clark, W. W. Kaae, Charles Warren, Keahikaauwai, George H. Townsend, and Captain Davies of the steamer Waimanalo.

February 5th was to be the day of my trial. After the summons had been served, Mr. Paul Neumann, in consultation with Mr. Wilson, called to consult with me, as it had been a question whether or not I should personally appear in court, as it would be undignified and humiliating. Humiliation! What had I left? It was the intention of the officers of the government to humiliate me by imprisoning me, but my spirit rose above that. I was a martyr to the cause of my people, and was proud of it. So I told them that I would attend; and on the morning of the 8th, at the hour appointed, Sergeant Kenake appeared, and conducted me, attended by Mrs. Wilson, to the court-room.

(Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, 1898.)

Queen Liliuokalani being tried in military court, 1895.


Most of the previous week was spent trying just one case, that of V. V. Ashford, accused of misprision of treason [huna kipi]. He denied the charges, and defense witnesses were brought in. The defendant was also brought in to defend himself, however, the defense Lawyer did not had no planned words for the benefit of his client, and he was continuiously questioned for four days and more. But he put a request before the Military Court [Aha Koa] to release the prisoner [lawehala]. The Lawyer for the public for the Military Court will weigh the testimony of the accused and the testimony of the people, and will sentence the offender. His ruling of case is being considered.

When the Military Court convened in the afternoon of February 1, those imprisoned under the charge of treason: Keki, Keoho, Tommy Ai, Nameless [Listed as Olii in 2/1/1895 Hawaiian Star.], John Piko, W. Kekoa, Kaanaana, Ulukou, Elia, Sam Hookano, Kahikikolu, Koia Kapena, Waianae, Keawe, Hikileo, George Makalena, Kamae, Kalawalu, James H. Bush, Buff Moepali, Manuel Rosa, and John H. Wise.

Each of them were asked if they wanted a lawyer. Twenty-one of them answered in the negative, saying that they did not want a lawyer, and J. H. Wise was the only one who wanted to be defended by the attorney Neumann. Therefore Wise’s case was postponed to a later date, and he was taken out.

Ulukou was the only one of the prisoners who objected to Captain Camara sitting to judge, and Camara was dismissed from sitting on the Commission. The remaining members of the Military Commission were not objected to.

The charges were read, and each were asked for their response. The first seven named admitted to their guilt, and the rest denied the charges. With the questioning of the witnesses, it was made clear that they were only on the outside of the military camp where the weapons were ministered to, however, according to some people, they were urged and enticed, and that is the reason some of them went to the area of the military camp. Their verdict is being considered.

At 11:15 midday of Tuesday, February 5, Liliuokalani Dominis was taken from her room where she is held prisoner in the Executive Building [Iolani Palace], to the grand Room [throne room] where the Military Trials are being held, filled with spectators. Major Potter escorted Mrs. Dominis accompanied to the door by Mrs. C. B. Wilson, then Lieutenant Kenake brought her in and sat her to the left of her lawyer Neumann. Mrs. Dominis was wearing a black dress with a hat of the same color, and her honor and royal dignity of when she sat upon the throne had fallen and shattered. The charges were read to Mrs. Dominis, of the crime she was accused of, misprision of treason, however her attorney was criticized for asking that the trial be postponed until another day. On the following Wednesday and Thursday were the responses of the prisoner and the witnesses. Mrs. Dominis vehemently denied any knowledge of the planning for war, but did admit to appointing a new cabinet of Ministers for herself.

[When looking at anything, like this article, it is important to try and understand the context. The Kuokoa, during this period at least, seems to be pro-annexation and pro-American. By reading this and the rest of its pages, you can see it is definitely not pro-Monarchy!

What were the other Hawaiian-Language Newspapers saying? The Oiaio, which was a weekly, issued a paper on 1/4/1895, and only after 10 weeks, on 3/15/1895, did it/could it print its next issue. Leo o ka Lahui, a daily which printed from Mondays through Fridays, printed an issue on 1/4/1895, and stopped/was stopped from printing until 3/12/1895 (although this issue seems not extant). What were the other English-language newspapers saying? What were the other language papers reporting?]

(Kuokoa, 2/9/1895, p. 2)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XXXIV, Helu 6, Aoao 2. Feberuari 9, 1895.

Mahalo to Elinor Langer for her comment on trial of participants of the January 6, 1895 Counter Revolution. 1895.

Elinor Langer says:

And it was on January 17, 1895, the second anniversary, that the Republic opened the trials of the people arrested for “treason” in the revolt. Has anyone seen accounts in the Hawaiian papers about what happened on January 24, the day the Queen signed her forced abdication statement? According to “The Friend” (February 1, 1895) “On the 24th, while engaged in the trial of a company of natives, the Court was startled by the fall upon the table around which they sat of a massive bar of plaster from the lofty ceiling [of the Throne Room, where the trials were taking place.] The bar was nine feet long, forming part of a decorative panel. It fell upon the center of the table, precisely fitting the length of it. Col. Whiting had a narrow escape, his face being grazed, although protected by his military hat. The plaster had been loosened by a sharp shake of earthquake the night before.” The Queen signed the statement at 11 a.m. in the rooms directly above –perhaps even at the same time?

[See the original article, “The Story of the Insurrection” in The Friend, Volume 53, Number 2, Pages 9–11. February 1895.

Comment to Writing on the wall, 1894.]