U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham
to U.S. Minister Albert S. Willis, assigned
to the Hawaiian Islands, concerning the
Hawaiian Kingdom Investigation.
Department of State,
Washington, October 18, 1893.
Sir: Supplementing the general instructions which you have received with regard to your official duties, it is necessary to communicate to you, in confidence, special instructions for your guidance in so far as concerns the relation of the Government of the United States towards the de facto Government of the Hawaiian Islands.
The President deemed it his duty to withdraw from the Senate the treaty of annexation which has been signed by the Secretary of State and the agents of the Provisional Government, and to dispatch a trusted representative to Hawaii to impartially investigate the causes of the so-called revolution and ascertain and report the true situation in those Islands. This information was needed the better to enable the President to discharge a delicate and important public duty.
The instructions given to Mr. Blount, of which you are furnished with a copy, point out a line of conduct to be observed by him in his official and personal relations on the Islands, by which you will be guided so far as they are applicable and not inconsistent with what is herein contained.
It remains to acquaint you with the President’s conclusions upon the facts embodied in Mr. Blount’s reports and to direct you course in accordance therewith.
The Provisional Government was not established by the Hawaiian people, or with their consent or acquiescence, nor has it since existed with their consent. The Queen refused to surrender her powers to the Provisional Government until convinced that the minister of the United States had recognized it as the de facto authority, and would support and defend it with the military force of the United States, and that resistance would precipitate a bloody conflict with that force. She was advised and assured by her ministers and by leaders of the movement for the overthrow of her government, that if she surrendered under protest her case would afterwards be fairly considered by the President of the United States. The Queen finally wisely yielded to the armed forces of the United States then quartered in Honolulu, relying upon the good faith and honor of the President, when informed of what had occurred, to undo the action of the minister and reinstate her and the authority which she claimed as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.
After a patient examination of Mr. Blount’s reports the President is satisfied that the movement against the Queen, if not instigated, was encouraged and supported by the representative of this Government at Honolulu; that he promised in advance to aid her enemies in an effort to overthrow the Hawaiian Government and set up by force a new government in its place; and that he kept this promise by causing a detachment of troops to be landed from the Boston on the 16th of January, and by recognizing the Provisional Government the next day when it was to feeble to defend itself and the constitutional government was able to successfully maintain its authority against any threatening force other than that of the United States already landed.
The President has therefore determined that he will not send back to the Senate for its action thereon the treaty which he withdrew from that body for further consideration on the 9th day of March last.
On you arrival at Honolulu you will take advantage of an early opportunity to inform the Queen of this determination, making known to her the President’s sincere regret that the reprehensible conduct of the American minister and the unauthorized presence on land of a military force of the United States obliged her to surrender her sovereignty, for the time being, and rely on the justice of this Government to undo the flagrant wrong.
You will, however, at the same time inform the Queen that, when reinstated, the President expects that she will pursue a magnanimous course by granting full amnesty to all who participated in the movement against her, including persons who are, or have been, officially or otherwise, connected with the Provisional Government, depriving them of no right or privilege which they enjoyed before the so-called revolution. All obligations created by the Provisional Government in due course of administration should be assumed.
Having secured the Queen’s agreement to pursue this wise and humane policy, which it is believed you will speedily obtain, you will then advise the executive of the Provisional Government and his ministers of the President’s determination of the question which their action and that of the Queen devolved upon him, and that they are expected to promptly relinquish to her her constitutional authority.
Should the Queen decline to pursue the liberal course suggested, or should the Provisional Government refuse to abide by the President’s decision, you will report the facts and await further directions.
In carrying out these general instructions you will be guided largely by your own good judgment in dealing with the delicate situation.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
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