This is in response to Deb Kekaualua’s letter in TGI on Sunday.
U.S. President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, was a friend of Lili’uokalani and refused to allow a Treaty of Annexation. In December 1893 he staged warship exercises in Hawaii to try to intimidate the Hawaiian revolutionary government to step down and restore the ex-queen to the throne. So the Hawaii government waited four years until Cleveland’s successor McKinley, a Republican, became president in 1897.
In fall 1894 the Republic of Hawaii received formal letters of diplomatic recognition as the rightful successor government to the Kingdom. Those letters were personally signed by emperors, kings, queens, and presidents of at least 19 foreign nations on four continents in 11 languages. Under international law, that gave the Republic the right to speak on behalf of the nation of Hawaii, and to offer treaties. Lili’uokalani also signed a formal letter of abdication and an oath of loyalty to the Republic. All those documents can be seen in the state archives.
In 1897 the Republic of Hawaii offered a Treaty of Annexation to the United States. In the U.S., the treaty was highly controversial. Racist Southern senators opposed it because most of Hawaii’s people were not Caucasian, just as racist Hawaiians today oppose it because they want Hawaii to be an independent nation with racial supremacy for ethnic Hawaiians under a theory of “indigenous rights.” Southern senators also opposed it in order to protect their sugar industry against Hawaii sugar.
In 1898 the U.S. accepted the Hawaiian offer to be annexed. In a joint resolution the Senate approved the treaty by vote of 42-21; the House approved it 209-91; President McKinley signed it. The same method of approving a Treaty of Annexation by means of a joint resolution had been established as a precedent 53 years earlier when the Republic of Texas offered a treaty in 1845.
Let me emphasize that the U.S. did not reach out and grab Hawaii against its will. The internationally recognized government of Hawaii first offered the treaty, which the U.S. later accepted. I also emphasize that under international law it is up to the U.S. alone, as an exercise of its sovereignty, to choose what method the U.S. will use to ratify a treaty — no outsiders have any right to nullify a treaty merely because they don’t like the method chosen by the U.S. to ratify it — not the United Nations, not the World Court, and certainly not Hawaiian activists.
For those who demand “Show me the treaty!” I have put it on the internet. Courts have repeatedly upheld the treaty. For example, in 1909 when ex-queen Lili’uokalani sued the U.S. to get money for “her” crown lands, the court ruling provided full text of the Treaty of Annexation as evidence that the court had jurisdiction to decide the case (along with evidence that under Kingdom law Liliuokalani had never owned the crown lands as personal property). See http://tinyurl.com/56czl
Here’s my webpage “Treaty of Annexation between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America (1898). Full text of the treaty, and of the resolutions whereby the Republic of Hawaii legislature and the U.S. Congress ratified it. The politics surrounding the treaty, then and now” at http://tinyurl.com/2748fgg
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D., is a resident of Kaneohe.