“It was the Napoleonic Wars more than anything else which allowed Hawai‘i to begin to shift from the British to the American sphere of influence.”
“In 1792, in 1793, and again in 1794 – while the French Revolution was spilling only French blood and the future Admiral Lord Nelson had no cause to marshal His Majesty’s ships at home – Capt. George Vancouver visited the budding conqueror Kamehameha and accepted his offer on behalf of George III of a pseudo-protectorate over Hawai‘i.” (Stauffer)
“Kamehameha’s chief foreign advisors, the British subjects Isaac Davis and John Young, continued their efforts to maintain close relations with their homeland by building on the great initial relations and understanding between the two nations …”
“… and as late as the 1810s Western naval officers recognized a special relationship, a de facto protectorate or alliance as some wrote, existing between Great Britain and Hawai‘i.”
“Into the breach created by the withdrawal of the British came the spirited American merchants, dissuaded from American-European trade by Jefferson’s embargo on Napoleonic combatants.”
“Although delayed slightly by the American-British War of 1812, American merchants experienced an economic boom through the sandalwood trade at the war’s close.”
“By 1820, the year of the establishment of the American-dominated whaling industry centered in Hawai’i as well as the landing of the first American missionaries there, Americans associated with Hawai’i played a key role in the political economy of the northern Pacific.”
“From the wild fur-trading camps of Astoria and Portland to the rollicking ports of Lahaina and Honolulu to the Chinese markets at Canton, business came increasingly under the domination of American traders.”
“Like the British during the previous hundred years, the Americans spread their political relations behind the advance formations of their merchants.”
“Only after decades of American commerce being established in the Pacific did the United States Navy follow.”
“In 1825 a Pacific Squadron made up of the single frigate United States and the small schooners Dolphin and Peacock was mobilized and sent to Peru to guard the routes of American shipping around the Cape.”
“And, as commerce had brought the Navy that far, it was not surprising when, one year later, commerce brought first one and then the other of those schooners to Hawai‘i to address the concerns of American whalers and traders.” (Stauffer)
“Thomas ap Catesby Jones was “Ordered to the Pacific Squadron in 1826, Jones, with the rank of Master Commandant (i.e., Commander) was in command of the sloop Peacock when he was sent to the South Seas and Hawai‘i later that year.”
“Jones’ sloop-of-war Peacock made good time from the Society Islands, arriving at Honolulu after a trip of just 22 days. Spying the whaler Foster out from Nantucket anchored off the mouth of Honolulu harbor, Jones boarded her at four o’clock in the afternoon of October 10, 1826, to gain a background report on the Islands.”
“By 3:30 p.m. the next day the Peacock had been brought into the harbor and was at anchor.”
“Lord Byron had put into port a year earlier and, while not bringing a cession treaty from London, he had reaffirmed the special interest and feelings existing between Great Britain and Hawai‘i.”
“In contrast, the American Navy had not been well represented in the Islands. In the War of 1812 an American privateer holding authentic Letters of Marque and Reprisal had sailed into Honolulu harbor only to be captured, together with several merchant ships, by the British warship Cherub.”
“The next American military ship to enter Honolulu was the sloop Dolphin, commanded by Lieutenant John ‘Mad Jack’ Percival, dispatched by Commodore Hull specifically to look into the matter of the alleged ‘debts,’ and received at port on January 26, 1826.”
“The object of my visit to the Sandwich Islands was of high national importance, of multifarious character, and left entirely to my judgment as to the mode of executing it, with no other guide than a laconic order, which the Government designed one of the oldest and most experienced commanders in the navy should execute”. (Jones, Report of Minister of Foreign Affairs)
“Under so great a responsibility, it was necessary for me to proceed with the greatest caution, and to measure well every step before it was taken; consequently the first ten or fifteen days were devoted to the study and examination of the character and natural disposition of a people who are so little known to the civilized world, and with whom I had important business to transact.”
“The Sandwich Islanders as legislators are a cautious, grave, deliberate people, extremely jealous of their rights as a nation, and are slow to enter into any treaty or compact with foreigners, by which the latter can gain any foot-hold or claim to their soil.”
“Aware of these traits in the character of the Islanders with whom I had to negotiate, I determined to conduct my correspondence with them in such a manner as at once to remove all grounds of suspicion as to the object and views of the American Government, and to guard against misrepresentation and undue influence”.
“(I also wanted to) give the Chiefs and others in authority, the means of understanding perfectly the nature of my propositions, I took the precaution to have all official communications translated into the Oahuan language, which translation always accompanied the original in English”.
“(B)y giving them their own time to canvass and consult together, I found no difficulty in carrying every measure I proposed, and could I have been fully acqainted with the views of my government, or been authorized to make treaties, I do not doubt but my success would have been complete in any undertaking of that character.” (Jones Report to Navy Department, 1827)
Jones’s first order of business was the matter of the deserters; after initial discussions with local Hawaiian officials about a comprehensive treaty, Jones proposed on October 31, 1826, that a ‘rule’ be established, “which ought never to be departed from”’ regarding foreigners in Hawai’i.
Under the proposed ‘rule,’ all American sailors who had deserted their ships would be immediately removed from the Islands no matter under what circumstances or how far back in the past the desertion had occurred. Secondly, any American otherwise living in Hawai’i who had no “visible means of making an honest livelihood” would be removed. Finally, Jones proposed that “all other foreigners who did not support a good character” should likewise be banished.
Governor Boki, as well as both the American and British representatives were in favor of the proposal. He then approached the issue of ’debts’ (on November 4, 1826) – these primarily dealt with the ‘payment’ of sandalwood that was promised to traders for goods given. The chiefs agreed to pay off all the ‘debts’ in full. (Staffer)
Then on November 13, “The communication … which accompanied some regulations of general interest to our commerce in the Pacific was not less successful”. (Jones Report to Navy Department, 1827)
On December 23, 1826, the US signed a treaty (Articles of Arrangement) with the Kingdom of Hawaii thus indirectly recognizing Hawaiian independence. (State Department Historian) It is generally referred to as the Treaty of 1826 and was Hawaiʻi’s first treaty with the US.
It “received the signatures of the Ruling Princes and Chiefs, in testimony of their approbation of them, and as a pledge of their sincere friendship and confidence in the American Nation, and their earnest desire to remain neutral and take no part in any foreign wars.” (Jones Report to Navy Department, 1827)
The meeting considered the ‘Articles of Arrangement,’ a trade agreement between the US and the Hawaiian Kingdom, which was accepted and signed by Thomas ap Catesby Jones, and Kaʻahumanu as Queen Regent, Kalanimōku as Prime Minister, and the principal chiefs Boki, Hoapili, and Nāmāhāna. (Gapp)