In 1893, “[a] so-called Committee of Safety, a group of professionals and businessmen, with the active assistance of John Stevens, the United States Minister to Hawai‘i, acting with the United States Armed Forces, replaced the [Hawaiian] monarchy with a provisional government.” (US Supreme Court; Hawaii v OHA, 2008) The Provisional Government was soon recognized by foreign states.
“The term ‘recognition,’ when used in the context of recognition of States and governments in international law, may have several different meanings. It may indicate the recognizing State’s willingness to enter into official relations with a new State or government, or manifest its opinion on the legal status of a new entity or authority, or both.”
“The subject has been complicated by the introduction of several variants of the term. Distinctions between ‘de facto recognition,’ ‘diplomatic recognition’ and ‘de jure recognition’ may be traced back to the secession of the Spanish provinces in South America in early 19th century.”
“Like ‘recognition,’ these terms can be given meaning only by establishing the intention of the authority using them within the factual and legal context of each case. Recognition is a unilateral act performed by the recognizing State’s government. It may be express or implicit.” (Talmon)
“In his Allgemeine Staatslehre (General Theory of the State), published in 1900, Georg Jellinek developed the doctrine of the three elements of statehood, according to which a State exists if a population, on a certain territory, is organized under an effective public authority.”
“Although some authors have criticized this definition as treating the State as a purely factual phenomenon, it is still the definition most commonly found in State practice.”
“There are usually two requirements regarding the element of ‘public authority:’ internally, it must exercise the highest authority, that is, it must possess the power to determine the constitution of the State (internal sovereignty) …”
“… externally, it must be independent of other States (external sovereignty). Independence of other States refers to legal, not factual, independence; that is, the State must only be subject to international law, not to the laws of any other State.”
“When a State recognizes a new ‘government,’ it usually acknowledges a person or group of persons as competent to act as the organ of the State and to represent it in its international relations. The only criterion in international law for the recognition of an authority as the government of a State is its exercise of effective control over the State’s territory.” (Talmon)
The Hawaiian Kingdom became recognized through statements and treaties with Austria-Hungary (June 18, 1875), now Austria and Hungary; Belgium (October 4, 1862); Bremen (March 27, 1854) now Germany; Denmark (Oct. 19, 1846); France (September 8, 1858); French Tahiti (November 24, 1853); Germany (March 25, 1879); Great Britain (March 26, 1846); Great Britain’s New South Wales (March 10, 1874), now Australia …
… Hamburg (January 8, 1848), now Germany; Italy (July 22, 1863); Japan (Aug. 19, 1871, January 28, 1886); Netherlands (October 16, 1862); Portugal (May 5, 1882); Russia (June 19, 1869); Samoa (March 20, 1887); Spain (October 9, 1863); Sweden and Norway (April 5, 1855), now separate States; Switzerland (July 20, 1864); and the United States of America (December 20, 1849.) (Sai)
Then came the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy in 1893. Following the overthrow, Consulate offices in Honolulu recognized the Provisional Government as the “de facto government of the Hawaiian Islands.” John L Stevens, for the US Legation, acknowledged the Provisional Government on January 17, 1893.
On January 18, 1893, the Imperial German Consulate, Austro-Hungarian Consulate, Consul for Italy, Russian acting consul, Vice-Consul for Spain, Consulate of The Netherlands, Royal Danish Consulate, Consulate of Belgium, Consul for Mexico, Consulate of Chile, Office of the Peruvian Consulate, Consul-General and Charge d’Affaires of Portugal, Consulate and Commissariat of France and Chinese Commercial Agency wrote letters acknowledging (de facto) the Provisional Government. On January 19, 1893, the British Legation and His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Consulate.
With respect to transformation of the State status in Hawai‘i, the Provisional Government of Hawai‘i then established voter eligibility, convened a constitutional convention, approved a new constitution and the Republic of Hawaiʻi was established on July 4, 1894.
Shortly after (from August 1894 through January 1895,) a number of letters of formal diplomatic recognition (de jure) of the Republic of Hawai‘i were conveyed to the Republic of Hawai‘i President Sanford Dole.
These included formal letters from Austria/Hungary, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Chile, China, France, Germany/Prussia, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain , Switzerland and the United States. (These were countries that had prior agreements and treaties with the Hawaiian Monarchy.)
An August 7, 1894 letter notes US President Grover Cleveland wrote to Republic of Hawai‘i President Sanford B Dole, saying “… I cordially reciprocate the sentiments you express for the continuance of the friendly relations which have existed between the United States and the Hawaiian islands”.
In his annual ‘Message to Congress’ (1895,) President Cleveland noted, “Since communicating the voluminous correspondence in regard to Hawai‘i and the action taken by the Senate and House of Representatives on certain questions submitted to the judgment and wider discretion of Congress …”
“… the organization of a government in place of the provisional arrangement which followed the deposition of the Queen has been announced, with evidence of its effective operation. The recognition usual in such cases has been accorded the new Government.”
Republic of Hawai‘i President Sanford Dole sent a delegation to Washington in 1894, seeking annexation to the US. Regarding the annexation discussions, US Secretary of State John Sherman noted …
“(T)he plan of union with the United States became an uncertain contingency, the organization of the Hawaiian Commonwealth underwent necessary changes; the temporary character of its first (Provisional) Government gave place to a permanent scheme (Republic) under a constitution framed by the representatives of the electors of the islands …”
“… administration by an executive council not chosen by suffrage, but self-appointed, was succeeded by an elective and parliamentary regime, and the ability of the new Government to hold – as the Republic of Hawaii – an independent place in the family of sovereign States, preserving order at home and fulfilling international obligations abroad, has been put to the proof.”
“Recognized by the powers of the earth, sending and receiving envoys, enforcing respect for the law, and maintaining peace within its island borders …”
“… Hawaii sends to the United States, not a commission representing a successful revolution, but the accredited plenipotentiary of a constituted and firmly established sovereign State. … the Republic of Hawai‘i approaches the United States as an equal”. (US Secretary of State Sherman, June 15, 1897)
On June 15, 1898, the Newlands resolution passed the House by a vote of 209 to 91; the vote on the Newlands Resolution in the Senate was 42 to 21 (2/3 of the votes by Senators were in favor of the resolution, a significantly greater margin was cast by Representatives in the House.) (Cyclopedic Review of Current History, 4th Quarter 1898)
The US Constitution, Article II, Section 2 states: “(The President) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur …” The following day, July 7, 1898, President McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution it into law.
On August 12, 1898, there were ceremonial functions held in Honolulu at which the Hawaiian government was formally notified by the US minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary of the adoption and approval of the joint resolution aforesaid, and at which the Hawaiian government made, an unequivocal transfer and cession of its sovereignty and property. (Territorial Supreme Court; Albany Law Journal)
On June 27, 1959, when the matter of Statehood was put to a popular vote, Hawaiʻi registered voters voted on the question of Statehood (there was a 93.6% voter turnout for the General election – as compared to less than 50% today.)
Shall the following proposition, as set forth in Public Law 86-3 entitled ‘An Act to provide for the admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union’ be adopted? 1. Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a State? – 94.3% voted in support.