We recall the landing of American troops in the Islands …
“Queen Lili‘uokalani attempted on Saturday, Jan. 14 (1893,) to promulgate a new Constitution, depriving foreigners of the right of franchise and abrogating the existing House of Nobles, at the same time giving her the power of appointing a new House.”
“This was resisted by the foreign element of the community, which at once appointed a committee of safety of thirteen members, which called a mass meeting of their classes, at which 1,200 or 1,500 were present.”
“That meeting unanimously adopted resolutions condemning the action of the Queen and authorizing the committee to take into consideration whatever was necessary for the public safety.” (New York Times, January 28, 1893)
The Committee of Safety, formally the Citizen’s Committee of Public Safety, was a 13-member group also known as the Annexation Club; they started in 1887 as the Hawaiian League. The Committee of Safety was made up of 6-Hawaiian citizens (naturalized or by birth (American parentage;)) 5-Americans, 1-Englishman and 1-German (none were missionaries and only 3 had missionary family ties.)
On January 16, 1893, the Committee of Safety wrote a letter to John L Stevens, American Minister, that stated: “We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Honolulu, respectfully represent that, in view of recent public events in this Kingdom, culminating in the revolutionary acts of Queen Liliʻuokalani on Saturday last, the public safety is menaced and lives and property are in peril, and we appeal to you and the United States forces at your command for assistance.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 17, 1893)
“(A) small force of marines and sailors was landed from the United States ship Boston, as a precautionary step for the protection of American life and property, and as a safeguard against night incendiarism stimulated by the hope of plunder, greatly feared by many of the best citizens.” (Stevens, The North American Review, December 1893)
“About 5 o’clock in the afternoon (January 16, 1893,) the USS Boston landed (162) men. Each man had two belts of cartridges around his waist and was armed with a rifle. The men marched up to the office of the Consul-General of the United States where a halt was made.”
“The Marines were detached and sent to the American Legation on Nuʻuanu Avenue, while the sailors marched out along Merchant Street with two gatling guns and made a halt at Mr JA Hopper’s residence. About sundown they moved to the grounds of Mr JB Atherton’s and after a stay of several hours returned to the Arion Hall, where they camped overnight.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 17, 1893)
“At the time the Provisional Government took possession of the Government buildings, no troops or officers of the United States were present or took any part whatever in the proceedings.” (John Foster, State Department, February 15, 1893, Blount Report)
That wasn’t the only time American Troops landed to keep the peace and/or restore order. It happened a couple of times, and, it was requested by the Monarchy.
On February 12, 1874, nine days after the death of King Lunalilo, an election was held between the repeat candidate David Kalākaua and Queen Emma, widow of King Kamehameha IV.
The election was held by the members of the legislature, not the public. The election was held in a special session of the Legislature at the old Courthouse on Queen Street (it was almost the last official action to take place in the courthouse.) When the vote was tallied, Kalākaua won by a count of 39 – 6.
Emma’s supporters (referred to as the “Queenites,” “Emmaites” or the “Queen Emma party”) were unhappy with the decision – an angry mob of about 100 of the Queen’s followers gathered.
No outbreak occurred … until the Committee of five representatives, which had been appointed to notify the King of his election, attempted to leave the building and enter a carriage waiting to convey them to the Palace. A riot ensued and many of the legislators were attacked (1 died.)
During the election riot of 1874, “No dependence could be placed on the police nor on the Hawaiian Guards; these had proved unfaithful to their duties to preserve order, and had in some cases joined the partisans of Queen Emma in their riotous actions.” (Lili‘uokalani)
“The only alternative, in this emergency, was to seek aid from the war vessels in port. About half-past 4 pm, a written request was sent by Charles R Bishop (the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Hawaiian Kingdom,) on behalf of the Government, to the American Minister Resident, for a detachment to be landed from the US ships Tuscarora and Portsmouth, lying in the harbor. And a similar request was transmitted to the British Consul General.” (Hawaiian Gazette – March 4, 1874)
The request stated, “Sir: A riotous mob having unexpectedly made a violent attack upon the Court House and the Members of the Legislature which we have not the force at hand to resist, I have to request that you will cause to be furnished at the earliest moment possible aid from the US ships “Tuscarora” and “Portsmouth” to the Police, in quelling the riot and temporarily protecting life and property. Your obedient servant, Chas. R. Bishop” (Hawaiian Gazette – March 4, 1874)
A force of 150 American marines and sailors under Lieutenant Commander Theodore F. Jewell were put ashore along with another seventy to eighty Britons under a Captain Bay from the sloop HMS Tenedos.
“Commander Belknap and Commander Skerrett of the United States forces took possession of the square on which the court-house is built; and on seeing this, the mob melted silently and entirely away. The armed marines subsequently, at the request of the Hawaiian authorities, guarded the treasury, arsenal, jail, and station-house.”
“The British marines were marched to the residence of Queen Emma, and, after dispersing the rioters assembled there, they occupied the barracks and guarded the palace itself.” (Liliʻuokalani)
Americans landed another time. “On the 30th of July, 1889, an insurrection was set on foot by Robert W. Wilcox and Robert Boyd (to overthrow the present Government of Hawaii and depose the King) on the afternoon of the same day, together with their adherents, about 100 in number, were defeated. The ringleader, with about 60 of his followers, was imprisoned.”
“About 6 o’clock am a message from the King informed me that an armed party, led by Mr. Wilcox, was in possession of the palace grounds, and soon thereafter it was learned that insurgents were in charge of the building containing the Government offices.”
“As soon as possible I had communication with Commander Woodward of the USS Adams, and at once all necessary preparations were made to land a force, if found necessary for protection of the people and property interests.” (Merrill, American Legation; Blount Report)
“About 70 sailors and marines from the USS Adams, then in the harbor, were landed by permission with a machine gun to protect life and property at the legation and in the city, and their appearance on the streets had a favorable effect on the populace.”
“In the afternoon, and as soon as I ascertained from one of the cabinet ministers that an attempt would be made to dislodge the insurgents from the “bungalow” before dark by the use of dynamite, and as there were large crowds of people congregated on the streets …”
“… I deemed it advisable to ask for the landing of the remainder of the forces from the Adams before dark as a precautionary measure in the event any assistance to preserve order might be required, and to be immediately available in the event a conflagration should start.”
“In this matter Commander Woodward fully agreed, and by permission of the minister of foreign affairs the forces landed about 5 o’clock pm. Early the following morning all the men belonging to the Adams returned to the ship.”
“The members of the cabinet and many prominent residents expressed much commendation of the prompt landing of the men, and remarked upon the very salutary effect their presence seemed to have among the people on the streets.”
The USS Adams was the only naval vessel in port. The British ship Espiegle recently left under sealed orders on a cruise south.”(Merrill, American Legation, Blount Report)
“Remaining over night, quartered at the armory, they returned on board the next morning when tranquility was restored.” (Blount Report)
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