Digital History
The Annexation Of Hawaii: Excerpts from the Blount Report
Digital History ID 1104


Annotation: Following the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigated the U.S. role in the events that forced Queen Liliuokalani from power.

The Blount report decried U.S. complicity in the coup and recommended the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy. President Cleveland called for the United States "to vindicate its honor and its sense of justice by an earnest effort to make all possible reparations." Nevertheless, on July 4, 1894, the provisional government declared the independent "Republic of Hawaii." In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii even though there was no vote by the Hawaiian people.

Document: This report shows that from an early day the policy of the United states has been consistently and constantly declared against any foreign aggression in the Kingdom of Hawaii inimical to the necessarily paramount rights and interests of the American people there, and the uniform contemplation of their annexation as a contingent necessity. But beyond that it is shown that annexation has been on more that one occasion avowed as a policy and attempted as a fact. Such a solution was admitted as early as 1850 by so far-sighted a statesman as Lord Palmerston when he recommended to a visiting Hawaiian commission the contingency of a protectorate under the United States or of becoming an integral part of this nation in fulfillment of a destiny due to close neighborhood and commercial dependence upon the Pacific states. Early in 1851 a contingent deed of cession of the kingdom was drawn and signed by the king and placed sealed in the hands of the commissioner of the United States, who was to open it and act upon its provisions at the first hostile shot fired by France in subversion of Hawaiian independence.

In 1854 Mr. Marcy advocated annexation and a draft of a treaty was actually agreed upon with the Hawaiian ministry, but its completion was delayed by the successful exercise of foreign influence upon the heir to the throne, and finally defeated by the death of the king, Kamehameha III.

In 1867, Mr. Seward, having become advised of a strong annexation sentiment in the islands, instructed our minister at Honolulu favorably to receive any native overtures for annexation. And on the 12th of September, 1867, he wrote to Mr. McCook, "that if the policy of annexation should conflict with the policy of reciprocity, annexation is in every case to be preferred." President Johnson in his annual message of December 9, 1868, regarded reciprocity with Hawaii as desirable, "until the people of the islands shall of themselves, at no distant day, voluntarily apply for admission into the Union." In 1871, on the 5th of April, President Grant in a special message significantly solicited some expression of the views of the Senate respecting the advisability of annexation.

In an instruction of March 25, 1873, Mr. Fish considered the necessity of annexing the islands in accordance with the wise foresight of those "who see a future that must extend the jurisdiction and the limits of this nation, and that will require a resting spot in midocean between the Pacific Coast and the vast domains of Asia, which are now opening to commerce and Christian civilization." And he directed our minister "not to discourage the feeling which may exist in favor of annexation of the United States," but to seek and even invite information touching the terms and conditions upon which that object might be effected.

Since the conclusion of the reciprocity treaty of 1875, it has been the obvious policy of the succeeding administrations to assert and defend against other powers the exclusive commercial rights of the United States and to fortify the maintenance of the existing Hawaiian Government through the direct support of the United States, so long as that Government shall prove able to protect our paramount rights and interests. On December 1, 1881, Mr. Blaine, in an instruction to the American minister at Honolulu, wrote:

It [this Government] firmly believes that the position of the Hawaiian Islands, as the key to the dominion of the American Pacific, demands their benevolent neutrality, to which end it will earnestly cooperate with the native government. And if, through any cause, the maintenance of such a position of benevolent neutrality should be found by Hawaii to be impractical, this Government would then unhesitatingly meet the altered situation by seeking an avowedly American solution for the grave issues presented.

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