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We, Kamehameha III, by the grace of God, of the Hawaiian Islands, King: by and with the advice of our Kuhina nui and counsellors of native chiefs, finding our relations with France so oppressive to my kingdom, so inconsistent with its rights as an independent State, and so obstructive of all our endeavors to administer the government of our Islands with equal justice with all nations, and equal independence of all foreign control, and despairing of equity and justice from France, hereby proclaim as our royal will and pleasure that all our Islands, and all our rights as sovereign over them, are, from the date hereof, placed under the protection and safeguard of the United States of America until some arrangement can be made to place our said relations with France upon a footing compatible with my rights as an independent sovereign under the laws of nations, and compatible with my treaty engagements with other foreign nations; or, if such arrangements be found impracticable, then is our wish and pleasure that the protection aforesaid under the United States of America be perpetual.

And we further proclaim, as aforesaid, that from the date of publication hereof the flag of the United States of America shall be hoisted above the national ensign on all our forts and places and vessels navigating with Hawaiian registers.

Done at Honolulu this tenth day of March, A.D. 1851, and in the twenty-sixth year of our reign.



This provisional cession made by the king, with the advice of his counsellors, was ratified by a joint resolution adopted by both houses of the Hawaiian Parliament, June 21, 1851. In the mean time Mr. Severance had reported the condition of affairs to the Department of State, and under date of July 14, 1851, received instructions from Mr. Webster, advising the utmost caution lest serious complications should arise between the United States and France. Especially was he warned not to allow the naval forces of the United States to interfere directly with any demonstration which might be made by the French forces against the defences of the Islands, the making of war being solely a prerogative of Congress. He was also instructed to return to the king the document which he had received from him. These were Mr. Severance's private instructions. An official communication was at the same time enclosed, in which Mr. Webster said

It is too plain to be denied or doubted that demands were made upon the Hawaiian government by the French commissioner wholly inconsistent with its character as an independent State,- demands which, if submitted to in this case, would be sure to be followed by other demands equally derogatory, not only from the same quarter, but probably also from other States; and this could only end in rendering the Islands and their government a prey to the stronger commercial nations of the world. It cannot be expected that the government of the United States could look on a course of things leading to such a result with indifference. The Hawaiian Islands are ten times nearer to the United States than to any of the powers of Europe. Five-sixths of all their commercial intercourse is with the United States; and these considerations, together with others of a more general character, have fixed the course which the government of the United States will pursue in regard to them. The annunciation of this policy will not surprise the governments of Europe, nor be thought to be unreasonable by the nations of the civilized world; and that policy is that, while the government of the United States, itself faithful to its original assurance, scrupulously regards the independence of the Hawaiian Islands, it can never consent to see those Islands taken possession of by either of the great commercial powers of Europe, nor can it consent that demands, manifestly unjust and derogatory and inconsistent with a bona fide independence, shall be enforced against that government.

The Navy Department will receive instructions to place and to keep the naval armament of the United States in the Pacific Ocean in such a state of strength and preparation as shall be requisite for the preservation of the honor and dignity of the United States and the safety of the government of the Hawaiian Islands.

Copies of this letter were placed in the hands of the French minister at Washington and of the American minister at Paris, and Mr. Severance was instructed to place a copy also in the hands of the French consul at Honolulu. These words, the meaning of which was unmistakable, served to check the aggressive movement of France toward the Hawaiian Islands; and, although the French government expressed a “surprise" at the attitude assumed by the United States, it hastened to disclaim any intention of unduly interfering with the government of the Hawaiian Islands, and especially disclaimed any thought of attempting to assume sovereignty.

With this letter the incident may be said to have been closed; yet in the correspondence of the Department of State with the minister of the United States at Paris, a year or two later, it is seen that France, and Great Britain as well, cherished a feeling of jealousy at the increasing influence of the United States in the Hawaiian Islands, and were apprehensive lest there might be an undercurrent of feeling, both in this country and in Hawaii, looking toward annexation. That these European governments were not deceived is apparent from the tenor of this correspondence.

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