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ward M. McCook. In the mean time the king, whose health had long been precarious, died, in his twenty-ninth year, and after a reign of about nine years. His death was preceded by that of his only son, the little Prince of Hawaii, so that he left no direct heir. His elder brother, Prince Lot, the next in succession, ascended the throne on the thirtieth day of November, 1863.
This monarch soon showed a tendency toward the former royal absolutism. He refused to subscribe to the constitution which had been adopted in the reign of Kamehameha III, declared its abrogation, and proclaimed a new one which he himself had caused to be prepared. The character of Kamehameha V led him to such a conduct of public affairs as would redound chiefly to his own glory; but he cannot be accused of marked sympathies toward either the American or the English factions in his kingdom.
It was during the ministry of Mr. McCook that the steps were taken, already mentioned, toward a treaty of reciprocity between the two nations, a movement which was defeated mainly through the earnest opposition of Senator Sumner. A private note to Secretary Seward, already quoted,* shows that Kamehameha V was not wholly averse to a renewal of the propositions for annexation which had been brought to a sudden close by the death of Kamehameha III. It will be remembered that Mr. McCook had been authorized to sound the Hawaiian authorities on the large subject" broached by him, and had been also assured that the government at Washington would make similar cautious inquiries of the Hawaiian minister at Wash-? ington.
It is undoubtedly true that, although the king earnestly favored the proposed treaty of reciprocity, certain of his ministers, whose antagonism to American influence in the Islands was unconcealed, were as earnestly opposed to it. At the same time an opposition to ratification was developed in Washington, but from quite a different cause. This was nothing less than a feeling, which Secretary Seward seems to have shared, that the execution of such a treaty would tend to
* Ante, p 42.
hinder, if not wholly to defeat, annexation. “A lawful and peaceful annexation of the Islands to the United States, with the consent of the people of the Sandwich Islands," wrote Secretary Seward to Mr. McCook, “is deemed desirable by this government; and, if the policy of annexation should really conflict with the policy of reciprocity, annexation is in every case to be preferred.”
In July, 1868, while the question of the ratification of the reciprocity treaty was still pending in the Senate of the United States, the subject of the annexation of the Islands was discussed in Honolulu; and it is unquestionable that a strong sentiment grew up in the Islands favorable to such an act. As earnestly, however, as such a settlement of the long existent Hawaiian question was desired by Secretary Seward, it was not deemed prudent, for political and financial reasons, that the issue should be raised at that time. “The public attention,” wrote Secretary Seward, in confidence, to Mr. Z. S. Spalding at Honolulu, "sensibly continues to be fastened upon the domestic questions which have grown out of the late Civil War. The public mind refuses to dismiss these questions even so far as to entertain the higher but more remote questions of national extension and aggrandizement. ... How long sentiments of this sort may control the proceedings of the government is uncertain; but in the mean time it will be well for you not to allow extravagant expectations of sympathy between the United States and the friends of annexation in the Islands to influence your own conduct."
Notwithstanding the feeling of prudent apathy upon this subject which prevailed in Washington, an increasing sentiment favor. able to a political union with the American Republic was rapidly growing in Honolulu. This was especially strong immediately after the beginning of President Grant's administration. The agitation of the subject was renewed at the Islands; and many men of influence, who had theretofore carefully refrained from expressing their sentiments upon this important topic, became outspoken in their advocacy of annexation. As time passed and the hopes of Americans in Hawaii for the final ratification of the reciprocity treaty began rapidly to recede, the sentiment for annexation began proportionally to expand. There were those who went so far as to suggest among themselves the feasibility of a seizure of the Islands by the forces of the United States; but such a movement was not, probably, discussed at all by the government at Washington. Some slight apprehension in the mind of the king that such an act might be contemplated was allayed by the minister resident, who took occasion, in the course of an informal conversation with him, to remark that “the United States had never yet acquired a foot of territory by conquest,” and that the additions to her boundaries had all been made by purchase. Continuing, Mr. McCook broadly intimated that the United States might be disposed to enter into a similar transaction with His Majesty, suggesting that money was a great power, particularly with a needy population, and that a good naval depot between the Pacific coast and China was increasingly desired by his government.