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CESSION OF PEARL HARBOR. The provisional cession by the Hawaiian government to the United States of Pearl Harbor, by the convention of 1887, was the first step which gave to the latter any rights territorial in the Islands. The importance of this can scarcely be overestimated; and yet, admirably as is this harbor adapted for naval and commercial purposes, various influences at Washington, from year to year, intervened to prevent any actual occupation of it. In fact, the flag was never raised over this valuable cession, nor any steps taken to utilize its immense advantages.

Pearl Harbor is a magnificent harbor, completely land-locked, and capable in extent and in depth of water of affording anchorage to as large a fleet as is ever collected in one place. In its geographical formation it closely resembles many of the former Spanish harbors in the West Indies. The approach is by a somewhat narrow channel, capable of impregnable fortifications. The harbor is peculiar in that it is not composed of a single open roadstead, but of three distinct portions, or locks, divided by islands, or by jutting tongues of land. These three locks offer a combined water frontage of about thirty miles. In many places the land formation is of coral; and so abrupt is the coral line that vessels can find natural wharves, a single gang-plank stretching from deck to shore. Especially is this true of Rabbit Island, the chief of the islets. The shores fringing this harbor are very beautiful with their sub-tropical foliage. At one point a fine shelving beach is strewn thickly with fragments of pearl shell, — a circumstance which serves to give the name to the place.

Pearl Harbor is situated at a distance of seven miles from Honolulu, and in some respects is superior to the harbor of that city. In its vicinity is the famous Ewa sugar plantation, the most productive of the plantations of the Islands. A line of railway, which partially encircles the island of Oahu, connects the harbor with the city of Honolulu. So many and so distinct are the advantages which this harbor displays, especially in its absolute security to vessels in time of storm, that it is not improbable that, but for one cir

cumstance, the city of Honolulu would have been built here. This circumstance is the discovery of the presence of a coral-reef bar across the entrance to the harbor. This reef is believed completely to encircle the island, save at the mouth of the harbor of Honolulu.

So long ago as the year 1873 the United States steamship California paid a visit to the Islands, conveying thither a military commission, consisting of Major-general J. M. Schofield and Brevet Brigadier-general B. S. Alexander, a lieutenant colonel of United States Engineers.

This commission proceeded, under secret instructions from the Secretary of War, to examine the different ports of the Hawaiian Islands with reference to their defensive capabilities and their commercial facilities. Its report was that the harbor of Honolulu was the only good commercial harbor in the group, and that even this, from its peculiar formation, is useless as a harbor of refuge for war vessels in time of war. The commission found in the unused Pearl Harbor, however, all that is essential for the desired purpose. An examination of the harbor bar — not so thorough as could have been

wished - revealed the fact that it was composed of "dead" coral,- that is, of coral in which growth had ceased ; that it was somewhat less than three hundred yards in width, and was covered by a depth of water, at low tide, of from two to three fathoms. The sides of the reef were found to be vertical, or nearly so, and steeper upon the outer, or sea, side than on the inner, or shore, side. The shores, the commission reported, are admirably adapted for the erection of buildings necessary for a naval depot. It was thought by the commission that an entrance might easily be cut through the bar sufficient to open a channel two hundred yards in width, and with a sufficient depth of water at low tide, for the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Subsequent careful surveys, made twenty years after, developed the remarkable fact that a natural channel exists through the reef, at the entrance to the harbor, filled only by an accumulation of what is known as soft coral, or coral sand. This, it was claimed, might easily be removed ; and thus the harbor made accessible to the largest vessels at a comparatively small expense.

The report of this commission, which included the information that the mind of the king was favorably inclined toward a cession of Pearl Harbor, in return for the advantages to be gained by the Islands by a treaty of reciprocity, produced a profound impression upon the government at Washington. This was intensified by the subsequent appearance of General Schofield before a committee of the House of Representatives to urge the importance, chiefly from a military point of view, of the adoption of some measure through which the control of the Islands might pass to the United States. It was at this time that the sentiment favorable to annexation to the United States was more ardent and more general among the people of the Islands than at any other period; and the cession of Pearl Harbor as a preliminary act to such a sequence would, no doubt, have been heartily approved among the Hawaiians. It was during the height of this feeling, in which King Lunalilo shared, that the death of that sovereign occurred and the accession of Kalakaua. However, the reciprocity treaty, which was, perhaps, the most impor

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