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ing, at the request of the de facto sovereign government of the Hawaiian Islands, the co-operation of the moral and material forces of the United States, for the protection of life and property from apprehended disorders, your
action is commended. But, so far as it may appear to overstep that limit, by setting the authority and power of the United States above that of the government of the Hawaiian Islands, in the capacity of protector, or to impair in any way the independent sovereignty of the Hawaiian government by substituting the flag and power of the United States as the symbol and manifestation of paramount authority, it is disavowed.”
To this despatch Minister Stevens had replied in these words : “The raising of the United States flag over the government building continues to have a pacifying influence. The qualified United States protectorate, which has been temporarily assumed at the request of the Provisional Government, is being exercised with caution and reservation, in no way interfering with Hawaiian sovereignty, nor with the administration of Hawaiian public affairs by the duly constituted authorities. My understanding of the spirit and terms of our temporary protectorate is in entire accord with the spirit and terms of the Secretary of State's despatch to me."
“There is every reason to believe,” wrote Minister Stevens to Secretary Gresham, “that, had not the United States flag been raised over the Hawaiian government building, and American protection thus secured, it was the intention of the Japanese commissioner to have demanded and asserted the right of landing Japanese forces from the Naniwa and the Kongo, and thus to have placed Japanese officials here on equal footing with the representatives of the United States, thus establishing a dual arrangement and protection in Hawaiian affairs.”
Such, then, was the condition of affairs when President Harrison closed his term of office and the reins of power fell into the hands of President Cleveland. The last hours of Congress had been so crowded with the despatch of important business that no opportunity had been found for the full consideration of the Hawaiian treaty of annexation by the Senate. Simultaneously with the inauguration of the new President the Senate was convened in extra session. One of the first official acts of President Cleveland was to withdraw the Hawaiian treaty from its consideration, for his own examination. Finding a disparity of statement between that of President Harrison, that “the overthrow of the monarchy was not in any way promoted by this government,” and that of the ex-queen, who, in her protest, had fairly charged that the throne had been wrested from her by act of the forces of the United States, Mr. Cleveland, to employ his own words, “conceived it to be my [his] duty to cause an accurate, full, and impartial investigation to be made of the facts attending the subversion of the constitutional government of Hawaii, and the instalment in its place of the Provisional Government.”
In pursuance of this plan Mr. Cleveland appointed the Hon. James H. Blount, of Georgia, as a special commissioner of the President, to report to him concerning the status of affairs in Hawaii. In Mr. Blount's credentials, addressed to “His Excellency Sanford B. Dole, president of the executive and advisory councils of the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands," the special commissioner's authority “in all matters affecting relations with the government of the Hawaiian Islands" was declared to be "paramount." His instructions issued by the Department of State declared: “Your authority in all matters touching the relations of this government to the existing or other government of the Islands, and the protection of our citizens therein, is paramount, and in you alone, acting in co-operation with the commander of the naval forces, is vested full discretion and power to determine when such forces should be landed or withdrawn.” He was authorized to avail himself of such aid and information as he might desire from the minister of the United States, then at Honolulu, who, Mr. Blount was informed, would continue until further notice to exercise those functions of his office not inconsistent with the powers intrusted to the commissioner.
Mr. Blount's appointment was not submitted to the Senate for its confirmation or rejection, the commissioner being thus sent out as Mr. Cleveland's personal representative, although endowed with many of the powers usually vested in an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, the powers of the actual minister at Honolulu being correspondingly subordinated.
The special commissioner thus sent out arrived at Honolulu on the twenty-ninth day of March, 1893. On the second day after his arrival he made use of the power invested in him to issue an order to Rear-Admiral J. S. Skerrett, commanding the Pacific squadron, “ to haul down the United States ensign from the government building and to embark the troops on shore to the ships to which they belong." This was done on the morning of the next day; and the flag of the United States, which had floated above the Islands for more than two months, was hauled down and the Hawaiian flag restored to its former place. The incident occurred with little popular demonstration, either of approval or of regret.
Commissioner Blount remained at Honolulu for several weeks, engaged in investigating the condition of affairs in the Islands and in holding interviews with various people.