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“On your arrival at Honolulu," read Mr. Gresham's private instructions to Mr. Willis, “you will take advantage of an early opportunity to inform the queen of this determination [of President Cleveland to withdraw the treaty of annexation from the consideration of the Senate), making known to her the President's sincere regret that the reprehensible conduct of the American minister, and the unauthorized presence on land of a military force of the United States, obliged her to surrender her sovereignty for the time being, and rely on the justice of this government to undo the flagrant wrong. You will, however, at the same time inform the queen that, when reinstated, the President expects that she will pursue a magnanimous course by granting full amnesty to all who participated in the movement against her, including persons who are or have been, officially or otherwise, connected with the Provisional Government, depriving them of no right or privilege which they enjoyed before the socalled revolution. All obligations created by the Provisional Government, in due course of administration, should be assumed.
“Having secured the queen's agreement to pursue this wise and humane policy, which it is believed you will speedily obtain, you will then advise the executive of the Provisional Government and his ministers of the President's determination of the question, which their action and that of the queen devolved upon him, and that they are expected to promptly relinquish to her her constitutional authority.”
Nine days after the arrival of Minister Willis at Honolulu, at his invitation the exqueen, accompanied by her former chamberlain, visited him at the United States legation. The minister received her alone, and communicated to her the desire of the President, substantially as he was instructed by the Secretary of State. There followed a very remarkable conversation as it is reported to the government at Washington by Minister Willis.
“Should you be restored to the throne," inquired the American minister, “would you grant full amnesty as to life and property to all those persons who have been or who are now in the Provisional Government, or who
have been instrumental in the overthrow of your government ?"
The ex-queen hesitated a moment, and then slowly and calmly answered:
« There are certain laws of my government by which I shall abide. My decision would be, as the law directs, that such persons should be beheaded and their property confiscated to the government."
Minister Willis replied, repeating distinctly her words, “It is your feeling that these people should be beheaded and their property confiscated?"
The ex-queen answered, “It is."
Minister Willis then inquired if she fully understood all that they both had said, and if, having understood it, she was still of the same opinion.
“I have understood and mean all I have said,” she replied, “but I might leave the decision of this to my ministers."
But on a query as to whether she would issue a proclamation of general amnesty, pending the appointment of her ministry, she declared: “I have no legal right to do that, and I would not do it. These people,” she continued, “were
the cause of the revolution and the constitution of 1887. There will never be any peace while they are here. They must be sent out of the country and their property confiscated.”
The interview here ended, Minister Willis promising to convey a statement of her attitude to his government and to deliver to her its reply.
The tension of feeling was now intense in Honolulu. It was the popular belief that Minister Willis had instructions to restore the queen's authority and to employ the forces of the United States to accomplish that end. In the midst of this excitement a letter of Secretary Gresham, addressed to President Cleveland, commenting upon the report of Commissioner Blount, which letter had been the basis of President Cleveland's message to Congress, was made public, and reached the Islands. When this was read, the excitement, already great, was much increased.
Especially significant were the words of the Secretary of State, in which he inquired of the President : « Should not the great wrong done to a feeble but independent state, by an
abuse of the authority of the United States, be undone by restoring the legitimate government? Anything short of that I submit, will not satisfy the demands of justice.”
A public meeting was called in the drillshed of Honolulu, at which the action of Secretary Gresham was loudly denounced. A protest of the American residents, numerously signed, was filed with Minister Willis, declaring that “any such acts of war or hostility, if taken, attempted, or announced in the time of profound peace now existing between the United States and the Hawaiian Islands, or without any full, formal, and timely announcement thereof, will and would cause all concerned in authorizing the same to be held responsible for all the consequences that may ensue therefrom, not only before Almighty God and in the forum of conscience, but by all sanctioned rules and observances of civilized nations in their dealing with each other, and will and would be in violation of the rights of the undersigned, secured and belonging to them as citizens of the United States of America." There was great apprehension in the city.