Imágenes de páginas

This treaty, was signed by President »McKinley, and submitted to the Senate for ratification. The debate upon this subject behind closed doors was long, and it is believed to have been not altogether free from bitterness. It at length became known that, , although the question of the ratification of the treaty had not been brought to actual vote, the advocates of the measure were convinced that, while a large majority of the members of the Senate were favorable to it, there were yet lacking two or three votes to constitute the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution.

It was then decided to introduce a joint resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives, the passage of such a measure requiring not more than a majority vote. This resolution was nearly identical in its terms with the proposed treaty.

Pending the final decision of the Hawaiian Question by Congress, hostilities had begun between the United States and Spain. On the first day of May, 1898, occurred the naval battle before Manila, in which the American Pacific squadron, under command of Commodore Dewey, without any loss of life, utterly destroyed the opposing Spanish fleet, under the guns of the forts at Cavite. It became necessary at once that a large army of occupation should be sent to invest the city of Manila. The great strategic importance of the Hawaiian Islands now became evident to all, and many who had theretofore been pronounced opponents of annexation became converted to an advocacy of the measure. Military expeditions were speedily fitted out for the Philippine Islands; and these, sailing from San Francisco, made a port of call, for coal and fresh provisions, at Honolulu. The Hawaiian government -- which, under the custom of nations, should have declared neutrality,—at once, upon the beginning of hostilities, declined to take this step. The Spanish consulat Honolulu, who protested to the island government against granting to a belligerent nation the use of its harbors, was met with a declaration that the Hawaiian government regarded the United States as its best friend, and that the Islands would welcome the troops in their harbors and on their shores. This was in effect a declaration of alliance, although no formal alliance had been made.

The government of the United States accepted this hospitality with gratitude. In Honolulu the members of the military expeditions, as they passed through, were received with unbounded enthusiasm, and were lavishly entertained. The effect upon the people of the United States was marked, and the speedy annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States became a certainty. The resolution of annexation, after a brief debate of not more than three or four days, was adopted in the House of Representatives by a very large majority, not more than onefourth of the members voting in opposition. In the Senate far more difficulty was met by its advocates. “Filibustering" was resorted to by the opponents of annexation, in order to gain time and possibly tire out the majority. It was now the heated term in Washington. Senators were impatient to return to their homes; and this impatience became manifest when it appeared that all other business had been completed, and that delay upon the Hawaiian resolution alone kept Congress in session. At length, on the sixth day of July, 1898, the long struggle was ended; and the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, an act which had been contemplated as a future probability for half a century, at last became a reality. The resolution, a day or two later, received the signature of the President; and the Hawaiian Question became a thing of the past.

The news of the final passage of the resolution of annexation, and its signature by President McKinley, was received in Honolulu and throughout the Islands with the greatest enthusiasm. Church and school bells were rung, steam whistles blown, bands played, the American ensign waved everywhere, and dwellings and other buildings were covered with decorations. In the streets the throngs of people grew wild with joy. It was a day toward which many had looked wistfully for long years, and now it had at last come.

But one more scene remained to be enacted. This was the raising of the United States flag and the formal declaration of the absorption of the Hawaiian Islands by the American Republic. An American ensign of the largest size used was made for the purpose at the navy yard at Mare Island, California.

This was sent to Honolulu in charge of Admiral Miller, on the United States steamship Philadelphia. Friday, August 12, 1898, was the day fixed on for the formal ceremony. This was simple, but was conducted with an impressive dignity. The extravagant jubilation which characterized the reception of the first news of annexation was wholly absent. And yet all fully recognized the important nature of the ceremony, which signalized not only a great political change in the history of Hawaii, but also an important new departure in the policy of the United States. At the appointed hour the officials of the Hawaiian government and a large gathering of people assembled in front of the government building. It was the same place which had witnessed the uprising in behalf of Queen Emma, the proclamation of the accession of King Kalakaua, the revolt of Liliuokalani against her brother, and, later, the proclamation of her own ascension of the throne. It had heard the harangue of the queen, when she proposed to the people a new constitution; it

« AnteriorContinuar »