Imágenes de páginas

The influences which caused the delay in action upon, and the final rejection of the convention - which event did not occur until June 1, 1870, President Johnson having then been succeeded in office by President Grant

cannot, perhaps, be successfully traced. Discussions upon the subject of the ratification of treaties are invariably held by the Senate in executive session. The historical student, however, will not forget the strong feeling of opposition which existed in the Thirty-ninth Congress toward President Johnson, culminating in his impeachment. It is not wholly impossible that his earnest advocacy of the measure of commercial reciprocity with the Hawaiian Islands may have had a potent influence in affecting the action of the Senate in regard to the matter, although two years had passed, a new Congress had assembled, and a new President had assumed control of affairs.

It is remembered that, early in the administration of President Grant, propositions looking to the acquisition of the Danish West India Islands and of the island of San Domingo were brought prominently before Congress, and were finally defeated, mainly through the earnest opposition of Senator Sumner. It is not improbable that this sentiment of opposition to annexation of insular territory produced its influence upon the minds of the senators, in the consideration also of the Hawaiian treaty of reciprocity.

In the autumn of 1874 the movement toward the establishment of closer commercial relations between the two countries by the negotiation of a treaty of reciprocity was again renewed. In this movement King Kalakaua in person assumed an important rôle. With the purpose of attracting popular attention to and interest in the Hawaiian Islands, he visited the United States, brought here by the United States steamship Benicia. Before leaving Hawaii, the king had appointed Elisha H. Allen and Henry A. P. Carter as commissioners to negotiate for reciprocity In this mission they were successful; and the treaty was signed at Washington January 30, 1875. Some of its feat- . ures, relating to customs dues, required the ratification of both houses of Congress ; but this was successfully accomplished. The treaty was ratified by the President of the United States May 31, 1875, by the King of Hawaii April 17, 1875, and was announced by formal proclamation June 3, 1875.

In this instrument it was agreed that a certain schedule of products of the Islands, including unrefined sugars, should be admitted into the United States free of duty: certain products and manufactured articles were, in return, to be admitted free of duty into the Hawaiian Islands from ports of the United States; and the agreements were made on the part of the king that he would not, so long as the treaty should remain in force, lease or otherwise dispose of or create a lien upon any port, harbor, or other territory in his dominions, or grant any special privilege or rights of use therein to any power, State, or government, nor make any treaty by which any other nation should obtain the same privileges, relative to the admission of articles free of duty, thereby secured to the United States. The treaty also provided for its continuance for seven years from the promulgation thereof; and

it was added that, after the expiration of the term of seven years, it might be terminated by either party thereto, twelve months' notice of a desire to abrogate first being given, otherwise to continue in force. All of the provisions of the treaty having been fulfilled, it went into final operation on September 9, 1875. V 1876

Its terms were sufficiently broad to create practically a free trade between the United States and the Hawaiian Islands. On the part of the former, practically, the entire agricultural product of the Islands was admitted to our ports free of duty; for by this time the production of sugar had become by far the chief industry of the Islands, overshadowing all others. On the part of the island government its ports were opened to the admission, from the United States, of nearly every article of domestic consumption. The list of articles thus admitted free of duty is extremely long, and includes all textile fabrics, and manufactures of iron, copper, wood, paper, and leather, agricultural implements, meats, bread-stuffs, naval stores, and lumber. Protests were at once made by the British government to the King of the Hawaiian Islands, the claim being made that the clause of the treaty by which certain exclusive commercial privileges were granted to the United States was in contravention of the AngloHawaiian treaty of 1852, which contained the “ most favored nation" clause. This contention continued for several years, the complication resulting at length in the feeling that Great Britain might resort to coercion to accomplish the desired end. On June 30, 1881, James G. Blaine, then Secretary of State, in reply to a despatch of our minister, Hon. James M. Comly, setting forth in detail the situation of affairs then existing, showed in unmistakable language the impossibility of a grant by the Hawaiian government of any of the privileges exclusively given to the United States by the treaty of 1875 without a violation of that treaty. Mr. Blaine added these significant words, which served to end the dispute :

You will add that, if any other power should deem it proper to employ undue influence upon the Hawaiian government to persuade or compel action in derogation of this treaty, the government of the United

« AnteriorContinuar »