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CHAPTER VI. FOREIGN AGGRESSIONS The message of President Tyler, conceding the independence of the island government, contained also a recommendation to Congress “to provide for a moderate allowance to be made out of the Treasury to the consul residing there, that in a government so new and a country so remote American citizens may have respectable authority to which to apply for redress in case of injury to their persons and property, and to whom the government of the country may also make known any acts committed by American citizens of which it may think it has a right to complain. This recommendation was adopted and provision made for the compensation of a diplomatic officer; and on March 3, 1843, Mr. George Brown, of Massachusetts, was appointed commissioner. In the following October Mr. Brown arrived at his post, and presented his credentials to the king in a formal address, no doubt the first ceremony of the kind in which the Hawaiian king had ever taken part; for, although the government of the United States had been represented
there by an “agent for commerce and seamen
as early as the year 1820, it is not probable that he assumed any diplomatic functions or that he was formally presented to the king. Mr. Brown, in addressing the king, assured him that it was the wish of the government to which he was accredited that the independence of the Hawaiian territory should be scrupulously maintained, and that the friendly relations existing between the two governments should be even more closely cemented. “You may assure your government,” said His Majesty in reply, “that I shall always consider the citizens of the United States as entitled to equal privileges with those of the most favored nation.”
The significance of this utterance, in view of the absence of any formal treaty relations between the two countries, is important; and it was not forgotten when, a brief period later, the sincerity of the king in making it was put to a serious test. An American citizen, one John Wiley, who had been arrested upon charge of some crime or misdemeanor, and to whom a trial by a jury of foreign residents was denied by the local
governor, appealed to Mr. Brown for redress. The Laplace treaty had provided that “no Frenchman accused of any crime whatever shall be judged otherwise than by a jury composed of foreign residents, proposed by the consul of France, and accepted by the government of the Sandwich Islands." Wiley submitted to his trial by a jury composed half of Hawaiian natives and half of foreigners, as the statute law required, but took an appeal from the judgment of the court which was averse to him. While the appeal was pending, on the twelfth day of February, 1844, a treaty was concluded between the government of the Hawaiian Islands and that of Great Britain, in which was embodied a provision identical with that of the French treaty just quoted. On the day set for the hearing of the Wiley case, on appeal, Mr. William Hooper, who was the acting consular agent, appeared in court, and claimed for Wiley the same privilege as that granted by treaty to British subjects charged with crime. This protest was denied upon the ground that no treaty provisions to that effect were in existence with the government of the United States. The position taken by Mr. Brown was approved by President Tyler; but, nevertheless, strained relations were created by the incident, which were intensified by a protest made by Mr. Brown against the terms of the British treaty as discriminating against the United States. The king, therefore, asked the recall of Mr. Brown, with which request the government of the United States complied; and Mr. A. Ten Eyck was appointed in his place.
This gentleman, unfortunately, did not succeed in making himself thoroughly acceptable to the Hawaian government throughout his term of service. In March, 1846, new treaties were concluded between the Hawaiian government and those of Great Britain and France. These were similar in terms, but were, in some respects, modifications of the former treaties. In these conventions the stipulation as to the admission of French wines and brandies was modified; and, more important than this, from a political point of view, the stipulation regarding the composition of juries in trials of British and French residents were essentially changed. By the new agreements thus entered into, citizens of these countries might be tried by mixed juries of natives and of foreign residents proposed by the consul and accepted by the Hawaiian government. The instructions to Mr. Ten Eyck had included a charge to negotiate a treaty, upon the basis of the British treaty existing at the time of his appointment. Notwithstanding the recent modifications of this treaty, Mr. Ten Eyck insisted upon the construction of an Hawaiian-American treaty upon the former basis. Notwithstanding that the unwisdom of this contention was pointed out to him by James Buchanan, then Secretary of State, Mr. Ten Eyck appears to have insisted upon his point, until the relations of the Hawaiian government toward his own were upon the point of rupture. Fortunately, Mr. Ten Eyck resigned his office in September, 1848. He wrote a caustic letter, in which the administration of President Polk was roundly scored for its alleged neglect and abuse of him, and Mr. Buchanan was charged with having sacrificed the writer in the vain hope of advancing his own political interests with the