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findings of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and sturdily insisted to the last that the downfall of the queen was hastened and carried into effect by the unlawful acts of Minister Stevens, Hence they argued that annexation, however desirable, should not occur until an expression of the popular will in the Islands should be obtained. Moreover, the opponents of annexation urged the distance of the Islands from our coast, their uselessness as a naval strategic point, the varied nationalities of the inhabitants, the alleged dislike of the native people to absorption and to the extinction of their nationality, as reasons why no further steps should be taken.
On the other hand, the advocates of annexation urged the great preponderance of American capital, sentiment, and influence in the Islands, claimed that they were invaluable from a military and naval point of view, urged that the Hawaiian government had, under international law, a perfect constitutional right to form a political union with this or any other country, and showed the vast commercial advantages which would accrue to this country from the possession of an outpost in the mid-Pacific. They quoted the prophecy of William H. Seward, that the Pacific, with its coasts and islands, is destined in the future to become the great theatre of the world's affairs, and urged that in the Hawaiian Islands was the commercial key to the Pacific.
Thus throughout the administration of President Cleveland the controversy was waged. The revolt of the adherents of the ex-queen, in 1895, created great interest throughout the United States; and the force of public opinion caused the naval guard, which had been withdrawn from the harbor of Honolulu, to be promptly re-established. A sudden epidemic of cholera, imported into the Islands from the East, also attracted interest and anxiety; and the vigorous measures adopted by the government to stamp it out caused wide admiration, and increased the confidence of the American people in the character and ability of the men who held the control of Hawaiian affairs. The unquestioned interest taken by Great Britain in the Islands during this period, and her attempt to
get a foothold upon them for a telegraphic cable station, also added to the interest in the Hawaiian Question, and called forth a resolution in the Senate to the effect that any interference of a foreign power with the Hawaiian Islands would be regarded as an act of unfriendliness toward the United States. Last of all, an effort on the part of Japan to gain political control of the Islands through colonization, and the bold refusal of the Hawaiian government to allow a large number of Japanese immigrants to land, called attention to another phase of the already complicated question, and seemed to increase in both countries the growing public sentiment in favor of annexation.
Great Britain's attempt to obtain a military telegraphic cable station deserves especial attention at this point. Late in the year 1894, when apprehensions of the coming revolt were felt in Honolulu, a request was presented to the government of the Hawaiian Islands by the British minister. This request was that the British government be allowed to lease either Neckar Island, French Frigate Shoal, or Bird Island, for the purpose of establishing
thereon a station for a submarine telegraphic cable. The proposed cable was to have its termini at Vancouver and at some point on the Australian coast. On account of the extraordinary distance between these two points, this mid-ocean station was needed; and from it it was proposed to lay a connecting spur to Honolulu. The proposition was tempting to the Hawaiian government, for in its isolated position there could be no greater boon than a connection with the world by submarine cable. But the government was debarred from granting directly the request of Great Britain by the terms of the Hawaiian-American treaty. By this instrument Hawaii had agreed to allow no nation to land a telegraphic cable upon its shores without the previous consent of the United States. Accordingly, reply was made that the request would be submitted to the consideration of the government of the United States; but in the submission of the matter to the United States, no expression of opinion as to the desirability of granting the request of Great Britain was made.
On the 9th of January, 1895, President
Cleveland sent a message to Congress in these words :
“I submit herewith certain despatches from our minister at Hawaii and the documents which accompany the same. They disclose the fact that the Hawaiian government desires to lease to Great Britain one of the uninhabited islands belonging to Hawaii as a station for a submarine telegraph cable to be laid from Canada to Australia, with a connection between the island leased and Honolulu.
. . I hope the Congress will see fit to grant the request of the Hawaiian government, and that our consent to the proposed lease will be promptly accorded.”
The three islands included in this request lie to the north-west of the inhabited islands of the Hawaiian group.
They are bold, barren rocks, without harbors, and unapproachable except in small boats in the calmest of weather. Of the three, French Frigate Shoal and Bird Island have for years been regarded as Hawaiian territory. The latter is frequently visited by Hawaiians to gather the eggs of the sea fowl, who come to the island in myriads. Neckar Island, on the other