Posted on: Sunday, January 15, 2006
By Jere Krischel
The Morgan Report of 1894 regarding the Hawaiian Islands — 808 pages of sworn testimony, exhibits and findings — is finally available through a Web site for reasonable men and women to review.
The site is http://morganreport.org
It was the U.S. Senate’s response to the Blount Report of 1893, which up to now has been the primary source of information on the revolution of 1893 readily available to students of Hawaiian history.
Although many believe it was repudiated by the findings of the Morgan Report, the Blount Report was the primary basis for the U.S. Apology Resolution of 1993, which in turn is the primary basis for both the Akaka bill and claims that Hawaiians have a right of independence under international law.
Sen. John Tyler Morgan, D-Ala., was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of the hearings on Hawai’i.
As a notorious racist ideologue, his paternalistic bigotry was undeniable, and shamefully common at the time. Despite his anachronistic opinions about race, the former Confederate brigadier general’s investigation was thorough and “done by the book.”
James Henderson Blount, a Georgia Democrat, the post-revolution U.S. minister to Hawai’i, was the former chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee. Blount held secret, informal conversations with royalists and annexationists in Honolulu, and only presented testimony favorable to the queen’s cause in his report to the president.
After receiving Blount’s report, President Grover Cleveland ordered Hawai’i President Sanford Dole to dissolve the provisional government and restore the queen to her throne, but Dole refused.
Cleveland then made his often-quoted message to Congress, declaring the revolution improper, decrying the U.S. involvement in it, and referring the matter to the “broader authority and discretion of Congress” for a solution.
In response, the Senate passed a resolution empowering its Foreign Relations Committee to hold public hearings under oath, and cross-examine witnesses, to investigate U.S. involvement in the revolution and also to investigate whether it had been proper for Cleveland to appoint Blount and give him extraordinary powers to represent the U.S. and intervene in Hawai’i without Senate confirmation.
That committee, five Democrats and four Republicans, cleared the U.S. of having led the revolution and approved of the president’s questionable appointment of Blount to investigate the revolution.
In response to the findings of the Morgan Report, Cleveland rebuffed further entreaties by the queen for intervention and recognized the Republic of Hawai’i as the legitimate successor to the kingdom.
Modern students of Hawaiian history have not had an opportunity to explore the full story of the Hawaiian revolution, its causes and its effects. The Morgan Report, with its sworn testimony and the final official contemporary findings of Congress, has been largely omitted from the discourse.
With its rediscovery, we all now have the opportunity to learn more about the events surrounding the overthrow, and can understand more fully the role played by U.S. peacekeepers.
Sovereignty activists have had the entire Blount Report on the Internet since 2002. With grants from the University of Hawai’i to digitize all the important documents related to annexation, they managed to finish everything except for the Morgan Report. Without the Morgan Report, however, there cannot be a fair and balanced view of history. The time has come to set the record straight.
Today’s decisions about Hawai’i’s future should be made in view of the complete historical record. The facts really do matter.
Before today, it was extremely difficult for scholars and students to study the Morgan Report, available only in the rare-books sections of a few libraries.
Now, thanks to volunteers collaborating with open-source software over the Internet, it is easily available to anyone.
The editors of this project hope this will lead to a fuller discussion of Hawaiian history and a more thorough understanding of the journey taken by the people of Hawai’i culminating in the vibrant, diverse democracy it is today.