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Joaquin Miller in Hawaii

° Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) ° The Hawaiian Archipelago (Isabella Bird) ° Captain Cook in Hawaii ° Joaquin Miller ° Missionaries ° Mark Twain

March 29, 1895, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


By Joaquin Miller.

Serious, "serious" is the word, as Dickens would say. You must know it is a volcanic country. At first it was fair sailing, almost funny a fine joke. The beginning? The beginning was sweet — sugar!

You see, the sugar bounty in the United States is what tempted the tireless and moneygetting Americans all Yankees to crime. For never in history was quite such treason as that committed by those in the employ of the Queen when they took possession of her palace, property everything and turned her out. Of course, they did not dream of doing what they have since done. Tney only wanted to get under the American flag and get the sugar bounty. This was a broad platform, on which all in Hawaii could meet. It meant millions on millions. Those who did not like to see the Queen turned out hoped to reconcile themselves by liberal behavior toward her and her people as things settled down and Hawaii became a part of the Union. But Hawaii is not yet a part of the Union. The Queen is in jail, hundreds of her people are in jail and, indeed, many of the very best white people are in jail or exile. So I say again, "serious" is the word.

The men who undertook to land the islands under the old flag are getting frightened. Last week they bought another big brass gun and they made big presents of money to their police. The soldiers are not quite content with $40 a month and ham and eggs. As for the volunteers, who have no ham and eggs and no $4O per month, they are not happy. Company D is passing resolutions. They have resolved that the big officials, who have imported boys from the East to act as clerks and so on, are not patriotic. Company D wants the little clerkships in the big places. As for the Annexation Club it is quite as fretful. I was asked to be one of the speakers at a contemplated big meeting to take place soon, and in answer to the invitation I said: "If I speak I shall demand the immediate release of all political prisoners, black or white, and the return of the crown lands to the Queen and her people."

"Say what you please," said the committee of invitation, "it is a free country, or if it is not free we will make it free."

"Very well," I answered, "I may not be here, but if I am I shall state distinctly that the first step toward getting into the Union is the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. We of the United States have the memories of Lincoln and Grant and the great men of their time, and if you hope to get into the Union you must try to follow their example. More than that, when we of the United States put money in the hat as it was passed around f r the missionaries every year we meant the money to be used in converting the natives to Christianity; not in converting their property to your own use. But behold, you have taken at a single swood all that they had left, the Queen's crown lands!

Merchant Street. Honolulu. 1885.

Merchant Street. Honolulu 1885.

"Yes, I know crown lands are an appendage of the crown, when one crown conquers another crown. But in this case you do not claim to have conquered the crown. You only claim to have seized the Government and the Government lands and property. You only claim to have abolished the crown. Surely Mr. Dole is not wearing the Queen's crown! It is simply abolished. But you cant abolish her lands. You have taken not only all her Government lands but her private property also. The rental was about $150,000 annually; and it was all given away to her people. She not only gave all her money, as a rule, but she gave the use of all email holdings to her hundreds of poor. Her poor kept her poor. She was all the time in debt with a revenue of nearly a quarter of a million: she had so many. And now what will you do with all these poor and improvident natives? I say that we who put money in the hat for the missionaries demand as a condition of your taking a single step toward getting into the Union that you release every political prisoner and return the crown lands to their owners the people you were hired to convert to Christianity.

"I put this proposition plain and clear so that the Annexation Club, which has asked me to speak, may know what is required of those who have absorbed the big offices with big honors and big pay before annexation may be hoped for. More than that, slavery must be abolished; the contract system of slavery as it 4s fostered and protected by the few hundred office-holders at the head of the alleged republic must be swept aside."

This is the substance of my notes from which I was going to speak before the Annexation Club in Honolulu. So you see things are mixed. The big Yankee trick which took in a whole kingdom has become a serious problem. The leaders are tampering with human liberty and human life. They are simply terrified and have thrown men in jail by hundreds without law or excuse, except the excuse of fear. I think if you could get at the bottom facts you would find that the leaders are quietly but hastily "laying up treasures" in Boston.

One thing that makes the problem more serious down there is the great temptations. Tnese leaders were tempted to despoil the Queen in order to get the sugar bounty for their millions of sugar. But now the natives, or more especially private adventurers, are tempted by the millions ot money and the little kingdom that lies there to be had for the taking. The excuse, of course, for the adventurers will be, as it ever has been in all history, the noblest that has ever moved the heart of man, human liberty. Men have lain in prison long and might again; but never with a shipload of gold and an empire waiting as a premium for their liberation. No, the Queen will never be restored. I doubt if you could get her to take the crown. She is an honest woman; and although her abdication was under duress and is illegal before the world, she is not a coward or liar. You could not

Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. 1838-1917.

Victor Hugo tells about a man who, walking along the sea beach, began to sink in the quicksand. He became alarmed. He ran forward. He sank deeper. He beame terrified as he went forward and forward, refusing to turn back, till at last he sank entirely out of sight, and so perished. He might have turned back, but he was afraid. This little Yankee republic of a few office-holders down there might even now turn back or even stop in their career of folly. They could even now turn out their political prisoners and make friends out of enemies. They could even now let go of the Queen's lands and so make 35,000 friends out of as many enemies, but they really seem to lack the sense. Those singular people who burned their grandmothers for riding broomsticks with black cats up behind them in the air are obstinate. They have come into power for the first time since the banishment of Roger Williams, and they seem determined to make the most of the situation.

For my own part I like what is likable in these remarkable people. They are clever, learned, capable, capable of almost anything but self-government. They are better in all sorts of ways than I am. They can teach me much. I only wish they would at once turn out those poor prisoners, let the Queen and her people have their own, and so prevent the invasion of strangers. For really the islands are in the line of our advancement.

And now one word for them after so much against them. They have done wonders for the natives. True, the natives have done much for them in a worldly way, but they have done infinitely more for the natives in almost every way. One thing more: I have seen lots of stuff about lepers. I have been a busy man for months down there; been in every nook and corner I could get into among the poor and lowly natives; been in towns and hamlets, up highways and down waterways, but-- in all that time I did not see a single leper. I did not hear of a leper all this time. I had to hunt all the place over and go four miles out of town to find anything like a leper or place for a leper. And the one unfortunate I found there was better taken care of than almost any invalid I ever saw; three gentle women in white hoods to comfort and care for the one stricken one. And I am told that the same consideration, as far as possible, prevails in the settlement where the unfortunates are gathered together. More than that, they are not unhappy. More than that, the malady is on the decline and some cases, the least severe ones, are being cured, or at least arrested in their fatal course. "Indeed," you exclaim. "Then the enterprising Yankee usurpers, who have taken what England had not the heart to keep, have at least some good ground to stand on." Not so. All this was done by the natives. The natives built roads, bridges, public edifices, palaces, planted great forests, established water works that yielded great revenues to the state, and without almost any national debt.

The revolutionists calling themselves the republic have been two years in power and have just now published their first biennial report of the Minister of the Interior. Let us see what the usurpers or revolutionists under the name of the Hawaiian republic have done in a public way in those two years. We find the following on page 135 of said report:

"The only new buildings erected for the Government during the period are two jails, one at Kohala and the other at Honokaa, Hawaii; and a small kerosene storehouse. The jails were very much needed at both places."

Comment is unnecessary. Two things only, jails and natives to fill them. These are the fruits of the usurpation, and these only If we omit the immense debt that is banking up despite the diversion and appropriation of the Queen's income.

As said at the beginning of this sketch, the situation is serious indeed. Yet the Yankee and so-called Christian missionaries will tell you that their intentions are of the best and all for the natives' good.

Good intentions is a tough sort of pavement, but it was all worn out before the grand old Florentine ever set foot in Hades. The Hawaiian republic can today do but one thing to be saved; turn back out of the quicksand, liberate those poor prisoners, give the Queen and her people back their own and stop buying guns. "They that live by the sword shall perish by the sword."

Joaquin Miller.

March 31, 1895, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Hawaii and the Hawaiians by Joaquin Miller

Time has swept swiftly by since gold was found here, and we have been so busy that few of us have any real solid knowledge of the Sandwich Islands or their story, except such as we gathered in early youth in other lands, when the hat was being handed around for the heathen. But now that the affairs of our next-door neighbors force themselves to the front it is well to know a few facts.

In the firsi place, then, the Kanakas were never cannibals. I know we were made to believe they were; books of a blood-curdling kind have been written about cannibals out there, but let us see what the first reliable authority says in "Cook's Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Vol. III": Captain Cook with four seamen killed with stones in the water close to shore." P. 69: "Some natives brought about ten pounds of flesh on board, our horror to find it to be the flesh of Captain Cook; the rest of the flesh having been burned and the bones carried to a high place and buried as those of a great chief. * * * This afforded us an opportunity to see if the natives were really cannibals. We asked them repeatedly, but found they all told the same thing. Finally we asked the direct question whether they had not eaten some of it, but they showed the greatest horror. Asked if it was the custom with us. The bones were restored the following Sunday, wrapped up in a great quantity of fine cloth, with a spotted cloak of black and white feathers."

The real history of these delicious islands, twelve in number, and lying in a string rather than in a group, about 200 miles long, began with the death of Captain Cook. Captain Farnander, a modern Norseman, wrote two large and instructive volumes about the Polynesian races, undertakes to trace their history far back by means of their songs and folklore. This, however, we have neither space nor disposition to deal with; nor can any one venture to set down the cause of Cook's quarrell further than is briefly told in the journal just quoted from by his successor. Commodore Wilkes, U.S.N., condemns Cook and his crew as the authors of untold mistery to the natives, resulting from diseases spread among them.

Alexander, the recent and most reliable of all the many historians of Hawaii, is quite as severe on Cook and his men. He further adds: "Deplorable acts of cruelty were perpetrated by the sailors. The Discovery fired round and grape shot into the village of Napoopoo and a cocoanut tree was lately standing near the landing place with a hole through it, made by one of the cannon-balls fired on this occasions. The sailors set fire to the village and the houses of teh friendly priests, with all their effects, were consumed. On Thursday, a high chief, Eappo, was sent by Kalaniopuu to sue for peace, and on Saturday he delivered up part of the bones of Captain Cook. A tabu was laid upon the bay and on Sunday, the 22d, the remains ofthe late commander were committed to the deep with military honors."

This same reliable authority says the islands were discovered by the Spaniards. He says teh Spaniards intermarrid with the natives and became the progenitors of certain well-known famlies of chiefs, such as that of Kaikiewa, the former governor of Kauai.

In reckoning by generations, and allowing thirty years on an average to a generation, we find that Kealiiokaloa was born about A.D. 1500, and probably came to the throne about A.D. 1525-30.

There is little doubt that these islands were discovered by the Spanish navigator Juan Gaetano, in the year 1555.

To go still further back for a moment, I cannot help calling attention to the fact that the early discoverers found many things amongt he natives to remind them of the Jews, notably the practice of circumcision and the maintenance of a "city of refuge" on each island.

Dr. Emerson of Ralph Waldo's family, says, in his charming work on canoe navigation in Pacific waters, that the twelve islands — eight or nine only inhabited — first began to discover one another about the time Columbus discovered America.

Kamehameha I.
Illustration King Kamehameha and His Warriors

It may be noted that Kamehameha the Great, so called because he conquered and tied all the islands together under one Government, was present at the death of Captain Cook, and there and then got his idea f conquering his rival chiefs by the use of cannon. He built great double war canoes, and in1795 invaded the island on which Honolulu now stands, and creating a panic by the use of two cannon given him by the Russians he drove the defenseless natives over a precipice as they attempted to reach the other side of the island and destroyed them in great numbers. He had sixteen white me with him and about 15,000 natives, armed with clubs, spears and slings.

It is probably the name "Islands of Peace" was quite applicable up to the date of this cruel man's advent, for the natives never even learned the use of the bow in battle, but fought, when fight they must, with sticks, stones and nature's weapons. This bloody conqueror was a giant in size and strength. He carried a club, like Hercules, and wore a yellow robe of feathers. He had five wives. His favorite wife fell ill about the first of the century, and he ordered the sacrifice of ten men. Three of thse were put to death on the spot where Honolulu now stands. It is due his memory to say, however, that when his own time to die drew near, in 1819, he refused to let human sacrifices be made for himself.

The first ships after Cook's discovery were British, commanded by his lieutenant, Dixon, 1786. About the same time the famous French explorer, La Perouse, came that way, and then pushed on to Alaska, where Cook had been before him. Three years later Metcalf, an America furtrader, with two small craft, had a quarrel with the natives. He decoyed great numbers of natives in canoes before his cannon, and, opening fire, killed and wounded hundreds. In revenge the natives captured his smaller craft, commanded by his son, and killed all the crew except the mate, Davis. They also captured ihe boatswain of the other vessel, John Young. These two men married native women and became powerful for good and evil.

Vancouver came next, in 1793, bringing presents and promising the King a ship and artillery. He made three voyages. His ponderous books, like those of Cook and La Perouse, as well as those of Russian navigators, are elaborate in detail and full of stirring illustrations. No land in the world with such brief history has had so many and such reliable historians as the Hawaiian Islands.

It may be mentioned here that these early voyagers found almost no animals there. Even the pussy cat was unknown. Sandal wood seemed to be preferred by the Chinese. As the chiefs claimed all the lands they had endless revenues, giving only the least little whisky, trinkets and gin to those who bore the wood from the mountains to the ships on their shoulders. In exchange for the sandalwood the King and his chiefs obtained silks, velvets, clocks, carved wood and trinkets of all sorts; all gleamed in such barbaric splendor as has not been seen since the days of Montezuma. This monstrous wealth attracted merchant ships of all nations.

Russian shipments came from Alaska several years later under command of a famous botanist who, getting a grant of land, endeavored to obtain possession and drive out the natives and English. But the King now had quite a fleet and stout armament. He drove out the pretenders and soon after had the satisfaction of seeing their acts repudiated by the Czar. There was something really heroic in the way the Kanaka giant with his club proposed to knock out all Russia. He had about forty sail for his fleet, from twenty to forty tons each, and perhaps forty cannons. His bloodless victories emboldened him to dictate a letter to George III, demanding that he should send him the ship and brass guns which Vancouver had promised him when he took possession of Hawaii.

A great pestilence, perhaps the cholera, brought about by the gathering together of too many marines without regard to sanitary regulations, had broken out in 1805 and swept half the King's army and all his great chiefs into the ground. This seems to have tempered the haughty pride of the giant savage and he retied to his home, had a brick room built for himself and wives and with his own hands tilled the soil.

Honolulu Harbor. 1850. Peter Hurd.

Honolulu 1850.

A wife and good Andalusian had, meantime, set example by setting out oranges, grapes, pineapples and so on. The King, on tasting these, told the Spanish husbandman that he was the better and truer man of the two. In fact, he now began to show so much good sense and moderation that the one remainign independent island sent in its submission and desired to share his posterity.

In the spring of 1811, John Jacob Astor's ship Tonquin drew in at Honolulu and took on a crew of natives. In my history of Montana you will find that two years later, after the British had captured Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, the Hudson Bay Fur Company took about 100 Kanakas to the head of that stream as trappers. The river Owyhee, a rich mining stream, was so named by them, after their own island of like name. And, indeed, from this time forward, the natives pushed out inmay directions over the sea, notably with the New Bedford and Nantucket whaling fleets.

Kng Kamehameha.

The King himself often went to sea. He even bought a California ship and sent her time after time, manned with his own race and kindred, to Canton loaded with sandalwood. We cannot help admiring the old man's swift advancement. He had begun life with a club and cannons; he now had ships and parks of artillery. He could not read or write, but he could dictate a letter like a trained diplomat.

In 1813 one of Astor's ships was lost on the coast. The shrewd old savage took the best possible care of the crew, but after the fashion of the most approved old English custom, claimed and kept all the "salvage," ship and all, for himself. I cannot better illustrate the bold and shrewd character of Kamehameha, the giant, than by again quoting from Alexander:

"By the advice, and under the direction of John Young, Kamehameha proceeded to erect a fort at Honolulu to command the harbor, which was commenced in January, 1816, and completed in a year. It was nearly square, measuring 300 to 400 feet on a side, with walls bout twelve feet high and twenty feet thick, built of coral rock with embrasures for cannons. It stood on the seaward side of Queen Street, and across the lower part of Fort Street. About forty guns, 6, 8 and 12 pounders, were afterward mounted, and it was placed under the command of Captain Beckley. Eight 32-pounders were afterward placed on Punchbowl Hil."

This remarkable old man died in his eighty-third year. His colossal statue stands before the palace at Honolulu, but no one to this day assumes to say where his pagan priests laid his bones.

He is regarded by the world as one of the greatest sovereigns of history, but with him ended tattooing and also the tabu — a word with all its significance which has become a part of our own language.

A year after the abolition of tattooing and the burning of tabus, the first missionaries arrived — March 20, 1820. A boat having been sent ashore, the son and successor of the giant heathen King sent back his words to the ship ThaddeusS: "The tabus are abolished, the idols are burned and their temples destroyed." This year the King and court moved from the big island — Hawaii, which is 100 miles further from San Francisco &8212; to Honolulu. This has been the capital ever since. A school was soon opened and the court were the first scholars. Commander Wilkes says that Kanaka children can learn much faster from books than white children. It soon became the fashion to read and write. The Bible and good books of all sorts began to appear in the native language. The natives have had at one time as many as six newspapers, but now they have been mostly suppressed or at least restricted of all liberty of expression.

In 1836 the natives became so much alarmed at the encroachment of the missionaries that, according to Alexander, himself a son of a missionary (and a most worthy one), they held great meetings to protest, and the missionaries themselves met and resolvd: "We desire to proclaim to them and to all the world that we do not want theirs; we want them. We do not want their property, nor their lands, nor their kingdom."

When we reflect that, according to their own historian, the idols were burned and the priests driven out and the temples of pagan worship destroyed, we begin to ask whether the missionary has done so much for the heathen after all. That he has done something is true. But has the missionary done as much for the heathen there as the heathen has donr for the missionay?

And when we read from their authority that the natives were so alarmed at their aggressive grasp that they protested in mass half a century since and brought out the above declaration to them, the world may be permitted to ask how that declaration has been complied with. The reason is they have taken their property, their lands and their kingdom.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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