Blount Report

The Blount Report is the popular name given to the part of the 1893 United States House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee Report regarding the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The report was conducted by U.S. Commissioner James H. Blount, appointed by U.S. President Grover Cleveland to investigate the events surrounding the January 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

The Blount Report "first provided evidence that officially identified the United States' complicity in the lawless overthrow of the lawful, peaceful government of Hawaii."[1] Blount concluded that U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens had carried out unauthorized partisan activities, including the landing of U.S. Marines under a false or exaggerated pretext, to support the anti-royalist conspirators; that these actions were instrumental to the success of the revolution; and that the revolution was carried out against the wishes of a majority of the population of Hawaii.[2]

The Blount Report was followed in 1894 by the Morgan Report, which contradicted Blount's report by concluding that all participants except for Queen Liliʻuokalani were "not guilty".[3]:648


In January 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawaiʻi threatened to replace the "Bayonet Constitution" that had been forced upon the monarchy in 1887 with a new constitution that would restore power to the throne. American and European resident merchants operating as the Committee of Public Safety responded by forcing Liliʻuokalani from power and proclaiming a provisional government. During the overthrow, the American Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens ordered the landing of U.S. Marines from the USS Boston in Honolulu, ostensibly to protect lives and property.

After the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, the Provisional Government of Hawaii immediately sent a treaty of annexation to the expansionist President Benjamin Harrison, who referred it favorably to the Senate for ratification on February 15, 1893. When Grover Cleveland, an anti-expansionist, became President less than three weeks later, he withdrew the treaty from the Senate and appointed former Representative James Henderson Blount as special representative to investigate the events surrounding the overthrow.


As special envoy to Hawaii with paramount powers to investigate the circumstances of the revolution and the stability of the Provisional Government, Blount made himself accessible. He obtained testimony from interviews, letters, affidavits, and other documents, including the "Statement of the Hawaiian Patriotic League"[4] and "Memorial on the Hawaiian Crises",[5] but did not have subpoena power. However, one historian has noted that Blount did not interview members of the Committee of Safety, and some questions may have been slanted to build a case for restoration of the queen.[3]:628

Blount delivered his report to President Cleveland on July 17, 1893 claiming improper U.S. backing for the overthrow had been responsible for its success, and concluded that the Provisional Government lacked popular support. On the basis of Blount's report, President Cleveland dismissed Stevens and began to secretly work towards the restoration of Liliʻuokalani and the constitutional monarchy, conditional upon amnesty to those responsible for the overthrow. The new Minister to Hawaii Albert Willis was unable to persuade the Queen to grant amnesty to the Committee of Public Safety, in return for the throne until December 18. Following this, Willis, acting on behalf of Cleveland, ordered provisional government President Sanford Dole to dissolve his government and restore the Queen. In a letter, Dole vehemently refused Cleveland's demand. The same day, President Cleveland delivered a message to Congress declaring the overthrow improper, calling it "an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress."[6]

But for the notorious predilections of the United States Minister for Annexation (John L. Stevens), the Committee of Safety, which should be called the Committee of Annexation, would have never existed. But for the landing of the United States forces upon false pretexts respecting the danger to life and property the committee would never have exposed themselves to the pains and penalties of treason by undertaking the subversion of the Queen's Government. But for the presence of the United States forces in the immediate vicinity and in position to afford all needed protection and support, the committee would not have proclaimed the provisional government from the steps of the Government building.... But for the lawless occupation of Honolulu under false pretexts by the United States forces ... the Queen and her government would have never yielded.[7]


Liliʻuokalani's delay in accepting the terms of her restoration and Dole's flat refusal made Cleveland turn over the matter to the Senate. The Senate authorized the Morgan Report which conducted two months of hearings taken from witnesses under oath and carried out under cross examination. The Morgan Report contradicted Blount's conclusions and exonerated the military and Stevens from blame. Senator George Gray of Delaware, Cleveland's chief spokesperson on the subcommittee, said Morgan examined witnesses "in a very partial and unfair way... to aid the annexationists and injure the President."."[3]:647 Walter Q. Gresham, Cleveland's Secretary of State, said that Morgan was "insincere and meant mischief."

Historian R.S. Kuykendall wrote that "nevertheless, the Morgan hearings did commit to the record the testimony of many participants in the revolution who had been neglected by Blount."[3]:647 Morgan, a Democrat like Cleveland but sympathetic with the expansionist Republicans, seemed to have a vested interest in exonerating both Stevens' actions during the Hawaiian Revolution, as well as Blount's appointment by Cleveland without Congressional approval. Historian W.A. Russ noted, "It seems that the Chairman had two purposes in mind: first, to gainsay everything the Blount Report had asserted; second, to clear the name of every American official and to give the United States a spotless slate."[8]

Cleveland left office and was replaced by pro-annexation President William McKinley in 1897. Hawaii was annexed to the United States the following year.

Modern relevance

In 1993, Congress passed and the President signed an Apology Resolution apologizing for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii a century before. Based on the Blount Report, other historical analyses,[9][10] and the claims of Hawaiian sovereignty activists, the Resolution subsequently became a touchstone in the cultural identification of Hawaiians, as well as for the growing Hawaiian sovereignty movement who seek self-government similar to that of Native Americans and Alaskan peoples.


  1. ^ Ball, Milner S. "Symposium: Native American Law," Georgia Law Review 28 (1979): 303
  2. ^ Tate, Merze. (1965). The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: A Political History. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 235.
  3. ^ a b c d Kuykendall, Ralph Simpson (1967) [1938], "Chap. 21 Revolution", Hawaiian Kingdom, 3, 1874–1893, The Kalakaua dynasty, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-87022-433-1, OCLC 47011614, 53979611, 186322026, retrieved September 29, 2012
  4. ^ Jon M. Van Dyke (2008). Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai_i?. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 152–. ISBN 978-0-8248-3211-7.
  5. ^ United States. Department of State (1895). Foreign Relations of the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 914–.
  6. ^ Overthrow of Hawaii Resolution, Pub.L. No. 103-150, 1993 U.S.C.C.A.N. (107 Stat.) 1510, 1511.
  7. ^ President of the United States, Message Relating to the Hawaiian Islands, H.R.Doc. No. 47, 53rd Cong., 2d Sess., XIII–XV (1893)
  8. ^ William Adam Russ (1992). The Hawaiian Revolution (1893-94). Associated University Presses. p. 335. ISBN 0-945636-43-1.
  9. ^ Tate, Merze (1965). The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: A Political History. Yale University Press.
  10. ^ King, Pauline (1992). in: Russ, William: The Hawaiian Revolution (1893–94) (Introduction). Associated University Presses. p. xiii. ISBN 0-945636-43-1.

External links

1887 Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom

The 1887 Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom was a document prepared by anti-monarchists to strip the Hawaiian monarchy of much of its authority, initiating a transfer of power to American, European and native Hawaiian elites. It became known as the Bayonet Constitution for the use of intimidation by the armed militia which forced King Kalākaua to sign it or be deposed.

Apology Resolution

United States Public Law 103-150, informally known as the Apology Resolution, is a Joint Resolution of the U.S. Congress adopted in 1993 that "acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum" (U.S. Public Law 103-150 (107 Stat. 1510)). The resolution has been cited as a major impetus for the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, and has been the subject of intense debate.The resolution was adopted by both houses of the United States Congress on November 23, 1993. A joint resolution, it was signed by President of the United States Bill Clinton on the same day.

The resolution was passed in the Senate by a vote of 65–34. In the House, it was passed by a two-thirds voice vote. It was sponsored on January 21, 1993, as S.J.Res.19 by Daniel Akaka and co-sponsored by Daniel Inouye, both Democratic senators from Hawaii.

Black Week (Hawaii)

The Black Week was a crisis in Honolulu, Hawaii that nearly caused a war between the Provisional Government there and United States.

Hawaiian Kingdom

The Hawaiian Kingdom (a.k.a. Kingdom of Hawaiʻi) originated in 1795 with the unification of the independent islands of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi under one government. In 1810, the whole Hawaiian Islands became unified when Kauaʻi and Niʻihau joined the Hawaiian Kingdom voluntarily. Two major dynastic families ruled the kingdom: the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalākaua.

The Kingdom won recognition from major European powers. The United States became its chief trading partner. The U.S. watched over the Kingdom lest some other power (such as Britain or Japan) threaten to seize control. Hawaii was forced to adopt a new constitution in 1887 when King Kalākaua was threatened with violence by the Honolulu Rifles, a white, anti-monarchist militia, to sign it. Queen Liliʻuokalani, who succeeded Kalākaua in 1891, tried to abrogate the 1887 constitution and promulgate a new constitution, but was overthrown in 1893, largely at the hands of the Committee of Safety, a group of residents consisting of Hawaiian subjects and foreign nationals of American, British and German descent, many of whom were educated in the U.S., lived there for a time and identified strongly as American.. Hawaii became a republic until the United States annexed it using The Newlands Resolution which was a joint resolution passed on July 4, 1898, by the United States Congress creating the Territory of Hawaii.

Hawaiian Renaissance

The First, Second, and Third Hawaiian Renaissance (also often called the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance) was the Hawaiian resurgence of a distinct cultural identity that draws upon traditional kānaka maoli culture, with a significant divergence from the tourism-based culture which Hawaiʻi was previously known for worldwide (along with the rest of Polynesia).

Hawaiian rebellions (1887–1895)

The Hawaiian rebellions and revolutions took place in Hawaii between 1887 and 1895. Until annexation in 1898, Hawaii was an independent sovereign state, recognized by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany with exchange of ambassadors. However, there were several challenges to the reigning governments of the Kingdom and Republic of Hawaii during the ​8 1⁄2-year (1887–1895) period.

Hawaiian sovereignty movement

The Hawaiian sovereignty movement (Hawaiian: ke ea Hawaiʻi) is a grassroots political and cultural campaign to gain sovereignty, self-determination and self-governance for Hawaiians of whole or part Native Hawaiian ancestry with an autonomous or independent nation or kingdom. Some groups also advocate some form of redress from the United States for the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, and for what is described as a prolonged military occupation beginning with the 1898 annexation. The movement generally views both the overthrow and annexation as illegal. Palmyra Island and the Stewart Islands were annexed by the Kingdom in the 1860s and are regarded by the movement as being under illegal occupation along with the Hawaiian Islands. The Apology Resolution passed by the United States Congress in 1993 acknowledged that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 was an illegal act.Sovereignty advocates have attributed problems plaguing native communities including homelessness, poverty, economic marginalization, and the erosion of native traditions to the lack of native governance and political self-determination. They have pursued their agenda through educational initiatives and legislative actions. Along with protests throughout the islands, at the capitol itself as well as the places and locations held as sacred to Hawaiian culture, sovereignty activists have challenged United States forces and law.

Hermann A. Widemann

Hermann Adam Widemann (December 24, 1822 – February 7, 1899) was a businessman from Germany who was a judge and member of the cabinet of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

James Henderson Blount

James Henderson Blount (September 12, 1837 – March 8, 1903) was an American statesman, soldier and congressman from Georgia. He opposed the annexation of Hawaii in 1893 in his investigation into the alleged American involvement in the political revolution in the Kingdom of Hawai'i. Blount was a prominent spokesman for white supremacy and strongly opposed adding a new non-white element to the American population.

John L. Stevens

John Leavitt Stevens (August 1, 1820 – February 8, 1895) was the United States Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 when he was accused of conspiring to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani in association with the Committee of Safety, led by Lorrin A. Thurston and Sanford B. Dole – the first Americans attempting to overthrow a foreign government under the auspices of a United States government officer. John L. Stevens, journalist, author, minister, newspaper publisher and diplomat, was also a Maine State Senator who was a founder of the Republican Party in Maine.

Legal status of Hawaii

The legal status of Hawaii—as opposed to its political status—is a settled legal matter as it pertains to United States law, but there has been scholarly and legal debate. While Hawaii is internationally recognized as a state of the United States of America while also being broadly accepted as such in mainstream understanding, there have been essays written denying the legality of this status. The argument is that Hawaii is an independent nation under military occupation. The legality of control of Hawaii by the United States has also been raised in the losing side in cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and in U.S. District Court.

Morgan Report

The Morgan Report was an 1894 report concluding an official U.S. Congressional investigation into the events surrounding the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, including the alleged role of U.S. military troops (both bluejackets and marines) in the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani. Along with the Blount Report submitted in 1893, it is one of the main source documents compiling the testimony of witnesses and participants in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in January 1893. The Morgan Report was the final result of an official U.S. Congressional investigation into the overthrow, conducted by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, whose chairman was Senator John Tyler Morgan, Democrat of Alabama.

The Report is formally named the Senate Report 227 of the 53rd Congress, second session, and dated February 26, 1894. It was printed as part of a large volume containing other government documents: "Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789–1901 Volume 6."

Newlands Resolution

The Newlands Resolution was a joint resolution passed on July 4, 1898 by the United States Congress to annex the independent Republic of Hawaii. In 1900, Congress created the Territory of Hawaii. It was drafted by Congressman Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, a Democrat. Annexation was a highly controversial political issue along with the similar issue of the acquisition of the Philippines in 1898.

Opposition to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom

Opposition to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom took several forms. Following the overthrow of the monarchy on January 17, 1893, Hawaii's provisional government—under the leadership of Sanford B. Dole—attempted to annex the land to the United States under Republican Benjamin Harrison's administration. But the treaty of annexation came up for approval under the administration of Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, anti-expansionist, and friend of the deposed Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. Cleveland retracted the treaty on March 4, 1893, and launched an investigation headed by James Henderson Blount; its report is known as the Blount Report.

Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom

The overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom began on January 17, 1893, with a coup d'état against Queen Liliʻuokalani on the island of Oahu by subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom, United States citizens, and foreign residents residing in Honolulu. A majority of the insurgents were foreigners. They prevailed upon American minister John L. Stevens to call in the U.S. Marines to protect United States interests, an action that effectively buttressed the rebellion. The revolutionaries established the Republic of Hawaii, but their ultimate goal was the annexation of the islands to the United States, which occurred in 1898.

Provisional Government of Hawaii

The Provisional Government of Hawaii, abbreviated "P.G.", was proclaimed after the coup d'état on January 17, 1893, by the 13-member Committee of Safety under the leadership of its chairman Henry E. Cooper and former judge Sanford B. Dole as the designated President of Hawaii. It replaced the Kingdom of Hawaii after the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani as a provisional government until the Republic of Hawaii was established on July 4, 1894.

Republic of Hawaii

The Republic of Hawaiʻi was a short-lived one-party state in Hawaiʻi between July 4, 1894, when the Provisional Government of Hawaii had ended, and August 12, 1898, when it became annexed by the United States as an organized incorporated territory of the United States. In 1893, U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens and white native-born subjects of the Kingdom of Hawaii overthrew Queen Liliʻuokalani after she rejected the 1887 Bayonet Constitution which was forced on Hawaii. The perpetrators intended for Hawaii to be annexed by the United States but President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat opposed to imperialism, refused. A new constitution was subsequently written while Hawaii was being prepared for annexation.

While leaders of the republic such as Sanford B. Dole and Lorrin A. Thurston were native-born subjects of the Hawaiian Islands and spoke the Hawaiian language, they had strong financial, political, and family ties to the United States. They intended the Republic to become a territory of the United States. Dole was a former member of the Royal Legislature from Koloa, Kauai, and Justice of the Kingdom's Supreme Court, and he appointed Thurston—who had served as Minister of Interior under King Kalākaua—to lead a lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. to secure Hawaii's annexation by the United States. The issue of overseas imperialism was controversial in the United States due to its colonial origins, but rising jingoism during the Spanish–American War led to anti-imperialism’s decline. The day before the end of the war, Hawaii was annexed under Republican President William McKinley. The Territory of Hawaii was formally established as part of the U.S. on June 14, 1900.

The Blount Report "first provided evidence that officially identified the United States' complicity in the lawless overthrow of the lawful, peaceful government of Hawaii." American officials immediately recognized the new government and U.S. Marines were sent by the US Ambassador to aid in the overthrow. The Queen's supporters charged the Marines' presence frightened the Queen and thus enabled the revolution. Blount concluded that the United States had carried out unauthorized partisan activities, including the landing of U.S. Marines under a false or exaggerated pretext, to support the anti-royalist conspirators; that these actions were instrumental to the success of the revolution; and that the revolution was carried out against the wishes of a majority of the population of Hawaii.

Samuel Parker (Hawaii)

Samuel Parker, known as Kamuela Parker (June 23, 1853 – March 19, 1920) was a major landowner and businessman on the island of Hawaii, heir to the Parker Ranch estate. He was also a leading political figure at a critical time of the history of the Kingdom of Hawaii, serving in its last cabinet.

Sanford B. Dole

Sanford Ballard Dole (April 23, 1844 – June 9, 1926) was a lawyer and jurist in the Hawaiian Islands as a kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory. A descendant of the American missionary community to Hawaii, Dole advocated the westernization of Hawaiian government and culture. After the overthrow of the monarchy, he served as the President of the Republic of Hawaii until his government secured Hawaii's annexation by the United States.

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