That time we pulled a “Portland” in Hawaii…
History tends to repeat itself and that is often the problem
Assuming you are reading this newspaper on the actual day it hits newsstands, today is August 12, 2020. Sometimes, I enjoy writing about important things in history occurring on the date we publish.
On this date, in 1893, the former monarch in Hawaii saw her Republic’s flag lowered, and the flag of the United States take its place, flying above her palace. This happened in the Kingdom, which under international law, American had stolen from her people and her.
What? The United States illegally annexed an independent government through military occupation? Who concluded that, you ask?
President Grover Cleveland arrived at the above conclusion in a manifesto he published to Congress. Here’s the story, for those interested...
First of all, Queen Liliʻuokalani surrendered to the US supported occupying armed force which had invaded Honolulu. Her surrender to those forces was under condition.
She requested the US Government investigate its own acts against her reign. She requested she be reinstated as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands should the US government determine her restoration to power was required by International Law.
Back in the “good old days” an investigation meant a good faith look into the action and reporting back the truth even where the truth turned out unflattering. Nowadays, an internal investigation by our government into its own conduct is little more than a sham bent toward convincing the American public of its government’s infallibility and nobility, regardless of what is really true.
President Grover Cleveland initiated the requested investigation on March 11, 1893 and appointed James Blount to “investigate and fully report to the president all the facts he can learn respecting the conduction of affairs in the Hawaiian Islands, the causes of the revolution by which the Queen’s government was overthrown, the sentiment of the people toward existing authority, and, in general, all that can enlighten the president touching the subjects of his mission.” Blount would make a written report to the Secretary of State regarding his findings.
So, what did Blount’s report indicate? Blount found that the American minister to Hawaii had established the provisional government, the one to which the Queen had conditionally surrendered. Blount found it was the presence of American troops which led to the islanders’ belief that, if they attempted to overthrow the provisional government, they would encounter US armed forces. Blount reported this to Secretary of State, Walter Gresham.
Gresham reported to President Cleveland that the Government of Hawaii, specifically the Queen, had surrendered authority under a threat of war. Gresham wrote that our government had to correct the great wrong perpetrated by the occupying US armed force of marines.
Gresham and Blount both reasoned the US government had to restore to power the illegally overthrown monarch of what he described as “…a feeble but independent state…” He concluded by saying nothing short of this would, “…satisfy the demand of justice.” p. 463, Secretary of State Walter Gresham, from the reports received from Special Commissioner James Blount.
President Cleveland proclaimed by manifesto to the US Congress the United States had committed “acts of war” against the Hawaiian Kingdom that transformed a state of peace into a state of war. President Cleveland further told Congress that the marines which had landed on Hawaii from the steamer named, “Boston,” was a force of 160-men, in all, and constituted a military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu.
Cleveland called such an act “illegal" because it was taken without the consent of the sovereign of Hawaii and wasn't for the bona fide purpose of protecting the imperiled lives and property of citizens of the United States. Cleveland noted that, instead of requesting the protection of the armed force in question, the Queen had formerly protested.
Cleveland then gave the act of aggression what was, at the time, the final death blow. He said the provisional government owed its existence to an armed invasion by the United States and that its legitimacy was neither de facto nor de jure. Those two latin terms with which I don’t expect many of you to be familiar means simply that the provisional government, supported by the US invasion, was neither a legitimate government, by fact nor by law.
At the time the President was delivering his address to Congress, the Queen had reached a settlement through executive mediation with United States Minister Albert Willis in Honolulu. It was agreed her sovereignty would be restored. This agreement was never actualized.
The United States of America has illegally held the Islands of Hawaii ever since. The flag raised on the Royal palace, on this date in 1893, still flies above the same building on the island of Honolulu to this very day.
We illegally declared a state of war against Hawaii and its Sovereign without approval of Congress. We never entered a treaty of peace, which a declaration of war would have required under International Law. Our actions, according to our own elected president, led to the unlawful overthrow of the government of an independent and sovereign State.
Without a “treaty of peace” our continued belligerent occupation does not affect the continuity of the State, even where there exists no government claiming to represent the occupied State. Without a treaty of peace, the laws of war and neutrality would continue to apply. Crawford, James; The Creation of States in International Law (2nd. Ed., 2006).
The parallels between this and Portland are various. No, Portland isn’t a free and sovereign State as international law defines that term.
An occupying force was sent Portland, Oregon without neither its governor’s nor mayor's consent nor request. Portland’s state of peace was transformed into something looking very similar to a state of war.
The federal force our president sent to Portland, without neither US lives nor property being imperiled and over the publicly made protest of both the governor and mayor, was an unlawful invasion into the state and city.
Oregonians should consider themselves fairly warned; the flag, though figurative, being raised over their state and city is one which may never again be lowered. Look no further than the state of Hawaii for an example of this.
You can take this for whatever you find it worth, but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!