Doing Good to My
February 5, 1895 — Statement read aloud for her, Military tribunal, Throne Room, Iolani Palace, Honolulu HI
In the year 1893, on the fifteenth day of January, at the request of a large majority of the Hawaiian people, and by and with the consent of my cabinet, I proposed to make certain changes in the constitution of the Hawaiian kingdom, which were suggested to me as being for the advantage and benefit of the kingdom, and subjects and residents thereof. These proposed changes did not deprive foreigners of any rights or privileges enjoyed by them under the constitution of 1887, promulgated by King Kalakaua and his cabinet, without the consent of the people or ratified by their votes.
My ministers at the last moment changed their views, and requested me to defer all action in connection with the constitution; and I yielded to their advice as bound to do by the existing constitution and laws.
A minority of the foreign population made my action the pretext for overthrowing the monarchy, and, aided by the United States naval forces and representative, established a new government.
I owed no allegiance to the Provisional Government so established, nor to any power or to any one save the will of my people and the welfare of my country.
The wishes of my people were not consulted as to this change of government, and only those who were in practical rebellion against the constitutional government were allowed to vote upon the question whether the monarchy should exist or not.
To prevent the shedding of the blood of my people, natives and foreigners alike, I opposed armed interference, and quietly yielded to the armed forces brought against my throne, and submitted to the arbitrament of the government of the United States the decision of my rights and those of the Hawaiian people. Since then, as is well known to all, I have pursued the path of peace and diplomatic discussion, and not that of internal strife.
The United States having first interfered in the interest of those founding the government of 1893 upon the basis of revolution, concluded to leave to the Hawaiian people the selection of their own form of government.
This selection was anticipated and prevented by the Provisional Government, who, being possessed of the military and police power of the kingdom, so cramped the electoral privileges that no free expression of their will was permitted to the people who were opposed to them.
By my command and advice the native people and those in sympathy with them were restrained from rising against the government in power.
The movement undertaken by the Hawaiians last month was absolutely commenced without my knowledge, sanction, consent, or assistance, directly or indirectly; and this fact is in truth well known to those who took part in it.
I received no information from any one in regard to arms which were, or which were to be, procured, nor of any men who were induced, or to be induced, to join in any such uprising.
I do not know why this information should have been withheld from me, unless it was with a view to my personal safety, or as a precautionary measure. It would not have received my sanction; and I can assure the gentlemen of this commission that, had I known of any such intention, I would have dissuaded the promoters from such a venture. But I will add that, had I known, their secrets would have been mine, and inviolately preserved.
That I intended to change my cabinet, and to appoint certain officers of the kingdom, in the event of my restoration, I will admit; but that I, or any one known to me, had, in part or in whole, established a new government, is not true. Before the 24th of January, 1895, the day upon which I formally abdicated, and called upon my people to recognize the Republic of Hawaii as the only lawful government of these Islands, and to support that government, I claim that I had the right to select a cabinet in anticipation of a possibility; and history of other governments supports this right. I was not intimidated into abdicating, but followed the counsel of able and generous friends and well-wishers, who advised me that such an act would restore peace and good-will among my people, vitalize the progress and prosperity of the Islands, and induce the actual government to deal leniently, mercifully, charitably, and impassionately with those who resorted to arms for the purpose of displacing a government in the formation of which they had no voice or control, and which they themselves had seen established by force of arms.
I acted of my own free will, and wish the world to know that I have asked no immunity or favor myself, nor plead my abdication as a petition for mercy. My actions were dictated by the sole aim of doing good to my beloved country, and of alleviating the positions and pains of those who unhappily and unwisely resorted to arms to regain an independence which they thought had been unjustly wrested from them.
As you deal with them, so I pray that the Almighty God may deal with you in your hours of trial.
To my regret much has been said about the danger which threatened foreign women and children, and about the bloodthirstiness of the Hawaiians, and the outrages which would have been perpetrated by them if they had succeeded in their attempt to overthrow the Republic government.
They who know the Hawaiian temper and disposition understand that there was no foundation for any such fears. The behavior of the rebels to those foreigners whom they captured and held shows that there was no malignancy in the hearts of the Hawaiians at all. It would have been sad indeed if the doctrine of the Christian missionary fathers, taught to my people by them and those who succeeded them, should have fallen like the seed in the parable, upon barren ground.
I must deny your right to try me in the manner and by the court which you have called together for this purpose. In your actions you violate your own constitution and laws, which are now the constitution and laws of the land.
There may be in your consciences a warrant for your action, in what you may deem a necessity of the times; but you cannot find any such warrant for any such action in any settled, civilized, or Christian land. All who uphold you in this unlawful proceeding may scorn and despise my word; but the offence of breaking and setting aside for a specific purpose the laws of your own nation, and disregarding all justice and fairness, may be to them and to you the source of an unhappy and much to be regretted legacy.
I would ask you to consider that your government is on trial before the whole civilized world, and that in accordance with your actions and decisions will you yourselves be judged. The happiness and prosperity of Hawaii are henceforth in your hands as its rulers. You are commencing a new era in its history. May the divine Providence grant you the wisdom to lead the nation into the paths of forbearance, forgiveness, and peace, and to create and consolidate a united people ever anxious to advance in the way of civilization outlined by the American fathers of liberty and religion.
In concluding my statement I thank you for the courtesy you have shown to me, not as your former queen, but as an humble citizen of this land and as a woman. I assure you, who believe you are faithfully fulfilling a public duty, that I shall never harbor any resentment or cherish any ill feeling towards you, whatever may be your decision.
Source: Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, Liliuokalani Queen of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani, (Boston: Lee and Shepard) 1898.