Military


Hawaii - February 1874

With the conclusion of the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska, the increased importance of the Pacific states, the projected trade with the Orient and the desire for a duty free market for Hawaiian staples, the islands were irresistibly drawn into the centripetal whirlpool of expansion. In 1865, the North Pacific Squadron was formed to embrace the western coast and the Sandwich Islands. The USS Lackawanna in the following year was assigned the task of cruising among the islands, "a locality of great and increasing interest and importance." This vessel surveyed the islands and reefs, northwest of the Sandwich Islands toward Japan.

It was as a result of these surveys that the United States established its claims to Midway. The Secretary of the Navy was able to write in his annual report of 1868, that in November, 1867, forty-two American flags flew over whaleships and merchant vessels in Honolulu to only six foreign flags. This increased activity caused the permanent assignment of at least one warship to Hawaiian waters. This same report praised the possibilities of Brooks, or Midway Island, which had been discovered in 1858, as possessing a harbor surpassing that of Honolulu. In the following year, Congress approved an appropriation of $50,000 on 1 March 1869, to deepen the approaches to this harbor.

Since 1868, when the Commander of the Pacific Fleet visited the islands to look after "American interests," naval officers have played an important role in internal affairs. They served as arbitrators in business disputes, negotiators of trade agreements and defenders of law and order. Periodic voyages among the islands and to the mainland aboard U.S. warships were arranged for members of the Royal family and important island government officials. When King Lunalilo died in 1873, negotiations were underway for the cessation of Pearl Harbor as a port for the exportation of sugar to the U.S. duty free.

With the election of a new king, King Kalakaua in 1874, anti-American factions helped to precipitate a number of riots which were regarded as sufficiently disturbing to have bluejackets landed from the USS Tuscorora and the USS Portsmouth. Tuscarora arrived at Honolulu, Oahu, on 12 February where a force of 150 officers, bluejackets, and marines from her and from Portsmouth quelled a large riot that followed the election of King David Kalakaua. Order was restored by the 20th. The British warship, HMS Tenedos, also, landed a token force.

It was during the reign of King Kalakaua that the United States was granted exclusive rights to enter Pearl Harbor and to establish "a coaling and repair station."



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