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Honolulu - 1889

A revolution was in progress in this Island Kingdom, which grew to such proportions by the middle of the year 1889 as to cause concern for the safety of foreign residents as Tell as foreign legations. The Adams, Commander Edwin T. Wood ward, was in the harbor at Honolulu at the time. The Com mander, in consultation with the American Minister, decided that a landing force was necessary for protection of Ameri can interests; Accordingly, he ordered the Marine Guard, under command of 3nd Lieutenant Charles A. Doyen, to proceed ashore to the American Legation. They landed at l0:30 a.m., July 30th, and remained until the following day.

The rapidly increasing revenues occasioned by the treaty of reciprocity with the United States were not sufficient to support the expensive and puerile extravagances of Kalakaua, and to meet them he had recourse to exemption money from lepers, unlawful rental of government lands, abuse of the franking privileges, embezzlement of public funds, and gross official corruption, which hardships upon the people but hastened the inevitable.

The patience of the respectable foreign element and progressive natives at last became exhausted when the King accepted a large bribe from a Chinaman for an opium license for which he had already taken a larger bribe from another Chinaman. A secret committee of safety was organized and quietly armed, and on the 30th of June, 1887, an enthusiastic mass-meeting passed resolutions to the effect that the administration of the Hawaiian government had ceased, through corruption and incompetence, to perform its legitimate functions and afford protection to person and property.

The King, much to the surprise of the revolutionists, who expected a fight, pusillanimously agreed to comply with all the demands of the citizens. His most capricious and profligate counsellor was removed from office and banished the country, and a reform ministry appointed, one that was in thorough sympathy with the people. The King was compelled to sign a new constitution, which was subsequently ratified by a vote of the people, in conformity with the demands of the mass-meeting.

At the same time, it was explicitly understood and clearly foreseen that should the monarchy again fall into the hands of adventurers and repeat its imbecility and corruption, it would cease to exist, as it did on January the 17th, 1893. Kalakaua signed the new constitution under duress, and ever after he sought opportunities to regain his lost power.

Princess Liliuokalani, a sister of the King, had been appointed heiress apparent. She strongly disapproved of her brother's assent to the reform constitution. In 1889 she joined what was known as the Wilcox plot for the overthrow of the new government and the establishment of herself on the throne. The entire plot was concocted in her home. Wilcox, a half-caste, who had been educated in Italy, at a military school, was to lead an armed revolt, which he did, the rendezvous and arming taking place at Liliuokalani's home. Wilcox succeeded in getting together a few natives and a band of disreputable loafers and surrounded the palace. The same people who brought Kalakaua to terms and enforced the reformations of 1987 reorganized and, after a small skirmish, drove the insurgents to cover, killed nine, and took the remainder prisoners. Upon the first fire the military ardor of Wilcox left him, and he immediately deserted his followers and took cowardly refuge in an old gasolene tank lying in the palace yard, where he remained, until the rest surrendered.

Wilcox was a man of no principle and cared very little with which side he identified himself. Although Wilcox was the leader of the revolution of 1889 against reform measures he later seemed to be converted to the side of the people. Possihly it will not be necessary to go into details regarding the reason for this change. In fact it would be hard to reach any satisfactory conclusion unless, indeed, the whole responsibility be thrown upon Wilcox's own character. His colleague, Ashford, stated that the change was due to the fact that in 1889 after his capture the Queen deserted him and claimed that she had no knowledge of the affair.

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Page last modified: 14-07-2020 16:27:56 ZULU