Morgan Report Has Implications for Akaka Bill and Hawaiian Sovereignty

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The Morgan Report has been known to historians for 112
years, but was only
available to the public in dusty archives of a few
libraries. It was treated as
a rare book not for borrowing. This 808 page report
is now easily available on the Internet, along with
outlines and summaries that will be helpful to
historians and students. It is the official 1894
report of the U.S. Senate
regarding the U.S. role in the overthrow of the
Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

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To clearly understand how important the Morgan Report
is to the current debates about the Akaka bill and
Hawaiian sovereignty, we must “nana i ke kumu” (“look
to the source”).

The source of the Akaka bill and impetus for the
Hawaiian sovereignty
movement is the 1993 Apology Resolution. It is heavily
cited by the Akaka Bill
as the main justification for claiming the U.S. has an
obligation to help create
a racially exclusionary Native Hawaiian government to
negotiate for money, land, and political power as
reparations for U.S. alleged misbehavior in 1893.
Independence activists cite the Apology Resolution as
a U.S. confession of a crime it committed against the
Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 — a crime whose remedy would
be for the U.S. to get out of Hawaii and restore

The source of the 1993 Apology Resolution is the
Blount Report of July 17, 1893, and President
Cleveland’s message to Congress of Dec. 12, 1893.
Both were highly critical of the U.S. landing of
troops and the actions of U.S. Minister Stevens; both
challenged the legitimacy of the Provisional
Government. It is the words of Cleveland and Blount
we hear when people claim that the U.S. engaged in an
“act of war” against the Kingdom of Hawaii. The
Apology Resolution, and the Blount Report which
spawned it, are the sources used to promote the view
that the Kingdom of Hawaii was victimized by the U.S.

The Morgan Report directly contradicts the Blount
Report and Cleveland’s
assertions in his message to Congress. It was
submitted on Feb. 26, 1894, after months of
testimony and investigation.

As a result of the Morgan Report, President Cleveland,
the most stalwart proponent of the Queen, abandoned
his earlier views of the revolution as stated in his
strongly worded message to Congress, and subsequently
acknowledged the Republic of Hawaii as the legitimate
successor government to the Kingdom of Hawaii. As a
result of the Morgan Report, the world discovered in
1894 that Blount and Cleveland were wrong on the facts
surrounding the overthrow.

As a result of the Morgan Report, we now know the
Apology Bill
and the Akaka bill are also wrong on the facts.

The Morgan Report contains 808 pages of historical
documents, affidavits from eyewitnesses, and lengthy
testimony given in 1894 under oath and subjected to
cross examination in open hearings of the U.S. Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations, whose chairman was
John T. Morgan, Democrat of Alabama. By contrast the
Blount Report contained only unsworn statements
gathered by Blount in secret with only himself and his
stenographer present.

The Morgan Report includes historical documents
showing the long-term close relationship between the
Kingdom of Hawai’i and the U.S., and previous efforts
by the Kingdom seeking to be annexed to the U.S.,
including full text of a detailed treaty of annexation
written by Kamehameha III in 1854 but unsigned because
of his untimely death. It documents the fact that the
economy of the Kingdom was dominated by trade with the
U.S.; and that most of the Kingdom’s government
leaders and bureaucrats, and many of its appointed and
elected legislators, were American immigrants or their
native-born descendants. It also contains detailed
information about Hawaii geography, natural features,
place names, the public school system, the economy,
prices and production levels of sugar, etc.

The Morgan Report includes eyewitness testimony and
documents showing that the U.S. did not encourage the
Committee of Safety to overthrow the monarchy, did not
pledge any support ahead of time, and did not give any
assistance to the revolution as it was unfolding. The
Report explains that the purpose of the U.S. landing
armed sailors was to protect the lives and
property of Americans. Those U.S. peace keepers were
also deployed to maintain order in the streets at the
request of foreign nations’ diplomats in the face of
chaos and threatened violence against innocent
civilians under circumstances where the monarchy had
neither strength nor inclination to maintain order,
and the other nations’ diplomats had no forces
available to protect their own citizens.

So why haven’t we seen the Morgan Report before? What
has kept this source in the dark for so long? The
University of Hawaii Library has a web page containing
historical documents from the 1890s including the
entire 1397-page Blount Report and all the 660
photographed pages containing 21,269 signatures on an
1897 petition opposing annexation. The project that
made those documents available on that Web page was
funded by two grants totaling $5,500 during a two-year
period from U.H. agencies. The grants were based on the
pledge, stated in the grant applications, that the
Morgan Report would be included. However, the project
stopped short. A footnote currently there says the
Morgan Report will eventually be posted, but since
2002, no further grants have been pursued.

Perhaps the intent really was to digitize the Morgan
Report. Perhaps it was not excluded on purpose in
order to prevent the dissemination of information
contrary to the current belief structure of the
students, faculty and staff of UH. But now the point
is moot — the job unfinished by the University of
Hawaii has been picked up by volunteers.

The Web site has been developed
without any financial support, in the spirit of
volunteerism. The editors have independently paid
minor expenses for Web-hosting and for secure mailing
of the original book, and have spent their time fixing
and formatting the digitized text without any
compensation. Those who participated in the U.H. Library
project, or anyone else, are welcome and encouraged to
help finish editing Morgan in that same spirit (see
below for more information). Morgan project editors
believe scholars, students, and everyone interested in
historical accuracy should be proud to spend time on
projects like these, especially given their relevance
to the politics of today.

Of course, there are detractors who dismiss the Morgan
Report as racist, and seek to deny its consideration
by anyone involved in the debates over sovereignty and
the overthrow. But when reading the Morgan report we
must remember that the year was 1894. White people in
America did not hesitate to express racial prejudice
toward “Negroes” and others with dark skin. White
politicians sometimes regarded them as less than fully
human, or childlike; or treated them with arrogance
and condescension. Slavery had ended only 39 years
previously; Negroes were not allowed to vote in the
Southern states; and Jim Crow laws were in effect.
Some of the U.S. Senators had fought for the
Confederate States in the Civil War, including
Brigadier General Morgan himself. Some readers may be
offended by some of the racial prejudice and
condescension contained in some of the testimonies.
Some of the Senators also asked witnesses questions
about life in Hawaii indicating those Senators had a
woeful lack of knowledge about Hawaii’s high degree
of civilization. Today’s readers must try to put
aside our own prejudice against anyone who spoke in
such a way “back in the day.” The historical
documents and factual eyewitness accounts must be
judged on their merits rather than merely dismissing
them in the same ad-hominem way that some witnesses
dismissed non-whites.

In the interest of making the Morgan Report available
as soon as possible, we are releasing it to the public
even though substantial portions of it have not yet
been given a pretty appearance. The entire report is
on the Internet and searchable. Hundreds of pages
have been made easy to read. Other hundreds of pages
are still in the raw form produced by an optical
character reader, which delivers the contents of each
double-page in the hard-to-read form of continuous
text all run together with no paragraph breaks. About
5 percent of the content, scattered unpredictably throughout
every page, is incorrect digitization of letters or
numbers the machine “saw” in a photographed page from
the original book. A capital “F” might be interpreted
by the machine as an “R,” especially if there’s a fly
speck or discoloration on the original document.
Editing the individual pages is time-consuming,
tedious, and also subject to occasional errors made by
exhausted editors. We welcome help in completing this
important job. Please contact the editor at if you’d like to volunteer
for this project or similar ones in the future.

”’Jere Krischel, editor-in-chief,”’
”’and Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D., is assistant editor.”’

”’ reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to”’