Blount Report

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The Blount Report is the popular name given to the part of the 1894 House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee Report regarding the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The report "first officially identified the United States' complicity in the lawless overthrow of the lawful, peaceful government of Hawaii."<ref>Milner S. Ball, "Symposium: Native American Law," Georgia Law Review 28 (1979): 303</ref> It was followed up by the Morgan Report, which found its conclusions to be baseless, and exonerated the U.S. from any direct involvement in the Hawaiian Revolution.

In January 1893, Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii threatened to replace the "Bayonet Constitution" that had been forced upon the monarchy with a new constitution that would restore power to the throne. American and European resident merchants operating as the Committee of Public Safety responded by forcing Liliuokalani from power and proclaiming a provisional government. During the overthrow, the American Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens ordered the landing of armed U.S. Marines from the U.S.S. Boston in Honolulu to protect lives and property. These peacekeepers remained neutral throughout their time ashore.

After the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, the Provisional Government of Hawai'i immediately sent a treaty of annexation to the expansionist President Benjamin Harrison, who referred it favorably to the Senate for ratification on February 15, 1893. When Grover Cleveland, an anti-expansionist, became President less than three weeks later, he withdrew the treaty from the Senate and appointed former congressman James Blount as special representative to investigate the events surrounding the overthrow.

As special envoy to Hawai'i with paramount powers to investigate the circumstances of the revolution and the stability of the Provisional Government, Blount held conversations primarily with royalists in Honolulu. He invited selected witnesses to sit with him to give formal statements in the presence of a stenographer, and refused to take testimony from others. He delivered a report to President Cleveland on July 17, 1893 claiming improper U.S. backing for the overthrow had been responsible for its success, and concluded that the Provisional Government lacked popular support.

On the basis of Blount's report, President Cleveland dismissed Stevens and began to secretly work towards the restoration of Liluokalani and the constitutional monarchy, conditioned upon amnesty to those responsible for the overthrow. The new Minister to Hawaii Albert Willis was unable to persuade the Queen to grant amnesty to the Committee of Public Safety, in return for the throne until December 18th, at which point Willis, on behalf of Cleveland, ordered provisional government President Sanford Dole to dissolve his government and restore the Queen. Dole refused in a blistering letter decrying Cleveland's interference. The same day, President Cleveland delivered a message to Congress declaring the overthrow improper, calling it "an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress."<ref>Overthrow of Hawaii Resolution, Pub.L. No. 103-150, 1993 U.S.C.C.A.N. (107 Stat.) 1510, 1511.</ref>

"But for the notorious predilections of the United States Minister for Annexation (John L. Stevens), the Committee of Safety, which should be called the Committee of Annexation, would have never existed. But for the landing of the United States forces upon false pretexts respecting the danger to life and property the committee would never have exposed themselves to the pains and penalties of treason by undertaking the subversion of the Queen's Government. But for the presence of the United States forces in the immediate vicinity and in position to afford all needed protection and support, the committee would not have proclaimed the provisional government from the steps of the Government building.... But for the lawless occupation of Honolulu under false pretexts by the United States forces ... the Queen and her government would have never yielded."<ref>President of the United States, Message Relating to the Hawaiian Islands, H.R.Doc. No. 47, 53rd Cong., 2d Sess., XIII-XV (1893)</ref>.

Due to Liluokalani's delay in accepting the terms of her restoration, and Dole's flat refusal, Cleveland turned over the matter to the Senate. The Senate authorized the Morgan Report which after two months of hearings of witnesses under oath and with cross examination, found Blount's conclusions to be mistaken, much of the testimony he gathered recanted, and cleared the military and Stevens, of blame. Cleveland left office before restoration of the monarchy and was replaced by pro-annexation President William McKinley in 1897. Hawaii was annexed the following year.

In 1993, Congress passed and the President signed an Apology Resolution acknowledging the alleged role played by the United States in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii a century before. Clearly based solely on the Blount Report and the claims of Hawaiian sovereignty activists, the Resoluton subsequently became a touchstone in the cultural identification of Hawaiians, as well as for the growing Hawaiian sovereignty movement who seek self-government similar to that of Native Americans and Alaskan peoples.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Blount Report Wikipedia article.

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