Synopsis   History "Lance Paul Larsen vs. the Hawaiian Kingdom"
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La Ku'oko'a: Events Leading to Independence Day, November 28, 1843

The Polynesian
November 2000
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To counter the strong possibility of foreign encroachment on Hawaiian territory, His Majesty King Kamehameha III dispatched a Hawaiian delegation to the United States and Europe with the power to settle difficulties with other nations, and negotiate treaties. This delegation's ultimate duty was to secure the recognition of Hawaiian Independence from the major powers of the world. In accordance with this goal, Timoteo Ha'alilio, William Richards and Sir George Simpson were commissioned as joint Ministers Plenipotentiary on April 8, 1842. Sir George Simpson, shortly thereafter, left for England, via Alaska and Siberia, while Mr. Ha'alilio and Mr. Richards departed for the United States, via Mexico, on July 8, 1842.

On December 19, 1842, the Hawaiian delegation, while in the United States of America, secured the assurance of United States President Tyler that the United States would recognize Hawaiian independence. The delegation then proceeded to meet their colleague, Sir George Simpson, in Europe and together they secured formal recognition from Great Britain and France. On April 1, 1843, Lord Aberdeen on behalf of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria, assured the Hawaiian delegation that:

"Her Majesty's Government was willing and had determined to recognize the independence of the Sandwich Islands under their present sovereign."

On November 28, 1843, at the Court of London, the British and French Governments entered into a formal agreement for the recognition of Hawaiian independence. The Proclamation read as follows:

"Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His Majesty the King of the French, taking into consideration the existence in the Sandwich Islands of a government capable of providing for the regularity of its relations with foreign nations, have thought it right to engage, reciprocally, to consider the Sandwich Islands as an Independent State, and never to take possession, neither directly or under the title of Protectorate, or under any other form, of any part of the territory of which they are composed.

The undersigned, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs, and the Ambassador Extraordinary of His Majesty the King of the French, at the Court of London, being furnished with the necessary powers, hereby declare, in consequence, that their said Majesties take reciprocally that engagement."

While the Hawaiian delegation was securing the recognition of Hawaiian Independence by these three major world powers, His Majesty King Kamehameha III was forced to provisionally cede Hawaiian sovereignty to the British Government under threat of an over zealous commanding officer of Her Britannic Majesty's Royal Navy. Here follows those turbulent events that coincided with the recognition of Hawaiian Independence.

On February 11, 1843, H.B.M.S. Carysfort, commanded by Lord George Paulet, entered Honolulu harbor on the island of O'ahu. Lord Paulet had previously received a complaint by Richard Charlton, British Consul to the Hawaiian Kingdom. This complaint alleged that British subjects were being abused by the Hawaiian Government in the islands. Without investigating the circumstances nor the validity of the complaint by Consul Charlton, Lord Paulet proceeded into the harbor without firing the customary salute with the Honolulu Fort. Consul Charlton was absent from the Kingdom, but his temporary replacement, Alex Simpson, was not afforded diplomatic recognition by the Hawaiian Government.

Upon arrival, Lord Paulet, demanded a personal interview with His Majesty King Kamehameha III, but it was denied. Lord Paulet was then referred to Dr. Gerrit P. Judd because in case of business of a private nature, protocol dictated that as:

"...our confidential agent to confer with you, who, being a person of integrity and fidelity to our Government, and perfectly acquainted with all our affairs, will receive your communication, give you all the information you require (in confidence), and report the same to us."

The above actions brought about the following response from Lord Paulet of February 17, 1843 to His Majesty King Kamehameha III, with an attached letter of demands:

"Sir: - In answer to your letter of this day's date (which I have too good an opinion of your Majesty to allow me to believe ever emanated from yourself, but from your ill advisers), I have to state that I shall hold no communication whatever with Dr. G.P. Judd, who, it has been satisfactorily proved to me, has been the punic mover in the unlawful proceedings of your Government against British subjects.

As you have refused me a personal interview, I inclose you the demands which I consider it my duty to make upon your Government, with which I demand a compliance at or before 4 o'clock p.m., to-morrow (Saturday); otherwise I shall be obliged to take immediate coercive steps to obtain these measures for my countrymen.

Demand made by the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, captain, R.N., commanding Her Britannic M. Ship Carysfort, upon the King of the Hawaiian Islands.

First. The immediate removal by public advertisement, written in the native and English languages, and signed by the governor of this island and F.W. Thompson, of the attachment placed upon Mr. Charlton's property, the restoration of the land taken by the Government for its own use and really appertaining to Mr. Charlton, and reparation for the heavy loss to which Mr. Charlton's representatives have been exposed by the oppressive and unjust proceedings of the Sandwich Island Government.

Second. The immediate acknowledgment of the right of Mr. Simpson to perform the functions delegated to him by Mr. Charlton, namely, those of Her Britannic Majesty's acting consul until Her Majesty's pleasure be known upon the reasonableness of your objections to him, the acknowledgment of that right and the reparation for the insult offered to Her Majesty through her acting representative, to be made by a public reception of his commission and the saluting the British flag with twenty-one guns, which number will be returned by Her Britannic Majesty's ship under my command.

Third. A guarantee that no British subject shall in future be subjected to imprisonment in fetters, unless he is accused of a crime which by the laws of England would be considered a felony.

Fourth. The compliance with a written promise given by King Kamehameha to Capt. Jones, of Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Curacoa, that a new and a fair trial would be granted in a case brought by Henry Skinner, which promise has been evaded.

Fifth. The immediate adoption of firm steps to arrange the matters in dispute between British subjects and natives of the country or others residing here, by referring these cases to juries, one half of whom shall be British subjects, approved of by the consul, and all of whom shall declare an oath their freedom from prejudgment upon or interest in the case brought before them.

Sixth. A direct communication between His Majesty Kamehameha and Her Britannic Majesty's acting consul for the immediate settlement of all cases of grievance and complaint on the part of British subjects against the Sandwich Island government."

In order to give strength to the foregoing demands, the following note was sent to Capt. Long, of the U.S.S. Boston.

"Sir: I have the honor to notify you that Her Britannic Majesty's ship Carysfort, under my command, will be prepared to make an immediate attack upon this town at 4 p.m. to-morrow (Saturday) in the event of the demands now forwarded by me to the King of these islands not being complied with by this time."

On the following day, His Majesty King Kamehameha III and the Premier sent the following response to Lord Paulet's demands.

"We have received your letter and the demands which accompanied, and in reply would inform your lordship that we have commissioned Sir George Simpson and William Richards as our ministers plenipotentiary and envoys extraordinary to the court of Great Britain, with full powers to settle the difficulties which you have presented before us; to assure Her Majesty the Queen of our uninterrupted affection and confer with her ministers as to the best means of cementing the harmony between us.

Some of the demands which you have laid before us are of a nature calculated seriously to embarrass our feeble Government, by contravening the laws established for the benefit of all. But we shall comply with your demands as it has never been our intention to insult Her Majesty the Queen or injure any of her estimable subjects; but we must do so under protest, and shall embrace the earliest opportunity of representing our case more fully to Her Britannic Majesty's Government through our Ministry.

Trusting in the magnanimity of the sovereign of a great nation, which we have been taught to respect and love, that we shall there be justified."

The concession to Lord Paulet's demands, under protest, was to avoid injury to life and property. The first impulse of His Majesty King Kamehameha III and his principle Chiefs was to resist. Attached to this concession was the following protest:

"We, Kamehameha 3d, King of all the Sandwich Islands, and Kekauluohi, Premier, thereof, in accordance with the laws of all nations and the rights of all aggrieved sovereigns and individuals, do hereby enter our solemn act of Protest before God, the world, and before the government of Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria the First, Queen of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, --

Against the Rt. Honorable Lord George Paulet, Captain of H.B.M. Ship Carysfort, now lying in the Harbor of Honolulu, for all losses and damages which may accrue to us, and to the citizens of other countries residing under our dominions and sovereignty, in consequence of the unjust demands made upon us this day by the said Rt. Hon. Lord George Paulet, enforced by a threat of coercive measures and an attack upon our town of Honolulu in case of non-compliance with the same within a period of nineteen hours; thereby interfering with our laws, endangering the good order of society, and requiring of us what no Power has a right to exact of another with whom they are on terms of peace and amity.

And We do solemnly Protest and declare that We, the sovereign authority of these Our Islands, are injured, abused and damaged by this act of the said Rt. Hon. Lord George Paulet, and we hereby enter our solemn appeal unto the Government of Her Most Gracious Majesty, represented by him, for redress, for justification, and for repayment of all said losses, damages, and payments which may in consequence accrue unto us, or unto the citizens of other countries living under our jurisdiction."

During this time, three of the major world powers were Great Britain, France and the United States. It was contemplated that the King should provisionally cede the islands to France, or to France and the United States, jointly; but, upon the advice of Dr. Judd, it was provisionally ceded to Great Britain, subject to the decision of Her Majesty's government upon receipt of full information from both the Hawaiian Kingdom and Lord Paulet. Arrangements were made to have the "fact finding" to take effect on February 25, 1843.

On the 25th of February, at three o'clock p.m., His Majesty King Kamehameha III delivered the following speech from the ramparts of the Honolulu Fort.

"Where are you, chiefs, people and commons from my ancestor, and people from foreign lands!

Hear ye! I make known to you that I am in great perplexity by reason of difficulties into which I have been brought without cause; therefore, I have given away the life of our land, hear ye! But my rule over you, my people, and your privileges will continue, for I have hope that the life of the land will be restored when my conduct is justified."

The Act of Provisional Cession was then read.

"In consequence of the difficulties in which we find ourselves involved, and our opinion of the impossibility of complying with the demands in the manner in which they are made by Her Britannic Majesty's representative upon us, in reference to the claims of British subjects, we do hereby cede the group of islands known as the Hawaiian (or Sandwich) Islands, unto the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, captain of Her Majesty's Ship of war Carysfort, representing Her Majesty, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, from this date, and for the time being: the said cession being made with the reservation that it is subject to any arrangements that may have been entered into by the Representatives appointed by us to treat with the Government of her Britannic Majesty; and in the event that no agreement has been executed previous the date hereof; subject to the decision of Her Britannic Majesty's Government on conference with the said representatives appointed by us; or in the event of our representatives not being accessible, or not having been acknowledged, subject to the decision which Her Britannic Majesty may pronounce on the receipt of full information from us, and from the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet."

Following was read the Proclamation of Lord Paulet.

"A provisional cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands having been made this day by Kamehameha III., King, and Kekauluohi, Premier thereof, unto me, the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, commanding Her Britannic Majesty's ship Carysfort on the part of Her Britannic Majesty, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland; subject to arrangements which may have been made or shall be made in Great Britain, with the Government of Her Britannic Majesty, I do hereby proclaim,

First. That the British Flag shall be hoisted on all the Islands of the group, and the natives thereof shall enjoy the protection and privileges of British subjects.

Second. That the government thereof shall be executed, until the receipt of communications from Great Britain, in the following manner, namely: By the native King and chiefs and the officers employed by them, so far as regards the native population, and by a commission, consisting of King Kamehameha III, or a Deputy appointed by him, the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, Duncan Forbes Mackay, esquire, and Lieut. Frere, R.N., in all that concerns relations with other powers (save and except the negotiations with the British Government), and the arrangements among foreigners (others than natives of the Archipelago) resident on these Islands.

Third. That the laws at present existing or which may be made at the ensuing council of the king and the chiefs (after being communicated to the commission), shall be in full force so far as natives are concerned; and shall form the basis of the administration of justice by the commission in matters between foreigners resident on these islands.

Fourth. In all that relates to the collection of the revenue, the present officers shall be continued at the pleasure of the native King and chiefs, their salaries for the current year being also determined by them, and the archives of Government remaining in their hands; the accounts are, however, subject to inspection by the commission heretofore named. The Government vessels shall be in like manner subject, however, to their employment if required for Her Britannic Majesty's service.

Fifth. That no sales, leases, or transfers of land shall take place by the action of the Commission appointed as aforesaid, nor from natives to foreigners during the period intervening between the 24th of this month and the receipt of notification from Great Britain of the arrangements made there; they shall not be valid, nor shall they receive the signatures of the King or premier.

Sixth. All the existing bona fide engagements of the native King and premier, shall be executed and performed as if this cession had never been made."

With the formal provisional cession complete, the Hawaiian flag was lowered from its staff by the hands of Hawaiian soldiers. The British flag then took its place, hoisted by a Lieutenant from the Carysfort, and His Majesty King Kamehameha III returned to Lahaina, Island of Maui, seat of the Hawaiian capital city. With the establishment of the aforesaid Commission, Mr. Simpson's function, as Acting Consul, ceased. Mr. Simpson was selected by Lord Paulet to deliver the dispatches to the British government in order to apprise them of the situation. Mr. Simpson was scheduled to leave on the schooner Ho'oikaika, renamed the Albert, enroute to San Blas Mexico, seat of the British Vice Consulate, and meet with Vice Consul Barron.

Unbeknownst to Lord Paulet and Mr. Simpson, Dr. Judd had secured the commitment of General J.F.B. Marshall to serve as His Majesty King Kamehameha's Special Envoy to bear dispatches to the United States Government and Commissioner to the Courts of England and France. General Marshall was to travel on the same vessel as Mr. Simpson under the cover of being supercargo for a Hawaiian trading firm known as Ladd & Company. In order to commission the special envoy at Honolulu, His Majesty King Kamehameha III made a secret voyage from Maui. His Majesty landed at night at Waikiki on the island of O'ahu, commissioned the special envoy and departed back to Maui before dawn.

On March 11, 1843, the Albert left Honolulu harbor under the command of a British officer from the Carysfort and arrived at San Blas, Mexico on April 10th. From San Blas, both Mr. Simpson and General Marshall traveled a day's journey to Tepec where they were received by the British Vice Consul, Mr. Barron. Mr. Simpson was first to meet the Vice Consul. Mr. Simpson relayed his version of the cession of the Hawaiian Islands as being voluntary. General Marshall, meanwhile, requested a private session with the Vice Consul under the guise of business for Ladd & Company. During this session, General Marshall laid out the dispatches, together with his credentials, and a copy of the conditional protest. Together the evidence showed a very different version of what had happened in the Hawaiian Islands. The dispatches of both Mr. Simpson and General Marshall were forwarded to Rear Admiral Thomas, Commander in Chief of Her Britannic Majesty's Ships and Vessels in the Pacific.

Back in the Hawaiian Islands, the Commission ran into many difficulties amongst the Hawaiian delegation. The delegation's head, Dr. Judd, and the French Consul refused to recognize the new Government. Dr. Judd, appointed by His Majesty King Kamehameha III as his deputy, found that he could not work on the Commission. Dr. Judd later received authorization by His Majesty to resign as follows:

"We therefore publicly make known that we, Kamehameha III., the King, fully approve and acknowledge the Protest and withdrawal of our deputy as our own, and declare that we will no more sit with the British commissioners, or be responsible for any acts of theirs which may encroach upon the rights of foreigners.

The Rt. Hon. Lord George Paulet and his Lieutenant John Frere, having enlisted soldiers under the title of "the Queen's Regiment," maintaining them as a standing army out of funds appropriated by us for the payment of our just debts, which expense we consider quite uncalled for and useless; they having enforced their demand for the payment of the money by a threat of deposing from his trust an officer of the treasury, although contrary to the orders of the King and premier to him, made known to the British Commissioners;

By these oppressions, by the trial of natives for alleged offenses against the native Government, cases which come not properly under their cognizance, and by their violating the laws which, by the treaty, were to have been held sacred until we hear from England; we are oppressed and injured, and feel confident that all good men will sympathize with us in our present state of distress; and now we protest in the face of all men against all such proceedings both towards ourselves and foreigner, subjects of other governments, on the part of the Rt. Hon. Lord George Paulet, captain of H.B. Ship Carysfort, and his lieutenant, John Frere, R.N., and take the world to witness that they have broken faith with us."

So grave were the decisions of the two man Commission, that a protest was lodged also by the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Naval Force in the E. Indies, Lawrence Kearney. The protest read:

"In the name and on behalf of the people of the United States of America and their Government, which the undersigned has the honor to represent, and in order to explain clearly for the information of all concerned is issued, a Protest.

Whereas, a provisional cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands was made by His Majesty Kamehameha III and Kekauluohi, premier thereof, unto the Hon. George Paulet, commanding Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Carysfort (to wit) on the 25th day of February, 1843; and whereas, the United States' interests and those of their citizens resident on the aforesaid Hawaiian Islands are deeply involved in a seizure of His Majesty's Government under the circumstances; as well as in the act of the aforesaid King and premier, acceding thereto under protest or otherwise, to affect the interests before cited: Now, therefore, be it known, that I solemnly protest against every act and measure in the premises; and do declare that from and after the day of said cession until the termination of the pending negotiations between His Majesty's envoys and the Government of Her Britannic Majesty, I hold His Majesty Kamehameha III and Capt. Lord George Paulet answerable for any and every act, by which a citizen of the United States resident as aforesaid shall be restrained in his just and undisputed rights and privileges, or who may suffer inconvenience or losses, or be forced to submit to any additional charges on imports or other revenue matters, or exactions in regard to the administration of any municipal laws whatever enacted by the 'Commission' consisting of His Majesty King Kamehameha III, or his deputy of the aforesaid islands, and the Right Hon. Lord George Paulet, Duncan Forbes Mackay, esq., and Lieut. John Frere, R.N."

Lord Paulet's Commanding Officer, Rear Admiral Thomas, arrived at Honolulu harbor on July 26, 1843 on H.B.M.S. Dublin from Valparaiso, Chile. Not pleased with the actions of one of his officers, Admiral Thomas immediately sought an interview with His Majesty King Kamehameha III., which resulted in an apology from Admiral Thomas, and the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty on the 31st of July, 1843. Admiral Thomas' actions met with the approval of the British Government as stated in the following letter, dated June 13, 1844, from Lord Canning to Lord Herbert. In relation to Admiral Thomas' course of action, the letter stated as follows:

"I am directed by the Earl of Aberdeen to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th inst. enclosing copies of Rear Admiral Thomas' correspondence with the Admiralty, dated the 17th of February, from the Sandwich Islands; and I am to request that you will state to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that Her Majesty's Government have received with the highest satisfaction the whole of Admiral Thomas' proceedings at the Sandwich Islands, as marked by great propriety and admirable judgment throughout, and as calculated to raise the character of the British authorities for justice, moderation, and courtesy of demeanor, in the estimation of the natives of those remote countries, and of the world."

Someone once said, that we ignore history at our own demise. Kamehameha III shall forever be remembered as a leader who possessed great foresight and intelligence. But history is now being asked to broaden its perspective to include the unsung heroes, whose diligence was rewarded on a cold London day in 1843. November 28, 1843 was the day which would forever afford Hawai'i the Right to stand up against the Lord Pauletís of the world, and say, we are a nation, By Every Definition. Pau.

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Synopsis   History "Lance Paul Larsen vs. the Hawaiian Kingdom"
Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague
News   Arbitral Log