(c) Copyright March 28, 2013
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
Retired Professor Niklaus Schweizer authored an essay entitled "The History Behind the Gallant Hawaiian Prince Kuhio, City & County of Honolulu and the Royal Hawaiian Band" which appeared in Hawaii Reporter on March 26, 2013. He portrayed Prince Kuhio as "a gallant Hawaiian prince," and told a badly twisted version of the history of Hawaii in the 1890s.
In the following reply to Professor Schweizer I shall describe three parts of Kuhio's life which were definitely not gallant or chivalrous. Kuhio abandoned his homeland at a crucial time to go on an African adventure fighting in a war on the side of British colonialism to subjugate the indigenous people. Kuhio tried to extort Liliuokalani into giving him her Waikiki land as quid pro quo for introducing legislation in Congress to have the U.S. pay her money for the ceding of the Crown lands during Annexation. After she refused to go along with that, Kuhio tried to steal Liliuokalani's Waikiki lands by having a court declare her mentally incompetent and getting himself appointed as her legal guardian.
More importantly I shall set the record straight regarding Schweizer's assertion that there was an executive agreement between ex-queen Liliuokalani and President Grover Cleveland to restore the monarchy, which allegedly had the force of a treaty. That assertion has no relevance at all to either Prince Kuhio or the history of the Royal Hawaiian Band. That assertion was never made by Liliuokalani, nor by Kuhio, nor by anybody until a history-twisting Hawaiian sovereignty con artist invented it a few years ago to give the appearance of scholarly respectability to his latest sovereignty ploy fueled by a land title scam. Schweizer parrots that irrelevant assertion merely because it carries forward his work as a propagandist for Hawaiian independence. Such a falsehood must not be allowed to go unchallenged, because otherwise people might come to believe it merely from hearing it asserted by someone portrayed as a distinguished gentleman.
KUHIO, THE NOT-SO-PRINCELY PRINCE
Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was officially a Prince of the Kingdom. But some of his activities were not so princely.
Liliuokalani owned a lot of private property in fee simple. Since it was her private property and not the Crown or Government lands, it remained her property after the revolution of 1893 until her death in 1917. Those lands now comprise the core of the Queen Liliuokalani Trust, yielding income to support the Queen Liliuokalani Childrens Centers serving children throughout the islands who are in broken or destitute families.
Few people today know that Kuhio tried to grab Liliuokalani's Waikiki property for himself, by two different methods on two occasions.
The first demand came during the early years of Kuhio's tenure as Territorial Delegate to Congress. Liliuokalani wanted money from the U.S. as compensation for "her" Crown lands which were ceded to the U.S. as part of the Treaty of Annexation. Kuhio told her he would introduce a bill in Congress on her behalf if she would give him her Waikiki lands. It was a classic case of what modern commentators call quid pro quo, or pay to play. A politician demands money or land from a constituent in return for supporting legislation that will get land, money, or regulations to benefit the constituent. Liliuokalani refused Kuhio's attempted extortion.
In 1909 Liliuokalani took matters into her own hands after seven years of not getting help from Kuhio. She filed a lawsuit against the U.S. demanding money for the Crown Lands.
Today's supporters of race-based collective ownership of the Hawaiian Homelands should note that the ex-queen believed the Crown lands had always belonged to her individually, and not to Native Hawaiians as a racial group. Indeed, Kuhio must have shared that belief, because the only way Kuhio could have contemplated introducing legislation to get compensation for Liliuokalani was on the basis that she had personally owned the Crown lands before Annexation.
The U.S. Court of Claims ruled against Liliukalani's lawsuit in 1910, citing the Kingdom law whereby the legislature issued government bonds to redeem the mortgage which the King had incurred to pay off his gambling debts. The Court held "The Hawaiian statute of 1865 curtailed the title vested in the King to the purpose of maintaining the royal state and dignity; and the King approved the statute which divested the sovereign of whatever legal title he had theretofore had in the crown lands. After that the lands belonged to the office and not to the individual." Full text of Liliuokalani's complaint and the Court's ruling (which included a copy of the Treaty of Annexation as an exhibit proving the lands had been ceded to the U.S.) can be seen in Liliuokalani v. United States, 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910) at
1909 was not only the year Liliuokalani filed her lawsuit against the U.S., it was also the year she set up her Childrens Trust and placed her property into it. But in 1915 Kuhio, the sitting Territorial Delegate to Congress, suddenly filed a lawsuit against her. Kuhio's lawsuit asserted that Liliuokalani was mentally incompetent, that her Trust should be nullified, and that the court should appoint Kuhio to be her "next friend"; i.e., her legal guardian (allowing him to eventually grab her property). The Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii ruled against Kuhio in 1916, the year before Liliuokalani died. Fortunately the documents in that lawsuit have been preserved on the internet so we can see what a scoundrel Kuhio was, selfishly trying to take lands and money away from the ex-queen and the needy children she was trying to help. That lawsuit has been used as a case study in an elder law course at UH. See
One more point is worth mentioning about Kuhio. Niklaus Schweizer correctly says that after an attempted counterrevolution in January 1895 and after the participants were sentenced to prison, "Dole later granted her [Liliuoklani] an amnesty and the other prisoners were also released, Kūhiō after almost a year in jail. He left the Islands in frustration, went to South Africa, and participated in the Boer War on the British side against the Dutch Calvinist settlers."
Thus we see that in the late 1890s, at the time when the struggle over annexation was happening, Kuhio abandoned his homeland to go off on an African adventure. He couldn't use his guns at home, so he vented his frustration and anger by fighting in a foreign war where he could hope to actually kill people. And he chose to fight on the side of one colonial power (the British) against another colonial power (the Dutch) to determine which European colonizer would rule over the poor, downtrodden indigenous natives of South Africa. Schweizer, along with all his friends in the Hawaiian independence movement who so vigorously embrace the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, never criticize Kuhio's support for British colonialism in Africa, even while they bitterly accuse the U.S. of colonialism in Hawaii.
CORRECTING NIKLAUS SCHWEIZER'S TWISTED HISTORY OF THE 1890s
Readers of Niklaus Schweizer's version of history need to know that he is an activist in the Hawaiian independence movement and is happy to parrot the concepts of Keanu Sai and other history-twisting radicals. A biographical note on the UH website says "the Royal Order of Kamehameha honored Schweizer as an 'Honorary Ali'i' in the Most Noble Royal Order of Kamehameha I, an honor extended to few men not of Hawaiian ancestry and based on outstanding service to the Hawaiian community."
Part of that "outstanding service to the [ethnic] Hawaiian community" is the propaganda put forward in Schweizer's essay, which contains many distortions and leaves out very important details. Let me try to set the record straight.
There was never an executive agreement between Liliuokalani and Grover Cleveland in their capacities as heads of their nations. Liliuokalani was no longer head of the nation of Hawaii after the monarchy was overthrown on January 17, 1893; and Cleveland did not become President of the U.S. until his inauguration, which back in the 19th Century took place on March 4. So any agreement they might have had was between two individuals but not between two heads of state. Liliuokalani and Cleveland were never heads of their nations at the same time; thus, they could never have made an "executive agreement" equivalent to a treaty which would be binding upon their nations or their successors in office.
Furthermore, as we'll see, the only agreement Cleveland and Liliuokalani had was NOT that the U.S. would (by itself) actually restore Liliuokalani to the throne, but rather an agreement between U.S. MInister Albert Willis and ex-queen Liliuokalani that Willis would try to mediate a deal between Liliuokalani and Hawaii President Sanford Dole -- a mediation that Dole knew nothing about at the time when Liliuokalani finally agreed to the terms Willis wanted to offer to Dole, and which Dole strenuously rejected once Minister Willis told him about it and "ordered" him to comply. Even this alleged agreement between Cleveland and Liliuokalani (for Willis to mediate between Liliuokalani and Dole) is speculative. So far as I know there is no document, stating the agreement, that is signed by both Liliuokalani and Cleveland, or by both Liliuokalani and Willis on Cleveland's behalf. Keanu Sai and Niklaus Schweizer never provide the wording on any such agreement. Did Cleveland/Willis promise to restore the queen? No, they probably promised only to serve as mediator to put a proposal to Dole once Liliuokalani had agreed to the proposal. What were the words used to state the proposal? It's astounding that hundreds of gullible "clients" are paying thousands of dollars to a real estate company to do title searches and then make demands against title insurance companies to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the clients based on allegations that titles are not valid on account of an "executive agreement" whose wording is not known and does not exist in a document signed by both parties to the agreement.
Grover Cleveland's Ministers to Hawaii, first James Blount and then Albert Willis, did everything they could from April through December, 1893, to destabilize and oust the Provisional Government and return Liliuokalani to the throne. But they failed because the Provisional Government was too strong, even without the presence of the few remaining U.S. peacekeepers who had been removed by order of Blount on April 1. Willis secretly met with Liliuokalani and offered to broker a deal between PG President Sanford Dole and ex-queen Liliuokalani, whereby Dole would resign and restore her to the throne in return for a pledge from Liliuokalani to pardon Dole and the other revolutionaries. But Liliuokalani angrily told Willis on two different occasions that she would behead them and confiscate their property. So Willis knew he could never propose such a deal to Dole. Finally, as Willis' ship was about to sail from Honolulu carrying Liliuokalani's refusal to President Cleveland, Liliuokalani sent a message to the ship that she would agree to the deal with Dole that Willis had proposed. At this time Dole had never even been approached by Willis to see whether Dole might agree to such a deal. Dole knew nothing about it. As soon as Dole found out what Willis was demanding, Dole adamantly refused.
But of course that proposed deal was NOT an offer by the U.S. to actually restore her to the throne, because the U.S. lacked the power to do that. It was merely an offer by Willis to serve as mediator between Liliuokalani and Dole -- an offer by Willis to tell Dole that Liliuokalani would grant a pardon in return for Dole's resignation. When Willis sent a letter to Dole "ordering" Dole to step down, Dole sent a blistering reply saying hell no; saying the U.S. has no power or authority to tell Hawaii what to do. See the full text of: "Letter of December 19, 1893 from United States Minister Willis to Hawaii President Dole, Demanding That Liliuokalani Be Restored to the Throne," at
See also full text of: "Letter of December 23, 1893 from Hawaii President Sanford B. Dole to U.S. Minister Willis, Refusing United States Demand to Restore Ex-Queen Liliuokalani to the Throne" at
Thus, even if Schweizer thinks Liliuokalani was still Queen 11 months after she was overthrown, there was no "treaty" or "executive agreement" for the U.S. to restore her to the throne; there was only an offer from the U.S. to serve as mediator -- an offer which President Dole rejected in three ways. Dole's letter of reply to Willis rejected the idea that Willis could order Dole to do anything; it rejected the idea that Willis could serve as mediator; and it rejected the idea that Dole should step down and allow Liliuokalani to become Queen again. Dole was the one who had the power to restore Liliuokalani to the throne. Grover Cleveland had no more power to do that than the power I have to sell the Haleiwa Bridge to Niklaus Schweizer or Keanu Sai. Dole remained President of the still-independent nation of Hawaii for five and a half years after the revolution, until Annexation was fully ratified in August 1898, and then for two more years until the Organic Act consummated it in 1900.
Schweizer makes the following interesting statement: "Such an agreement between heads of state has the force of a treaty, and has to be carried out. According to the concept of estoppel in international law if such an agreement for whatever reason is not implemented, anything that follows contrary to the agreement is null and void." Of course that's silly. If that fanciful theory were true it would mean that nations must continue to recognize a dictator and continue to implement agreements made with him even after a revolution has overthrown him.
But let's suppose Schweizer is correct in that quotation. Then we need to remind Schweizer that there was indeed a previous agreement between the President of the United States and the President of the Provisional Government which, according to what Schweizer says, the U.S. was obligated to continue implementing. That agreement was made by U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary John Stevens, with the full authority of President Benjamin Harrison, granting recognition to Sanford Dole as President of the revolutionary Provisional Government. Thus the U.S. was obligated to no longer deal with Liliuokalani as though she was head of the nation of Hawaii. And according to what Schweizer wrote, the U.S. was thereafter estopped from doing anything contrary to treating Sanford Dole as head of state of Hawaii. According to Schweizer's theory, Grover Cleveland and his Ministers Blount and Willis were bound by that "executive agreement" between President Harrison and President Dole which had the "force of a treaty"; and their efforts to undermine and overthrow Hawaii's government from April through December 1893 were a violation of "international law" and, as Schweizer says, "anything that follows contrary to the agreement [between Harrison's Minister Stevens and Hawaii President Dole] is null and void [including the so-called executive agreement between Cleveland and Liliuokalani]."
Diplomatic recognition of the Provisional Government did not come only from the U.S. During the first two days after the Hawaiian revolution of January 17, 1893, the local representatives of every nation which had a consulate in Honolulu sent letters of de facto recognition to President Dole of the Provisional Government. Complete text of all letters of de facto recognition from local consuls in Honolulu, January 17-19, 1893, were published in the Honolulu Commercial Advertiser and can be seen on microfilm in the Kaneohe Public Library and other libraries. They were also included in the Morgan Report, where the letters can be seen at
By sending such letters, the consuls all acknowledged that Liliuokalani no longer held power, and that they would henceforth do business with the Dole government. De facto recognition was all they were empowered to give, both because a consul is not the head of state and because the Provisional Government was clearly self-described by its name as a temporary revolutionary government until a permanent Republic could be created.
The Provisional Government convened a Constitutional Convention (whose delegates included five men with Hawaiian names). The Republic of Hawaii was created with publication of its Constitution in July 1894. Speaker of the House in the Republic was full-blooded native Hawaiian John Kaulukou. Complete text of the Constitution of the Republic of Hawaii, and information about the Constitutional Convention that produced it, are available at:
President Dole gave to each of the Honolulu consulates of foreign nations a copy of the Constitution along with a request to contact their home governments to ask for a formal letter of recognition de jure (i.e., officially recognizing the Republic as the rightful permanent government of Hawaii). During the next six months those letters arrived. Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents of 20 nations on 4 continents personally signed letters in 11 languages officially granting de jure recognition to the Republic of Hawaii. The originals of those letters are in the state archives. Among the signers were Queen Victoria of England, two Princes of China on behalf of the Emperor, the Tsar of Russia, the King and Queen of Spain; the President of France, the President of Brazil, and yes, even President Grover Cleveland. A couple years later the Emperor of Japan personally signed a letter to President Dole raising the Japanese consulate to the status of Legation -- a status never enjoyed by the Kingdom. Photographs of the letters of recognition have been placed on a webpage at
The historical significance of those letters and their implications for statehood, Akaka bill, and ceded lands; are explained at
along with a detailed example of Keanu Sai's lie that such letters do not exist and that the Provisional Government and Republic of Hawaii had neither de facto nor de jure recognition.
The royalists were very worried by the establishment of the permanent Republic of Hawaii, and arrival of letters of full-fledged recognition. They knew they must act quickly to stage a counterrevolution. So they arranged for a shipment of guns from California (probably with the knowledge of U.S. officials). The attempted overthrow of the Republic was led by Robert Wilcox and Prince Kuhio in January 1895 [each of whom later won election to be Territorial Delegate to Congress], and was easily defeated.
A stash of guns, ammunition, and hand grenades were found buried in a flower bed at Washington Place (the private home of Liliuokalani); and inside her home were letters she had signed appointing her cabinet officers and department heads for the new Kingdom government she expected the counterrevolution to restore. The arms cache and letters of appointment were the most damning evidence in her trial for (misprision of) treason, proving that she knew what was going on and participated in the plot. She was found guilty, and sentenced to prison. Her "cell" was a huge room in the Palace with private bathroom, a maidservant, and plenty of writing materials and sewing supplies, where she wrote songs deploring the revolution and sewed a quilt with patriotic symbols and slogans of the Kingdom. In total, 190 people including Liliuokalani, Wilcox, and Kuhio were found guilty and imprisoned for their roles in the attempted counterrevolution. But a generous and compassionate President Dole pardoned and released them all before the end of the year.
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