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Lili'uokalani Loses A Big One (The Crown Lands) -- Liliuokalani v. United States, 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910)

Liliuokalani v. United States, 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910)


(c) Copyright 2000 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


There is one and only one court case in which the ex-queen Lili'uokalani sued the United States for any reason. On November 20, 1909, nearly 17 years after the overthrow and more than 11 years after the annexation, she filed a lawsuit in which she tried to get money for the Crown Lands, claiming those lands rightfully belonged to her but were illegally confiscated by the Provisional Government, Republic of Hawai'i, and United States. The case was decided May 16, 1910 and has the legal citation: Liliuokalani v. United States, 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910)

BOTH THE EX-QUEEN’S COMPLAINT AND THE COURT’S DECISION ARE PROVIDED BELOW, following some explanatory material.

The ex-queen lost the case. But in the process, many of the claims made today by the sovereignty activists were asserted by the ex-queen. After seeing all the evidence and hearing all the arguments on both sides, the Court of Claims became convinced that her claims had no merit. The decision itself is a valuable legal document. It is important not only because it contains these arguments concerning the Crown Lands, but also because of the very important appendices included by the Court as part of the evidence. Some of the material in these appendices is difficult or impossible to find anywhere else, and decisively refutes claims raised by today's sovereignty activists on issues other than the Crown Lands. It is also interesting that she never sued the United States in the Supreme Court for the "illegal overthrow" or the "illegal annexation" to try to reverse those events or be compensated for them; she sued only for money for "her" Crown Lands. The manner in which she lost lays out the evidence and the arguments for both sides in a direct confrontation between the ex-Queen and the United States. Such a direct legal confrontation at such a high level over "sovereignty" issues was never repeated for 90 years, until the Rice v. Cayetano case. The decision of the Court of Claims (like the Supreme Court decision in Rice v. Cayetano) is very clear and convincing.

First I shall list some of the questions to be answered here. Then I shall tell the history of the events leading up to this lawsuit, and offer an explanation of the answers to these questions, with references to the actual decision of the Court of Claims. Finally, the complete and unabridged official decision is provided for the first time on the internet, so that scholars can analyze it further. This valuable material is no longer hidden away in dusty archives.


During the Kingdom of Hawai'i, who owned the Crown Lands?

Were the Overthrow and Annexation legitimate?

Was the ex-queen (or by inference the kanaka maoli people) entitled to compensation for the loss of "her" "stolen" lands?

Were the ceded lands taken without compensation?

Was there a valid offer of annexation from the Republic of Hawai'i, and a valid acceptance from the United States, with both sides agreeing on identical language?

What is the status of treaties between the Kingdom of Hawai'i and other nations, including the United States?


LILIUOKALANI v. THE UNITED STATES. 45 Ct. Claims 418 (1910)

The above legal citation refers to the case in which ex-queen Lili'uokalani sued the United States in the U.S. Court of Claims in the year 1910. The case is reported in Court of Claims Volume 45, beginning on page 418. The report covers pages 418 through 440.

This case is extremely important in the history of Hawai'i; yet until the decision was published here on this website, it was completely unavailable on the internet, and could be found only in the archives of major law libraries such as the Hawai'i Supreme Court and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Hawaiian sovereignty activists, so aggressive about publicizing every small scrap of "evidence" favorable to their views and every bit of the ex-queen's writing or memorabilia, either do not know about this case, or keep it hidden.

Queen Lili'uokalani had been overthrown by the Committee of Safety and the Honolulu Rifles on January 17, 1893. Their objective was to get Hawai'i annexed to the United States, to provide political stability and economic growth. A temporary Provisional Government held power for 18 months, until it became clear that annexation to the United States would not happen during the administration of the ex-queen's friend President Grover Cleveland. The Provisional Government was then replaced by a more permanent Republic of Hawai'i, which had a Constitution and an elected legislature. In 1898, the Spanish American War provided the impetus for U.S. President William McKinley to be able to push through Congress a joint resolution of annexation, accepting the longstanding and recently renewed offer of the Republic to be annexed to the United States. The annexation was finally implemented through the Organic Act of 1900.

The Great Mahele of 1848 began a process whereby individuals could obtain private fee-simple ownership of land. In this process, large amounts of land were set aside in two categories of public ownership: Government Lands, to be held by the government for public facilities and income; and Crown Lands, to be held by the monarch to provide funds to support the monarch. At first it seemed that the Crown Lands were personally owned by the King, but as time went by various events made it clear that the Crown Lands belonged to the office of head of state rather than to the monarch personally. When the Queen was overthrown, there was no longer a monarch to be supported, and the Crown Lands became the property of the Provisional Government, and then the Republic. At the time of annexation, both the former Government Lands and the Crown Lands were ceded to the United States, subject to a condition that the U.S. must hold them in trust for the benefit of all the inhabitants of Hawai'i (rather than simply adding these lands to the land bank of the U.S.). At the time of statehood in 1959, the ceded lands were returned to the control of the State of Hawai'i, except for 328,414 acres retained by the U.S. for national parks, military bases, and other federal government uses.

In 1910 the ex-queen's lawsuit was decided in the U.S. Court of Claims, where she was seeking compensation for the Crown Lands. She claimed the Crown Lands rightfully had belonged to her, and that she was entitled to money in restitution for the confiscation of "her" land by the Provisional Government, the Republic, and then the United States.

She lost.


Q: DURING THE KINGDOM OF HAWAI'I, WHO OWNED THE CROWN LANDS?

At first it seemed that the monarch owned them personally (see pages 429-430 of the decision below, including portions of the language of the Great Mahele of 1848). The income was used to support the monarch. But when a King died, the lands themselves were always passed to the next monarch rather than to any personal heirs. The ownership of the Crown lands was settled by the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawai'i in 1864, summarized by the U.S. Court of Claims in 1910 as follows: "It was determined in 1864, by a decision of the supreme court of Hawaii, that the crown lands formed an estate presumably vested in fee simple in the Crown as distinguished from the personality of the sovereign, and yet so limited as to possession and descent as to be abhorrent to an estate in fee simple absolute." (See Part I of the Court's own summary of its decision on page 419)

Later, in 1865-66, when the King had mortgaged the lands to provide money squandered on gambling and a lavish lifestyle, the legislature provided money to pay off the debts and further declared the Crown Lands to be inalienable (see pp. 431-433). A further difficulty arose when Claus Spreckels claimed to have ownership participation in the Crown Lands because he had purchased from Princess Ruth Keelikolani her (probably non-existent) rights to those lands. Princess Ruth's claims were doubtful both because her relationship to Kamehameha IV and V was unclear and also because the Crown lands probably were not the private property of the Kamehameha line. Nevertheless, Claus Spreckels, a powerful businessman, had paid money to the Princess for her interest in the Crown Lands, and the government of the Kingdom of Hawai'i wanted to avoid any cloud on the title of these lands. So in 1882 the legislature appropriated funds to purchase a quit-claim deed from Claus Spreckels, just in case there might be any validity to his claim (see pp. 433-434). Then, in 1890, the legislature further clarified the status of many large parcels of land as belonging to the Crown lands and also being the property of the government without any encumbrances (see p. 434).

That is why the Court of Claims in 1910 ruled that: "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." (See Part II of the Court's own summary of its decision on page 419)

In parts I and II of its own summary of its decision, the Court of Claims based its decision primarily upon the laws of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, showing that by 1865 the Crown Lands did not belong to the monarch personally but to the office of head of state. This was true under the laws of the Kingdom, even before the overthrow and annexation.

It is also very interesting that the ex-queen was claiming that the crown lands had been her private property rather than the property of the race of kanaka maoli generally. Lili'uokalani's claim places her squarely in opposition to the assertion of modern-day sovereignty activists that the race of kanaka maoli are somehow the rightful owners of the ceded (crown) lands, or that they somehow have an undivided interest in them as "native tenants." On the ex-queen's theory put forward in this case, kanaka maoli individuals and kanaka maoli as a race have the same status as non-kanaka maoli: no rights at all to ownership of the crown lands or income from those lands.


Q: WERE THE OVERTHROW AND ANNEXATION LEGITIMATE?

The Court of Claims took account of the ex-Queen's protest of January 17, 1893, immediately following the overthrow. Her entire document of surrender is included by the Court in an appendix to this decision, on page 435. Despite the ex-queen's words in the surrender, the Court clearly did not give any credence to the surrender as being only "temporary" or as being a surrender to the United States. On page 418 the Court's own summary states that in 1893 the Queen "yielded her authority by an instrument abdicating the throne." In Part III of the Court's own summary of its decision, it said: "When the office of King ceased to exist, the crown lands became like other lands, the property of the sovereignty, and on the annexation of the islands, passed to the United States as part of the public domain." (Page 419) The Court also notes on page 424 that if the ex-queen had no ownership or equitable life interest in the Crown Lands, then "it is conceded that the absence of such an interest rendered the crown lands subject to the usual transmission of title appurtenant to a change of sovereignty." Thus the Court is affirming that indeed there was such a change of sovereignty.

On pages 423 and 424 the ex-queen in 1910 tangentially raised the issue of the alleged illegality of the Overthrow, the Provisional Government, the Republic of Hawai'i, the Annexation, and the Organic Act by arguing that her right to the Crown Lands was only temporarily suspended by those governments (not permanently extinguished as would be the case if the government was legitimate) because of provisions in the Constitution of the Republic of Hawai'i that made it impossible for the courts to consider her claims. But on page 428, the Court in its official decision quotes from the Constitution of the Republic of Hawai'i in a manner showing that the Court recognizes the authority of that Constitution in establishing that the Crown Lands are the unencumbered property of the Republic of Hawai'i.

On page 420 the ex-queen compared the annexation of Hawai'i with the annexation of the Panama Canal Zone, stating that "In both cases there was a domestic revolution, and the revolutionary government turned over to the United States the sovereignty desired." On page 421 the ex-queen tried to argue that it is not up to the courts to decide whether the annexations were legitimate or whether the U.S. was primarily responsible for the domestic revolutions that made the annexations possible. She states, incorrectly, that "They are matters for the executive branch of the Government, and the judiciary can only accept the political status as determined by the executive." She would have preferred, of course, to rely upon Grover Cleveland's assessment of the overthrow as recorded in his message to Congress. However, the U.S. courts have always had the right to overturn executive actions because of satute law or the provisions of the Constitution, as established by the Marbury vs. Madison decision more than 100 years before the present case. And the ex-queen conveniently forgot that the U.S. Congress acknowledged the legitimacy of the overthrow as documented in its Morgan Report, and the Congress passed the joint resolution of Annexation in 1898 and the Organic Act of 1900. On pages 428 and 429, the Court cites language from the Constitution of the Republic of Hawai'i, and from the Organic Act of 1900, thereby acknowledging their legitimacy. Finally, on page 429, the Court of Claims gave premission to the ex-queen to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. But she acquiesced in the decision and never appealed it.

Sovereignty activists say the annexation never happened because it was not done by treaty but only by joint resolution. They say that a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress cannot extend beyond the borders of the U.S., which of course is obviously true if the only issues are laws to govern people's conduct in relations with each other. For example, the U.S. Congress has no power to tell the people of China that cigarettes must have less than a certain level of tar and nicotine, or that February 21 shall be celebrated as a Presidents' Day holiday. However, a joint resolution certainly can determine how the United States in and of itself chooses to respond to something happening abroad. And if a foreign nation offers itself for annexation, it is up to the United States to use whatever means it chooses to make its own decision how to respond to such an offer. There are no international laws forcing any nation to use any particular method for ratifying its own decisions.

It is an internal matter for the United States to decide by what method it will accept an offer of annexation. The U.S. Constitution nowhere states that annexation can be accomplished only by treaty. Texas had been annexed by joint resolution almost 50 years previously, establishing the precedent; and other territories such as the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska had been acquired through purchase from France and Russia. Sovereignty activists assert that Texas had been annexed directly as a State, whereas Hawai'i was being annexed only as a Territory. But clearly, if Congress can set a precedent in the case of Texas by using joint resolution to annex something so important as a State, then Congress can also establish a precedent in the case of Hawai'i by using joint resolution to annex the a less important entity of a Territory.

Regarding the sovereignty activists' claim that Texas had been annexed directly as a State: that claim, like so many others, is a distortion of history which leaves out important facts. The first thing that happened was a Joint Resolution annexing Texas. About a year and a half later, there was a separate Admission Act that made Texas a state. In between the two Congressional actions, the Mexican American War broke out because Mexico still claimed Texas was a rebellious province of Mexico and objected to the US annexing "Mexican" territory. For that matter, Spain still claimed that Mexico, including Texas, was still a rebellious province of the Spanish Empire. This illustrates the point that as far as American law is concerned, Congress can annex any land it pleases to the US, although as a practical matter it needs to be prepared for war if some other country stakes an overlapping claim. Texas became part of the US when it accepted the terms of the Annexation Resolution, not when Mexico gave up its claim to Texas after losing the war. The key documents re Texas Annexation are on the Web as part of the Avalon Project at Yale: yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/texmenu.htm In Texas v. White, after the Civil War, the US Supreme Court confirmed the principle established by the Union's victory: as a result of annexation and admission to the Union Texas was a state and states can't quit.

Must the inhabitants of a territory be consulted, prior to being annexed? In the annexations of the Louisiana Territory and the Territory of Alaska, the inhabitants were not consulted by France or Russia (who sold those territories to the U.S.) nor by the U.S. There were only two times when annexations of land to the United States included consulting the inhabitants of the annexed areas: Texas and Hawai'i. The reason why the inhabitants were consulted in these two cases was that these were independent nations prior to annexation. In the case of Texas, there was a plebiscite in which the vote was limited to white males who had sworn loyalty to the Republic of Texas. In the case of Hawai'i, the elected legislature of the Republic of Hawai'i made the commitment.

The powerful Senators, States, and even kanaka maoli or the ex-queen who had successfully opposed the earlier treaty of annexation had every opportunity to file a suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose or undo annexation by joint resolution, but they never did so. The joint resolution of annexation required only a simple majority in both houses of Congress, but it actually passed by 2/3 (42-21) in the Senate and by more than 2/3 (209-91) in the House, partly because sentiments had changed due to the Spanish American War, and Grover Cleveland's failure to win re-election. So, in the final analysis, 2/3 of the Senate ( and more than 2/3 of the House) did vote for the document of annexation, as would be required for a treaty, even if it was now called by a different name. In modern times, it is now well-established in constitutional law that an international agreement can be approved and become binding on the US by a majority vote of both houses of Congress [ Restatement (3d) of the Foreign Relations Law of the US sec. 303 ]. Literally hundreds of international agreements have been done this way in the 20th century, and the Supreme Court repeatedly has held that the method is valid.


Q: WAS THE EX-QUEEN (OR BY INFERENCE THE KANAKA MAOLI PEOPLE) ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION FOR THE LOSS OF "HER" "STOLEN" LANDS?

The answer is very clearly no, and for two reasons: the Crown Lands were not the property of the Queen (let alone the kanaka maoli people); and the lands were not stolen.

The fact that the Crown Lands did not belong to the monarch personally has already been clearly established. Part II of the Court's own summary of its decision, on page 419, clearly states: "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." The reasoning is explained above.

The fact that the lands were not stolen is documented by the chain of custody of the Crown Lands, recognized as legitimate by the decision of the Court in this case. The Court recognizes that the Crown Lands became the property of the office of sovereignty through a series of acts of the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai'i agreed to by the King himself. The Court also recognizes the passing of title through the Provisional Government to The Republic (an excerpt from the Constitution of the Republic is included in the Court's own decision, bottom of page 428), and then to the United States by means of the Republic's offer to be annexed and the U.S. joint resolution of acceptance of that offer (both documents contained in the Court's own appendices).


WERE THE CEDED LANDS TAKEN WITHOUT COMPENSATION?

The sovereignty activists are fond of burying false and misleading historical or legal statements inside legislation. The activists then claim that since these buried statements were passed by Congress or the legislature of Hawai'i, therefore these statements are law. That political technique has been well-documented in the section of this website dealing with the S1929 federal healthcare bill providing a racial entitlement for kanaka maoli. Another example of false statements can be found in the so-called "Apology" bill, and its amazingly blatant falsity can be shown in the documentation in the appendices of the 1910 Crown Lands case. (Thanks to Bill Burgess for the details that follow. His website, focusing on the ceded lands, can be seen at http://aloha4all.org )

The Apology bill, P.L. 103-150 (1993), says, in one of its "whereas" clauses, that "the Republic of Hawaii also ceded [to the United States] 1,800,000 acres of crown, government and public lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii, without the consent of or compensation to the Native Hawaiian people or their sovereign government."

However, in the Annexation Act, under which the crown, government and public lands of the Kingdom were ceded, the United States assumed the public debt of the Republic of Hawaii up to $4 million (See page 439). The bonded debt of the Republic at the time of annexation in 1898 was $3,785,500. The public debt of the Kingdom at the time of the overthrow in January 1893 was $3,417,459.87 [ Reports of the Minister of Finance, 1894 and 1898 ].

Assumption of another's debt is a form of compensation. For example, it is common in land sales for the buyer to pay the purchase price partially in cash and partially by assuming a mortgage of the seller. Another example is the Internal Revenue code which treats an assumption of debt as income to the person whose debt is assumed.

Between 1850 and 1890 pasture lands sold for an average of 25 cents an acre while good taro land brought five dollars an acre [ Hawaiian Culture, The Land & the People p. 263 ]. In 1865 Kamehameha IV sold the entire Island of Niihau to the Sinclair brothers for $10,000, an average of less than 25 cents per acre. In 1877 James Campbell bought 41,000 acres at Honouliuli (Ewa, O'ahu) for $95,000, an average of $2.31 per acre. Land values were probably much lower than that. For example, Bernice Pauahi Bishop's estate, which included about 400,000 acres (including some extremely valuable lands, and totaling about ten percent of all the land of the Hawaiian islands), was valued at about $300,000 during the probate of her will a year or two following her death in 1884. That would set a valuation of about 75 cents per acre. Vast acreage of the government and crown lands was mountainous and desert lands unusable for pasture. Assuming an average value of $1.50 per acre the total value of the about 1.8 million acres ceded would be $2.7 million.

Thus, even if the ceded lands had been transferred outright to the United States, the Kingdom of Hawaii received compensation (by way of assumption of its public debt) considerably greater than the value of those lands.

However, the lands were not ceded outright. The Annexation Act required that the U.S. use the revenues and proceeds of the ceded lands, "except as regards such part thereof as may be used or occupied for the civil, military or naval purposes of the United States ... solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands for educational and other public purposes." (page 439) At that time about 26% of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands were of native ancestry. The U.S. in 1900 turned over to the Territory of Hawaii the possession and control of over 1.4 million acres of the ceded lands. Those lands have remained in the possession, use and control of the government of Hawaii for the benefit of the citizens of Hawaii of all ancestries, (except for the about 200,000 acres reserved exclusively for 50% Hawaiians in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act) continuously to the present.

Of the 328,414 acres retained by the U.S., 244,890 are National parks (available for the enjoyment of the public including those of Hawaiian ancestry), leaving 83,524 acres for the use of the Federal government [ Ronck's Hawaii Almanac ]. 28,800 acres of that, the island of Kahoolawe, is being transferred to the State.

Thus, the claim that the crown, government and public lands of Hawaii were ceded to the United States "without compensation to the Native Hawaiian people or their sovereign government" is false. The United States compensated the Republic of Hawai'i and its people (including kanaka maoli) by assuming their public debts, including the debts incurred under the Kingdom for the issuance of bonds to redeem all encumbrances on the Crown lands incurred by various monarchs to support their lavish lifestyles, as noted on pages 431-434.


WAS THERE A VALID OFFER OF ANNEXATION FROM THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAI'I, AND A VALID ACCEPTANCE FROM THE UNITED STATES, WITH BOTH SIDES AGREEING ON IDENTICAL LANGUAGE?

The entire offer from the Republic of Hawai'i of a treaty to be annexed is contained on pages 435-438. The entire Newlands Resolution; i.e., the joint resolution of Congress accepting the offer of annexation; is contained on pages 438-440. Close comparison of the language in the two documents confirms that most of the language is identical, although occasionally the order of the paragraphs may be different. The language at the beginning or end may be different between the two documents because one is offering and the other is accepting, or the acceptance includes language for administrative procedures or funds to implement the annexation.


WHAT IS THE STATUS OF TREATIES BETWEEN THE KINGDOM OF HAWAI'I AND OTHER NATIONS, INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES?

Sovereignty activists like to say that the treaties between the Kingdom of Hawai'i and foreign nations still exist and still have force of law. They believe that the treaties between the Kingdom and the U.S. are also still alive. If the overthrow had never happened, such would be the case.

However, the overthrow did happen. All the nations with consulates in Honolulu recognized the new Provisional Government within two days following the overthrow. Recognition includes a mutual agreement that existing treaties will continue in force until changed, and it also includes a recognition that the new sovereignty replaces the previous one as the agent with whom to negotiate.

The annexation also really happened, as a previous section of this essay confirms. When one nation is annexed by another, it is common sense as well as international law that all treaties between the annexed nation (Hawai'i) and other nations are automatically subsumed under the authority of the annexing nation (the United States) or else abrogated, and henceforth foreign relations are conducted through the annexing nation (United States).

Article III of the Republic's offer of annexation, dealing with treaties with foreign nations (pages 436-437), is completely identical with the language in the U.S. acceptance (page 439) except that where the Republic refers to its offer of a "treaty" of annexation, the U.S. notes a "joint resolution" of acceptance. The identical wording establishes the common-sense disposition of treaties as described above. Here is the wording:

"The existing treaties of the Hawaiian Islands with foreign nations shall forthwith cease and determine, being replaced by such treaties as may exist, or as may be hereafter concluded, between the United States and such foreign nations. The municipal legislation of the Hawaiian Islands, not enacted for the fulfillment of the treaties so extinguished, and not inconsistent with this joint resolution nor contrary to the Constitution of the United States nor to any existing treaty of the United States, shall remain in force until the Congress of the United States shall otherwise determine."

The language is also identical between the two documents dealing with the commercial relations between (the former Kingdom of) Hawai'i and the U.S. and foreign nations (still page 439):

"Until legislation shall be enacted extending the United States customs laws and regulations to the Hawaiian Islands the existing customs relations of the Hawaiian Islands with the United States and other countries shall remain unchanged."

The bottom line is that all treaties between the Kingdom of Hawai'i and other nations, including the United States, are forever extinguished for two reasons: (1) As a result of the overthrow of the monarchy, the new Republic government took control of and continued to enforce the treaties of the Kingdom, unless such treaties were changed by the Republic of Hawai'i through negotiation with the other nations involved; and (2) As a result of the annexation, all treaties of the Republic of Hawai'i (and therefore of the Kingdom whose treaties were assumed by the Republic) were either abrogated or became the responsibility of the United States to administer, in accord with the provisions of the agreement of annexation.

---------------------


THE COMPLAINT FILED BY EX-QUEEN LILI’UOKALANI, November 20, 1909

Documents dated November 20, 1909
Archives, Honolulu, Hawaii REF HD243.H3 L55 1909

Liliuokalani vs. United States of America - PETITION
- In the Court of Claims
Kinney, Ballou, Prosser & Anderson, Attorneys for Petitioner, Honolulu, Hawaii

TO THE HONORABLE THE COURT OF CLAIMS:

Come now LILIUOKALANI, a citizen of the United States of America, and complaining of the United States of America is a claim in respect of which she would be entitled to redress against the United States in a court of equity if the United States were suable, alleges and shows as follows:

1

That heretofore, to wit, in the year 1848, Kamehameha III, King of the Kingdom of Hawaii, being owner and lord paramount of all the lands in said Kingdom of Hawaii, did surrender and forever make over unto the chiefs and people the greater part of his royal domain, reserving certain lands to himself as his own (page 1)

private property, which act was solemnized by an act duly passed by the house of Nobles and Representatives of the Hawaiian Islands in legislative council assembled entitled "As Act relating to the lands of His Majesty the King and of the Government," copy of which act is hereto attached, marked "Exhibit A" and made a part hereof.

2

That the lands by said act reserved to be private lands of His Majesty Kamehameha III were thereafter known as Crown Lands, and thereafter descended to His Majesty Kamehamahe IV and His Majesty Kamehameha V, successors in sovereignty of said Kamehameha III, excepting only such lands as were from time to time alienated by said Kamehameha III and Kamehameha IV.

3

That thereafter, to wit, in the year 1865, an act was duly passed by the King and the legislative assembly of the Hawaiian Islands in the legislature of the Kingdom assembled entitled "An Act to relieve the royal domain from encumbrances and to render the same inalienable," a copy of which act is hereunto attached, marked "Exhibit B" and made a part herof.

4

That under and by virtue of said last mentioned act said Crown Lands were rendered inalienable and all the rents, profits and emoluments derived from the said lands aftrer deducting the necessary and proper expenses of managing the same, were declared to be for the use and benefit of the reigning sovereign.

5

That thereafter, to wit, in the year 1866, the bonds mentioned in said "An Act to relieve the royal domain from encumbrances and to render the same inalienable" were assumed by the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the Crown Lands relieved of further charge concerning the same, all of which more fully appears by a resolution of the legislative assemably approved July 6, 1866, a copy of which is hereto attached marked "Exhibit C" and made a part hereof. (page 2)

6

That thereafter, to wit, in the year 1882, one Claus Spreekels, having acquired a claim on said Crown Lands by the purchase of the interest, if any, of Ruth Keelikolani, one of the heirs at law of Kamehameha V, said claim was compromised by the conveyance to Claus Spreckles of the Ahupuaa of Wailuku in the Island of Maui, and the conveyance by Claus Spreckels to the Commissioners of Crown Lands of all the right, title and interest of him the said Claus Spreckles in and to the residue of the Crown Lands, which compromise was made in accordance with and by authority of an act entitled "An Act to authrorize the Commissioners of Crown Lands to convey certain portions of such lands to Claus Spreckels in satisfaction of all claims he may have on said lands." A copy of which act is hereto attached. Marked "Exhibit D." and made a part hereof.

7

That thereafter, to wit, in the year 1890 certain unassigned lands were duly declared to be a part of the Crown Lands by an act entitled "An Act to Declare Certain Lands to be part of the Crown Lands and Royal Domain" as more fully appears by said act, a copy of which is hereto attached, marked "Exhibit E," and made a part hereof.

8

That on the 20th day of January 1891 your petitioner, under and by virtue of the constitution and laws of the Kingdom of Hawaii became Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii succeeding her brother, the late King Kalakaua, and thereupon under and by virtue of the constitution and laws of said Kingdom of Hawaii became vested with a life interest in and to all the rents, profits and emoluments derived from said Crown Lands after deducting the necessary and proper expenses of managing the same.

9

That thereafter, to wit, on the 17th day of January 1893 your petitioner was deposed by a revolutionary government and on said 17th day of January 1893 yielded her authority to said Provisional Government under the following protest duly signed and transmitted to said Provisional Government, to wit:

"I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly pro - (page 3)

test against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a provisional government of and for this Kingdom.

That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, his excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the provisional government.

Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me and the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands."

(signed)) LILIUOKALANI.

10

That thereafter, to wit, on July 4th A.D. 1894 said Provisional Government was succeeded by a government known as the Republic of Hawaii, the constitution of which government provided, among other things, as follows.

"That portion of the public domain heretofore known as Crown Land is hereby declared to have been heretofore, and now to be, the property of the Hawaiian Government, and to be now free and clear from any trust of or concerning the same, and from all claim of any nature whatsoever, upon the rents, issues and profits thereof. It shall be subject to alienation and other uses as may be provided by law. All valid leases thereof now in existence are hereby confirmed."

11

That thereafter, to wit, in the year 1897 the said Republic of Hawaii signified its consent in the manner provided by its constitution to cede to the United States of America all its rights of sovereignty, and also to cede and transfer to the United States the absolute fee and ownership of all public, government or Crown Land and other property, which cession was accepted by a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States entitled "Joint Resolution to provide for anexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States," all of which more fully appears by (page 4)

the resolution of the Senate of Hawaii ratifying the treaty of annexation, a copy of which is hereto attached, marked "Exhibit F" and made a part hereof, and by said Joint Resolution to provide for annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, a copy of which is hereto attached and marked "Exhibit G" and made a part hereof.

12

That thereafter, to wit, on August 12, 1898, the transfer of sovereignty and the cession of all public lands including said Crown Lands took place, and the legal title to said Crown Lands thereupon became and is now vested in the United States of America.

13

That thereafter, to wit, in the year 1900 an act entitled "An Act to provide a government for the Territory of Hawaii" was duly enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, said act containing the following provisions, to wit:

"Sec. 99. That the portion of the public domain heretofore known as Crown Land is hereby declared to have been, on the twelfth day of August, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, and prior thereto, the property of the Hawaiian Government, and to be free and clear from any trust of or concerning the same, and from all claim of any nature whatsoever, upon the rents, issues, and profits thereof. It shall be subject to alienation and other uses as may be provide by law."

14

That no other or further steps than above set forth having been taken to divest your petitioner of her equitable life interest in the rents, profits and emoluments of said Crown Lands, and your petitioner alleges in this connection that said Section 99 of the Act of April 30, 1900, in so far as it purports to extinguish or deny her claim to such equitable life interest is taking of property without due process of law contrary to 5th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and is unconstitutional and void. (page 5)

15

That the United States of America became seized of the legal title to said Crown Lands with full notice of the rights of your petitioner therein.

16

That the United States of America, having become so seized of the legal title to said Crown Lands, whereof, your petitioner has a vested equitable life interest, holds the same as Trustee for your petitioner to the extent of her interest therein, and ought in equity and good conscience to account to your petitioner for, and to pay to her, all the rents, profits and emoluments derived from said Crown Lands after deducting the necessary and proper expenses of managing the same, for and during the term of her natural life.

17

That portions of said Crown Lands have been reserved by the United States of America for use as military and naval stations, that other portions have been proclaimed forest reserves, that other portions have been alienated and sold, and that the remaining portions are in the possession, use and control of the government of the Territory of Hawaii, under and by virtue of the provisions of Section 91 of the said Act of April 30, 1900 being "An Act to provide a Government for the Territory of Hawaii."

18

That petitioner claims of the United States of America the sum of Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($450,000.00) as and for the net rents, profits and emoluments derived from said Crown Lands during the six years next preceding the filing of this petition, after deducting the necessary and proper expenses of managing the same.

19

That your petitioner is sole owner and the only person interested in this claim, that no assignment or transfer of said claim or of any part thereof or interest therein has been made; that said claim has not been presented to Congress or any Department, except that bills for the relief of your petitioner have been intro- (page 6)

duced in Congress from time to time and referred to committees, but no report of any committee either favorable or adverse has ever been made and no action taken on such bills by either House of Congress, that claimant is justly entitled to the amount herein claimed from the United States, after allowing all just credits and set-offs; that the claimant has at all times since becoming a citizen of the United States borne true allegiance to the Government of the United States and has not in any way voluntarily aided, abetted or given encouragement to rebellion against the said government, and that she believes the facts as stated in this petition to be true.

WHEREFORE your petitioner prays:

First: That the United States of America be summoned to appear and answer this complaint and be bound by the proceedings herein.

Second: That the United States be decreed to be a Trustee of the Crown Lands herein before specified for the use and benefit of your petitioner so far as her equitable life interest in said Crown Lands is concerned.

Third: That the United States be decreed to pay to your petitioner said sum of Four hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($450,000.00), or in the alternative that the United States be decreed to account to your petitioner for the rents, profits and emoluments derived from said Crown Lands after deducting the necessary and proper expenses of managing the same, for the period of six years next preceding the date of filing this petition.

Fourth: For costs and for such other, further and general relief as to the court seems meet.

LILIUOKALANI.

KINNEY, BALLOU, PROSSER & ANDERSON, Attorneys for petitioner.

TERRITORY OF HAWAII ) CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU) SS

LILIUOKALANI, being duly sworn on oath, deposes and says, that she is the petitioner named in the foregoing petition, that she has read said petition and knows the contents thereof and that all and singular the matters and things therein alleged are true to her own knowledge. (page 7)

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 10th day of November, 1909.

WM. B. LYMER,
Notary Public First Judicial Circuit, Territory of Hawaii
(Seal)
LILIUOKALANI
EXHIBITS A-G attached (Archives, Honolulu, Hawaii)


---------------------

THE DECISION OF THE U.S. COURT OF CLAIMS, May 16, 1910

The following has been transcribed exactly as it appears in the official record book of the U.S. Court of Claims, Volume 45, for the year 1910, beginning on page 418. Page numbers are indicated in [square brackets]. When a word is broken between two pages in the official record, the same break has been transcribed here. Several typographical errors present in the official record have been preserved here. Great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this transcription, and special thanks are owed to Sandra Puanani Burgess.


LILIUOKALANI v. THE UNITED STATES. 45 Ct. Claims 418 (1910)

[page 418]

[No. 30577. Decided May 16, 1910]

On the defendants' Demurrer.

The claimant became Queen of the Hawaiian Islands in January, 1891. Two years later she yielded her authority by an instrument abdicating the throne. After a brief provisional government the Republic of Hawaii was established. In 1898 the islands were annexed to and became part of the United States. She now seeks to recover the value of the crown lands, which passed to the United States with the annexation of the islands.

[page 419]


ARGUMENT FOR THE CLAIMANT

I. It was determined in 1864, by a decision of the supreme court of Hawaii, that the crown lands formed an estate presumably vested in fee simple in the Crown as distinguished from the personality of the sovereign, and yet so limited as to possession and descent as to be abhorrent to an estate in fee simple absolute.

II. 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.

III. When the office of King ceased to exist, the crown lands became like other lands, the property of the sovereignty, and on the annexation of the islands, passed to the United States as part of the public domain. The constitutional provisions relating to the crown lands set forth.

The Reporters' statement of the case:

The facts alleged in the petition are sufficiently stated in the opinion of the court.

Mr. S. S. Ashbaugh (with whom was Mr. Assistant Attorney-General John Q. Thompson) for the demurrer.

Mr. Sidney M. Ballou opposed. Kinney, Ballou, Prosser, and Anderson were on the brief:

It is evident that this is not only an attempted confiscation of the interest of the petitioner but also that it contains a great deal of what can only be described as "special pleading." The crown land is described as a "portion of the public domain" whereas as we have already seen "it was clearly the intention of Kamehameha III to protect the lands * * * from the danger of being treated as public domain" (Estate of Kamehameha IV, 2 Haw., 715), and in the entire history of Hawaii the word public had never been applied to the crown land, but on the contrary the word private had been repeatedly and emphatically applied. The crown land is then declared to have been heretofore the property of the Hawaiian Government, a declaration absolutely opposed to every fact in the history of the crown land be-

[ page 420 ]

ginning with the express separation of the reserved lands of Kamehameha III into government and crown land, giving the great majority to the Hawaiian Government, the very object of the decision being to reserve to the King certain lands which could not by any possibility be treated as the property of the Government.

Even this constitutional provision, however, could not deny the existing trust in favor of the petitioner, the emphatic word " now" being clearly expressive of a present intention to terminate that trust by arbitrary fiat.

Since annexation there has been no pretense that the declaration of the constitutional convention was historically accurate, or that it was anything but arbitrary confiscation.

If, as fully established by the public history of Hawaii, the crown lands were originally the private lands of the monarch and the equitable life interest into which they were finally resolved was the private property of the petitioner, it is hardly necessary to cite authorities that this interest was not subject to confiscation under international law. The subject has a pathetic interest from the fact that the King originally owning the entire public domain gave up the greater portion of it to the Government as government lands for the express purpose of preserving the remainder from the fate which finally overtook it.

"It may not be unworthy of remark that it is very unusual, even in cases of conquest, for the conqueror to do more than to displace the sovereign and assume dominion over the country. The modern usage of nations, which has become law, would be violated; that sense of justice and of right which is acknowledged and felt by the whole civilized world would be outraged if private property should be generally confiscated and private rights annulled." (Marshall, D. J., in the U.S. v. Percheman, 7 Peters, 51, 86.)

When the manifest destiny of the United States demanded the acquisition of certain rights in the Isthmus of Panama as it demanded the possession of the strategic out post controlling the North Pacific, it did not take it from the existing Government. In both cases there was a domestic revolution, and the revolutionary government turned over to the United States the sovereignty desired. With the ne-

[ page 421 ]

cessity or propriety of the transaction or the degree of complicity of the United States in each individual instance this court has no concern. They are matters of the executive branch of the Government, and the judiciary can only accept the political status as determined by the executive. When, however, the transaction involves the rights of private property not subject to confiscation under the rules of international law, we submit that a different question arises and one of which this court has jurisdiction. If this method of annexation can be used not only for the transfer of sovereignty, but also for the extinguishment while in the hands of the temporary revolutionary government of any inconvenient rights of private property, it may readily be imagined to what length the doctrine may be carried in the future. The United States takes the sovereignty and all public property appertaining thereto free from any obligation save that dictated by the conscience of the legislative and executive branches, which in almost every case but the present has been met by generous remuneration, even for the public property acquired. Even in the present instance several abortive efforts have been made to recompense the petitioner in this case.

We are, of course, aware that this court does not undertake to enforce moral obligations of the United States, but that, in its capacity as a court of equity, it acts only in accordance with recognized equitable principles. Nevertheless, it is equally important to remember that a court of equity is primarily a court of conscience, and that the claim of an unconscientious retention of the right of the petitioner is one which particularly appeals to such a court. In the present case we believe the following well recognized principles to be applicable:

"Acquisition of trust property by a volunteer or purchaser with notice.

"Wherever property, real or personal, which is already impressed with or subject to a trust of any kind, express or by operation of law, is conveyed or transferred by the trustee, not in the course of executing and carrying into effect the terms of an express trust, or devolves from a trustee to a third person, who is a mere volunteer, or who is a purchaser

[ page 422 ]

Argument for the claimant.

with actual or constructive notice of the trust, then the rule is universal that such heir, devisee, successor, or other voluntary transferee, or such purchaser with notice acquires and holds the property subject to the same trust which before existed, and becomes himself a trustee for the original beneficiary. Equity impresses the trust upon the property in the hands of the transferee or purchaser, compels him to perform the trust if it be active, and to hold the property subject to the trust, and renders him liable to all the remedies which may be proper for enforcing the rights of the beneficiary. It is not necessary that such transferee or purchaser should be guilty of positive fraud or should actually intend a violation of the trust obligation; it is sufficient that he acquires property upon which a trust is in fact impressed, and that he is not a bona fide purchaser for a valuable consideration and without notice. This universal rule forms the protection and safeguard of the rights of beneficiaries in all kinds of trust; it enables them to follow trust property -- lands, chattels, funds of securities, and even of money -- as long as it can be identified, into the hands of all subsequent holders who are not in the position of bona fide purchasers, for value and without notice; it furnishes all those distinctively equitable remedies which are so much more efficient in securing the beneficiary's rights than the mere pecuniary recoveries of the law." (3 Pomeroy Eq. Juris., sec. 1048.)

"Upon similar principles, wherever the property of a party has been wrongfully misapplied, or a trust fund has been wrongfully converted into another species of property, if its identity can be traced, it will be held, in its new form, liable to the rights of the original owner, or cestui que trust. The general proposition, which is maintained both at law and in equity upon this subject, is that if any property, in its original state and form is covered with a trust in favor of the principal, no change of that state and form can divest it of such trust, or give the agent or trustee converting it or those who represent him in right (not being bona fide purchasers for a valuable consideration without notice) any more valid claim in respect to it than they respectively had before such change." (2 Story Eq. Juris., sec. 1258.)

It is with the deprivation of the petitioner's property right we are concerned. It is not denied that strenuous efforts have been made to deprive her of this right, legally as well as in fact. With the exception of a brief period of martial law, the courts of the provisional government and the Republic of Hawaii were open and it must have been foreseen that the petitioner's claim to the profits of the crown land

[ page 423 ]

was too obvious to be resisted. The only remedy was the insertion of the express arbitrary denial of the claim in the constitution of the Republic itself, so that the courts sitting under the same constitution could not recognize the claim. The declaration in question, as has already been shown, sufficiently appears by its language to be the arbitrary fiat of the sovereign power. So far as the claim that the crown land was "heretofore * * * the property of the Hawaiian Government," unless the word "heretofore" be restricted to the eighteen months of the provisional government, it is sufficiently negatived by the language of the act of 1845 and the act of 1865. Nor was it pretended that there had not been a trust previously existing in favor of the petitioner and an equitable right in her to the rents, issues, and profits, the emphatic word "now" being sufficient to show that the declaration was intended as a confiscation of those rights.

It is not denied that this enactment was sufficient to preclude petitioner from seeking relief in any court existing under the Republic of Hawaii. The fear of this claim seems to have survived annexation, however, as the same provision was placed by Congress in the organic act of the new Territory. It appears to us that the validity of the petitioner's present claim depends on the answer to the following questions:

(1) Was the petitioner's right extinguished by the constitutional provision of the Republic of Hawaii or merely suspended?

(2) Was it extinguished by the confiscatory declaration in the organic act?

To the first question it seems as though a court of equity and good conscience could return but one answer. If the petitioner's acknowledged equitable right is taken and held by force, the enforcement of such right may be suspended through the impotency of the courts to reach it for the time being, but when the parties, i. e., the equitable claimant and the holder of the legal title, come again within the influence of equitable jurisdiction and a court of equity has power to act in the premises, surely every consideration of equity and good conscience demands that the equitable claimant, suing

[ page 424 ]

under well recognized equitable principles, shall be given her rights. No court of equity, in applying the general principles above quoted, has ever recognized the principle that if any intermediate holder of the property is for any reason beyond the process of the court the equities of the beneficiary are forever extinguished.

The answer to the second question is equally apparent. The petitioner can not be deprived of her vested interest by any statutory declaration such as that contained in section 99 of the organic act of the Territory of Hawaii. That this would be a deprivation of property without due process of law, contrary to the constitutional provision, is so obvious that, until the proposition is challenged we are content to leave it without argument.


BOOTH, J., DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is a demurrer to claimant's petition. The claimant, Liliuokalani, was formerly Queen of the Hawaiian Islands. Her cause of action is predicated upon an alleged "vested equitable life interest" to certain lands described in the petition, known as "crown lands," of which interest she was divested by the defendants. It is conceded that the absence of such an interest rendered the crown lands subject to the ususal transmission of title appurtenant to a change of sovereignty. The solution of the question involves a detailed examination of the various acts of the Hawaiian legislative body and reference to various sections of the Hawaiian constitutions, which for convenience will be set forth as an appendix to this opinion.

The origin of the crown lands and history connected therewith is epitomized by Justice Robertson in an exhaustive opinion in 2 Haw., 715. Previous to the reign of Kamehameha III a system of land tenure akin to the ancient feudal system prevailed in the islands. In 1839 the dissatisfaction and disputes engendered by the payment of rents, the rendition of personal service, etc., imposed upon landholders, encouraged the King to bring about a settled policy with reference to land titles. In 1840 Kamehameha III granted the first constitution, in which it is recited that:

[ page 425 ]

"Kamehameha I was the founder of the Kingdom, and to him belonged all the land from one end of the islands to the other, though it was not his own private property. It belonged to the chiefs and people in common, of whom Kamehameha I was the head and had the management of the landed property." In another clause it is provided that all lands forfeited for nonpayment of taxes shall revert to the King. (Fundamental Laws of Hawaii.) In 1846 a board of land commissioners was appointed by law, charged with the duty of dividing the rights of the various individuals in lands, and quieting titles thereto, and finally, in March, 1848, the King "signed and sealed two instruments contained in the Mahele book," by which he demised specified lands described therein to the chiefs and people and reserved unto himself the lands now in suit, then and ever afterwards known as the crown lands. On June 7, 1848, the legislature for the islands confirmed the action of the King, and thereafter all portions of the royal domain except the reserved crown lands were treated as public domain and managed and disposed of by appropriate legislation. The title to the crown lands was vested in the Sovereign; he leased and alienated the same at his pleasure; the income and profits therefrom were his without interference or control. In January, 1865, the unlimited latitude allowed the King in the control of the crown lands found them charged with mortgages to secure sums of money which threatened their extinguishment, and the legislature, by the act of January 3, 1865, relieved the lands from the oppression of the mortgages, by the issuance of bonds, provided against their alienation, and put their management and control in the hands of commissioners as provided in the act. Subsequently, on July 6, 1866, the legislature relieved the crown lands from the liquidation of the bonds previously provided for, and the Government assumed and paid the mortgage debt.

The claimant became Queen of the islands on January 20, 1891, succeeding her brother, King Kalakaua. On January 17, 1893, she yielded her authority over the islands by an instrument in writing, abdicated her throne, and was succeeded in authority by a provisional government. On July

[ page 426 ]

4, 1894, said provisional government was succeeded by a government known as the Republic of Hawaii, and thereafter the Hawaiian Islands were peaceably, upon request, on August 12, 1898 annexed to and became a part of the United States of America.

The history of the Hawaiian Islands from the earliest time to the ascension of Kamehameha I is the usual story of conquest. Kamehameha I established a monarch; his title and sovereignty was the usual one of conquest, and while the attendant civilization was much advanced the King retained his sovereign authority and prerogatives. The act of Kamehameha III in 1848 was, as before observed, the culmination of numerous dissensions as to land tenures, and the King divided the public domain as hereinbefore set forth. Since 1848 the crown lands have descended to the reigning sovereign. At the April term of the Supreme Court of Hawaii in 1864 the nature and extent of the King's title in the crown lands was squarely before the court, and the court in an exceedingly able opinion held that under said act "the lands descended in fee, the inheritance being limited, however, to the successors to the throne, and each successive power may regulate and dispose of the same according to his will and pleasure, as private property, in like manner as was done by Kamehameha III."

Taking the language of the court we find an estate in lands presumably vested in fee simple in so far as the Crown is concerned, as distinguished from the personality of the Sovereign, and yet limited as to possession and descent by conditions abhorrent to a fee-simple estate absolute. The act of 1865 further curtails the title vested in the King. The preamble of the act recites expressly the nature and extent of the King's tenure, "for the purpose of maintaining the royal state and dignity," followed by appropriate legislation to thereafter prevent their alienation or incumbrance.

The act of 1865 to become effective under the Hawaiian constitution required the approval of the King. (Fundamental Laws of Hawaii, p. 172.) On January 3, 1865, Kamehameha V approved the statute which expressly divested the King of whatever legal title or possession he

[ page 427 ]

theretofore had in or to the Crown lands. (6 Haw., 195-208.) The Hawaiian Government in 1865 by its own legislation determined what the court is now asked to determine.

The decision of the court in 2 Haw., supra, was some time previous to the passage of the act of 1865, and although the court sustained the right of dower in the widow of the King, it is clear from the opinion that the crown lands were treated not as the King's private property in the strict sense of the term. While possessing certain attributes pertaining to fee simple estates, such as unrestricted power of alienation and incumbrance, there were likewise enough conditions surrounding the tenure to clearly characterize it as one pertaining to the support and maintenance of the Crown, as distinct from the person of the Sovereign. They belonged to the office and not to the individual. Significant in this connection is the transaction with Claus Spreckels in July, 1882. Her Highness Ruth Keelikolani, sister and heir of Kamehameha V, though never succeeding to the throne, conveyed to Spreckels all her interest in the crown lands. The sovereign authorities hastened to dispute the transaction, and subsequent legislation by way of compromise restored the attempted conveyance to the general body of the crown lands. (Appendix, p. 8.) Since 1865, so far as the record before us discloses, the character of the crown lands has not been changed; they have passed to the succeeding monarch. The income, less expense of management, has been used to support the royal office and treated as belonging to the Crown. All other property of the King has uniformly passed to his heirs regardless of his royal successor.

The court in 2 Haw., 722, in commenting upon the motives of the King in executing the conveyances of March 8, 1848, attributes the establishment of the crown land estate to a desire to prevent the impoverishment of the Sovereign in the event of a successful foreign invasion. This statement has been seized upon and assiduously emphasized by the claimant. It is not in harmony with the detailed history given by the court in its opinion. On page 719 the court says: "It was the imperative necessity of separating and defining the rights of the several parties interested in the

[ page 428 ]

lands which led to the institution of the board of land commissioners, and to the division made by the King himself, with the assistance of his privy council." It was in fact the usual contest between the monarch and his people. Certainly under a monarchy it would be unusual for the reigning sovereign to divest himself of all landed property; always jealous of the dignity attached to the Crown they were likewise alert in securing sufficient revenue to support its royal pretensions.

Kamehameha III reorganized the Government, granted a constitution, organized executive departments, established courts, and otherwise extended the liberties of his people and protected their rights of property. Suppose that during the progress of his reign a pretender for the throne had successfully established his claim and deposed the monarch without changing the existing governmental conditions. Is it possible that Kamehameha III could have recovered the rents and profits from the crown lands during the remainder of his life? (Fundamental Laws of Hawaii.)

It seems to the court that the crown lands acquired their unusual status through a desire of the King to firmly establish his Government by commendable concessions to his chiefs and people out of the public domain. The reservations made were to the Crown and not the King as an individual. The crown lands were the resourceful methods of income to sustain, in part at least, the dignity of the office to which they were inseparably attached. When the office ceased to exist they became as other lands of the Sovereignty and passed to the defendants as part and parcel of the public domain. (O'Reilly de Camara v. Brooke, 209 U. S., 45; Hijo v. United States, 194; Sanchez v. United States, 216 U. S., 167.)

The constitution of the Republic of Hawaii, as respects the crown lands, provided as follows:

"That portion of the public domain heretofore known as crown land is hereby declared to have been heretofore, and now to be, the property of the Hawaiian Government, and to be now free and clear from any trust of or concerning the same, and from all claim of any nature whatsoever upon the rents, issues, and profits thereof. It shall be subject to alienation and other uses as may be provided by law. All valid leases thereof now in existence are hereby confirmed."

[ page 429 ]

Section 99 of the organic act of 1900 (31 Stat. L., 161) adopts substantially the same language. We have not entered into a discussion of the defenses predicated upon the above provisions of law, believing the case disposed of before we reached them. It is, however, worthy of note that the organic act of 1900 puts an end to any trust -- if the same possibly existed -- and the petition herein was not filed until January 20, 1910, more than six years thereafter.

Demurrer sustained, with leave to the claimant to amend her petition within ninety days.


APPENDIX.


[ TRANSLATION OF THE GREAT MAHELE OR DIVISION OF LANDS BY THE KING. ]

Know all men by these presents, that I, Kamehameha III, by the grace of God, King of these Hawaiian Islands, have given this day of my own free will, and have made over and set apart forever to the chiefs and people the larger part of my royal land, for the use and benefit of the Hawaiian Government ; therefore, by this instrument I hereby retain (or reserve) for myself and for my heirs and successors forever my lands inscribed at pages 178, 182, 184, 186, 190, 200, 204, 206, 210, 212, 214, 216, 220, 222 of this book; these lands are set apart for me and for my heirs and successors forever as my own property exclusively.

Know all men by these presents, that I, Kamehameha III, by the grace of God, King of these Hawaiian Islands; do hereby give, make over, and set apart forever to the chiefs and people of my Kingdom, and convey all my right, title, and interest in the lands situated here in the Hawaiian Islands, inscribed on pages 179 to 225, both inclusive, of this book, to have and to hold to my chiefs and people forever.


AN ACT RELATING TO THE LANDS OF HIS MAJESTY THE KING AND OF THE GOVERNMENT.

Whereas it hath pleased His Most Gracious Majesty Kamehameha III, the King, after reserving certain lands to himself as his own private property, to surrender and forever make over unto his chiefs and people the greater portion of his royal domain;

And whereas it hath pleased our Sovereign Lord the King to place the lands so made over to his chiefs and people in the keeping of the House of Nobles and Representatives, or such person or persons as they may from time to time appoint, to be disposed of in such manner as the House of

[ page 430 ]

Nobles and Representatives may direct, and as may best promote the prosperity of this Kingdom and the dignity of the Hawaiian Crown: Therefore,

Be it enacted by the House of Nobles and Representatives of the Hawaiian Islands in Legislative Council assembled:

That, expressing our deepest thanks to His Majesty for this noble and truly royal gift, we do hereby solemnly confirm this great act of our King and declare the following-named lands, viz:

(Here follows a description of the lands.)

To be the private lands of His Majesty Kamehameha III, to have and to hold to himself, his heirs, and successors, forever; and said lands shall be regulated and disposed of according to his royal will and pleasure, subject only to the rights of tenants.

And be it further enacted, That we do hereby, in the name of the chiefs and people of the Hawaiian Islands, accept of the following lands, viz:

(Here follows a description of the lands.)

Made over to the chiefs and people by our Sovereign Lord the King, and we do hereby declare those lands to be set apart as the lands of the Hawaiian Government, subject always to the rights of tenants. And we do hereby appoint the minister of the interior and his successors in office to direct, superintend, and dispose of said lands, as provided in the act to organize the executive departments, done, and passed at the Council House in Honolulu, the 27th day of April, A. D. 1845: Provided, however, That the minister of the interior and his successors in office shall have the power, upon the approval of the King in Privy Council, to dispose of the government lands to Hawaiian subjects upon such other terms and conditions as to him and the King in Privy Council may seem best for the promotion of agriculture and the best interests of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

And be it further enacted, That, in accordance with ancient custom, the following land, viz:

(Here follows a description of the lands.)

Shall be the same are hereby set apart for the use of the fort in Honolulu, to be cultivated by soldiers and other tenants under the direction of the governor of Oahu and his successors in office, native-born chiefs of the Hawaiian Islands, according to the instructions of the minister of the interior and his successors in office, approved by the King in Privy Council.

Done and passed at the Council House in Honolulu this 7th day of June, A. D. 1848.

Kamehameha.

KEONI ANA.

[ page 431 ]


AN ACT TO RELIEVE THE ROYAL DOMAIN FROM INCUMBRANCES AND TO RENDER THE SAME INALIENABLE

Whereas by the act entitled "An act relating to the lands of His Majesty the King and of the Government," passed on the 7th day of June, A. D. 1848, it appears by the preamble that His Most Gracious Majesty Kamehameha III, the King, after reserving certain lands to himself as his own private property, to surrender and make over unto his chiefs and people the greater portion of his royal domain; and whereas by the same act it was declared that certain lands therein named shall be the private lands of Kamehameha III, to have and to hold to himself, his heirs, and successors forever, and that the said lands shall be regulated and disposed of according to his royal will and pleasure, subject only to the rights of tenants; and whereas by the proper construction of the said statute the words "heirs and successors" mean the heirs and successors to the royal office ; and whereas the history of said land shows that they were vested in the King for the purpose of maintaining the royal state and dignity, and it is therefore disadvantageous to the public interest that the said lands should be alienated or the said royal domain diminished; and whereas, further, during the two late reigns the said royal domain has been greatly diminished and is now charged with mortgages to secure considerable sums of money: Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the King and the Legislative Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Legislature of the Kingdom assembled:

SECTION 1. The minister of finance is hereby authorized to issue exchequer bonds, with coupons attached, to the amount of not more than $30,000, said bonds to bear interest at not more than 12 per cent per annum, payable half yearly, and to be redeemable at such times within the next twenty years as the said minister of finance shall deem expedient, which said bonds shall be issued whensoever necessary to the commissioners of crown lands, hereinafter provided for, to be used to extinguish those mortgages which may remain unsatisfied after the administrator of his late Majesty's estate has exhausted all the estate belonging to his late Majesty, in a private capacity, which the said administrator may be legally entitled to use for the payment of the debts of the estate.

SEC. 2. Full authority is hereby given to such commissioners, jointly with the minister of finance, to negotiate for the redemption of the mortgages in the preceding section referred to, and dispose of the said exchequer bonds for that purpose in such manner as may be most advantageous to the public interest.

[ page 432 ]

SEC. 3. It is further enacted that so many of the lands which by the statute enacted on the 7th of June, 1848, are declared to be the private lands of His Majesty Kamehameha III, to have and to hold to himself, his heirs, and successors forever, as may be at this time unalienated, and have descended to His Majesty Kamehameha V, shall be henceforth inalienable, and shall descend to the heirs and successors of the Hawaiian Crown forever; and it is further enacted that it shall not be lawful hereafter to execute any lease of leases of the said lands for any term of years to exceed thirty.

SEC. 4. The commissioners of the crown lands shall have full power and authority to make good and valid leases of the said lands for any number of years not exceeding thirty; but in no case shall it be lawful to collect the rents on the same for more than one year in advance, or to receive anything in the nature of a bonus for signing the said lease, and all the rents, profits, and emoluments derived from the said lands, after deducting the necessary and proper expenses of managing the same, shall be for the use and benefit of the reigning sovereign, and payable by the said commissioners to the order of the King, except when the King shall be a said minor King, as the legislature may direct, until the said minor shall have arrived at the age of majority, and excepting further as in the succeeding section set forth.

SEC. 5. There shall be set apart by the said commissioners one-fourth part of the annual revenue of the said estate, which shall be paid into the public treasury and be devoted first to the payment of the interest on the exchequer bonds herein above provided for, and so much of the said fourth part of the said income as may be in excess of the said interest on the said bonds shall be applied to the payment of the principal of the said bonds until the entire sum by this act authorized to be issued shall be fully paid.

SEC. 6. The board shall consist of three persons, to be appointed by His Majesty the King, two of whom shall be appointed from among the members of his cabinet council, and serve without any remuneration, and the other shall act as land agent, and shall be paid out of the revenue of the said land such sum as may be agreed by His Majesty the King.

Approved this 3d day of January, A. D. 1865.

KAMEHAMEHA R.


RESOLUTION.

Whereas this Legislative Assembly has become apprised that nearly all of the revenue of the royal domain, accruing

[ page 433 ]

since the death of his late Majesty Kamehameha IV, of gracious memory, has been used to liquidate the debts with which the estate had been burdened during his late Majesty's lifetime, so that His Majesty, our most gracious Sovereign, to this time has derived but small advantage therefrom;

And whereas this Assembly has likewise been apprised that the amount of indebtedness upon the said estate at the time of his late Majesty's decease was very large, and greatly exceeded the amount, which was supposed to be due;

And whereas this Legislative Assembly gratefully appreciate the consideration of His Majesty in allowing nearly the entire revenue of the estate to be devoted to the liquidation of the debt;

And whereas more especially this Assembly and the nation gratefully appreciate His Majesty's generosity in consenting to the limitation of the royal domain, as at present by law provided:

Now therefore be it resolved, That this Legislative Assembly do, in the name of the Hawaiian Nation, assume the payment of the exchequer bonds issued by the minister of finance to the commissioners of crown lands, by virtue of Section I of "An act to relieve the royal domain from incumbrances, and to render the same inalienable," passed on the 3d day of January, A. D. 1865; and do hereby discharge the commissioners of crown lands having in charge the said domain, and their successors in office, from all liabilities to pay the said bonds, princial or interest, or any part thereof.

Approved this 6th day of July, A. D. 1866.

KAMEHAMEHA R.


AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSIONERS OF CROWN LANDS TO CONVEY CERTAIN PORTIONS OF SUCH LANDS TO CLAUS SPRECKELS IN SATISFACTION OF ALL CLAIMS HE MAY HAVE ON SUCH LANDS.

Whereas Claus Spreckels claims to be entitled to an undivided moiety of the lands known as crown lands, by virtue of conveyance from Her Highness Ruth Keelikolani; and

Whereas it is expedient and advisable that such claims should be satisfied or compromised: Therefore

Be it enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands in the Legislature of the Kingdom assembled:

SECTION 1. The commissioners of crown lands are hereby authorized and empowered to make proper deeds of assurance to the said Claus Spreckels, of the several lands specified in the schedule hereto, in full satisfaction and discharge of all claims the said Claus Spreckels may have or claim in the said lands known as crown lands.

SEC. 2. Before receiving such deeds or assurances the said Claus Spreckels shall, by proper assurance, convey, relin-

[ page 434 ]

quish, and quitclaim to the said commissioners of crown lands all his right and interest in and to the residue of the said crown lands.

SEC. 3. The minister of the interior is hereby authorized to prepare and deliver to the said Claus Spreckels a royal patent for the said land to be conveyed to him.


THE SCHEDULE.

The Ahupuaa of Wailuku, in the island of Maui, with the Ilis therein or thereunto belonging, and estimated to contain twenty-four thousand acres or thereabouts.

Approved this 21st day of July, A. D. 1882.

KALAKAUA REX.


AN ACT TO DECLARE CERTAIN LANDS TO BE PART OF THE CROWN LANDS AND ROYAL DOMAIN.

Whereas certain unassigned lands have hitherto and at all time heretofore been held to be part of the crown lands and royal domain and as such were and are now in the possession of the crown land commissioners: Therefore

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom:

SECTION 1. The Ahupuaa's known under the following names and situated as hereinafter set forth, that is to say:

1. Kuliouou, in the district of Kona, island of Oahu;

2. Keaau, in the district of Waianae, island of Oahu;

3. Hakalauiki, in the district of Hilo, island of Hawaii;

4. Manowaiopae, in the district of Hilo, island of Hawaii;

5. Kamoku, in the island of Lanai;

6. Paoma-I, in the island of Lanai;

7. Waiaha 2, in the island of Hawaii;

8. Kapaakea, in the island of Molokai;

9. Waiohuli, in the island of Maui;

are hereby declared to be a part of the crown lands and royal domain of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and as such subject to the provisions of the act entitled "An act to relieve the royal domain from incumbrances, and to render the same inalienable," approved the 3d day of January, A. D. 1865; and the possession of said lands is hereby confirmed in accordance with the provisions of sections 3 and 4 and 6 of said act to the crown land commissioners and successors in office.

SEC. 2. This act shall be in force from and after its approval.

Approved this 14th day of November, A. D. 1890.

KALAKAUA REX.

By the King:

C. N. SPENCER,

Minister of the Interior.

[ page 435 ]


PROTEST OF THE QUEEN, JANUARY 17, 1893.

I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom, by certain persons claiming to have established a provisional government of and for this Kingdom.

That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, his excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the provisional government.

Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me and the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

(Signed) LILIUOKALANI.


RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE OF HAWAII RATIFYING THE TREATY OF ANNEXATION.

Be it resolved by the Senate of the Republic of Hawaii:

That the Senate hereby ratifies and advises and consents to the ratification by the President of the treaty between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America on the subject of the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States of America, concluded at Washington on the 16th day of June, A. D. 1897, which treaty is word for word as follows:

"The Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America, in view of the natural dependence of the Hawaiian Islands upon the United States, of their geographical proximity thereto, of the preponderant share acquired by the United States and its citizens in the industries and trade of said islands, and of the expressed desire of the Government of the Republic of Hawaii that those islands should be incorporated into the United States as an integral part thereof, and under its sovereignty, have determined to accomplish by treaty an object so important to their mutual and permanent welfare.

"To this end the high contracting parties have conferred full powers and authority upon their respectively appointed plenipotentiaries, to wit:

"The President of the Republic of Hawaii, Francis March Hatch, Lorrin A. Thurston, and William A. Kinney.

[ page 436 ]

"The President of the United States, John Sherman, Secretary of State of the United States.

"ARTICLE I.

"The Republic of Hawaii hereby cedes absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies; and it is agreed that all the territory of and appertaining to the Republic of Hawaii is hereby annexed to the United States of America under the name of the Territory of Hawaii.

"ARTICLE II.

"The Republic of Hawaii also cedes and hereby transfers to the United States the absolute fee and ownership of all public, government, or crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipments, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining.

"The existing laws of the United States relative to public lands shall not apply to such lands in the Hawaiian Islands; but the Congress of the United States shall enact special laws for their management and disposition. Provided, that all revenue from or proceeds of the same, except as regards such part thereof as may be used or occupied for the civil, military, or naval purposes of the United States, or may be assigned for the use of the local government, shall be used solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands for educational and other public purposes.

"ARTICLE III.

"Until Congress shall provide for the government of such islands, all civil, judicial, and military powers exercised by the officers of the existing government in said islands shall be vested in such person or persons and shall be exercised in such manner as the President of the United States shall direct; and the President shall have power to remove said officers and fill the vacancies so occasioned.

"The existing treaties of the Hawaiian Islands with foreign nations shall forthwith cease and determine, being replaced by such treaties as may exist, or as may be hereafter concluded, between the United States and such foreign nations. The municipal legislation of the Hawaiian Islands,

[ page 437 ]

not enacted for the fulfillment of the treaty (treaties) so extinguished , and not inconsistent with this treaty, nor contrary to the Constitution of the United States, nor to any existing treaty of the United States, shall remain in force until the Congress of the United States shall otherwise determine.

"Until legislation shall be enacted extending the United States customs laws and regulations to the Hawaiian Islands, the existing customs relations of the Hawaiian Islands with the United States and other countries shall remain unchanged.

ARTICLE IV.

"The public debt of the Republic of Hawaii, lawfully existing at the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, including the amounts due to depositors in the Hawaiian Postal Savings Bank, is hereby assumed by the Government of the United States; but the liability of the United States in this regard shall in no case exceed $4,000,000. So long, however, as the existing government and the present commercial relations of the Hawaiian Islands are continued as hereinbefore provided, said Government shall continue to pay the interest on said debt.

"ARTICLE V.

"There shall be no further immigration of Chinese into the Hawaiian Islands, except upon such conditions as are now or may hereafter be allowed by the laws of the United States, and no Chinese by reason of anything here contained shall be allowed to enter the United States from Hawaiian Islands.

"ARTICLE VI.

"The President shall appoint five commissioners, at least two of whom shall be residents of the Hawaiian Islands, who shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, recommend to Congress such legislation concerning the Territory of Hawaii as they shall deem necessary or proper.

"ARTICLE VII.

"This treaty shall be ratified by the President of the Republic of Hawaii, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, in accordance with the Constitution of the said Republic, on the one part; and by the President of the United

[ page 438 ]

States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, on the other, and the ratifications hereof shall be exchanged at Washington as soon as possible.

"In witness whereof the respective plenipotentiaries have signed the above articles, and have hereunto affixed their seals.

"Done in duplicate at the city of Washington this sixteenth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and ninety seven.

"[SEAL] (Sig.) FRANCIS MARCH HATCH.

"[SEAL] (Sig.) LORRIN A. THURSTON.

"[SEAL] (Sig.) WILLIAM A. KINNEY.

"[SEAL] (Sig.) JOHN SHERMAN."

I hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was unanimously adopted at the special session of the Senate of the Republic of Hawaii on the 9th day of September, A. D. 1897.

WILLIAM C. WILDER, President.

Attest:

J. F. CLAY,

Clerk of the Senate.


JOINT RESOLUTION TO PROVIDE FOR ANNEXING THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS TO THE UNITED STATES.

Whereas the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution to cede absolutely and without reserve to whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States the absolute fee and ownership of all public, government, or crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining: Therefore

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That said cession is accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and that the said Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies be, and they are hereby, annexed as a part of the territory of the United States and are subject to the sovereign dominion thereof, and that all and singular the property and rights hereinbefore mentioned are vested in the United States of America.

The existing laws of the United States relative to public lands shall not apply to such lands in the Hawaiian Islands; but the Congress of the United States shall enact special

[ page 439 ]

laws for their management and disposition : Provided, That all revenue from or proceeds of the same, except as regards such part thereof as may be used or occupied for the civil, military, or naval purposes of the United States, or may be assigned for the use of the local government, shall be used solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands for educational and other public purposes.

Until Congress shall provide for the government of such islands all civil, judcial and military powers exercised by the officers of the existing government in said islands shall be vested in such person or persons and shall be exercised in such manner as the President of the United States shall direct; and the President shall have the power to remove said officers and fill the vacancies so occasioned.

The existing treaties of the Hawaiian Islands with foreign nations shall forthwith cease and determine, being replaced by such treaties as may exist, or as may be hereafter concluded, between the United States and such foreign nations. The municipal legislation of the Hawaiian Islands, not enacted for the fulfillment of the treaties so extinguished, and not inconsistent with this joint resolution nor contrary to the Constitution of the United States nor to any existing treaty of the United States, shall remain in force until the Congress of the United States shall otherwise determine.

Until legislation shall be enacted extending the United States customs laws and regulations to the Hawaiian Islands the existing customs relations of the Hawaiian Islands with the United States and other countries shall remain unchanged.

The public debt of the Republic of Hawaii, lawfully existing at the date of passage of this joint resolution, including the amounts due to depositors in the Hawaiian Postal Savings Bank, is hereby assumed by the Government of the United States; but the liability of the United States in this regard shall in no case exceed four million dollars. So long, however, as the existing government and the present commercial relations of the Hawaiian Islands are continued as hereinbefore provided said government shall continue to pay the interest on said debt.

There shall be no further immigration of Chinese into the Hawaiian Islands, except upon such conditions as are now or many hereafter be allowed by the laws of the United States; no Chinese, by reason of anything herein contained, shall be allowed to enter the United States from the Hawaiian Islands.

The President shall appoint five commissioners, at least two of whom shall be residents of the Hawaiian Islands,

[ page 440 ]

who shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, recommend to Congress such legislation concerning the Hawaiian Islands as they shall deem necessary or proper.

SEC. 2. That the commissioners hereinbefore provided for shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

SEC. 3. That the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, and to be immediately available, to be expended at the discretion of the President of the United States of America, for the purpose of carrying this joint resolution into effect.

SERENO E. PAYNE,

Speaker of the House of Representatives Pro Tempore.

GARRET A. HOBART,

Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate.

Approved, July 7th, 1898.

WILLIAM McKINLEY


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This marks the end of the Lili'uokalani vs. U.S. crown lands decision from the year 1910.

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