|Previous Page||Next Page|
King Kalakaua's predecessor, Lunalilo, had also been urged to negotiate a treaty of reciprocity by influential members of the sugar planters and non-native whites, as well as by cabinet members urging closer bonds to the United States. Lunalilo had originally agreed to introduce such a treaty in the name of the Hawaiians, in return for the support of these people. He backed down, however, when native elements and white pro-Hawaiians, such as American Walter Murray Gibson, urged him to do so. 2/ The main reason for this change in Lunalilo's policy was the issue of the lease or cession of Pearl River [Harbor] to the United States.
When Lunalilo died in 1874, the pro-reciprocity factions (also known as the Missionary Party and "kingmakers") became convinced that Kalakaua would support their cause. After public statements of goodwill toward each other,
- ...there were further secret conferences between Kalakaua and the "kingmakers" at which both sides gave pledges. It was agreed that in return for their support of money and influence he wouldpermit them to name his cabinet officers, and that he would go personally to Washington to ask for the reciprocity treaty in the name of the Hawaiian people. They in turn would not seek to lease Pearl River to the United States. 3/
King Kalakaua's rule of Hawaii was thus secured with the backing of non-native and pro-reciprocity factions. He ran in a plebiscite against Queen Emma, his chief rival for power. When the legislature confirmed his victory in that plebiscite, rioting broke out by the "Hawaii for Hawaiians" supporters of Queen Emma. The king quelled the riot with the aid of military personnel from both American and British ships harboring in Hawaiian waters at the time. The king then moved to win back the support of those who had been supporting Queen Emma, the majority of whom were on Oahu, by touring the Islands and calling for a revitalization of the native population and spirit. With this accomplished, Kalakaua turned to the matter of a reciprocity treaty with the United States. The king realized even without the urging of his erstwhile secret backers, that "if Hawaii were to survive economically as a nation, the tariffs and discrimination against Hawaiian sugar and coffee must swiftly be removed." 4/ These "levies had strangled Hawaii's American market—had virtually closed this main and most essential pool for exports." 5/
Kalakaua sought and obtained Hawaiian legislative approval of a reciprocity treaty in 1874. He then "appointed Chief Justice E. H. Allen, former United States Consul to Hawaii, and the Honorable H. A. P. Carter, island-born American, as special Commissioners to Washington to prepare the way for a visit by His Majesty to the capital." 6/ Shortly afterwards "Kalakaua, the first king ever to visit the United States, was received as a guest of the nation by President Grant and all the members of Congress." 7/
Although the king (and prospects for a treaty) were greeted amiably, one man, Claus Spreckels, a California sugarbeet grower, singlehandedly "organized Western opposition and enlisted the support of Southern sugarcane planters and Eastern refiners in tabling the treaty." 8/ As a result of this action, Hawaii's trade slowed to a standstill and a national depression began as sugar planters slowed or stopped their shipments, hoping that the taxes on their products sent to the United
|Previous Page||Next Page|