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pro-Hawaii to an extreme that eventually almost cost him his life at the hands of planter backers (as well as bringing the king's reign to the brink of disaster). Through intermediaries, while the king was in the United States, and again upon his return to Hawaii (during an era of prosperity brought on by the Reciprocity Treaty), Gibson had proposed the building of an empire for the king and Hawaii. Gibson told Kalakaua, "Hawaii should be the hub of the Polynesian kingdom. Sire, you are standing today on the very threshold of the door marked 'Emperor of Oceanal'" 18/ Although this project was delayed for the time being, it remained in the king's mind, refreshed often by his advisors.
To increase his influence in persuading the king to implement Hawaiian programs, Gibson needed to enter politics. In 1878, he sought a seat in the Hawaiian House of Representatives and won at the head of the King's Party. His election was despised by the 'kingmakers," but hailed by the native Hawaiians whom he won to his side by his speeches of nationalism and proposals for their benefit. Almost immediately, Gibson suggested that the special favors granted to the United States under the 1875 Reciprocity Treaty be granted to Great Britain as well: "The matter of first importance to us is that the kingdom perpetuate its cordial relations with all other nations so as to guard its independence." 19/ The United States Minister to Hawaii, General J. M. Comly, "on intimate terms with the planters...at their request, reported to Washington that Gibson was a troublemaker and a dangerous man with great influence over the natives." 20/ Gibson, however, survived these threats to his tenure and became the "closest confidant of the king...In 1882, Kalakaua named Gibson as premier of the nation. For nine years this controversial figure would dominate both king and government." 21/
Celso Caesar Moreno, an Italian-American, also played a short, but critical, role in advising Kalakaua. The king had met Moreno while in the United States seeking support for the Reciprocity Treaty. Moreno had charmed the king with talk of a Polynesian empire, much like the one proposed by Walter Gibson. Moreno arrived in Hawaii in November 1879, while Gibson was away. He represented both the American government's interest for a trans-Pacific cable and the China Merchant's Steam Navigation Company's request to open commercial relations. Kalakaua was so enchanted with his visitor's reacquaintence and the revival of empire dreams that he asked Moreno to "resign your commission with this Hing Sing and become my foreign minister." 22/ The king also granted the Chinese company the subsidy it needed to establish commercial relations with Hawaii, but asked that Moreno keep his cabinet position secret until elections two months hence, when he would make the appointment public. On Gibson's return to Hawaii he recognized Moreno, but did not inform the king of his views on him. Moreno and Gibson then agreed to work toward the policy of establishing a Polynesian kingdom.
The main obstacle to this goal was the passage of "a ten-million dollar loan to finance the king's army and navy." 23/ This loan proposal brought an uproar from the planter lobby, which, through Representative Castle, charged "as surely as you vote for this measure, you hasten the end of the king's rule. We taxpayers will express our resentment in a concrete manner." 24/ Claus Spreckels also appeared at this time at the assembly and through his persuasive powers, supported by Castle, "headed off the very likely passage of the $10,000,000 loan; among the king's loyal Hawaiians, there were too many in Spreckels' employ." 25/
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