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Subject: Public Comments on Draft Report of Findings of the Native Hawaiians Study Commission
1. This replies to a request from your office that we respond to public comments to Part II.B., "The Fall of the Monarchy and Annexation of Hawaii," which was researched and written in this office at your request.
2. The written comments that you forwarded to this office were contained in letters and lengthy memoranda from Native Hawaiians or those who share their views. The general tenor of these comments was a critical reaction to the content and sources used in researching and writing the sub-chapter.
3. When your request was received last May, we responded within the guidelines of that request, namely: that within six to eight weeks we produce a 15 to 20 page, double-spaced report, footnoted, on "what forces caused the monarchy to fall and what forces led to the annexation of Hawaii to the United States as a Territory in 1898." The request also stated that "reliance on secondary sources will be sufficient for our review."
4. The account we produced was essentially a summary based on leading secondary works and a limited number of primary sources. Ralph Kuykendall's The Hawaiian Kingdom: The Kalakaua Dynasty (1967) was chosen as a principal source, for it is a well-balanced interpretation, based on multi-archival research with careful annotations. Printed primary sources such as the multi-volume Blount report, the Morgan report, and Lt. Lucien Young's account were consulted but were used carefully and sparingly, with their biases taken into consideration.
5. The types of critical comments varied widely. Several respondents sent accounts they considered more accurate. These statements were lengthy and detailed but the facts presented did not contradict those i our account. The response from the Hawaiian State Statistician remarked that "...the demographic, statistical and historical aspects of the study have been handled reasonably well, reflecting a satisfactory degree of competence and objectivity." The mo cogent criticisms argued that primary source research in both public and private archives was much to be preferred to reliance on secondary sources, and that several questions regarding the fall of the monarchy and annexation should have been treated in greater depth and detail. I concur with these sentiments. Primary sources are to be preferred in the research and writing of any historical account. Ideally, the scholar would travel to all archival institutions holding pertinent collections to see if any new facts or fresh perspectives could be found. Unfortunately, the six to eight week time limit, the lack of funds for travel, and the fact that this work was assumed for completion in addition to other work normally done by this office precluded any more extensive treatment.
6. Some commentators objected to the fact that federal historians were asked to provide research on a subject which involved the actions of the U.S. Government and its armed forces. The presumption here is that government historians could not be unbiased in the matter. Our report strove for objectivity and made no attempt to ignore or minimize the parts played by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or the American Minister to Hawaii, John L. Stevens. It is conceded, however, that it would have been more
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