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Hawaii and the American Civil War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

After the outbreak of the American Civil War, the Kingdom of Hawaii under King Kamehameha IV declared its neutrality on August 26, 1861.[1][2] However, many Native Hawaiians and Hawaii-born Americans (mainly descendants of the American missionaries), abroad and in the islands, enlisted in the military regiments of various states in the Union and the Confederacy.[3]

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  • ✪ American Imperialism: Crash Course US History #28
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Transcription

Episode 28: American Imperialism Hi, I’m John Green, this is CrashCourse U.S. History and today we’re gonna talk about a subject near and dear to my white, male heart: imperialism. So, here at CrashCourse we occasionally try to point out that the U.S., much as we hate to admit it, is actually part of a larger world. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, you mean like Alaska? No, Me from the Past, for reasons that you will understand after your trip there before your senior year of college, I do not acknowledge the existence of Canada’s tail. No, I’m referring to all of the Green Parts of Not-America and the period in the 19th century when we thought, “Maybe we could make all of those green parts like America, but, you know, without rights and stuff.” Intro So, the late 19th and early 20th centuries were a period of expansion and colonization in Asia and Africa, mostly by European powers. As you’ll know if you watched Crash Course World History, imperialism has a long, long history pretty much everywhere, so this round of empire building is sometimes called, rather confusingly, New Imperialism. Because the U.S. acquired territories beyond its continental boundaries in this period, it’s relatively easy to fit American history into this world history paradigm. But there’s also an argument that the United States has always been an empire. From very early on, the European settlers who became Americans were intent on pushing westward and conquering territory. The obvious victims of this expansion/imperialism were the Native Americans, but we can also include the Mexicans who lost their sovereignty after 1848. And if that doesn’t seem like an empire to you, allow me to draw your attention to the Russian Empire. Russians were taking control of territory in Central Asia and Siberia and either absorbing or displacing the native people who lived there, which was the exact same thing that we were doing. The empires of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were different because they were colonial in their own special way. Like, Europeans and Americans would rule other places but they wouldn’t settle them and more or less completely displace the native people there. (Well, except for you, Australia and New Zealand.) American historians used to try to excuse America’s acquisitions of a territorial empire as something of an embarrassing mistake, but that’s misleading because one of the primary causes of the phenomenon of American imperialism was economics. We needed places to sell our amazing new products. And at the time, China actually had all of the customers because apparently it was opposite day. It’s also not an accident that the U.S. began pursuing imperialism in earnest during the 1890s, as this was, in many ways, a decade of crisis in America. The influx of immigrants and the crowded cities added to anxiety and concern over America’s future. And then, to cap it all off, in 1893 a panic caused by the failure of a British bank led the U.S. into a horrible economic depression, a great depression, but not The Great Depression. It did however feature 15,000 business failures and 17% unemployment, so take that, 2008. According to American diplomatic historian George Herring, imperialism was just what the doctor ordered to help America get out of its Depression depression. Other historians, notably Kristin Hoganson, imply that America embarked on imperial adventures partly so that American men could prove to themselves how manly they were. You know, by joining the Navy and setting sail for distant waters. In 1890, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan published “The Influence of Seapower upon History” and argued that, to be a great power like Great Britain, the U.S. needed to control the seas and dominate international commerce. Tied into this push to become a maritime power was the obsession with building a canal through Central America and eventually the U.S. decided that it should be built in Panama because you know how else are we gonna get malaria. In order to protect this canal we would need a man, a plan, a canal. Panama. Sorry, I just wanted to get the palindrome in there somewhere. No we would actually need much more than a man and a plan. We would need ships and in order to have a functioning two-ocean navy, we would need colonies. Why? Because the steamships at the time were powered by coal and in order to re-fuel they needed coal depots. I mean, I suppose we could have, like, rented harbor space, but why rent when you can conquer? Also, nationalism and the accompanying pride in one’s “country” was a worldwide phenomenon to which the U.S. was not immune. I mean, it’s no accident that the 1890s saw Americans begin to recite the pledge of allegiance and celebrate Flag Day, and what better way to instill national pride than by flying the stars and stripes over … Guam. So pre-Civil War attempts to expand beyond what we now know as the continental United States included our efforts to annex Canada, which were sadly unsuccessful, and also filibustering, which before it meant a senator talking until he or she had to stop to pee was a thing where we tried to take over Central America to spread slavery. But, the idea of taking Cuba persisted into the late 19th century because it is close and also beautiful. The Grant administration wanted to annex it and the Dominican Republic, but Congress demurred. But we did succeed in purchasing Canada’s tail. You can see how I feel about that. To be fair, discovery of gold in the Yukon made Seward’s icebox seem like less of a Seward’s folly and it did provide coaling stations in the Pacific. But we could have had rum and Caribbean beaches. Ugh, Stan, all this talk about how much I hate Alaska has me overheated, I gotta take off my shirt. Ughhh. Waste of my life. So hard to take off a shirt dramatically. I’m angry. Anyway, coal stations in the Pacific were important because in 1854 we “opened” Japan to American trade by sending a flotilla of threatening black ships under Matthew Perry. No Stan, not that Matthew Perry. You know better. By far, America’s best piece of imperial business before 1898 was Hawaii. Like, I like oil and gold as much as the next guy but Hawaii has pineapples and also had sugar, which was grown on American owned plantations by Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and native workers. Treaties between the U.S. and the Hawaiian governments exempted this sugar from tariffs, and America also had established a naval base at Pearl Harbor, which seemed like a really good idea...then. We eventually annexed Hawaii in 1898 and this meant that it could eventually become a state, which it did in 1959, two years before Barack Obama was born in Kenya. And this leads us nicely to the high tide of American imperialism, the Spanish-American-Cuban-Fillipino War. The war started out because native Cubans were revolting against Spain, which was holding on to Cuba for dear life as the remnant of a once-great empire. The Cubans’ fight for independence was brutal. 95,000 Cubans died from disease and malnutrition after Spanish general Valeriano Weyler herded Cubans into concentration camps. For this Weyler was called “Butcher” in the American yellow press, which sold a lot of newspapers on the backs of stories about his atrocities. And at last we come to President William McKinley who responded cautiously, with a demand that Spain get out of Cuba or face war. Now Spain knew that it couldn’t win a war with the U.S. but, as George Herring put it, they “preferred the honor of war to the ignominy of surrender.” Let that be a lesson to you. Always choose ignominy. Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are simple. I guess the author of the Mystery Document. I’m either right or I get shocked. Alright, let’s see what we’ve got today. With such a conflict waged for years in an island so near us and with which our people have such trade and business relations; when the lives and liberty of our citizens are in constant danger and their property destroyed and themselves ruined; where our trading vessels are liable to seizure and are seized at our very door by warships of a foreign nation, the expeditions of filibustering that we are powerless to prevent altogether -- all these and others that I need not mention, with the resulting strained relations, are a constant menace to our peace, and compel us to keep on a semiwar footing with a nation with which we are at peace. Thank you, Stan. This is obviously President William McKinley’s war message to Congress. You can tell it’s a war message because it includes the word “peace” more than the word “war.” By the way, it’s commonly thought that the President McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war, he didn’t; he let Congress take the lead. That’s the only time that’s ever happened in all of American history, which would be more impressive if we had declared war more than 5 times. So, the document shows us that, at least according to McKinley, we officially went to war for American peace of mind and to end economic uncertainty. It was not to gain territory, at least not in Cuba. How do we know? Because Congress also passed the Teller Amendment, which forswore any U.S. annexation of Cuba, perhaps because representatives of the U.S. sugar industry like Colorado’s Senator Henry Teller feared competition from sugar produced in an American Cuba. Or maybe not. But probably so. Also not the cause of the war was the sinking of the USS Maine. The battleship which had been in Havana’s harbor to protect American interests sank after an explosion on February 15, 1898 killing 266 sailors. Now, most historians chalk up the sinking to an internal explosion and not to Spanish sabotage, but that didn’t stop Americans from blaming the Spanish with their memorable meme: “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain.” Let’s go to the Thoughtbubble. The actual war was one of the most successful in U.S. history, especially if you measure success by brevity and relative paucity of deaths. Secretary of State John Hay called it a “splendid little war” and in many ways it was. Fighting lasted about 4 months and fewer than 400 Americans were killed in combat, although 5,000 died of, wait for it, disease. Stupid disease, always ruining everything. There weren’t a ton of battles but those that happened got an inordinate amount of press coverage, like the July attack on San Juan Hill at the Cuban city of Santiago, led by future president Theodore Roosevelt. While it was a successful battle, the real significance is that it furthered Roosevelt’s career. He returned a hero, promptly became Governor of New York and by 1900 was McKinley’s vice president. Which was a good job to have because McKinley would eventually be assassinated. A more important battle was that of Manila Bay in which commodore George Dewey destroyed a tiny Spanish fleet and took the Philippines. This battle took place in May of 1898, well before the attack on Cuba, which strongly suggests that a war that was supposedly about supporting Cuban independence was really about something else. And what was that something else? Oh right. A territorial empire. As a result of the war, the U.S. got a bunch of new territories, notably the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. We also used the war as an opportunity to annex Hawaii to protect our ships that would be steaming toward the Philippines. We didn’t annex Cuba, but we didn’t let it become completely independent, either. The Platt Amendment in the Cuban Constitution authorized American military intervention whenever it saw fit and gave us a permanent lease for a naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Thanks Thoughtbubble. So, Cuba and Puerto Rico were gateways to Latin American markets. Puerto Rico was particularly useful as a naval station. Hawaii, Guam, and especially the Philippines opened up access to China. American presence in China was bolstered by our contribution of about 3,000 troops to the multinational force that helped put down the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. But in the Philippines, where Americans had initially been welcome, opinion soon changed after it became clear that Americans were there to stay and exercise control. Emiliano Aguinaldo, leader of the Filipino rebellion against Spain, quickly turned against the U.S. because his real goal was independence and it appeared the U.S. would not provide it. The resulting Philippine War lasted 4 years, from 1899-1903. And 4,200 Americans were killed as well as over 100,000 Filipinos. The Americans committed atrocities, including putting Filipinos in concentration camps, torturing prisoners, rape, and executing civilians. And much of this was racially motivated and news of these atrocities helped to spur anti-imperialist sentiment at home, with Mark Twain being one of the most outspoken critics. Now, there was some investment in modernization in the Philippines, in railroads, schools, and public health, but the interests of the local people were usually subordinated to those of the wealthy. So, American imperialism in short looked like most other imperialism. So Constitution nerds will remember that the U.S. Constitution has no provision for colonies, only territory that will eventually be incorporated as states. Congress attempted to deal with this issue by passing the Foraker Act in 1900. This law declared that Puerto Rico would be an insular territory; its inhabitants would be citizens of Puerto Rico, not the United States and there would be no path to statehood. But this wasn’t terribly constitutional. Congress did extend U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans in 1917. Now it’s a commonwealth with its own government that has no voice in U.S. Congress or presidential elections and no control over its own defense or environmental policy. The Philippines were treated similarly to Puerto Rico, in a series of cases between 1901 and 1904 collectively called the Insular Cases. But Hawaii was treated differently. Because it had a sizeable population of American settlers who happened to be white. Ergo, it became a traditional territory with a path to statehood because white people and also pineapples. Now let’s briefly talk about anti-imperialism. There were lots of people who objected to imperialism on racial grounds, arguing that it might lead to, like, diversity. But there were also non-racist anti-imperialists who argued that empire itself with its political domination of conquered people was incompatible with democracy, which, to be fair, it is. The Democratic Party, which had supported intervention in Cuba, in 1900 opposed the Philippine War in its platform. Some Progressives opposed imperialism too because they believed that America should focus on its domestic problems. Yet those who supported imperialism were just as forceful. Among the most vocal was Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge who argued that imperialism was benevolent and would bring “a new day of freedom.” But, make no mistake, underneath it all, imperialism was all about trade. According to Beveridge, America’s commerce “must be with Asia. The Pacific is our ocean … Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer.” In the end, imperialism was really driven by economic necessity. In 1902, Brooks Adams predicted in his book The New Empire that the U.S. would soon “outweigh any single empire, if not all empires combined.” Within 20 years America would be the world’s leading economic power. We didn’t have the most overseas territory, but ultimately that didn’t matter. Now, the reasons for imperialism, above all the quest for markets for American goods, would persist long after imperialism became recognized as antithetical to freedom and democracy. And we would continue to struggle to reconcile our imperialistic urges with our ideals about democracy until...now. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. The associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, Rosianna Rojas, and myself. And our graphics team is Thought Café. Every week there’s a new caption for the libertage. You can suggest captions in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course and as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome. This is the part where Stan gets nervous, like, is he gonna go this way or this way or this way? I’m going this way. Imperialism -

Contents

Governmental policy

Kamehameha IV declared Hawaii's neutrality in 1861.
Kamehameha IV declared Hawaii's neutrality in 1861.

After the outbreak of the American Civil War, Hawaii was concerned with the possibility of attacks by Confederate privateers in the Pacific. There were debates in the Hawaiian government in regards to the best course of action. Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Crichton Wyllie advocated for a declaration of neutrality, following the one made by the previous king Kamehameha III during the Crimean War in 1854, while King Kamehameha IV and Minister of Finance David L. Gregg feared the diplomatic repercussions of recognizing the belligerent status of the Confederate States of America and were initially reluctant to risk displeasing the United States with any form of recognition of the Confederacy. After the United Kingdom and France declared their neutrality in the conflict, the King, and Gregg relented.[1]

On August 26, 1861, King Kamehameha IV signed the formal proclamation of neutrality:[1]

Be it known to all whom it may concern, that we, Kamehameha IV, King of the Hawaiian Islands, having been officially notified that hostilities are now unhappily pending between the government of the United States and certain States thereof styling themselves "The Confederate States of America," hereby proclaim our neutrality between said contending parties. That our neutrality is to be respected to the full extent of our jurisdiction, and that all captures and seizures made within the same are unlawful, and in violation of our rights as a sovereign. And be it further known that we hereby strictly prohibit all our subjects, and all who reside or may be within our jurisdiction, from engaging, either directly or indirectly, in privateering against the shipping or commerce of either of the contending parties, or of rendering any aid to such enterprises whatever; and all persons so offending will he liable to the penalties imposed by the laws of nations, as well as by the laws of said States, and they will in no wise obtain any protection from us as against any penal consequences which they may incur. Be it further known that no adjudication of prizes will be entertained within our jurisdiction, nor will the sale of goods or other property belonging to prizes be allowed. Be it further known that the rights of asylum are not extended to the privateers or their prizes of either of the contending parties, excepting only in cases of distress or of compulsory delay by stress of weather or dangers, of the sea, or in such cases as may be regulated by treaty stipulation. Given at our marine residence of Kailua this 26th day of August, A. D. 1861, and the seventh of our reign.[4]

A few months before the neutrality proclamation, an American expatriate and businessman, Captain Thomas Spencer personally funded and drilled a company of infantry composed mostly of Native Hawaiians from Hilo on the island of Hawaii. They were sworn in at a Fourth of July luau hosted by Spencer at his residence in Hilo. These volunteers, dubbed the "Spencer's Invincibles," offered their services to President Lincoln and the Union. However, to avert diplomatic controversy and in defense of the Hawaii's neutrality, King Kamehameha IV and Foreign Minister Wyllie officially denied permission for the men to go as a unit.[5][6][7] When Captain Spencer heard the news, he reportedly burst into tears.[8]

Hawaiian combatants

Despite the Hawaiian government's reluctance to be involved in the conflict, many Native Hawaiians and Hawaii-born Americans (mainly descendants of the American missionaries) both abroad and in the islands volunteered and enlisted in the military regiments of various states in the Union and the Confederacy. Individual Native Hawaiians had been serving in the United States Navy and Army since the War of 1812, and even more served during the American Civil War.[9] Many Hawaiians sympathized with the Union because of Hawaii's ties to New England through its missionaries and the whaling industries, and the ideological opposition of many to the institution of slavery, which the Constitution of 1852 had specifically officially outlawed in the Kingdom.[7][10][11] The sons of American missionaries in Hawaii, many studying in American universities, also enlisted; twenty-one were students at Punahou School.[7][12] Notable volunteers from Hawaii include: Henry Hoʻolulu Pitman, Samuel C. Armstrong, Nathaniel Bright Emerson, James Wood Bush, Prince Romerson, and J. R. Kealoha.[7][11][13][14]

As of 2014, researchers have identified 119 documented Native Hawaiian and Hawaii-born combatants from historical records. The exact number still remains unclear because many Hawaiians enlisted and served under Anglicized names and little is known about them due to the lack of detailed records.[14][15]

Legacy

Memorial plaque for Hawaii Sons of the Civil War in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu
Memorial plaque for Hawaii Sons of the Civil War in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu

Many veterans of the Civil War are buried in Honolulu's Oʻahu Cemetery, although most of the marked graves belong to veterans from other states who later settled in Hawaii.[16][17] On August 26, 2010, on the anniversary of the signing of the Hawaiian Neutrality Proclamation, a bronze plaque was erected along the memorial pathway at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu recognizing the "Hawaii Sons of the Civil War", the more than one hundred documented Hawaiians who served during the American Civil War for both the Union and the Confederacy.[18][19][20]

In 2013, Todd Ocvirk, Nanette Napoleon, Justin Vance, Anita Manning and others began the process of creating a historical documentary about the individual experiences and stories of Hawaii-born soldiers and sailors of the American Civil War from both the Union and the Confederacy.[21][22][23][24] In 2015, the sesquicentennial of the end of the war, the National Park Service released a publication titled Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War about the service of the large number of combatants of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who fought during the war. The history of Hawaii's involvement and the biographies of Pitman, Bush, Kealoha, and others were co-written by historians Anita Manning, Justin Vance and others.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Kuykendall 1953, pp. 57–66.
  2. ^ Forbes 2001, pp. 298–299.
  3. ^ National Park Service 2015, pp. 130–163.
  4. ^ Bernard 2009, p. 149.
  5. ^ Dye 1997, p. 77.
  6. ^ National Park Service 2015, pp. 132–135.
  7. ^ a b c d Vance, Justin W.; Manning, Anita (October 2012). "The Effects of the American Civil War on Hawaiʻi and the Pacific World". World History Connected. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois. 9 (3).
  8. ^ Daws 1968, p. 183.
  9. ^ Schmitt 1998, pp. 171–172.
  10. ^ Manning & Vance 2014, pp. 145–170.
  11. ^ a b Smith, Jeffrey Allen (August 13, 2013). "The Civil War and Hawaii". The New York Times: Opinionator. New York.
  12. ^ Damon, Ethel M. (April 1, 1941). "Punahou Volunteers of 1863". The Friend. CXI (4). Honolulu. p. 67. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016.
  13. ^ Manning & Vance 2014, pp. 160-163.
  14. ^ a b Davis, Chelsea (October 26, 2014). "Hawaiian Civil War soldier finally recognized". Hawaii News Now.
  15. ^ Punaboy (June 20, 2015). "Hawaiʻi Sons of the Civil War". Aloha Valley. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  16. ^ Kam 2009, pp. 125–151.
  17. ^ Grzyb 2016, pp. 127–128.
  18. ^ Cole, William (May 31, 2010). "Native Hawaiians served on both sides during Civil War". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Honolulu.
  19. ^ National Park Service 2015, pp. 161–163.
  20. ^ Schuessler 2012, p. 66.
  21. ^ Murray, Anthony (July 2, 2013). "Sons of the Civil War". Midweek Kauai. Honolulu.
  22. ^ Sodetani, Naomi (February 2013). "Sons of the Civil War". Ka Wai Ola. 30 (2). Honolulu. p. 15.
  23. ^ Ocvirk, Todd (July 31, 2013). "Hawaii Sons of the Civil War – A Documentary Film". Indiegogo. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  24. ^ Tanaka, Chris (September 20, 2013). "Hawaii's little known role in the Civil War". Hawaii News Now. Honolulu.
  25. ^ Hawaiʻi Pacific University (July 15, 2015). "HPU partners with National Park Service, Hawaii Civil War Round Table for July 17 talk". HPU News. Archived from the original on July 20, 2015.

Bibliography

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 6 May 2019, at 21:29
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