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Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

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                            1981
chapter 78, in relation to masters and servants, will be repealed by the passage of 
this bill.
Mr. TILLMAN. But, if the Senator from Illinois will permit me, while they 
repeal those statutes which are for the punishment of contract laborers who break their 
contracts, section 10 provides that "all obligations, contracts, rights of action, suits 
at law," etc., shall be continued as effectually as if this act had not been passed.
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.   Those are contracts.
Mr. TILLMAN.   Is not a contract for labor a contract?
Mr. FORAKER.   That has been amended.
Mr. CULLOM.  I proposed yesterday the following amendment:
Provided, That no contract for labor or personal service shall be enforced 
either by injunction or by legal process.
Mr. TILLMAN.   That applies to all contracts.   Make it a little more sweeping, so 
as to apply either before or after annexation. .
 Mr. CULLOM.   It applies back to the beginning of time, so far as that is concerned.
Mr. HALE. It applies to all contracts that are subsisting at the time of the passage 
of this bill.
Mr. CULLOM.   To all contracts.
Mr. HALE.   Yes.   Is that in the bill?
Mr. CULLOM. It is in an amendment which I propose, and which I referred to 
yesterday.
Mr. TILLMAN.   You have not put it in the bill.
Mr. CULLOM.   No; it is not in the bill, but I will offer it.
Mr. SPOONER, I should like to ask the Senator from Illinois if we do not by this 
bill confirm some labor contracts?
Mr. CULLOM.   I think not.
Mr. SPOONER. Are there none entered into prior to 1898 still in force?
Mr. CULLOM. I suppose there are. I do not know about that; but if any Senator can 
draw an amendment which w ill close out those contract-labor importations and 
the enforcement of such contracts afterwards, and show that his proposition is 
constitutional, I shall be glad to vote for it.
Mr. SPOONER. I have not any doubt about the constitutionality of it. The 
inhibition against the passage of laws impairing the obligation of contracts is 
upon the States. It is not quite enough to eliminate punishment by the court after 
the fashion of the violation of some criminal act. The provisions themselves may 
be of a character which are offensive to our sense of what is just and what is right. 
That is what led me to ask the Senator if we are expressly affirming here and 
continuing any alien-labor contracts in Hawaii; and if so, to what extent? I 
wanted to follow that question by another, which perhaps I have not any need to 
ask, as to the general character of these contracts.
Mr. HALE.   The statute covers that.
Mr. SPOONER.   No; it does not.
Mr. CULLOM. I have a document which shows that. I have it not on my table at 
present, but I can get it in a little while. It shows copies of numbers of contracts, the 
exact contracts in letter and terms. I have not that here, but I will furnish it to the 
Senator, so that he can see exactly what the terms of the contracts are.
Mr. SPOONER. My recollection of these contracts, growing out of the debates 
on the annexation of Hawaii, is that they were brutal contracts that would not be 
tolerated at all in this country.
Mr. TILLMAN. Here are some provisions which are on a par with the black codes 
of some of the Southern States, and you gentlemen of the Republican party are in 
honor bound not to leave the people of Hawaii in the same condition in which the 
former slaveholders wanted to put their ex-slaves. If it is intended to repeal the 
provisions regarding these contracts and to annul them, why not say expressly that the 
contracts for labor heretofore existing, punitive in their character, are annulled, 
so as to make assurance double sure that you do not intend to leave those people over 
there in slavery?
Mr. CULLOM. That is just what we are trying to do, if the Senator will take 
notice. In the amendment which I propose to offer it is provided that no contract for 
labor or personal service shall be enforced. That comes pretty near annulling such 
con-tracts.
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.   Where does that come in?
Mr. CULLOM. I propose to offer it at the end of section 10, which is the section 
which proposes to keep alive all obligations, contracts, rights of actions, etc., as 
Hawaii passes from one form of government to another. I inquire of the Senator 
from South Carolina whether he does not think that amendment would accomplish 
just what he wants?
Mr. TILLMAN. Will the Senator indicate where he proposes to put his 
amendment?
Mr. CULLOM.   At the end of section 10.
Mr. TILLMAN.   I hope the Senator will offer the amendment.
Mr. CULLOM.   I will move to add to section 10 the following:
Provided, That no contract for labor or personal service shall be enforced 
either by injunction or other legal process.
Mr. NELSON.   You ought to insert "criminal process."


Mr. CULLOM. This refers to any legal process. If the Senator thinks he can 
help the amendment or strengthen it in any way, I shall be glad to have him do so.
Mr. HAWLEY. Would that forbid a citizen to bring a civil suit against a 
person violating an ordinary contract for labor?
Mr. CULLOM. It is a question with me whether that does not go so far as to 
interfere with civil contracts which are legitimate. There ought to be some way of 
enforcing contracts other than by imprisonment.
Mr. HAWLEY. Does the Senator mean contracts for labor made before the 
person contracted for arrived in that Territory?
Mr. CULLOM. I mean contracts growing out of the importation of those men to 
that country.
Mr. HAWLEY. That can be easily denned, so as to leave all innocent contracts 
under the law.
Mr. HALE. In other words, the Senator proposes to leave the contracts as civil 
contracts existing and to strike out all penal regulations and laws for enforcing 
them.
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.   No; Mr. President.
Mr. HALE.   Is not that so?
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut. The effect of the Senator's amendment is, I think, to 
prevent the enforcement by law of all con-tracts in the islands relating to labor.
Mr. HALE. Any kind of enforcement, not only the penal pro-visions and 
punishments, but a civil suit or a civil process can not be maintained.
Mr. CULLOM.   Yes.
Mr. HALE.   Well, that in effect abolishes it in toto, does it not?
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.    I think it goes too far.
Mr. CULLOM. As I said a while ago, my judgment is that if we repeal 
the penal provisions affecting such contracts the result will be that the 
whole business will break down, because it can not be enforced.
Mr. HALE.   What does the Senator leave standing?
Mr. CULLOM. The Senator leaves, then, all in the bill, in the hope that 
the insertion of a provision preventing criminal prosecutions for violating 
contracts is all that is necessary to be done by Congress.
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut. Mr. President, if I can have the attention of 
the Senator from Maine, it is proposed, at the end of page 8, to insert:
Provided, That no contract for labor or personal service shall be enforced 
either by injunction or other legal process.
If that means simply that no action shall be brought to compel a laborer to 
perform his contract either by injunction or application for specific performance, I 
do not know that I have any objection to it; but if it goes so far as to prevent an 
employer bringing a suit against a person who may have entered into a contract for 
labor to recover damages, I do not think that ought to be done.
Mr. HALE.   Will not the Senator read that again?
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.
Provided, That no contract for labor or personal service shall be enforced 
either by injunction or other legal process.
Mr. HALE. It seems to me that, in connection with the repeal of the penal 
provision, is extirpation of the whole thing, is it not? Does it not go to the root?
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.   It does.
Mr. HALE.    It seems to me it does.
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut. I do not know but that it goes too far.
Mr. HALE. It seems to me it is extirpation of the whole thing, and there is 
under that proviso no process that anybody on the other side can invoke 
in criminal form, or any injunction or by suit for breach of contract, for 
damages.
Mr. CULLOM. I appreciate that, but it seems difficult to adopt an 
amendment that goes far enough and does not go too far. I think myself, 
and I believe every body will agree, that if a business man, for instance, in this 
country or in Honolulu, makes a contract with another citizen there to 
perform work, building a house or what not, if the man does not do it the 
other man ought to have the right to bring a suit against him, and I do not 
know but that this would interfere with that. If it does, it would go too far. 
If not, it does just what I want to have done.
Mr. HALE. I suppose the committee intended that it should apply only 
to contract-labor matters, affecting the importation of foreign outside labor, 
and nothing more than that.
Mr. CULLOM. I am satisfied to have that adopted, and if on further 
investigation it seems to go too far, we can modify it.
Mr. FAIRBANKS.   Read it again.
Mr. HOAR.   Have it read at the desk.
Mr. NELSON. I suggest to the Senator from Illinois that he change it 
to "criminal prosecution," so as to limit it to injunction and criminal 
prosecution. That would leave the matter of the validity of the contracts 
to stand.
Mr. CULLOM. The amendment which is being discussed more or less 
referring to contract labor is as follows--
Mr. PLATT of Connecticut.   No; it does not refer to that.

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