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Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

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by annexing Hawaii we opened up a vast field for the profitable and 
remunerative employment of American labor. How changed the 
picture!   Now the commission says. "Some think that white labor 
may be superior to Chinese and Japanese labor." Analyze the 
contract-labor system; see the contract laborers stored in steerage 
like sardines in a box, huddled together, men, women, and children; 
see them on the plantations, the whole family working under contract, 
the men for from $15 to $18 a month to pay their passage and board 
and clothe themselves: see them huddled together in prison for 
failure to keep their contract, and then tell me whether American 
white labor can compete in a country prompted by such sentiments 
and under such conditions. When it does, it will be when the sun 
shines at midnight and the moon at midday, when nature stops to take 
a rest, and when men forget to be selfish. The population of the islands 
in December, 1898, as affirmed by the report, was: "Hawaiians and 
mixed blood, 39,000; Japanese, 25,000; Chinese, 21,500; Portuguese, 
15,000; Americans, 4,000; British, 2,250; Germans and other 
Europeans, 2,000; Polynesians and miscellaneous, 1,250; total, 
110,000." The Japanese and Orientals predominate in numbers.   
Hawaii had a treaty with Japan that gave the citizens of the latter 
free ingress, being a "favored nation clause."   By the resolution of 
annexation we struck this down and established our own treaty 
relations with Japan.   This was only the enforcement of a well-
established principle of international law.   Our treaty with Japan 
provides that the United States may at any time control or prohibit 
the immigration of Japanese laborers to the United States. The party 
in power has never invoked this right to protect the interest of 
labor. Note the number of Chinese and Japanese we have added to our 
population.   Since annexation, July 7, 1898, thousands of foreign 
contract labor have been flowing into the Hawaiian Islands, so that 
to-day 40,000 contract laborers, or more than one third of the 
population, are on the islands because Congress did not prohibit this 
infamous dealing in human chattels in the resolution of annexation. It 
could have been done.   The Chinese were excluded by a section of 
the resolution; but it was not the policy of the annexationists; it 
was not the policy of the administration of Hawaii, nor of those in 
charge here, to do it, because it is thought that the islands can be 
more cheaply and profitably worked by foreign contract labor.   
Those voices which were raised for annexation proclaimed that 
Hawaii was near to us - she is far enough away, but near enough to 
infect our laboring men with the pestilence of her labor system. Hear 
IMMIGRATION, Washington, February 9, 1900. SIR: I hare the honor to 
acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 8th Instant, and to state in reply thereto 
that this Bureau has no means by which to secure statistics of Japanese 
immigration to Hawaii, for the reason that its jurisdiction has not as yet been 
extended over that Territory. However, it is ascertained that under date of 
January 6, 1900, Mr. Joshua K. Brown, Chinese inspector at Honolulu, forwarded 
the following information to the supervising special agent, this Department: Prom 
August 12, 1898, to December 31, 1898: Japanese arriving under contract... 
........................................  4,652 Japanese arriving "free" ........................................................      
Total for fractional part of 1898 ...........................................   5,321
From January 1, 1899, to December 31, 1899: Japanese arriving under contract  
......................................... 20,561 Japanese arriving "free" 
........................................................   5,377 Total for year 1889. 
............................................................. 25,938
Total from August 12, 1898, to December 31, 1899......... .... 31,250 Japanese 
under contract to arrive within the first three months of 
1900.....................................................................................   2,750
Total admitted and under contract to arrive............................. 34,009
Number who have departed from the islands during the same period.      242 This 
is all the data in possession of this office concerning the subject referred to, and 
it is trusted that it will answer your purpose. Respectfully, yours, T. V. 
POWDERLY, Commissioner-General. Hon. JAMES M. ROBINSON, House of 
Representatives, Washington, D. C.
This shows the importations from Japan only.   Other nations are 
contributing contract laborers to this Hawaiian system.   It will be 
seen, that of 34,009 Japanese arriving, only 342 have departed in the 
same period, thus showing that the statement made that they leave is 
misleading. The Pittsburg Dispatch (Independent) of September 26, 
1899, referring to the dispatch from Yokohama that the sugar 
interests of Hawaii had collected 10,000 Japanese contract laborers for 
shipment to the islands. "and that Japan was alarmed at the exodus 
present and future contemplated,  remarked significantly, "that it 
was a cause of more just alarm to the United States."

Is it any wonder that the labor interests and organized labor is crying 
out against this infamous system that is trending toward their own 
enslavement?   Can they not well doubt a government and their 
security for the future when that government tolerates such a 
scourge? Cardinal Gibbons, in his able paper to the Knights of 
Labor, said:
The time has come in the world's history when the church should seek an 
alliance with the masses and should abandon special efforts to conciliate the 
mighty in war, the powerful in trade, the great ones of the earth, because in the 
future the control of the destinies of the world rests with the people.
Sir, some Hawaiians are in this country, representing the people and 
the labor interests, which class, they say, were not represented before 
the Hawaiian commission. One is Mr. Robert W. Wilcox, a native of 
the islands, who, as a young man, was sent for six years to a military 
school in Italy by King Kalakau, and the other, Mr. Edgar Caypless, 
a lawyer, of Honolulu, formerly of New York, and a graduate of the 
South Carolina University.   The latter says "that over 25,000 
Japanese have been imported there during the past year and a half 
under contract to labor for a term between three and five years." 
These contract laborers were brought to Hawaii for the money that is 
in them.   Let us be honest.   This editorial of the Washington Post 
of Sunday, January 21, 1900, which has favored the Administration's 
policy of island acquisition, is candid and honest with the laboring 
masses.   It reads:
LET US BE HONEST. Why can not we be honest in our utterances touching the 
territories we have recently acquired?   Really it would save time and trouble, to 
say nothing of life and treasure, to come out frankly with the announcement that 
we have annexed these possessions in cold blood and that we intend to utilize 
them to our profit and advantage.   All this talk about benevolent assimilation; 
all this hypocritical pretense of anxiety for the moral, social, and intellectual 
exaltation of the natives; all this transparent parade of responsibility and deep-
seated purpose; all this deceives nobody, avails nothing, helps us not an inch in 
the direction of profit, dignity, and honor.   We all know down in our hearts that 
these islands, groups, etc., are important to us only in the ratio of their practical 
possibilities.   We value them by the standard of their commercial usefulness, and 
by no other.  All this gabble about civilizing and uplifting the benighted 
barbarians of Cuba and Luzon is mere sound and fury, signifying nothing.   
Foolishly or wisely, we want these newly acquired territories, not for any 
missionary or altruistic purposes, but for the trade, the commerce, the power, 
and the money there are in them.   Why beat about the bash and promise and 
protest all sorts of things?  Why not be honest?  It will pay. As a matter of fact, 
we are not concerned in the ethical or religious uplifting of the Filipinos.   After 
all. the difference between a breechclont and a starched shirt front is a mere 
matter of climate and personal opinion.   Dishonesty, untruth, crime, and 
general wickedness are here in our midst - present with us as part of our 
daily life and growing with our growth.   We need not go to the West Indies or 
the Philippines in search of material for moral rescue.   Our own slums 
abound with opportunities for missionary zeal.   Why not tell the truth and say- 
what is the fact- that we want Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii, and Luzon, together 
with any other islands in either ocean that may hereafter commend themselves 
to our appetite, because we believe they will add to our national strength, and 
because we hope they will some day become purchasers at our bargain 
counters?  We might as well throw off the pious mask and indulge ourselves in a 
little honest candor. It will cost us nothing, and it may profit much.   At any rate, 
we shall have the comfort and satisfaction of being honest with ourselves and the 
privilege of looking into the mirror without blushing.
Now, after this plain avowal from a competent and reliable source, 
with the evidence all one way to prove it, it is clear that the ruling 
money power interested there under the Dole regime desires to hold 
the Hawaiian Islands for a like purpose and from like motives.   
With 40,000 laborers imported under the eye and by the aid of the 
United States, Hawaiian government officials since annexation, 
where is the protection to American labor? The chairman of the 
Committee on the Territories, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
KNOX], in January, 1899, by his objection, and on another occasion by a 
point of order raised, denied consideration to and prevented the 
passage of a bill which would have destroyed this nefarious system 
of contract labor. The proceedings thereon are as follows: Mr. 
GARDNER of New Jersey, chairman of the Labor Committee, asked 
unanimous consent for the immediate consideration of a bill to extend 
the labor laws of the United States to Hawaii. Mr. KNOX 
(Massachusetts) said: "Mr. Speaker, I object, as that matter is 
provided for in a general bill relating to Hawaii;" as shown on page 
932, volume 32, part 7, third session of the Fifty-fifth Congress. The bill 
sought to be enacted then reads as follows:
Be it enacted, etc., That the act approved February 20, 1885, to prohibit the 
importation and migration of foreigners, aliens, under contract or agreement to 
perform labor in the United States, its Territories, and the District of Columbia, 
and the acts amendatory thereof and supplemental thereto, be, and the same are 
hereby, extended to the Hawaiian Islands.
The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. KNOX] a long time after, in 
explanation of his obstruction to this salutary legislation at that early 
and opportune time, by voice and vote then confessing, said his only 
ground of objection was that he was "opposed to piecemeal 
legislation," and that his own committee had a bill including other 
provisions.   His committee was then nursing and trying to have 
considered the bill with the outrageous provisions to which I have 
referred.   But time was of the essence of this action in the House, 
and by his opposition in the House he delayed

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