University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

Home: The Annexation Of Hawaii: A Collection Of Document

Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

[Previous Page ] -- [ View PDF ] -- [ View in MS Word ] -- [ Next Page ]

3712
and defeated labor, and prevented the passage through the Senate of a 
bill of like import which he voted for later, bat which reached the 
Senate too late for passage, though favorably reported by committee. 
The Republican party in power then in the House is responsible for his 
action, and he is responsible for the failure to pass a law that would 
have kept out contract labor from the Hawaiian Islands, for in his 
hands lay the power and in his party was the power, as it was 
charged with the duty of legislating against this crying evil. Let me 
read the words that came from the chairman of the Committee on 
Labor [Mr. GARDNER of New Jersey] as to the anticipated and evil 
consequences of that objection: Mr. GARDNER of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, 
the facts as officially ascertained, which makes it undesirable to delay longer such 
legislation as this, are that 3,000 contract laborers are already known to hare 
reached the Hawaiian Islands since the annexation, and that the very day following 
the passage of the resolution of annexation contracts for the importation of only a 
few less than 6,000 laborers were approved by the government, and that some 3,900 
of those laborers are to be brought in during the first quarter of 1899. The 
gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. KNOX] is unfair when he says that these 
contracts were made before the bill was introduced.   The making of the contracts 
was the cause for the introduction of the bill.   There is nobody in the United 
States, so far as I know, that wants the door left open for the introduction of these 
Japanese coolies save only the gentleman from Massachusetts, and he wants them 
for a special purpose, to wit, to assist the House of Representatives in passing a 
bill for the Committee on Territories.
Mr. KNOX.   The reason of the objection to the bill that the 
gentleman has referred to was that there was a general bill before our 
committee, of which that bill, if it contained desirable legislation, 
should have been a part.      Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.   The bill 
you had then in your committee? Mr. KNOX.   Yes; the bill which 
was being considered in our committee. Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.   
"The Lord hath delivered mine enemies into my hands."   Mr. 
Chairman, what bill was it that was before the gentleman's 
committee?   It was the bill containing the outrageous provisions to 
which I have referred. Mr. KNOX.   Not at all. Mr. ROBINSON of 
Indiana.   It was the bill providing that the supreme court should be 
appointed by the governor of the Territory, and provided a life tenure.   
It was the bill which prescribed a property qualification of $1,000 as 
a condition of the right to vote.   It was a bill that provided that 
neither house of the legislature, without the consent of the other, 
should adjourn for more than three days, and if either house did so 
adjourn, the other should proceed to legislate, and their legislation 
should be valid. If I am in error about this last matter, I can be 
corrected.   I want to call attention to the fact that such was the 
provision of the bill recommended by the commission.   That 
provision may not have been in the gentleman's bill.   His was a bill 
that provided in section 10, as does the bill you now ask the House to 
pass, that these labor contracts should be continued in force and that 
penal proceedings should be continued to enforce them. Mr. KNOX.   
Now, if the gentleman will allow me - I know he would hot do 
injustice to anyone -- Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.   Surely not. Mr. 
KNOX.   The bill before the Committee on Territories in the last 
Congress was a bill reported by the commission appointed by the 
President, who went out to Hawaii -- Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.  
A bill containing these outrageous provisions. Mr. KNOX.   A 
commission, the leading member of which was the distinguished 
gentleman from Alabama, Senator MORGAN. Mr. ROBINSON of 
Indiana.   Oh, excuse me, Mr. Chairman, this is not a partisan 
question. Mr. KNOX.   Pardon me one moment.   The bill that is now 
before the House, which the gentleman has stated continues the 
penal provision for the punishment of violations of the labor laws, 
distinctly repeals that provision. Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.   
Section 10, which you recommended in your last report reporting 
this very bill now before us, says that that provision shall be 
continued. Mr. KNOX.   Not at all.   The penal laws now in force for 
the enforcement of labor contracts are repealed by this bill.   The 
trouble is that the gentleman has not read the bill. Mr. ROBINSON 
of Indiana.   Another provision of the bill of which the gentleman 
has spoken, and which he now gives as the reason why he kept that 
labor law from being considered, was a provision providing that the 
supreme court of Hawaii should pass upon the election returns and 
qualifications of the members of the senate and house of Hawaii.      
Mr. KNOX.   That is not in this bill.      Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.   
No; but it was in the one which you were seeking to pass, and which 
yon urged the passage of as the reason for objecting to this labor 
legislation against importations. Mr. KNOX.   That was in the bill 
originally reported.   We have stricken it out.

Mr. ROBINSON of Indiana.   What is the secret?   The secret is that 
the American commissioners were hypnotized by President Dole.   
Motives are difficult to ascribe, but consequences are easily felt.   I 
know not the real motives and purposes of the gentleman from 
Massachusetts.   But few would arrogate the insubstantial ones he 
assumed, that it was to secure the passage of his own pet measure.   
His was the bill of the commission, which provided, among other 
things:
SEC. 10. That all obligations, contracts, rights of action,   *  *   *   prosecutions, and 
judgments existing prior to the taking effect of this act shall continue to be   *   *    
*   effectual as if this act had not been passed.   *   *   *   All criminal and penal 
proceeding  *   *   *  shall be prosecuted to final judgment.   *   *   *
Which is the same language as section 10 of the bill now before the 
House, and members have it before them and can read it. SEC. 15. That 
in case any election to a seat in either house is disputed and legally contested the 
supreme court of the Territory of Hawaii shall be the sole judge of whether or 
not a legal election for such seat has been held and, if it shall find that a legal 
election has been held. It shall be the sole judge of who has been elected. SEC. 62 
(qualification of voters for senators).   *   *   *   In addition thereto, he shall own   *   
*   *   real property in the Territory of the value of not less than $1,000,   *  *   *   
or shall have actually received a money income of not less than $600 during the 
year next preceding.   *   *   * SEC. 80. The governor shall nominate and, by and 
with the advice and consent of the senate of the Territory of Hawaii, appoint the 
chief justice and justices of the supreme court.   *   *   *  All such officers shall 
hold  *  *  * except the chief justice and justices of the supreme court, who shall 
hold office during good behavior.
By section 43 of the bill recommended, as shown on page 29 of this 
report of the Hawaiian commission, it was provided that neither 
house should adjourn without the consent of the other for more than 
three days, and that if it did so the legislative acts of the other was 
the law, as if passed by both.   This provision does not seem to have 
been included in the bills presented to Congress. The Republican party 
refused to pass a law in the Fifty-fifth Congress excluding contract 
labor in the Hawaiian Islands; refused to ingraft it on their reported 
resolutions in this House, and defeated the amendment in the Senate.   
We have islands here where people for years have gone "like the 
galley slave, scourged to his dungeon," for not obeying the terms of 
a civil contract to labor for another, into which they were induced to 
enter by the cupidity of navigation corporations, and into which 
many were induced to enter by the false hopes and the false 
representations held out for purposes of gain by plantation and mill 
owners. On July 7, 1898, the American flag was raised over the 
Hawaiian Islands amid the booming of cannons and the playing of 
bands and while the children sang "The Star Spangled Banner, long 
may it wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."   Near 
that place now men are imprisoned at Oahu for violations of labor 
contracts, imprisoned with felons, wear stripes like robbers and 
thieves, are worked on the roads and in the quarries, and over the 
prison that entombs them is a flag floating that bears a picture of a 
bloodhound trailing, and this nearly two years after annexation. You 
might as well cease to ring the chimes of old liberty bell, for they do 
not reach your Territory - the Hawaiian Islands. This stands for the 
law - the labor law - of the islands.   Where is the flag which should 
stand for law and order, for the Constitution, for the Declaration, for 
the law against slavery, for the law against contract labor?   These 
people are slaves in form and in fact; their condition is a disgrace to 
American manhood and American statesmanship.   Hear the 
condition that prevailed on July 27, 1899, more than a year after our 
flag floated over the islands.   The Seattle Times has repeatedly 
denounced this practice, as have other influential papers on the 
Pacific coast.   Hear it from the San Francisco Examiner in the 
language of a minister: Slavery and involuntary servitude of the most 
degrading type exist in the Hawaiian Islands to-day as a means for the 
enforcement of contracts made by laborers to work on the sugar and coffee 
plantations.   Thirty-six Galicians, subjects of the Austrian Empire, are now 
confined in Oahu prison, Honolulu, because they refused to comply longer with 
the onerous conditions imposed on them by their owners.   They were convicted 
of "deserting contract service," and were sentenced to indefinite imprisonment.   
They can gain release only by buying their way out of prison or going back 
to the cane fields.   Their tale is told by Rabbi M. S. Levy, of this city.   It is one 
to cause auger and astonishment among those that boast that freedom lives 
wherever floats the American flag.
Here is the contract:
This memorandum of agreement entered into at Bremen 30th April. 1808, by and 
between Oahu Sugar Company, Limited, Hawaiian Islands, and the laborer 
Teper Yakob, now residing at Creszanow, Galicia, witnesseth: That Whereas 
the said laborer is desirous of going to the Hawaiian Islands, there to be 
employed as an agricultural laborer, and in consideration of free steerage passage 
to the Hawaiian Islands to be furnished to him and his wife and -- of his 
children by the employer, the following contract has been concluded between 
the aforesaid parties to the said agreement: The said employer, in consideration 
of the stipulations hereinafter contained to be kept and performed by the said 
laborer, covenants and agrees as follows: To furnish to the said laborer and his 
wife and -- of his children, whose names and ages are noted at the bottom of 
this agreement, free steerage passage, including proper food and medical 
attendance, from Bremerhaven to Honolulu, and also to produce proper 
lodgings for the said laborer and his family at Honolulu, proper transportation 
from Honolulu to the place where he is to be employed as an agricultural laborer. 
On arrival at Honolulu the employer agrees to provide employment for the 
said laborer as an agricultural laborer for the full period of three years

Return to Top

Terms of Use  |  UH Mānoa  |  UH System  |  Ask Us
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Library  |  2550 McCarthy Mall  |  Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA
808-956-7214 (Reference)  |  808-956-7203 (Circulation)  |  808-956-7205 (Administration)
808-956-5968 (fax)  |  library@hawaii.edu